Photo courtesy of imdb.com
Netflix is back at it again, releasing another binge-worthy original series, “The Queen’s Gambit.” In a mere seven episodes, the series covers the ups and downs of the life of famous chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy).
The new drama places a spin on the mentally challenging game of chess, turning a seemingly dry topic into a rare masterpiece. Through an eerie feel, unique take on life, addiction, and trauma, and an engaging cast, director Scott Frank leaves viewers with a truly thrilling story.
Set in the 1950s and 60s, Harmon’s story begins in an orphanage after a tragic accident which killed her mother left her alone. It is here the young math wizard first encounters the game of chess. Through the tutelage of the janitor Mr. Shaibel (Bill Camp), Beth quickly learns the rules of the game, soon moving up to play at the high school level. However, while at the orphanage, she not only falls in love with the game of chess, but with the pills given to the girls to keep them in order as well.
Overcoming her addiction at a young age, Beth finds a home with Mrs. Alma Wheatley (the marvelous Marielle Heller) who has various issues of her own. Finding her way in the chess world, Harmon soon finds herself playing state champions such as Harry Beltik (Harry Melling) and grandmasters and national champions like Benny Watts (Thomas Brodie-Sangster).
Though at first it may seem that Beth has no fears, we soon learn that losing is not an option. Beth’s intelligence is threatened, particularly by the Soviets. Russian player Borgov (Marcin Dorocinski) quickly becomes Harmon’s biggest threat and obsession. However, she is haunted by addiction issues as she plays her way up in the chess world.
The captivating performances from Taylor-Joy and Marielle Heller only add to this plot. They bring the characters to life with such assurance that viewers cannot help but be fully immersed in the world of competitive chess.
Although the acting is phenomenal and the scenery is out of this world, the connection between Harmon and the friends she meets along the way could be further developed. This would include developing a stronger connection with her two main love interests, Benny Watt and D. L. Townes (Jacob Fortune-Loyd).
Aside from the confusing childhood with her biological mother, “The Queen’s Gambit” covers several serious topics in such a fantastic way, that the audience cannot help but be captivated by the dulled tones and traumatic stories of a female chess player in a male-dominated society.
What next? The audience will just have to wait in hopes that Netflix will confirm a second season shortly, so viewers can further immerse themselves in the life of Miss Beth Harmon.