The mini-series The Queen’s Gambit was released on the Netflix streaming platform in October 2020 and became the most watched series in the history of the platform, with over sixty-two million people watching it in the first month. The Queen’s Gambit was based on the novel of the same name by American science fiction writer Walter Tevis. The series received multiple awards for the excellent performance of Anya Taylor-Joy as Bat Harmon, as well as for the quality of the production and cinematography.
The narrative center of the series is Beth Harmon, who, at the age of 8, gets into a terrible car accident due to a psychologically unhealthy mother who decided to commit suicide with her daughter. However, the girl survives, and she has to live in a Catholic orphanage, in which an atmosphere of traditionalism and constraint reigns. In addition, the girls are forced to take “vitamins” for the body and mood – strong tranquilizers that cause addiction and hallucinations. On the advice of one of the girls, Beth does not take pills during the day, but leaves them at night to see a chessboard in the shadows of the trees on the ceiling.
Young Beth cannot find a place for herself in the society of children and orphanage teachers. But one day she has to knock out a sponge in the basement, where she meets the janitor Scheibel, who was playing chess with himself. The heroine asks him to teach this game, but he agrees only after much persuasion. Both Beth and Scheibel are reserved and taciturn people, united only by their love for chess. The janitor discovers that Beth has phenomenal talent. The girl, in turn, taking pills, every night on the shelf loses various options for moves and chess combinations. As a result, the heroine beats all the chess players of the club at the local school.
Explanation of the meaning of the ending of the series The Queen’s Gambit
In the future, the girl will be adopted, and a completely new life will begin for her. But her only passion will remain chess. Having participated in his first tournament in his life, Bat beats even the champion of Kentucky, Harry Baltic. A brilliant start became the basis for the development of a further career as a chess player. Beth beats champion after champion, and, in the end, becomes the best chess player in the United States and goes to the international level.
The unattainable pinnacle of chess mastery for Elizabeth Harmon is the Russian chess player Borgov. Having met with him at the board in America and Paris, the heroine suffered two crushing defeats, which, along with alcohol and drug addiction, completely destabilized her. The last opportunity to beat the grandmaster is the tournament in Moscow.
The meaning of the ending of the series opens only when you appreciate the depth of the changes that have occurred to the main character. At the beginning of the series, she was a girl looking for herself, not used to rejection and loss. She was self-taught and individualistic, stepping over people and their feelings. So she forgot about her first teacher Scheibel, and only in the last episode she returns to the orphanage for his funeral and discovers that he collected all the newspaper clippings with Elizabeth’s successes and kept the only photo with her and her letter. This forces her to reconsider her relationships with people.
The path from individualism to cohesion goes not only Beth, but, figuratively, all of America. Unraveling the mystery of the success of Soviet chess players, Harmon’s rival for the US title Benny Watts understands that the secret is in their teamwork – in difficult situations, they discuss ways out together. In Elizabeth’s last game with Borg, all of America’s champions unite and call on the heroine to help her win. This gives Beth a second wind, and she defeats Borg with brilliance. Without taking tranquilizers, Bat still sees a chessboard on the shelf. Spatial thinking turned out to be her gift from nature, and not the effect of a tranquilizer.
The series ends with the heroine, who is predicted to have a bright future and even a game of chess with the president of America, get out of the official car to walk through the park and play with Soviet old people. This gesture was made for a reason – the heroine chooses not constraint and bureaucracy, but sincerity and freedom of choice. For the same reason, she refuses to make a statement about her religiosity or say in an interview that she is proud to belong to the American Nation.
Thus, at the end of the series, the heroine goes beyond all conventions and her own egoism, choosing sincerity and love towards others.