Irregular situations create irregular individuals. I believe that is the best opening line for what’s about to follow.
Human beings have a certain fascination for the unusual, the uncommon, call it as you may. Something that goes above the limited understanding of our own physical or intellectual capabilities and it’s probably why the superhero culture is such a raging trend.

We are fascinated and curious about the unknown and what we struggle to understand.
Meet Beth Harmon, a recently found orphan, that had suffered the trauma of seeing her mom drawing her last breath — we can already draw an unparalleled comparison to the likes of say Bruce Wayne aka… The Batman after we witnessed his parents being murdered by a mugger. (Oh so so many times; please we cannot stand seeing them die through another reboot, and yes, that goes for you Uncle Ben)

What makes Beth so special? She is beautifully antisocial and at the age of nine, she learned how to play chess just by watching the janitor of her orphanage playing by himself. She eventually got to learn the intricacies of the game through him and Incredibly rapidly, surpasses him.

In the meantime, she picked up a drug addiction, unfortunately so, that would enable her to play chess through a phantom chessboard that would materialize on her ceiling after she indulges in the drug. So at night, when everyone is asleep, she replays her sessions in her head by looking at the ghostly visions and doing so, gets better every time at predicting her opponent’s move.

Let’s stop here for a second. What is it about a game of 64 squares that fascinate her so much? Is it the thrill of winning? Is it the fact that she can get lost in that little kingdom world of wooden pieces and be sucked in by all the strategies made to protect and save the Queen? Is it the welcome break from her reality? One that forces her to care more about Chess’s grandmaster strategies rather than cute little dolls? What is it? I feel people would have a different opinion on the matter.

Let’s not forget that It is the Cold War and Russia is a force to be reckoned with. It is also a men’s world and suffices to say, women have very little representation and power in the global society scheme of things and the show makes a point at depicting it as accurately as possible. By enlightening all the limitations women were possibly going through at the time, It is even more remarkable when a young prodigy, a female, to say the least, would take on what was at the time America’s biggest foe.

Very other excellent production came to mind when watching the show noticeably “Good Will Hunting” by Gus Van Sant, “Akeelah and the Bee” and even “The Imitation Game” by Morten Tyldum. Though they were all excellent at surfacing what a human mind is capable of doing when brought to its last retrenchment, Beth’s story left me with an undeniable feeling of loss as I was wrapping up the last minutes of the show.

Ultimately the Queen’s Gambit takes control of its audience, and even If you don’t know how to play Chess, the whole setting is dynamic enough to leave you on the edge of your seat. A must-watch and one of Netflix’s strongest original, in my opinion. And We haven’t seen that in a while.

Francis Manga