What We're Watching: 'The Queen's Gambit' Reveals It's Okay to Settle for Assist

What We're Watching: 'The Queen's Gambit' Reveals It's Okay to Settle for Assist


Netflix's "The Queen's Gambit" a show about chess prodigy Beth Harmon
Netflix

It’s not typically that I’m intrigued by new content material on Netflix, however I’m a complete chess nerd and once I heard that its newest launch The Queen’s Gambit centered on chess, I used to be all in. The interval piece instantly charmed me and I ended up binge-watching all seven episodes of the restricted collection over the weekend with no single remorse.

Set in the course of the Chilly Battle, The Queen’s Gambit follows younger chess prodigy Beth Harmon (performed by the fantastic Anya Taylor-Pleasure, of Emma, Break up, and The VVitch), and her battles on and off the chessboard. After being orphaned at age eight, Beth is shipped off to a Christian orphanage from whence we watch her journey (and trauma) begin to unfold.

Someday she is informed to take some chalkboard erasers right down to the basement and clear them. As she does, she sees the college’s janitor, Mr. Shaibel, playing chess. She is immediately curious concerning the recreation and begs him to show her, to which he ultimately agrees. We quickly be taught that Beth is a chess prodigy and that she has a powerful knack for visualizing strikes in her head. We see this in higher element when she takes the state-sanctioned tranquilizer capsules distributed as a sedative to every of the orphans every single day.

As Beth ages, she continues to play chess in opposition to Mr. Shaibel and even in opposition to the native highschool’s chess group. She ultimately will get adopted and continues enjoying chess in native and nationwide tournaments as a strategy to earn some cash. It additionally doesn’t take lengthy for her to find that her adoptive mom has a prescription for a similar tranquilizer capsules she took on the orphanage, which she steals to perpetuate her drug behavior.

We see that Beth was alone not simply on the orphanage, however even earlier than, as her father was out of the image and her mom had a spiraling psychological sickness. She continued being alone in her new dwelling, at her new faculty, and even at chess tournaments as she was often the one girl there. At one level, Beth says “I don’t thoughts being alone,” stating that chess makes her really feel secure because it’s “a whole world of simply 64 squares.”

And regardless that the assertion appears earnest, you’ll be able to’t assist however marvel if it’s one Beth’s simply attempting to persuade herself of, out of loneliness. Her cool, quiet demeanor makes it appear as if she is comfortably unaware of the protecting onerous shell she’s shaped round herself as a survival mechanism. We by no means know for positive if she retains everybody she meets at arm’s size deliberately or simply out of sheer defensive reflex.

As Beth continues to win video games in opposition to more and more formidable opponents, her self-destructive tendencies additionally start intensifying. She turns into more and more remoted and erratic, a lot to the dismay of these in her orbit. It’s painful to look at her losses begin to mount her victories, particularly as she continues to disclaim relationships and provides in to her vices and interior demons.

Beth Harmon playing chess in "The Queen's Gambit" on Netflix
Netflix

Later, as Beth begins getting ready to play her final opponent, a Russian named Borgov, she learns that the Russians actually play as a group. The present takes place in the course of the Chilly Battle, in spite of everything, so after all there’s an emphasis on the Russians’ pure comradery versus the quieter individualism present in Western nations.

Beth ultimately learns that the one strategy to win and to assist herself is by accepting the assistance and friendship being provided to her by her buddies and fellow chess gamers. The Queen’s Gambit is the story of the struggles of a prodigy and the ache of accepting assist and friendship. The present comes full circle as soon as Beth realizes that no recreation of chess is gained with one piece and that the one approach she’ll reach something is that if she opens herself as much as others.

And although the present facilities round chess, it by no means buries the viewers in complicated terminology or ways. That stated, it doesn’t ignore chess followers both: each recreation was choreographed by chess nice Garry Kasparov and Bruce Pandolfini.

The Queen’s Gambit is great, well-paced, and gripping each step of the best way. The present’s characters, costumes, set design, and, nicely, all the things else are all impeccable and all a part of the explanation why the miniseries is receiving praise around the world.



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