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S01.E03: Doubled Pawns

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The trip to Cincinnati launches Beth and her mother into a whirlwind of travel and press coverage. Beth sets her sights on the U.S. Open in Las Vegas.

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The bad news is, the wig is still with us (although I haven’t finished the episode). But I feel like this show, if it doesn’t get buried due to the interesting times we live in and the week it was released, will be up for some serious awards.

I can’t play chess to save my life, but man could I relate to feeling like my teen peers were all alien creatures (at the girls’ party).

Edit, the terrible wig is gone. But I’m not so sure about Jojen Reed’s black leather cowboy look. 

I can’t believe I’m somehow only three episodes in. They’re not unusually long but somehow each one has the depth of a whole movie. 

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I wish her adoptive mom wasn’t pushing alcohol on Beth. I don’t want this to turn into an addiction story.

How old is Beth supposed to be at the Open in Vegas?

Did Beth’s mom try to kill them both (the car accident that killed Beth’s mom)? Is Townes bisexual? I’m full of questions, guess I will keep watching for the answers!
 

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27 minutes ago, Michichick said:

How old is Beth supposed to be at the Open in Vegas?

Late teens, I believe.

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42 minutes ago, Michichick said:

I wish her adoptive mom wasn’t pushing alcohol on Beth. I don’t want this to turn into an addiction story.

Addiction isn’t my favorite story element (unless it’s like ... Dr House), but I do think they set us up for it starting with Beth’s pill dependency in the orphanage. But at least so far (I’m still only midway through the series) it doesn’t dominate the episodes. 

I wonder if the pills are even still around. She was stealing adoptive mom’s pills for a while there.

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I like that at least the pills are to enhance her chess skills, rather than dope her into oblivion so she can forget her tragic past.

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20 hours ago, kieyra said:

I can’t play chess to save my life, but man could I relate to feeling like my teen peers were all alien creatures (at the girls’ party).

I can still recall the unrelenting torture that was "Junior High".  In the midst of of all that drama I did, in fact, join the chess club.  My chess set was pink and green plastic.  That is all I can recall, so I suspect my involvement must have lasted only a few meetings and a few games.  But it's enough to allow me sympathize significantly with Beth.

 

20 hours ago, kieyra said:

I’m not so sure about Jojen Reed’s black leather cowboy look. 

I'm sure.  It's a disaster. So is the facial hair.

I'd forgive it if he was playing a historical character who was known to sport a cowboy hat, but that's not the case, is it?  Everyone in the story is fictional, right?

 

2 hours ago, Michichick said:

I wish her adoptive mom wasn’t pushing alcohol on Beth. I don’t want this to turn into an addiction story.

Weren't we headed in that direction from the opening scene?  Wasn't the first scene in the first episode set in the future showing Beth nearly missing an important match because she fell asleep in the bathtub?  Nobody sober falls asleep in the bathtub.  And only a person with a drinking problem would get drunk to the point of passing out the night before an important competition.

 

2 hours ago, Michichick said:

Did Beth’s mom try to kill them both (the car accident that killed Beth’s mom)?

That was my take, although I'm not sure if she was deliberately trying to kill Beth too or if she was just completely indifferent to Beth dying as collateral damage from her suicide.

 

2 hours ago, Michichick said:

Is Townes bisexual?

That, to me, is an unanswered question.  I sure thought he was putting the moves on Beth (and she did too).  Then again, if your intent is to seduce a young woman would you really take her back to a hotel room you are sharing with another guy without first ensuring that the roommate has made himself scarce?  That makes me think he really did just want to play chess and chill.  I'm so confused.

 

1 hour ago, dubbel zout said:

I like that at least the pills are to enhance her chess skills, rather than dope her into oblivion so she can forget her tragic past.

That's actually the part of the story that I'm having the hardest time accepting.  I'm aware of the frequent use of tranquilizers and sleeping pills during this era (as depicted in the book "The Valley of the Dolls" and as mentioned by The Rolling Stones when they sang about "Mother's Little Helper" a.k.a. Valium.)  But I have a hard time imagining that those pills would enhance the mental abilities that are key to playing chess.

 

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1 hour ago, WatchrTina said:

That's actually the part of the story that I'm having the hardest time accepting.  I'm aware of the frequent use of tranquilizers and sleeping pills during this era (as depicted in the book "The Valley of the Dolls" and as mentioned by The Rolling Stones when they sang about "Mother's Little Helper" a.k.a. Valium.)  But I have a hard time imagining that those pills would enhance the mental abilities that are key to playing chess.

I can relate in one way: as a person with generalized anxiety disorder, I can think much more clearly when the Xanax kicks in and the volume of the background freakout gets turned way down. (Especially in 2020.)

But we’ve seen zero indication that Beth experiences anxiety, or at least not in an obvious, television way. She’s all stone cold with nerves of steel, in a way that makes me jealous. 

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3 hours ago, WatchrTina said:

But I have a hard time imagining that those pills would enhance the mental abilities that are key to playing chess.

I don't think the pills enhance her ability to play chess.  I think the pills keep all of Beth's feelings at bay so she can concentrate on chess. 

A lot of people who are recovering alcoholics will tell you that alcohol saved their life at the time.  Saved them from being a crazy mess because of shit that happened in childhood.  When they got sober they were old enough, and had the tools to deal with the mess of their childhoods. 

To me Beth comes across like a person in shock, her expression hasn't changed since the very first scene, at the scene of the car accident.

Edited by Neurochick
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On 10/24/2020 at 9:58 PM, Neurochick said:

To me Beth comes across like a person in shock, her expression hasn't changed since the very first scene, at the scene of the car accident.

Which makes sense. She should be in shock. She was in the car with her mother when her mother died. That's gotta do some serious damage to one's psyche. 

My take on the pills is that they helped quiet the noise in her head so she could focus and chess is the real addiction. The pills were just a child's way of getting to the addiction because she didn't know how to get there any other way. 

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6 hours ago, Mabinogia said:

Which makes sense. She should be in shock. She was in the car with her mother when her mother died. That's gotta do some serious damage to one's psyche. 

My take on the pills is that they helped quiet the noise in her head so she could focus and chess is the real addiction. The pills were just a child's way of getting to the addiction because she didn't know how to get there any other way. 

Agree. And she will probably get into the alcohol to cover up her disappointment with losing the chess match. She’s very competitive. I’m guessing her mother crashed the car on purpose to commit suicide.

I’m going to bet Townes is gay. He was probably the first guy she was attracted to so this has to be a disappointment too. 

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Ok it took me the whole episode, but I finally realized that Chess Cowboy was the little kid from Love, Actually!

Love the mod set design in Vegas.  Such a nice change from the relentless chintz and cabbage flower wall paper.

I like how civil the show allows the chess world to be.  They could have gone for cheap plot moments and made the guys resentful or sexist but they all seem to respect her ability more than anything. Meanwhile her girl teenage peers are quite superficial.

I also like the development of the character of her adoptive mom.  She has her own demons but she is not a cliche plot device. She is decent but not perfect and I am glad she is not evil.

I am glad she had a loss, even if it was to Chess Cowboy.

 

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12 minutes ago, DearEvette said:

Meanwhile her girl teenage peers are quite superficial.

That seemed realistic to me. Beth wasn't interested in the same things, so they didn't have much connection. And chess has always been a nerdy subject. There also seemed to be some economic rivalry, with that girl sneering at Beth's clothes from the discount (?) store.

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The evil hair is finally dealt with! Its not perfect, but it will certainly do. Loved seeing 1960s Vegas, it was a nice break from the usual setting, and while it sucks for Beth that she lost to chess cowboy, I am glad that she lost. It seems more realistic that she wouldn't win every time, especially after someone who has been playing for much longer and is an even bigger deal than she is. 

Beth is coming out of her shell more, showing more outward emotion, being angry and sad about losing, a bit flirty with Townes (maybe?) snarky with her mom, and downright chipper when she ran into the two guys at the chess tournament back home. I am pretty concerned about her mom letting her drink so much though, she already has that history with pills, so I feel like this will turn into some real issues for her. 

I like that they aren't going too hard on the low hanging fruit of every man in the chess world being a total sexist dick to Beth, those kinds of stories can easily fall into cliché and cheap "you go girl!" moments instead of actually making Beth a character you can root for. Most of the male chess players seem to be quite impressed by Beth's abilities and respect her talent, and while they don't ignore the sexism of the time (like them putting Beth against the only other female player right away last episode) they don't spend every second bashing you over the head with it. 

I also like the development for Beth's mom, she is very imperfect as a parent, but you can see how much she cares about and supports Beth. 

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I'm thoroughly hooked on this show even though I have absolutely no interest or inclination towards chess. My Dad tried to teach me how to play, and I guess my brain just isn't wired for it. I'm not great at strategy games, and found it impossible to keep the various movements of the pieces straight in my head. This inability probably explains a lot about how my life in general has turned out.

Seeing period Vegas is fun, and I'm glad her adoptive Mom is bonding with her during their travels, but am also worried that she's begun enabling Beth's addictions since she seems to be a functional alcoholic herself. She also had the ominous *cough of doom* this episode.

It was extremely weird seeing the adult version of the kid from Love Actually  in this episode, because to me, HE LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME! Except with scruffy wispy facial hair. It's bizarre! I know he's about 30, but he doesn't look any different to me.

I felt bad that she thought maybe something might happen with Townes. The show certainly made it look like he was gay or at least bi. Goodness, the actor playing him is definitely dreamy - great casting there.

Edited by Cheezwiz · Reason: hit post too early!
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On 11/2/2020 at 1:19 AM, Cheezwiz said:

HE LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME! Except with scruffy wispy facial hair. It's bizarre! I know he's about 30, but he doesn't look any different to me.

He really is so jarringly childlike in appearance. Then again, Beth, while very beautiful, is also very odd looking. They're a good match really. 

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On 10/24/2020 at 9:58 PM, Neurochick said:

A lot of people who are recovering alcoholics will tell you that alcohol saved their life at the time.  Saved them from being a crazy mess because of shit that happened in childhood.  When they got sober they were old enough, and had the tools to deal with the mess of their childhoods. 

One of the ways people are trying to change the conversation around is addition to stop asking why someone wants to quit drinking - what are the negative consequences.  Anyone can answer that question.  The real question should be what are the POSITIVE consequences you get from drinking.  If drinking makes you feel pretty, if drinking makes you forget the past, if drinking makes you sleep at night...if you take away drinking, what are you going to replace it with that will make you happy with your looks, give you the ability to deal with your past, what do you need to sleep through the night?  Otherwise, why not go back to drinking?

On 11/2/2020 at 12:19 AM, Cheezwiz said:

I'm not great at strategy games, and found it impossible to keep the various movements of the pieces straight in my head. This inability probably explains a lot about how my life in general has turned out.

Legit laughed out loud.  Because, same.

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On 11/3/2020 at 10:25 PM, Melina22 said:

He really is so jarringly childlike in appearance. Then again, Beth, while very beautiful, is also very odd looking. They're a good match really. 

I just figured out who the Benny character reminds me of!

Anyone who has watched the animated series BoJack Horseman on Netlflix will remember the kid who dated Princess Caroline. He fooled her into thinking he was an adult by standing on another kid, wrapping up in a trench-coat and wearing a hat. I knew the actor & his costuming was driving me crazy for a reason!

Thomas Brodie-Sangster gave a very  good performance as Benny, but he just couldn't pull off the look they were going for. I don't think I would have been as bothered if his character had been wearing more basic clothing for the 60's time period. This cartoon had been floating around in the back in my consciousness somewhere and took awhile to resurface.

Bojack.jpg.9438d981a46b5b594e8e0c6c70d944b5.jpg

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12 hours ago, lasu said:

One of the ways people are trying to change the conversation around is addition to stop asking why someone wants to quit drinking - what are the negative consequences.  Anyone can answer that question.  The real question should be what are the POSITIVE consequences you get from drinking.  If drinking makes you feel pretty, if drinking makes you forget the past, if drinking makes you sleep at night...if you take away drinking, what are you going to replace it with that will make you happy with your looks, give you the ability to deal with your past, what do you need to sleep through the night?  Otherwise, why not go back to drinking?

Are there any answers to report here?  Because this philosophical exercise just seems like a one way ticket back to drinking?

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2 minutes ago, Ms Blue Jay said:

Are there any answers to report here?  Because this philosophical exercise just seems like a one way ticket back to drinking?

Some people find answers.

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10 hours ago, Ms Blue Jay said:

Are there any answers to report here?  Because this philosophical exercise just seems like a one way ticket back to drinking?

Yes.  This is actually considered a better approach - again, people already usually know the reasons they should stop drinking.  There normally is a high level of self-loathing towards one's inability to just stop, when it's so clear all the negative consequences drinking/addiction are having one their life.  Drugs and alcohol are filling some hole, numbing some hurt.  So if you are drinking, for example, because you had an abusive childhood and alcohol numbs the pain, then you need to focus your therapy on coming to terms you can live with about your past.  Alcohol is usually used as a tool.  When you can figure out what tool alcohol serves for a person, you can start to figure out what different, better tools they need to have.  It's not just a philosophical exercise - it's fixing root causes.

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On 11/2/2020 at 12:19 AM, Cheezwiz said:

I felt bad that she thought maybe something might happen with Townes. The show certainly made it look like he was gay or at least bi. Goodness, the actor playing him is definitely dreamy - great casting there.

I'm voting for bi, because I would like to see him and Harmon together.  Classic moves "I'd like to take your picture." "Let's play chess."  Wink, wink.

I was worried that Beth's mom was trying to take advantage of her financially. Very generous of Beth to give her 15% commission.

The song played at the teenage party was pretty catchy, and I also liked the song at the end.

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7 hours ago, MoreCoffeePlease said:

I was worried that Beth's mom was trying to take advantage of her financially. Very generous of Beth to give her 15% commission.

I really liked that exchange because most movies/shows/books would have gone with this moment being when Beth and her mother got into a big epic fight over money but Beth realizes that her mom has no means of support, she is working hard to get Beth in the chess scene and shows that she appreciates it and needs her and isn't mad that mom asked for money. It was a nice little moment between them. 

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On 11/13/2020 at 7:24 PM, Mabinogia said:

I really liked that exchange because most movies/shows/books would have gone with this moment being when Beth and her mother got into a big epic fight over money but Beth realizes that her mom has no means of support, she is working hard to get Beth in the chess scene and shows that she appreciates it and needs her and isn't mad that mom asked for money. It was a nice little moment between them. 

I loved it. The show had us side eyeing Mrs. Wheatley at first, much like the dread I felt that Beth would be taken advantage of by a predator at the orphanage or maybe Mr Wheatley himself. It’s so refreshing to see them go with different ideas than I expect.

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20 minutes ago, kieyra said:

I loved it. The show had us side eyeing Mrs. Wheatley at first, much like the dread I felt that Beth would be taken advantage of by a predator at the orphanage or maybe Mr Wheatley himself. It’s so refreshing to see them go with different ideas than I expect.

They did do that a few times, where you dreaded the shoe you just knew was about to drop, but then the show never dropped it. I quite liked how they managed to play on our expectations but avoid most of them. It kept Beth's story from getting too OTT while still being very tragic. I think we felt the way Beth did, always uncertain, waiting for something bad to come because that's what we/she expects from life. It was very well done. 

This is one of the few things I've seen recently that had me glued to the screen because I didn't want to miss a single nuance. There was a lot of depth to the story rather than just "let's make her a victim of abuse to sell the story". Her abuse or victimization was far more subtle than what we usually get on screen. She was really more a victim of a system and a time than of any one terrible person (other than adopted dad who was a straight up dick!)

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 Could  not agree more! The show avoided so many cliches it made me realize how predictable they’ve all become. 
it was far more interesting that:

people in the orphanage were flawed but well meaning.

mr shybold or however you spell his name was just a grump chess playing janitor.

mr Wheatley was a Dick but not physically or sexually abusive.

Mrs Wheatley was sad and a little checked out but not any kind of a stage mom or double crosser. She asked humbly for a management fee- and Beth already knew money was tight.

just, much more interesting! 

I’m just tired of every adult being physically and sexually abusive- it’s predictable and it’s as if that’s the only kind of thing that can be painful- or meaningful.

 

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On 11/13/2020 at 8:25 AM, MoreCoffeePlease said:

I'm voting for bi, because I would like to see him and Harmon together.  Classic moves "I'd like to take your picture." "Let's play chess."  Wink, wink.

I was worried that Beth's mom was trying to take advantage of her financially. Very generous of Beth to give her 15% commission.

The song played at the teenage party was pretty catchy, and I also liked the song at the end.

I had flashbacks to a friend in college who was convinced to go to a guy's room with the line, "Do you want to see my Buddha?"  She was surprised that it was a tiny, cheap statue.  (note:  She is the daughter of an Episcopal priest and became one herself so she really was interested in the religious aspect).  Townes was definitely putting the moves on Beth.  When his roommate showed up, he stated that he thought he would be at the casino.  Guess he forgot to put a sock on the door.  😁

I too like to complexity of the characters and that they are not going down well worn paths.  There are no absolute evil people, just folks with flaws.  That is real life writ large. 

I also like that Beth is bonding with the other characters over chess rather than the well worn "she's a guys' girl" trope.  She simply does not fit into high school because her interests and focus are very different.  We've seen some sexism, but it's not the focus. 

One of the reasons she lost is she is now on everyone's radar and they are starting to analyze her game play.   Much as we saw them breaking down games by other players, I would bet that the main players have all been reviewing her past matches, looking for patterns and weaknesses. 

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I don't think Townes was intentionally plotting to put the moves on Beth, considering he had a boyfriend (or at least it looked that way, considering they only had one bed in the room). He should have known better than to invite her up to his room when they could both feel the tension between them, though. 

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1 hour ago, PrincessPurrsALot said:

One of the reasons she lost is she is now on everyone's radar and they are starting to analyze her game play.   Much as we saw them breaking down games by other players, I would bet that the main players have all been reviewing her past matches, looking for patterns and weaknesses. 

That's a good point. When she first started they all kind of dismissed her, not just because she's female but that first competition she had no clue what she was doing (she knew the game, but not how to register, how they get ranked, how the whole competition aspect worked), so they didn't pay much attention to her. But once she started winning over and over, I'm sure they were going over every move she made so it wasn't quite as easy for her to just breeze in and blow them all away. They were ready for her. It was a very realistic progression. 

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Seeing the kid from Love Actually dressed as Sheriff Bullock in Deadwood was so weird. The mustache is so off putting to me, and the long coat with the hat and the knife seem like such an affect. But hey, maybe he dresses that way to keep chess bullies at bay.

I couldn't figure out if the adoptive mom thought she was sharing alcohol as a reward because she's treating Beth as an adult or she was trying to recruit herself a drinking buddy because she's lonely or if she thinks she's a Cool Mom (TM Amy Poehler in Mean Girls). I know she doesn't know about Beth's pill issue so I'm trying to give her a pass on that, but my issue is that there's a difference between having a sip of your mom's drink on the plane and downing an entire beer then having another one and your mom saying, "Get me another one too while you're up."

I loved seeing her goof off in the pool with the two guys from her first tournament. It was really nice to see her relax and have some fun.

Although it was painful to see Beth lose to that horrible cowboy outfit, it was about time for us to see her lose at least once. Until that point, we'd only seen her win so story-wise, she needed a setback.

When the adoptive mom initially showed interest in letting Beth continue to go to chess tournaments, I suspected it was only the money she was interested in so I like that she seems genuinely supportive of Beth. And I like that she hasn't become a total stage mom. She's around at the tournaments but not in a OMG GET OFF MY BACK, MOM kind of way.

On 10/24/2020 at 12:27 PM, Michichick said:

Did Beth’s mom try to kill them both (the car accident that killed Beth’s mom)? Is Townes bisexual? I’m full of questions, guess I will keep watching for the answers!

Beth's mom told her 8 year old child "close your eyes" before deliberately wrecking her car, so I'd say yes, she tried to kill both of them.

Townes was sharing a hotel room with only one bed with his friend, so I assumed the show was trying to tell us that he was either bi or gay.

On 10/24/2020 at 3:16 PM, WatchrTina said:

That, to me, is an unanswered question.  I sure thought he was putting the moves on Beth (and she did too).  Then again, if your intent is to seduce a young woman would you really take her back to a hotel room you are sharing with another guy without first ensuring that the roommate has made himself scarce?  That makes me think he really did just want to play chess and chill.  I'm so confused.

When the roommate returned, Townes said he thought the roommate was going to be gone all afternoon, which made me think he thought he had their hotel room all to himself for a few hours.

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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On 10/28/2020 at 11:41 AM, DearEvette said:

Ok it took me the whole episode, but I finally realized that Chess Cowboy was the little kid from Love, Actually!

Love the mod set design in Vegas.  Such a nice change from the relentless chintz and cabbage flower wall paper.

I like how civil the show allows the chess world to be.  They could have gone for cheap plot moments and made the guys resentful or sexist but they all seem to respect her ability more than anything. Meanwhile her girl teenage peers are quite superficial.

I also like the development of the character of her adoptive mom.  She has her own demons but she is not a cliche plot device. She is decent but not perfect and I am glad she is not evil.

I am glad she had a loss, even if it was to Chess Cowboy.

 

I also loved the Vegas set design. Does anyone else also watch "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? I'm pretty sure that the bones of this Vegas set are exactly the same as the Miami set from S3 of TMMM. That staircase is hard to forget and the hotel room looked exactly like the one where Midge Maisel hung out with the female member of Shy's band. A few design changes from one series to the other, but incredibly similar.

I was very glad that Beth had a loss, especially since it was motivated by her hubris. All she needed was a draw, but she couldn't allow herself to go for anything but a win. She paid a painful price. Good lesson there.

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On 11/13/2020 at 10:25 AM, MoreCoffeePlease said:

I'm voting for bi, because I would like to see him and Harmon together.  Classic moves "I'd like to take your picture." "Let's play chess."  Wink, wink.

I was worried that Beth's mom was trying to take advantage of her financially. Very generous of Beth to give her 15% commission.

The song played at the teenage party was pretty catchy, and I also liked the song at the end.

I liked the song when she was entering the Vegas hotel and walking up the stairs.  I wish I knew how to use that app the kids are all using to figure out what song is playing. I get the warm and fuzzies when I hear it - it was probably background music at my family when I was a kid - that style of music is what my parents loved.  

There is so much happening in each episode that they really feel longer than an hour - in a good way.  

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14 minutes ago, TV Diva Queen said:

I wish I knew how to use that app the kids are all using to figure out what song is playing.

I'm in no way a kid, but I use Shazam.

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4 hours ago, TV Diva Queen said:

I liked the song when she was entering the Vegas hotel and walking up the stairs.  I wish I knew how to use that app the kids are all using to figure out what song is playing. I get the warm and fuzzies when I hear it - it was probably background music at my family when I was a kid - that style of music is what my parents loved.

The instrumental playing as Beth walked up the stairs was "Comin' Home Baby" by Quincy Jones.(I had to Shazam that one. Much of the soundtrack for this series, I've known within the first few notes. While I've heard this song before, I couldn't identify it without some help.)

Honestly, when I first watched this episode, I barely heard the music as I was mesmerized by Beth's beautiful black and white checkerboard (chessboard, in this case 😉) skirt. She wore that skirt a couple of times during the series, which I appreciated. With the emphasis placed on how tight money was for Alma and Beth, she certainly wouldn't yet have enough money that she wouldn't have to wear the same outfit more than once. She also wore a second outfit with larger checkerboard squares later in the series. I loved both. Nice fashion touch!

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53 minutes ago, ProudMary said:

The instrumental playing as Beth walked up the stairs was "Comin' Home Baby" by Quincy Jones.(I had to Shazam that one. Much of the soundtrack for this series, I've known within the first few notes. While I've heard this song before, I couldn't identify it without some help.)

Honestly, when I first watched this episode, I barely heard the music as I was mesmerized by Beth's beautiful black and white checkerboard (chessboard, in this case 😉) skirt. She wore that skirt a couple of times during the series, which I appreciated. With the emphasis placed on how tight money was for Alma and Beth, she certainly wouldn't yet have enough money that she wouldn't have to wear the same outfit more than once. She also wore a second outfit larger checkerboard squares later in the series. I loved both. Nice fashion touch!

OMG  thank you for this!  YES!   Michael Buble does a nice rendition of this.  thank you again!

Edited by TV Diva Queen
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