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  • Writer's pictureBecci Houlston

The Queen's Gambit ★★★★

Scott Frank

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

Well who knew chess could be so entertaining?

From this statement alone you can see that as someone who knows nothing about chess and initially assumed a show about the game would be incredibly boring, I was quickly proven wrong by Netflix's The Queen's Gambit.

Based on a 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, the Netflix original series saw a record achievement of 62 million household views within the first 28 days of its release.

The story sees Elizabeth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) begin her journey into the world of chess after being sent to an orphanage. As her interest turns into a fast progressing talent, her battle with the tranquilliser drugs, given to the children at the orphanage, begins.

Now although this is a tough representation of young children and the influence of drugs, the effects seen by Elizabeth are quite the opposite. Once tranquillised, she sees a projection of a chess board on the ceiling with the pieces above her moving as her mind progresses through a match. This repetitive visual helps us to understand her mind as an improving chess master.

Elizabeth's commitment to the game is so enticing, leaving a sense of worry and anticipation behind the series. With so much success and confidence you can't help but feel something is going to go wrong, which works well, leaving an audience wanting more. As things take a turn for the worse, Harmon's makeup and costumes change. The outfits tone back down and the makeup gets bolder. It's almost as if, after her conversation with new friend Cleo (Millie Brady), Elizabeth takes her analogy of being a model to heart. She is hiding how she feels inside.

As much as I loved the plot, character development and series as a whole, for me Elizabeth seemed to grow up and progress very quickly. At times it felt like a lot of time had passed, but when the year appeared on screen or Harmon expressed her age, I felt that something didn't quite match up, leaving a sense of confusion behind the story.

The question on many peoples minds is: Will there be a series 2? For that, the next move is on Netflix as The Queen's Gambit was set to be a limited series. I personally think the ending, although showing room for potential expansion on Elizabeth's future gameplay, relationships and friendships, should remain untouched.

Her overall growth as a character throughout the series is much like her game of chess. The play grows from past mistakes, creating a fierce player with an eye for opportunity.

Netflix have truly won the game here...with a checkmate.

The Queen's Gambit available now on Netflix

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