Friday, December 18, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit: Season 1, Episode 5 “Fork” (B+)

It’s fascinating to see the way the men in Beth’s life react to her. Both Beltik and Benny first met Beth when she was considerably more awkward and when they were considered to be the best. Beltik calling her from a payphone in the rain made him seem like a completely different person, eager to connect with someone who had evidently influenced his life in a big way. She barely seemed to notice when, after moving in with her, he confessed that she was the reason that he got his teeth fixed, and there was something almost too easy about the way that a romantic relationship started between them. Losing to her over and over obviously took a toll on him, but in this case it led to a positive realization, which was that he didn’t actually love chess anymore. Benny, on the other hand, seems to truly enjoy it, and it was fun – and dizzying – to see them play speed games and then to watch through a number of split-screen frames as they slowly took down each of their opponents so that they could end up being matched up for the final round. Chipping away at her confidence and her wallet ahead of time should have broken Beth, but instead she rallied and won in the real match. I’m excited to see them work together to prepare for her international trips, and it’s good to know that Benny has made sex off-limits and is keeping a watchful eye on her generous attitude towards alcohol.

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