Home Television Recaps ‘Pam & Tommy’ – ‘The Master Beta’ – Review
‘Pam & Tommy’ – ‘The Master Beta’ – Review

‘Pam & Tommy’ – ‘The Master Beta’ – Review


A plan is in motion and the internet is now buzzing with the growing viral sensation of the Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape and everything is about to change in Pam & Tommy.

Roll on 1996 and Hollywood’s wildest couple Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) are over the moon with the news of an impending pregnancy and the promise of a bright and sunny future as a family. Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen) is also excited through the success of his new ‘business venture’ with orders flowing through and a list of very happy customers being serviced. But all is not as it seems and the good times are about to come to a sudden stop for all parties involved as the viral nature of the world’s most scandalous sex tape takes a very sudden turn that no one could see coming.

Actress turned director Lake Bell takes over the director’s chair from Craig Gillespie for Episode Four of Pam & Tommy, ‘The Master Beta’ and this episodes opening sequence, set to Chicago’s ’25 or 6 to 4′, turns out to be very apt in its description. For Bell, Episode Four is an episode of juxtaposition. There’s light, love and success, along with the reveal of a shocking robbery, a scandalous website and a very troublesome problem. The energy of ‘The Master Beta’ moves quickly and Bell gives the episode a skittish quality as things get out of hand quickly. She also focuses on the shocked and candid reactions of her performers and there’s great discomfort with the events of this episode for both the characters and her audience.

Seeing orders roll in and his bank account fill up Seth Rogen’s would-be entrepreneur Rand Gauthier finds that he’s onto a very good thing and Rogen is particularly chipper at the start of the episode. So too are Pamela and Tommy with the reveal they are now pregnant and expecting their first child. It’s all champagne and roses for everyone. Until the truth comes out. On the shocking discovery of the burglary of their Malibu home, Pamela and Tommy come to learn that their precious, and more importantly, private love tape has been stolen and they step out to recover it and fast. But there’s a problem, they’re a little too late for this new ‘viral’ internet sensation.

What we see for the first time in ‘The Master Beta’ is Pamela Anderson’s shock reaction to this very private tape being leaked. And it’s a harrowing event for her to come to terms with. Pamela might be a bombshell, but she’s not a porn star, and to her, this event is a complete violation of her privacy and she’s mortified at its reveal. James shows a clear level of distress and humiliation at realising that the tape is now out and about in public and her performance takes a big step into the dramatic and emotional. The truth is revealed to the Lee’s in a slightly absurdist way as they head to the Malibu Public Library to access the internet for the first time and there the truth is revealed to them in a shocking presentation of a bold new online world where there are no limits and no systems of control.

While Pamela and Tommy might be the ones having sex it also becomes clear in ‘The Master Beta’ that Rand is the one who is getting fucked over. At first happy and chipper that he’s a success, it quickly becomes apparent that he’s being ripped off by bootleggers and that his sleaze bag partner Miltie (Nick Offerman) is not to be trusted. Throw in a pissed off Tommy Lee who hires a heavy fisted private investigator to look into the matter, along with reaching out to a biker gang he’s friendly with to beat the truth out of Rand, and it’s not looking good for our would-be entrepreneur. Rand also runs afoul of his direct competitor, the slick-suited, fast-talking Seth Warshavsky (Fred Hechinger), who runs a collection of cam girl sites and Seth will come to gave particular relevance to this story as we move forward.

Seth Rogen is going on quite a journey in Pam & Tommy as Rand Gauthier and it becomes clear that he may have underestimated just what he’s walked into. While he might have had some past dealings in the porn business as a one-time performer it seems he wasn’t paying attention to how dirty of a business it is and he’s quickly in over his head. One of the episode’s funniest moments results from an argument with a bootlegger scalping copies of ‘his tape’ and he’s none too pleased by it. It’s unintentionally hilarious to watch, but it’s clear Rand is hurting from his hard work being messed with. As an audience member, you also find yourself drawn into his story and it’s hard to reconcile why he’s involved in such things when he’s clearly not a bad guy, but just someone who is walking the wrong path.

Pam & Tommy, Episode Four ‘The Master Beta’ is a real change-up in style and pace and Bell keeps you pinned to your seat the whole way through. A plethora of emotions is brought to the episode from excitement and love to fear and panic, and it’s a totally wild watch. While we’ve seen Pamela and Tommy live a life of wild excess together it’s also become clear that they’re also desperately in love with one another and their sweet, almost innocent love for one another is about to be tarnished in a very public light. It’s James’ reaction as Pamela to this new viral event where the episode finds its true impact and she’s very real in the anger and hurt that she presents in her reaction to these events.

Pam & Tommy has taken a sudden twist in Episode Four ‘The Masta Beta’ and it all ends in tears. Pamela and Tommy are not only contending with a terrible loss, but a clear violation of their private life and Rand is on the run on account of a very bad decision. And this series is turning into something completely different from what we thought it was going to be.

Pam & Tommy streams every Wednesday on Disney+

Image: Walt Disney Pictures