Pam & Tommy 1×07, “Destroyer of Worlds,” is an intriguing penultimate episode because this show can’t hurtle towards a “grand” finale that puts a bow on this story. There isn’t a finite end to it since it’s a dramatized chapter of a bigger narrative of multiple people’s real lives. So instead of gunning for an explosive finale, this episode finds those emotional, live wires within Pamela and, surprisingly enough, Erica.
As always, the best scenes focus on Pamela’s internal dialogue and emotional revelations. Lily James continues to stun at conveying all of the above and then some. Pamela’s perspective holds the most significance — from her memorable speech to her lawyer after the judge rules in Penthouse’s favor to an equally as significant one to Jay Leno.
In the latter example, Lake Bell (who again delivers incredible work) makes a directorial choice that elevates the material. Bell uses the camera to physically put the viewers on Pamela’s side. Bell’s work further executes this show’s apparent to reframe the dominant narrative in Pamela’s favor in a different version of the Jay Leno interview.
Before “Destroyer of Worlds,” Pam & Tommy shows this interview from Rand’s point of view in the first episode. This version jumps back and forth from the live audience’s reaction to one filtered through a TV screen. That all shifts when Pamela speaks candidly about the horror show with the tape. That tonal shift is when the camera switches to Pamela and Leno’s sides furthest from the audience.
It’s a more intimate shot that makes us focus on Pamela, the person, not Pamela, the movie star. It establishes a pattern of Pamela refusing to sugar-coat things for anyone anymore. The disappointing reality is that Pamela must maintain her agreeable reputation at a breakneck speed to keep people on her side. Hence, all the jokes and smiles, like the ones in the press room for her passion project Barb Wire. James’ command over her tone is masterful to watch in those scenes.
It’s infuriating that even after repeatedly proving she’s not the perpetrator, Pamela (and Tommy) still lose a lawsuit that should be unequivocally in her favor. Unfortunately, raging misogyny within the justice system isn’t a new tale, but maybe Pam & Tommy can help demystify that concept for some of its viewers.
As expected, Rand’s resistance to accepting accountability is as unappealing as ever. Rand’s speech to Erica about people using his kindness against him is ironic (like most of his scenes), but it lacks the emotional depth that the show can reach without him. Again, though, that may be a point Pam & Tommy wants to make. It’s repeatedly tricky to tell.
Still, it’s bizarre that the show gives more insight into Rand’s perspective than Tommy’s, despite his name being half of the title and his closer connection to Pamela. Moreover, the exploration of Tommy has been quite surface-level despite the layers Sebastian Stan brings to certain scenes.
For example, in “Destroyer of Worlds,” Stan’s performance implies the existence of an internal conflict with Tommy. Tommy seems to be aware of his destructive behavior and how that comes across to people like Rand and, most importantly, Pamela. Yet, Pam & Tommy doesn’t dare to delve into that as much as it could have at this point.
As a result, Tommy doesn’t have as much introspection as expected, and this isn’t to say his perspective should dominate the series. Pam & Tommy 1×06, “Pamela in Wonderland,” proves this show would be just fine focusing on its female lead — shocker! James’ Pamela is the heart of this show, as she should be.
Nevertheless, it’s odd that its co-lead hasn’t had as much exploration as Rand. Tommy and Rand’s scene in the abandoned parking lot reinforces this oddity because it seems to draw a line between the two men, suggesting there are potential similarities between them as “bad” people. If that is the case, why isn’t the Tommy of Pam & Tommy getting more balance to his on-screen arc compared to Rand?
Regardless of the unbalanced storytelling, Rand remains uninteresting. Consequently, the best part of Rand’s involvement in “Destroyer of Worlds” is Taylor Schilling‘s Erica. Erica’s perspective is far more fascinating. She has more opinions about the porn industry and the female gaze than Rand delivers in the last five episodes.
Erica’s concern about whether Rand got Pamela and Tommy to sign releases consensually shouldn’t elicit the reaction it does. Yet, it does because Rand’s continuous disregard for basic human decency makes anyone who stands up for it look like a genuine hero.
It’s also the first time a woman who doesn’t know Pamela or someone hired to defend her joins in on her outrage and vision. Plus, Erica is a woman who works in the porn industry. So, while she stresses the absurdity of Rand’s illegal and unethical actions, she also highlight’s the tape’s alternate intentions through the female gaze.
The criminal aspects of the tape’s release often mean its private and personal intentions get lost in translation, and, of course, we’ll never know the whole truth. But in the eyes of this show’s narrative, Erica rephrases and reinforces a lot of what Pamela continues to stress. Though Erica is still complicit by watching the video, she sees through the public and series’ dominant male gaze and admires Pamela’s directorial choices that focus not on sexual desire but genuine romantic desire — love.
That shouldn’t be something to lean forward and listen to in the grand scheme of a show that means to prioritize a woman’s perspective. But when Pam & Tommy filters a lot of its narrative through men’s perspectives, it’s refreshing to hear one of its only female characters back up a lot of what Pamela keeps saying to no one who will listen. Maybe that’s the silver lining of Pam & Tommy — people may listen now, even if it is late.
What did you think of Pam & Tommy 1×07, “Destroyer of Worlds?” Let us know in the comments below!
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