The Queen's Gambit Recap: Episodes 5-7; Chess Lessons as Life Lessons

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The Queen's Gambit Recap: Episodes 5-7, Chess Lessons as Life Lessons

** After gushing about the cinematography, the music and the fashion, we delve into Episode 5 and the return of Harry Beltick. Harry is more than your average nice guy. He helps Beth through a hard time, but also stands up for himself and leaves. Spending time with Beth allows Harry to realize he doesn’t love chess and to glimpse the demons Beth’s wrestling inside her brilliant mind. (03:32)

** If things with Harry were too cold, then things with Benny Watts at the U.S. Open Championships are too hot. Their connection is dizzying and it’s not just based on their shared passion for chess. (10:33)

** Episode 6 brings Beth to New York City to live and train with Benny where they play “serious” chess and Beth comes into her own. It’s here that Beth meets Cleo who will set off her undoing in Paris. (13:42)

** We are back at the beginning of the series with Beth crawling out of the bathtub in Paris after a night on the town, painfully hungover while losing to Borgov. She returns to Kentucky, buys her adopted parents’ home and appears to be getting her life together. But Carinn wonders if perfectionism isn’t the same device as the alcohol: a way to numb and not feel all the pain she has not yet processed. (19:38)

** Episode 7 starts with a flashback to Beth’s mother telling her she is going to leave her and we wonder whether it is possible that Beth’s life has been altered for the better by her mother’s suicide. We understand now where Beth learned never to ask for help. (26:27)

** Jolene is back and is a breath of fresh air! She takes Beth to the orphanage where she tearfully realizes that Mr. Shaibel was like a father to her, proudly following her achievements through-out the years. This realization, along with one of our favorite scenes between Jolene and Beth, allows Beth to begin to understand that she really does have family. (32:15)

** Beth arrives in Moscow, defeating grandmasters she has revered her entire life and setting up her rematch with Borgov. Townes returns, which gives Beth the resolve to face herself. Beth knows she can work out a chess problem, but in this turning point moment, she realizes that she herself is a problem to work out and resolves to stop busying and/or numbing herself. (35:28)

** Carinn and Kate both have all the feels about the scene where Townes hands Beth the phone and she discovers that all her old chess friends, including Benny and Harry, are on the line ready to help her dissect her game against Borgov. Kate talks about how moved Beth is to realize that she is not alone in this world, while Carinn feels the relief that Beth had always been searching for in the pills -- and how she can see a new way. (42:22)

** We’re back to the final match against Borgov. Kate’s sports-minded brain was rooting for and reveling in the win, while Carinn wondered whether Beth’s blind desire for victory could be her undoing and whether a draw couldn’t have taught her important lessons too. (49:23)

** Clearly the writer (a man) has given us a three dimensional character (a woman), but Carinn sees even more than their initial Pop Fiction Women inquiry. The ending represents both a masculine hero’s journey (a singular triumph) as well as a feminine journey (the triumph of community, a group effort to overcome a singular obstacle). Carinn connects this to a favorite of ours, Brit Marling, and her writing on the masculine and the feminine in the hero’s journey. If you’re interested in more, read the opinion piece here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/opinion/sunday/brit-marling-women-movies.html. (57:46)

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86 episodes