As Pamela is forced to watch and answer questions about the leaked sex tape, accused of being a prostitute and worse, she recalls happier times when she was the one in control of her sexuality and body.
Did the pervy-seeming old men in that room during the deposition get some kind of strange thrill asking Pamela Anderson lurid questions about her sex life and body, or did they really believe the puritanical drivel they were espousing?
We may never know the answer to that question, but that uncertainty doesn't make this fictionalized account of what she endured any less disgusting. Anderson has described the horrific experience, which she ultimately shut down, as more than she could take.
We also never got an answer as to why Tommy Lee wasn't also deposed to suffer this kind of humiliation, which is why you have to ask if there wasn't some sort of perversion at play. Was it more titillating to go over the contents of that tape with a woman than a man?
They also seemed completely dismissive of Tommy's wild days, his rock-and-roll past, making it about Pamela when they asked if she knew that Tommy slept with prostitutes. That she had to school the attorney that prostitutes get paid for sex and Tommy never paid for sex gives an indication of just how much sex awareness she was dealing with.
The moment, of course, also opened up the man to ask if she'd ever been paid for sex, and then ask again when she said no. He also opened his line of questioning by asking the first time she publicly exposed her genitals.
It was obviously meant to be combative, but also to knock her off her game and maybe get her to expose something. The narrative the opposition was trying to build was pretty clear, and it was all about slut-shaming Pamela and painting her as a whore who purposefully sells her body and sexuality for money.
He even went so far as to say she secretly leaked the tape so that she could intentionally get it into the hands of Hugh Hefner's rival, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. What was very smartly done in the presentation of the episode was how this deposition was framed with other moments in Pamela's life.
In particular, their painting of Pamela posing for Playboy as ponography could not be farther from what we actually saw when we stepped back in time for her first visit to the Playboy mansion. There, it was Pamela who had all the agency and power. She even had her mother in tow, which definitely goes against the porn narrative.
We saw the photographer give her all the control, saying they would only pose in whatever she was comfortable with and that the photos would keep it classy. It's just that at Playboy, it's believed that a woman can still be classy if she's undressed. It's a powerful contrast to what was happening in the deposition, so jumping back and forth between those scenes was very effective.
A huge asterisk followed by a question mark has to be added to these supposedly true events, because they do involve a scene between Pamela and Hugh Hefner. Now, Anderson has spoken fondly and consistently of Hefner her whole life, saying he was like a fatherly figure to her, always supportive and that's it.
The Playboy founder, though, is being painted in a very different way by some of the other women who've been a part of his life, with a whole slew of scathing allegations. But this is Pamela's story, and this is the Hef she portrays. It's also possible that he could have been this supportive, fatherly figure to Pamela while being something entirely different with some of the other women.
Regardless, the portrayal here again pushed back against the narrative of Pamela as some morally depraved woman peddling in pornography for money. And we also don't know how accurate the deposition scene was. We know Pamela believes it was invasive and awful, and that's certainly what viewers were presented with.
The attorney went so far as to ask Pamela on multiple occasions to identify the two people in different scenes from the stolen tape, though it's clearly the same people throughout. Is this necessary? Was having her watch any of it necessary? Or was it all about creating narratives where there was at least a chance that she was this morally bankrupt slut.
In the end, Pamela had to flee the meeting room, sick to her stomach. It was here where we discovered she appears to again be pregnant, adding yet another layer of emotions on top of what she's already been going through and was going through in that moment.
But when she got back into that room, she again was able to take control. When the attorney called for them to reconvene and pick up again the next day, Pamela pulled her lawyer aside and said she was done. Either he makes it over or she finds a new lawyer.
Then, after all the other attorneys left, Pamela sat down again at the table so that she could leave in full control of herself, with her dignity and agency intact. Focusing on her slowly gathering her things and stepping out of the room, with a kind word for the cleaning staff, showed that even this violation wasn't going to win.
From the beginning, with a flashback to when she was first discovered, we saw a Pamela who was seen for her sexuality and surrounded by insecure men who tried to control her. Her first boyfriend that we saw treated her like dirt dismissively and even threw something at her over the thought of her posing for Playboy.
She walked away from that, but that weakness for bad boys never quite left her. Again and again, she found herself surrounded by men who wanted to weaponize her sexuality against her and/or wanted to control her in some way. Even Tommy, for all that he seemed to genuinely love her, was very controlling of her.
It was enough that she questions herself constantly, deferring to the men in her life. It's only in this moments where she fights for herself, like walking out on her Canadian boyfriend for America and Playboy and shutting down the deposition, that she's able to fully claim her independence and stand in her power.
Pamela is such a complex character, because of how sex positive she's been in her life and career, and how much it's also hurt her personally and professionally. What was effective about this episode was that the creative team behind the show didn't shy away from that complexity.
She's certainly not the only woman who found strength in her very womanhood and sexuality only to have it turned around and used against her, making this story even bigger than just what happened to Pamela Anderson.
It is what movements like #MeToo are pushing back against and trying to expose at the same time. It is what happens, in different ways, to women every day. Too many women can probably recognize themselves in all the sides of Pamela's story -- if not exactly -- and not enough men men can probably recognize their role in making women feel the ways Pamela was made to feel.
New episodes of "Pam & Tommy" drop every Wednesday on Hulu.