Thursday, December 24, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Queen’s Gambit (Series Finale)

The Queen’s Gambit: Season 1, Episode 7 “End Game” (B+)

This really was a superb finale, one that did provide a pretty satisfactory end to Beth’s story. Opening with Mr. Shaibel’s funeral was a good way to tie together the influences that shaped Beth early on, and the haunting flashbacks to the final moments with her mother were also effective. Rebuffing the Christians who wanted her to publicly affirm her commitment to religion was a bold decision, one that she couldn’t really back up until Jolene offered her the money to get her all the way to Russia. Hearing all the rules about what she could and couldn’t do and watching her watch around by herself made clear the isolation she felt, and it was nice to see some camaraderie in the game from Luchenko, who resigned with pleasure and praised her as the best player he’d seen. That was a perfect moment for Townes to show up and provide her some true comfort, and it was very sweet that he had Benny and Beltik on the phone to offer support when she needed it most. Refusing to accept Borgov’s draw proposal was an expected move, and the grace he showed in telling her that it was her game and hugging her was wonderful. It was cool to see her simulate the game on the ceiling during the match to help herself and have Borgov and everyone look up to see what was up there. Having the final scene show her walking in the park and playing a random game was great, and it’s a real tribute to how she enjoys the game. I’m definitely going to try playing chess a lot more now, and I hope this very well-done show earns a good deal of awards attention for its technical elements and all its cast members, including Marielle Heller as Alma. Bring on the praise – this limited series was terrific.

Series grade: A-
Series MVP: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth

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