Pam & Tommy Episode 1 Recap: A Bad Employer, A Stolen Tape
Pam & Tommy may be a story of celebrity exploitation, in which a leaked sex tape became a source of profit for its two unscrupulous sellers, but much of its first episode tells the story of celebrity entitlement. It's 1995 and contractors Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen) and Lonnie (Larry Brown) are renovating Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan)'s bedroom in the home he shares with his wife, Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson (Lily James, barely in this episode). The first signs that Lee might not be the most considerate employer are heard, not seen. The sounds of him and Anderson having loud, enthusiastic sex frequently carry over the room in which the carpenters are working, disrupting their peace. When the rockstar finally appears, he seems amiable enough at first, but then defaults to the casual entitlement and crass carelessness of the rich, demanding changes that would require Gauthier to double his work and putting off the workers' requests to be paid. As his proposed plans keep changing, at one point involving a water bed, shag carpets, and a 360-degree view of the shower, Gauthier keeps having to dip into his own meagre funds.
The episode goes to great lengths to build sympathy for the workman, zeroing in on the stack of bills on his counter at home and the sparse contents of his fridge. As the project chugs along, Gauthier can neither afford to pay his cable bills, nor buy much more of the tools required to complete the renovation. Lee's behaviour begins to border on abusive as he terrorises his employee for his own enjoyment, even pointing what's later revealed to be an unloaded gun at him as a prank. Director Craig Gillespie scores the carpenter's repeated humiliations to the sound of a cassette tape being rewinded, planting the seeds for how Gauthier eventually views the leaking of a private tape as fair retribution. When he finally asks Lee to pay him upfront, the rockstar accuses him and Lonnie of having done a shoddy job, despite clearly having no knowledge of carpentry or the quality of materials used, and fires them.
The renovation has cost Gauthier $9,000 dollars, and more humiliation is in store. When he returns to grab the toolbox he forgot to pick up, Lee threatens to shoot him if he doesn't leave it behind. Gauthier wets himself in fright, which brings back memories of his abusive father who made him feel unwanted and frequently called him a "worthless piece of shit". The flashback spells out what Gauthier himself doesn't: that he won't let himself be treated that way ever again. And thus is born Operation Karma.
Gauthier hangs around the Lee-Anderson mansion for a few months, making note of their comings and goings, paparazzi timings and security arrangements. In an ingenious plan that involves disguising himself as the couple's massive, floofy dog, he breaks in and steals their safe. It speaks to the excesses of celebrity lifestyle that Lee doesn't even notice it gone the next morning, distracted by the rest of the valuable clutter in his garage. Gauthier meanwhile keeps the expensive watches, sells the weapons he finds, and uses the money to pay off his bills. When he finds a tape among the loot later, he takes it to an old friend and porn producer Miltie (Nick Offerman). The two watch it and while the camera doesn't cut to the contents that have left them slack-jawed, it's all too obvious what they're looking at. In a few months, the rest of the world will have seen it too.