Podflix & Chill
Podflix & Chill

Episode 2 · 2 years ago

The Queen's Gambit - Netflix

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In the Netflix miniseries, The Queen's Gambit, Beth Harmon is orphaned at the age of 8 - right around the same time, she discovers chess. She becomes a prodigy, quickly rising through the ranks of the chess world until she is poised to become the U.S. Open Champion at the age of 16. The show examines the cost of fame against the backdrop of the 1960s and the growing threat of the Soviet Union.


Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Harry Melling, Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

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This episode is sponsored by
· Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

If you've ever thought about starting a podcast, let me tell you about anchor. Anchor is a free tool that makes it incredibly easy to get started with your new podcast. In fact, it's what I use. With anchor, you can record and edit your show directly from your phone or computer. They will distribute your show to major podcast platforms like apple podcast and spotify for you. You can even monetize your podcast with no minimum listener requirement. Oh and did I mention it's free? All you have to do to get started is download the free anchor APP or go to Anchor Dot FM. That's an Cho r dot FM anchor. It's everything you need to make a podcast in one place. For the better part of the last year, the streaming wars have reached new heights. The biggest names have reached a combined subscriber count of approximately five hundred million people, and they are not stopping. In two thousand and nineteen streaming behemoths spent billions of dollars in producing new original content to draw in more people. Netflix's budget alone was reported to be close to fourteen billion dollars. With so many services offering so much original content, it's hard to keep up that's where I come in. Hi, I'm Anjer, a self proclaimed and TV junk join me on my journey to watch as much original content from the streaming services as I can. I'll give you insight into the shows that you just don't have the time to watch. Fair warning, this show will most likely contain spoilers, so if that's not your thing, turn back now you don't mind spoilers. Let's dive in. Welcome to Pod flicks and chill. What's going on, guys? Welcome to the first ever episode of Pod flics and chill. I'm your host, Andrew, and before we dive into today's topic, I just want to say a huge thank you to whoever is listening. However you found out about the show, I greatly appreciate you tuning in and checking us out to see what we're all about. If you enjoy the show, please do me a favorite and subscribe so you get notified for when we post future episodes. Leave us a review, let me know how I'm doing and, most importantly, share the show. If you think the you know somebody who would enjoy it as much as I enjoy making it. I want to grow this thing into something big and I cannot do that without you, guys, so please subscribe, leave us a review and share. You can also follow the show on Instagram at Pod flicks and chill. That's pod flicks, the letter and chill. You follow us on there. I'll be posting updates every so often and you can even shoot me a message with ideas for future episodes. I'd love to hear from you, guys, and hear what sort of content you're watching. Keep in mind that it does not have to be exclusively netflix stuff. I know the name of the podcast is pod flicks and chill, but there's tons of streaming services out there, guys, so whatever it is you're watching on any of those services, I want to know about it. All right, but now that that parts out of the way, let's dive into the show that I want to talk about today, which is the Queen's Gambit. It's a Netflix miniseries. It just premiered at the end of October, October twenty three, I think, and I binged it in less than twenty four hours. Okay, it's only seven episodes long, so even if you take the conservative approach and watch an episode a day, it's still only about seven hours out of your time. So it's one episode a day for a week. You will not be disappointed that you took the time to watch this show. It is about well, in fact, how about I read the plot summary for you off of IMDB. Okay, here we go. Nine year old orphan Beth harmon is quiet, Sullen...

...and, by all appearances, unremarkable. That is until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she's competing for the US Open Championship. But as Beth hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting. Based on the book by Walter Tevis. So yes, the Queen's game. It was a one thousand nine hundred and eighty three novel written by a man named Walter Tevis, and in fact, when I finished the series on Netflix, I bought the book and read the book just to see how it compared. And Kudos to Netflix. They stayed very, very true to the source material. Obviously, whenever studios get a hand on some of these adaptations they tend to ramp things up a little bit for the big screen, or for the small screen in this case, and that did hold true for a couple of different points throughout, which we can get into later, but overall everything remained pretty accurate. The book is written from Beth's point of view, so a lot of the book descriptors the internal monolog that Beth is having. A lot of that was turned into actual dialog in the show between Beth and other characters, so I thought that was really neat. It's one of the first things I picked up on when I was reading and full disclaimer here to you guys do not need to understand anything about chess to enjoy this show. My own chess knowledge is rudimentary. I know the names of the pieces, how they move on the board and that the objective is to capture the opposing players king, but I didn't know there was opening strategy, Middle Game Strategy and strategy. I didn't know that there's apparently hundreds upon probably thousands of books written about chess. I did know that it was a very big deal around the s and the s and even into the s because there were a lot of real life players around the same time who were almost the same age as Beth growing up that competed on a professional circuit. There were a lot of younger chess championships and it became a very big deal around that era with the Cold War, with the Soviet Union and Communism. So a lot of that that is actually depicted in the book in the series is accurate. It's accurate to real life, but this character of Beth and her particular story is completely fictional. But I wanted to dive into sort of the character of Beth. Let's start there, because the first time we really truly meet her we're seeing her just after a car accident in which her mother is killed and Beth is standing on the side of the road just completely in shock. Obviously she's just experienced a huge trauma. Really for the first few minutes of the show we I don't think she talks. I don't think the character of Beth talks for a little while. So we kind of get the sense that that's her, that's her temperament throughout and it's true she's very isolated and introverted throughout the entire series. Because the series takes place over such a long period of time. We actually get three different actresses playing Beth. We have a five year old beath that we see through flashbacks and then we have the eight nine year old Beth who we really only see four episode one into the second episode, and then we have the main actress who plays Beth from age thirteen up, and that's Onnya Taylor Joy. And honestly I did not know who Anya Taylor joy was before this, but she played Casey Cook in the m night Shamalan films split and glass, so she's had some recent successes and I thought she did an outstanding job...

...of depicting the character of Beth harmon so after Beth's mother's death, we see her taken to an orphanage, and all girls orphanage, where she very quickly becomes addicted to what we're introduced to as tranquilizer pills, and they're these little green, quote unquote, vitamins that they give the girls to sort of sedate them and make them easier to deal with. But they're these prescription pills that the girls get given one a day, and Beth starts to hoard them in her toothbrusholder and take two, three, four, five, ten at a time and really quickly becomes addicted to them and we see that culminate to the end of episode one where she actually the the orphanage gets in trouble. There's a new State Law in Kentucky that they're no longer allowed to give children these pills. So they get put under lock and key, but they're still at the school. So Beth devises his plan to break into the pharmacy, climb over the counter and begins shoveling pills into her mouth. She must have taken at least thirty and then she starts stuffing her pockets with them. And then she decides that's not enough, so she's going to take this big giant glass jar with its roughly the size of her torso and steal it and she gets caught in the act. But right as she gets caught, she od's on these pills. The Jar goes crashing to the floor, she falls over and that's the end of the episode. In the book you find out she goes to the hospital, gets her stomach pumped and she's back the next day and gets reprimanded. But it doesn't dive too too much into that in the series. Additionally, throughout this first episode we are introduced to two characters who sort of are driving force for Beth throughout the rest of the series. The first character is Joe Lene. That's one of her best friends in the orphanage and we really kind of see like a mentor relationship happened, because Joelene's a bit of an older girl. In the book it's not quite as rainbow ee there. There's actually a really uncomfortable scene that takes place in which Joelene, the character, molests Beth one of her first like couple of weeks at the orphanage, and Beth doesn't really like Joe Lene but grows to appreciate her and like her later on in life. For obvious reasons, since they were using child actors, they did not include that scene in the show. So good on your Netflix. But the other character that we're introduced to is Mr Schibel and he's the orphanage custodian who actually winds up teaching Beth how to play chess. She goes into the basement, she sees him playing and she starts asking him a bunch of questions and reluctantly he starts teaching her and she quickly gets very, very good. She starts out playing him and he realizes that there's nothing else that he can teach her. So he invites one of his friends from the local chess club to watch Beth play, and he also is the moderator of the school chess team, the local high schools chess team. He invites her to come to the high school and play all twelve members of the chess team at the same time and she whoops their butts. It's actually a really great scene. I I liked it because this is a first time that bets really been outside of the orphanage, so she's very awkward and uncomfortable. She doesn't quite know how to make it work and she's just surrounded by these twelve high school boys who are just given her the stare down and think they're tough shit for being good at chess, and she just like decimates all of them. So that's pretty cool. But moving into episode two, we see Beth get adopted and this is where the actress Annia Taylor joy takes over for Beth at the age of thirteen. So Beth gets adopted by the Wheatley family and moves into their house into Kentuck key. So she has to start adapting to life there again, very awkward her learning how to socially interact with high schoolers. It's very uncomfortable situation. But she finds a local chess tournament and decides...

...to start competing. She goes to the chess tournament, she rises through the ranks of the chess tournament and there is where we meet two more characters, actually for more characters, Mike and Matty's twin brothers, who are the registration table at the tournament. But then two other characters who become prominent figures in Beth's life. We have Harry Beltic, who's the Kentucky state champion and he's played by Harry Melling, who played Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films. Interestingly enough, Harry melling was also in another netflix original movie titled the Old Guard, which was a great film. Maybe I'll do a future episode on it, but it was. It was absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend that as well. And the other character we meet is dl towns. We never get a first name. He's just known as towns throughout the show and he's played by actor Jacob Fortune Lloyd and I thought he looked familiar throughout. He was actually a scith fleet officer in the most recent Star Wars Saga film, so the rise of skywalker. He played it throw a bad guy. Literally, his his film credit on IDB says sith fleet officer. So whatever. But those are two characters that we meet at the tournament there that become prominent figures throughout Ben's, through Beth's, excuse me, life, and she actually develops sexual feelings towards dl towns, but they never wind up culminating into anything and they just become really good friends by the end of the last episode. Moving on from there, we see Beth's adopted mother, Mrs Wheatley, take a an interest in Beth's chess playing and she starts gallivanting Beth all across the country to compete in tournaments and win the prize money. Mr Wheatley, at this point we've realized as a deadbeat. He moves off to Denver somewhere and we don't see him again for a few more episodes. But Beth's adoptive mother really takes her in and starts helping her book all these chess tournaments to win the prize money and we really see Beth get a mother figure that she's that she hasn't had in her life, which makes it all the more devastating in episode four or five when Mrs Wheatley Dies in the her hotel room in Mexico City, Beth has a huge match against her one of the top Russian players in the world, vasily a Bor Golf, and she goes into the match very frightened and insecure about her playing ability, and Mrs Wheatley never shows up to the match. So she gets back to the hotel room, starts telling Mrs Wheatley how she lost and how devastating it was, and Miss Wee. Mrs Wheatley's not reacting. Beth goes over to her on the bed and just finds that she's died. I'm it's really heartbreaking and upsetting because you just see everywhere in Beth's life every time she sort of takes a step forward towards whatever it is that she wants, she's met with something else in her life that goes wrong. But that makes it all the more devastating when you realize that the throughout the show that she's reintroduced to the tranquilizer pills and begins getting addicted to them again, and she also becomes an alcoholic and gets addicted to that, and that is very ramped up throughout this throughout the series. I think it's elevated to a level more so than what it was in the book, but it parallels the book very, very closely. And again, looking at the character of Beth, you know she witnessed her mother intentionally drive into oncoming traffic to kill herself. Then the only mother figure she's ever known dies in a hotel room in Mexico City and she's never had a father figure. Her mother and father were separated when she was younger and her adopted father decides to run off to Denver because he doesn't want to deal with a daughter or a wife. He couldn't cut it as a dad, so he just bails. So it makes sense that the character of Beth would turn to drugs and alcohol...

...and chess, chess as she describes it. In the show. There was a great scene where she's answering an interview question and she just sort of says the first thing she noticed about chess was the board. It's this tiny little square made up of sixty four other squares in which there's perfect control. There's nothing from the outside can hurt her or get her, and she just has to focus on what's going on within that little world and control what's going on in there, and it's a really powerful insight into Beth's character. But moving on from that, as Beth gets more and more accolades, she competes in more tournaments and one of them is the US Open, where she winds up co championing with another on again, off again rival, Benny Watts. Benny Watts is played by Thomas Brodie Sangster, who was Joj and read in the HBO Series Game of Thrones, and it also looks like he was in the maze runner movies as well, which I've never seen, but I recognized him from game of thrones. So her and Benny have this on again, off again rivalry because Benny is just a really well studied chess player and Beth sort of plays more by intuition. So it destroys her when Benny is better than her. Plus the fact that he was winning championships when she was eight or when he was eight, and she didn't start competing until she was thirteen, so even though she was just as good as him when she was a so she's really frustrated by that. But they wind up co championing the US Open and then he decides to help her train. Later on in the film, after she loses to Borgolf in Mexico City, she has to play him again in Paris and Benny invites Beth to stay with him in New York City and train for the Paris Match. And this was another interesting divergence between the book and the show because in the book we get a lot of detail and insight into their weeks together. They wind up having a sexual relationship and Beth goes into the Paris Match extremely, extremely confident, and almost looks like she's going to win it until Borgolf just turns the tide and and beats her. In the show we only see Benny and Beth sleep together once. There's still the level and commitment to training, but her match with Borgolf in the show is introduced as her going on a bend or the night before, sleeping with a onnight stand and then showing up to her chess match completely hung over, and that's why she loses the match. Not because Borgolf was just that good, but because she was hungover and she didn't dedicate the time to study or practice or anything the night before. So that was that was an interesting divergence. And then finally, after the Paris Match, the show sort of ends with the Moscow invitational in Russia that Beth has been invited to. She's competing with four other top or I'm sorry, three other top chess players from around the world and for the top Russian players, and it all winds up coming down to a match between her and Borgolf, who again has beaten her at the last two of their interactions right, and she goes into that match clean and with the help of all of her friends. At this point she's gotten help from Harry Beltics, she's gotten help from Benny Watch, she's gotten help from dl towns, and they all sort of coach her and train her to beat Borgolf by the end of the match. And it's a really great scene because even Borgolf, who's had this icy demeanor the entire show, you see him break a smile and clap for her and give her a hug, and I think there's even a mention in the book of her being like confused or taken aback by it. And and then the show ends with her walking through a...

...park in Moscow where there's, you know, tons of old guys playing chess at these boards that are set up sort of like the scenes that you see in central park, and one of them recognizes her and she's just surrounded by this crowd of people cheering her name and applauding her and shaking her hand because she's done something that nobody else has. She's a woman, a successful woman in the world of chess in the S. she's just beaten one of the top Russian players in the world. I mean, even though there were strained relations between the Soviet Union and with America, you know, that's still a pretty big deal, kind of like the end of Rocky, for when Rocky Beats Drago. You know, if I could change you can change your Voi could change yeah, you know, it kind of had that feel to it, but a little bit more grounded in reality, and it was actually a really cool moment. That's also depicted in the book just a the book has it depicted a little bit earlier, but again that that's pretty much as detailed as I want to get into the summary of the show because I really think it would be cool for you guys to check it out on your own and watch it. But I will say that you know, outside of the actual plot, I thought the costume design and the set design were out of this world. I didn't grow up in the S, so I know nothing about it in real life, but it looks like it would actually look were it that timeframe. I thought the costumes were great. I thought the the set esthetic was fantastic. Everything was on point to keep you engaged and watching throughout the show. I did a little background digging into it. I couldn't find the production budget specifically for the show, but it's very clear that they had a big one. And just a little fun tidbit that I discovered was that they hired a man named Bruce Pandolfini as a chest consultant for the actors to make sure that everything was accurate and looked right and sound did right and all that good stuff. And Bruce Pandolphine, he's actually a chess coach in real life and he was a chess coach to a child prodigy back in the day of the name Joshua Waite Skin, who had his own movie made about him called searching for Bobby Fisher, and searching for Bobby Fisher is all about Joshua waite skin learning how to play speed chess from a guy in a central park, you know, and so his dad hires him a professional chess coach named Bruce Pandolfini, who in the film was portrayed by Ben Kingsley, who I think is one of the greatest actors of all time. And it's Josh's struggle. The movie is Josh's struggle to sort of combine his love, his just as natural love and talent for chess and speed chess with what bruce wants him to be as a player, because Bruce really wants him to be and thinks he can be the next Bobby Fisher. And Bobby Fisher was one of the most famous child chess prodigies to come out of the states. He wound up actually being a world chess champion in one thousand nine hundred and seventy two, I think, at the age of sixteen. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it was sixteen and I'm pretty sure he beat one of the top Russian players as well. So I was hoping for a little bit more of a link between Beth's character and somebody like a Bobby Fisher, but that didn't happen, unfortunately, but that's okay. It was still a great show to watch. I still really, really enjoyed it and I think you guys will enjoy it as well. So definitely definitely check out the queen's Gambit on Netflix. Like I said, it's a seven episode miniseries. Conservatively, you...

...could watch an episode a day and be done in a week, or you could be a little bit more aggressive like me and watch all, pretty much all seven episodes in less than twenty four hours. Totally up to you whatever your preference is. But yeah, I would definitely give the show like a four out of five. I thought it was very well done. I can't say it enough. I think it's definitely one that you guys should check out, and that's that's the show, guys. So again, if you liked the show, please do me a favor and subscribe, leave a review, share this with your friends and let's help grow this thing. Follow us on Instagram at Pod flicks and chill and let me know what other shows you'd want me to review for future episodes. Until next time. Guys, thanks for tuning in. I'm your host, Andrew, and this is pod flicks and chill.

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