Anderson and Tommy Lee seemingly make all the wrong decisions in their attempts to keep the video tape from hitting mainstream awareness.
With this fifth installment, any attempts to keep the sex tape a part of the underground flew out the window as "Pam & Tommy" seem to make the wrong call in pre-emptively trying to shut down Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione.
Last week's installment split the narrative between Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee as they slowly learned about how the tape was being distributed and their efforts to shut it down by sending a hoodlum to shake down Rand Gauthier and Uncle Miltie.
This week, the only glimpse we got as to what's going on with the men who destroyed Pam's life was a shot of Rand's empty apartment when Tommy's guy broke the door down. We already knew Miltie had left the county, but it now looks like Rand is on the run, too.
That left the focus squarely on Pam and Tommy as they grappled not only with the slowly spreading tape of their private lives but also the recent miscarriage of their baby. The strain on them personally and in their marriage was really starting to show.
Add to that Pamela on the cusp of hoping she'll be taken more seriously as an actress with her upcoming starring role in the action comic book film "Barb Wire" and Tommy struggling to handle the shift from traditional rock to the Seattle grunge sound and you've got a recipe for disaster.
While there is a lot of controversy about the very existence of this film, possibly serving as a trigger for Pamela and Tommy by reliving the most traumatic events and years of their lives -- Pamela, in particular -- credit has to be given for how sensitively this subject matter has been handled now that we're into the nitty-gritty of it.
We wish the tone of the whole project could have been a little more sensitive and consistent, but at least there is a sense of compassion and humanity in how the impact of the tape's spread is affecting the titular pair.
Even Tommy, who has been depicted as a bad boy and an asshole pretty consistently since the beginning -- it was him bullying and abusing Rand that triggered Rand into stealing the safe in the first place -- is showing some deeper nuance, with Sebastian Stan injecting subtle moments of genuine compassion through his physical performances.
Tommy still has destructive and self-destructive tendencies, but there is a sense that he truly does care and want to do what's best. Unfortunately, he has no idea what that might be and seems to be making the wrong call the whole way through.
Pamela, on the other hand, seems to know the right move, but she doesn't have the strength and confidence to truly advocate for herself. No moment sold that better than when she perfectly explained her reservations about suing Guccione.
Tommy got word that the Penthouse publisher had a copy of the tape and figured he'd probably seek to publish images from it in the magazine as a way to stick it to Hugh Hefner (since Pam had posed for Playboy). He even know that Guccione would cite freedom of the press and expression.
Nevertheless, always choosing the path of most aggression, Tommy thought they should sue, and his army of male lawyers all agreed. Pam thought this would only elevate the story of the tape, raise awareness of it and possibly derail any chance of it quietly fading away.
We'll never know if it could have faded away during the early days of the internet, but we got a hint that the possibility of that happening did exist. Remember that this was 1996 and most news was still in print, with only a few publications just starting to go online.
The internet was not nearly as pervasive as it is now, nor as accessible or easy to use. As such, when a reporter at the L.A. Times tried to pitch the story to her editor, he shut it down as gossip and not newsworty.
We saw scenes of her several times trying to push the story. Even after she spoke to Tommy and he let slip the tape was stolen, leading her to find the police report, she wasn't able to get anywhere. It was only when they sued Guccione that she finally got her story.
In other words, the story was smutty and too sensational and until there was a formal lawsuit about it, nobody in the news media was really all that worried about it. Another angle that presented a similar narrative was the writers' room at "The Tonight Show."
Throughout the episode, we saw the writers talking about the tap and even pitching jokes to Jay Leno about the sex tape, but he didn't want to touch it because not enough people knew about it. But when the lawsuit was filed, suddenly the media picked up on the story and it started to go wide.
The media stories may have focused on the lawsuit itself, but Leno focused on the more sordid details of the tape. And, as you might expect, he focused almost exclusively on Pam's body in his first jokes about it. Pam and Tommy were in bed watching the show when suddenly he started talking about her "flotation devices."
Lily James portrays Pam's growing horror and frustration perfectly through the episode. She started it hopeful and trying to stay positive, doing a feature story for Glamour. By the end of the episode, as the tape blew up more and more out of control, the Glamour story looks like it's in jeopardy and Pamela is at her wit's end.
There was an important scene between Pam and her agent, Gail, after the lawsuit story broke. Gail was horrified and advised exactly what Pam had advised, that they should have never sued. What followed was a conversation between two women in 1996 about how hard it is to be heard and to advocate for yourself in a world run by men.
Gail has learned how to do it and she encourages Pam to find her voice, even as it's probably already too late to help her now. And we see some of that, as Pam takes some agency over her body on the set of "Baywatch" and even stands up for herself a bit more with Tommy.
But this is a man's world, as she quickly finds out when she gets a summons for a deposition over the tape and Tommy does now. Why would they only need to speak to her when the tape was stolen from both of them, features both of them and is exploiting both of them? Probably because it came from a bunch of men and she's Pamela Anderson.
This was a quiet episode overall, but it did a good job of taking us up to the point the tape is now a part of the national discourse. This is the moment it all begins to fall apart for Pam, in particular, putting a strain on her relationship it ultimately can't recover from and derailing her career almost entirely.
Pam and Tommy were the victims of a crime and that crime turned them into the butt of late-night jokes and almost completely destroyed her life. And yet, we see how little they can do about it here. And this was in the infancy still of the internet. Things have only gotten worse for women, and celebrity women in particular, in many ways.
That's where the true pain of watching this series comes from, knowing that Pam did nothing wrong and yet her life is spiraling out of her control and there's nothing she can do about it. She sees the training coming straight at her and she has no idea how to stop it or what's going to happen when it hits her.
It's impossible to even fathom that sense of terror and dread that she must have lived with every moment of every day as this whole situation was unfurling around her. And as she realized that this was so much more her problem than Tommy's.
Even this week, Tommy got guys in the bathroom telling him how great it was. Pam is the butt of jokes on television and having her feature probably pulled from Glamour. Tommy is going to rock star his way through it coming out a hero while Pam is going to be absolutely trashed and vilified.
She sees it all coming and Tommy just doesn't get it, leaving her totally alone in the eye of the storm.
New episodes of "Pam & Tommy" drop every Wednesday on Hulu.