As fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, Anya Taylor-Joy gives a powerhouse performance. Every steely stare, lowering of eyes, and crossing of arms is in the furtherance of battle, and it’s a damn intimidating sight to witness. Beth’s addicted to many things, including winning, and it’s a blast to watch her knock chess bozos out of the way on her way to becoming a straight-up master.
Every bit of Godless director Scott Frank’s limited series feels like a choreographed (yet grueling) dance, from Beth’s maneuverings all the way down to every costuming and set detail. Both aspects almost feel like additional characters on the show, and that’s why this featurette (which dives into those parts of the production) turns out to be a lot more interesting than most “extras” offered up by studios. Seeing Anya Taylor-Joy speak in an enormous blonde wig (that would look at home on Dolly Parton) doesn’t hurt, either. I wonder where that decision to have her do so came from, but it’s probably best not to dwell on it too much. Instead, we should focus on the actual wigs discussed in this featurette, along with the additional insight about Beth’s inner circle and those who impacted her most during her underdog rise to world champion.
This isn’t an extra episode, but it’s the closest thing we’ll see to one, and that’s definitely for the best. I don’t want to know if Beth succumbed once again to pills and alcohol after becoming a champion. I don’t want to hear that she ended up marrying Benny (and having his hat-babies) and eventually fell out with Jolene. Speaking of which Moses Ingram’s character gets a fair chunk of time here to talk about Jolene’s formative relationship with Beth. I’m so happy that the narrative went back to their enduring friendship, which is quite unlike the fleeting army of chess dudes who attempted to woo Beth. This featurette preserves everything about The Queen’s Gambit and immortalizes the process of zeroing in on what it costs to become a champion.
The Queen’s Gambit is available for streaming on Netflix.