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A Review of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit

by Juli Freedman

[originally posted fall 2020]


If you were to ask me what gambit meant a few minutes ago I would say no. Or maybe I would’ve misheard you say “The Queen’s Gamble” and I would’ve said “well that seems like a show worth watching!”. But now I know gambit does in fact mean a device, action, or opening remark, typically one entailing a degree of risk, that is calculated to gain an advantage. It’s a noun, or what word connoisseurs would describe as a person, place or thing. So making it the queen’s gambit, of all people, means this must be a pretty important gambit.

So who’s this queen and what is the titular gambit? A lot is revealed in the title and Netflix’s cover image alone. This redhead queen wears no crown but what she does wear is a head of red hair. If you look closely you will find that she has some little wooden sculptures in front of her. Now you may be thinking, are those things the gambits, gambits are nouns after all? You may be onto something. I don’t want to spoil too much but she may be the queen of the little wooden people, or not at all. Or maybe she is a woodworker, her gambit being how many woodchips are getting in her shiny ginger bob! Ah! It really can be left up to the imagination until you watch the show.

As the queen we have an actress who you may know as guest starring on Law and Order or perhaps Law and Order: SVU. She gives a performance that really makes you question “what is her true gambit? Is it a person, a place or thing?” The rest of the cast plays their part with a certain Je ne sais quoi. It was an emotional tale, emotions ranging from happy to sad and the indescribable feelings in between.

All in all if I had to give The Queen’s Garbanzo a numerical rating, I wouldn’t. Nouns like queen and gambit don’t always need adjectives like numerical values to say what they really mean. But a verb you should do is watch.

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