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dubbel zout

S01.E04: Middle Game

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6 hours ago, dubbel zout said:

Beth's mom is quite laissez-faire with her, and that cracks me up. It makes sense given her own disappointment with her life. I like how the bond has developed between those two.

I liked it, too. I feel like the show is going to take a bit of a darker turn now given the ending of this episode.

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7 hours ago, dubbel zout said:

Beth's mom is quite laissez-faire with her, and that cracks me up. It makes sense given her own disappointment with her life. I like how the bond has developed between those two.

I was surprised at the bond that developed between those two as well.  So, naturally, Beth has to have that one (slim) support in her life kicked out from under her.  And naturally her absentee foster-father is not willing to make any effort to help deal with the situation.  And because I am deeply suspicious I don't trust his word about letting her keep the house.  

I have to say I'm enjoying the ride with this show . . . most of the time . . . when it's not making my stomach hurt from anxiety.

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This was the first one that was hard to watch. I knew there was no way she was going to beat Borgov the first time around. I also knew Mom was a goner as soon as we saw her playing the piano. (Although obviously the character has had an air of doom about her from the beginning.)

Then when Mom wasn’t at the match and Beth was losing and they then used the TV trope of someone in a room chattering away at someone who will obviously turn out to be dead ... it was a low point for me so far both in terms of predictability, and because now we probably begin the downward spiral. The show has been oddly relaxing for me until now. 

Still engrossed, though.

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38 minutes ago, Mabinogia said:

I'm glad she and Beth bonded the way they did even if she wasn't the best mom. 

Same, and there was no nonsense about how being adopted somehow made her less than a "real" daughter. I liked that Beth stuck it to the husband when he tried to shake her down about the house. What a jerk he was. They were better off without him, even if it made things hard for a while.

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In retrospect I guess I should have seen it coming, but I was shocked when Beth's mom died. She was coughing a lot the last two episodes, she finally conquered her stage fright, she was actually having fun, she and Beth had some nice moments, I should have really seen it coming, but it was so sad to see. I really loved the relationship that grew between her and Beth. It wasn't really a "typical" mother/daughter relationship, considering how laissez-faire she was about her daughter drinking, smoking, and such, and Beth could be pretty snarky about her moms obvious drinking habit, but it was clear how much they loved each other. You just know that this is going to drive Beth to a downward spiral. 

Mr. Wheatley was just shockingly cold when he heard that his ex wife just dropped dead. Like this was all just a big inconvenience for him. 

And so after her loss to Borgov too. I figured that she would lose, at least the first time, but it was still sad to see her so upset with herself. Good thing she took those Russian language classes though, those sure came in handy. That last match was really tense, even knowing what was going to happen, just like what Beth said. You know the ending, but you cant look away. This show does a great job at making two people sitting and playing a game look so exciting. 

I liked the Russian prodigy kid, he was quite adorable asking about drive in theaters and what seemed like a bit of a crush on Beth. Poor kid, the only future he sees for himself is peaking at sixteen, after giving his whole life to chess. 

I love that the two chess guys from Kentucky keep popping up to greek chorus Beth's adventures. 

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On 10/29/2020 at 5:10 PM, tennisgurl said:

she finally conquered her stage fright,

Not really: Beth said as much to her, and she said when she was playing for herself/for fun, as was in the hotel, she didn't get nervous. That seemed a bit convenient to me (and splitting hairs), but it was nice to see everyone enjoying the performance.

On 10/29/2020 at 5:10 PM, tennisgurl said:

Mr. Wheatley was just shockingly cold when he heard that his ex wife just dropped dead. Like this was all just a big inconvenience for him. 

 He was a real jerk, wasn't he? I kind of like that we didn't find out what Denver was all about or what his deal was. Beth and her mom had no use for him, so neither did we.

Edited by dubbel zout · Reason: deleted possible spoiler
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This was a really sad episode. Adoptive Mom has certainly seemed doomed for awhile now, but I was hoping they'd have a bit more time together to continue their relationship.

Loved the kid who played the Russian prodigy - he was absolutely adorable.

Poor Beth - handling funeral arrangements and all the financial fallout and paperwork is really tough on adults, never mind a teenage kid. And the house isn't paid for yet? Not likely she can make regular payments with her prize money.

 

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The match with the Russian prodigy was odd: surely at that point every match would have some onlookers. 
And Beth should not have been able to get away with such behavior - though I thought it was her intentional attempt at psychological intimidation. Maybe the book addresses that aspect of the game more.  Some of Beth's previous matches involved people trying to psych her out - like the yawning guy or the guy who purposely arrived late. I wondered if Beth felt guilty for intimidating a kid.

Beth's Mom's death was inevitable ever since her consumption-cough made its appearance a while back. But she got a very nice final weekend of drinking, romance, performing, being motherly .. and more drinking.  I had expected a diagnosis of lung cancer and hospitalization - but we got a very tidy and peaceful death. 
There was also the impression that Mom may have been a bit much to deal with when her pen-pal Mexican lover also disappeared to a distant city.

I suppose I shouldn't give any more consideration than the show does to how a non-working, abandoned, not-very-active woman financially and physically manages a house and yard.  Was Mr. Wheatley  sending money? Was everything being paid for with Beth's prize money? 

 

 

Edited by shrewd.buddha
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23 minutes ago, shrewd.buddha said:

There was also the impression that Mom may have been a bit much to deal with when her pen-pal Mexican lover also disappeared to a distant city.

I also wondered if the pen pal was something of a gold digger, and Beth's mom wasn't exactly rolling in dough.

24 minutes ago, shrewd.buddha said:

Was everything being paid for with Beth's prize money? 

This was my impression. I think we need to do a bit of hand-waving here. Heh.

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I figured with the mom's chronic illness that she wouldn't make it through the series, but I expected her relationship with Beth to sour beforehand -- maybe due to arguments over spending, or her pushing the fame aspect too hard -- so I'm glad she and Beth had a good relationship when she died. This is obviously going to send Beth into a downward spiral, but at least the writers didn't do some big "Beth's last words to Alma were in anger" guilt-trippy tropey thing on top of that.

Beth's interesting. She was genuinely kind and complimentary to Georgi after their game, but one gets the distinct impression that she would not have been at all nice had she lost. She's not what I'd consider a good person, but she is a compelling one, and I can't help but root for her. She's harder on herself than she is on anyone else, anyway.

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9 hours ago, Cranberry said:

one gets the distinct impression that she would not have been at all nice had she lost

She wasn't a very gracious loser at the beginning of her career, probably because it happened so infrequently. I think once she got to the "big time," she realized the amount of work she had to put in—I think before she was reading chess books more for pleasure—and maybe that helped her put her losses into a bit more perspective. Everyone is more or less at the same level of achievement, and more often than not at that level, someone makes a mistake and the other player can capitalize on it. 

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10 hours ago, Cranberry said:

She was genuinely kind and complimentary to Georgi after their game, but one gets the distinct impression that she would not have been at all nice had she lost.

In the book, 

Spoiler

she was annoyed with him because he was so young, and she realized that this must be how her opponents had felt playing against her. So I think your instinct is correct!

 

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Now I'm curious how one dies of hepatitis, and how the doc could spot it on sight. Hepatitis can be related to alcoholism.

Has Mr Wheatley been supporting them at all, or did he just abandon his wife (+ Beth) who had no income of her own?! I guess if he was in a different state he'd have been difficult to drag to court. I'm guessing he left her for another woman, the "problems of his own".

Loved the kid. Glad she at least paid him a compliment at the end. Was wondering how much of her getting up and pacing was to intimidate him, versus the other possibility she was trying to approach each move with fresh eyes. Her mom had said she did best when she didn't overthink, but just threw down. And getting up and down enabled her to see the board fresh and pounce.

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2 minutes ago, snarktini said:

did he just abandon his wife (+ Beth) who had no income of her own?

Yes, which is why Beth's tournament winnings were so important, but I also think I heard that Beth's adoptive parents received a stipend from the State for taking Beth in.  That's probably not enough for Beth & her mom to live on but I'm guessing that the stipend kept the wolf from the door until they figured out that Beth could make money from chess.

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1 hour ago, WatchrTina said:

Yes, which is why Beth's tournament winnings were so important, but I also think I heard that Beth's adoptive parents received a stipend from the State for taking Beth in.  That's probably not enough for Beth & her mom to live on but I'm guessing that the stipend kept the wolf from the door until they figured out that Beth could make money from chess.

Definitely that's what it looked like, I agree. I guess I'm just marveling at the audacity of him being like, let's bring a new person home to keep you company (and to feed) so I can run away and leave you with no income and no way to pay the bills. People do that all the time I suppose! (Minus the adoption of a "companion" lol.) And based on the way he reacted to her death, he truly is that big of an ass. A judge would be highly sympathetic to her, but getting the actual money is harder than getting a judgment.

She said Mithuen provided $80, only for the first year.

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13 hours ago, snarktini said:

Definitely that's what it looked like, I agree. I guess I'm just marveling at the audacity of him being like, let's bring a new person home to keep you company (and to feed) so I can run away and leave you with no income and no way to pay the bills. People do that all the time I suppose! (Minus the adoption of a "companion" lol.) And based on the way he reacted to her death, he truly is that big of an ass. A judge would be highly sympathetic to her, but getting the actual money is harder than getting a judgment.

She said Mithuen provided $80, only for the first year.

It was the early 1960s where in America very few places had no-fault divorces, and women had few ways of having money of their own.  Alma's paths to divorce were limited prove either infidelity or abandonment or both go to Reno for a no-fault divorce but only after living there for a set amount of time.  All of those cost more money than she had, and she was not going to work to get more.  I believe Mr. Wheatley was still paying the mortgage on the house which would make it harder for Alma to prove abandonment.  She was stuck being married unless she found a wealthy man who would initiate the divorce.    

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Why did Manuel vanish? Was he married? I assumed that’s what the Denver remark went.

I was astonished by how mr Wheatley didn’t care at all and just wanted to get off the phone.

I was sad for Beth though- Alma really was sick, not blowing her off.

I wonder if we’ll run into the father who was a math professor at Cornell ever again. 

 

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21 minutes ago, lucindabelle said:

Or was it the mom who was the math whiz?

Both bio parents were math whizzes. He was her mother's professor, I'm pretty sure.

11 hours ago, lucindabelle said:

Why did Manuel vanish? Was he married? I assumed that’s what the Denver remark went.

I think he was a gold digger, and when he realized Alma had no money, he ghosted her, to use a contemporary term.

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On 10/26/2020 at 4:50 PM, dubbel zout said:

I liked that Beth stuck it to the husband when he tried to shake her down about the house.

Is that what happened? If so, I misunderstood the conversation. He said the house was hers as long as she paid the mortgage. That, and telling her the funeral home information, and giving her the banker's name, were about the only decent things that jerk ever did.

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He was surprised to learn she'd been able to pay the bills and mortgage, so that to me seemed like sticking it to him. Giving her the name of the banker was probably so the legal formalities could be made, i.e., putting the house in Beth's name, etc.

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13 hours ago, Milburn Stone said:

Is that what happened? If so, I misunderstood the conversation. He said the house was hers as long as she paid the mortgage. That, and telling her the funeral home information, and giving her the banker's name, were about the only decent things that jerk ever did.

I think this was referencing a spoiler from a later episode.

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It isn't often that a kid gets orphaned by a second set of parents. Sure, Mr. Wheatley is alive but he's about as much of a parent to Beth as a tree. The only good thing he did was let her keep the house. If not for that, she would have nowhere to go so I begrudgingly admit that he was slightly less cold hearted than he could have been. But it was obvious he didn't care at all that his wife had died.

I loved that despite the fact that Beth wasn't wild about Manuel, she was happy that her mother was finally happy and smiling. Based on the little we saw of Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley before he abandoned them, there probably wasn't a lot of laughing and smiling during their marriage.

I really felt for Beth. Her relationship with her adoptive mother wasn't perfect, but it was clear that her mother loved her and wanted her to be happy. She tried hard to be supportive of her chess aspirations even if she didn't completely understand it or Beth's obsession with it. Their relationship wasn't perfect but it was good and it provided Beth with a very human connection, probably her first since the custodian who played chess with her.

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15 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

It isn't often that a kid gets orphaned by a second set of parents. Sure, Mr. Wheatley is alive but he's about as much of a parent to Beth as a tree. The only good thing he did was let her keep the house. If not for that, she would have nowhere to go so I begrudgingly admit that he was slightly less cold hearted than he could have been. But it was obvious he didn't care at all that his wife had died.

I loved that despite the fact that Beth wasn't wild about Manuel, she was happy that her mother was finally happy and smiling. Based on the little we saw of Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley before he abandoned them, there probably wasn't a lot of laughing and smiling during their marriage.

I really felt for Beth. Her relationship with her adoptive mother wasn't perfect, but it was clear that her mother loved her and wanted her to be happy. She tried hard to be supportive of her chess aspirations even if she didn't completely understand it or Beth's obsession with it. Their relationship wasn't perfect but it was good and it provided Beth with a very human connection, probably her first since the custodian who played chess with her.

We didn't meet the Wheatleys until the end of their marriage.  I can see where in the beginning there was laughter and smiles before life got in the way--their infertility, Alma's drinking and pills, Mr. Wheatley's general mediocrity and shittiness, etc.  Alma wasn't a bad woman.  I saw a woman deeply disappointed about how her life turned out.  I liked how she did want to make sure Beth was more well-rounded so Beth did not make the same mistakes she did.  Alma put all of her eggs into the marriage-family basket and when that did not turn out well, she drank.  Alma is self-aware enough to not want Beth to follow down that path.  

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I don't think Mr. Wheatley's life turned out the way he wanted it to, either, but at least Alma didn't ditch the family because of her discontent. Ugh, he was such a shit.

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On 11/19/2020 at 11:47 AM, Ohiopirate02 said:

We didn't meet the Wheatleys until the end of their marriage.  I can see where in the beginning there was laughter and smiles before life got in the way--their infertility, Alma's drinking and pills, Mr. Wheatley's general mediocrity and shittiness, etc.  Alma wasn't a bad woman.  I saw a woman deeply disappointed about how her life turned out.  I liked how she did want to make sure Beth was more well-rounded so Beth did not make the same mistakes she did.  Alma put all of her eggs into the marriage-family basket and when that did not turn out well, she drank.  Alma is self-aware enough to not want Beth to follow down that path.  

Alma told Beth that she and her husband had had a child, but didn't give any further information. I assumed that child had died and that, if alive, she would have been thirteen at the time of Beth's adoption, which is why Beth HAD to be thirteen and not the older age she truly was. Again, my assumption.

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On 10/26/2020 at 5:10 PM, Mabinogia said:

What I really liked about her adopted mom was that she wasn't perfect but she also wasn't horrible. She didn't mistreat Beth but she didn't magically know how to be a mother to her either. Their relationship was one of my favorite things about the show. I was sad when she inevitably died, though we all knew it was coming. I am glad she got that one last fling before she died though. That woman's life was no picnic. I'm glad she and Beth bonded the way they did even if she wasn't the best mom. 

Alma is one of the best characters to come along in a long, long time.  I loved that she wasn't a saint who would have been played Sandra Bulluck.  I'm glad she wasn't a villain played by Helena Bonham Carter.  She seemed like a real and complex human being.  I watched this a second time with a friend, and maybe an episode before this one he was like, "ugh, she is the worst, she's just exploiting this kid!" and I had to bite. My. Tongue.  A bit later, he was like, ok, maybe she does care about Beth, and I was all SHE IS A DEEPLY FLAWED AND COMPLEX WOMAN DOING HER BEST, lol.  Yes, there is not a bit of doubt one of the reasons she warmed to Beth is because it turned out Beth could provide. 

I can't say how thing would have turned out if Beth hadn't had a skill that would bring light celebrity and financial security.  You have to keep in mind, that before Beth started providing money, Alma had almost given up.  She was trying, but she wasn't doing great.  Like anyone, having financial security can give someone a LOT of breathing room, a lot of bandwidth to focus on other things - it gave her the ability to be a better person and mother.  And not only do I think she genuinely cared about Beth, I also think she was grateful to her, and I hope that Beth someday sees what a gift she gave her mother.  Alma obviously had hopes in the past (her saying she found the onions in the Gibson more refined than olives is sentence that says EVERYTHING), and losing her child, her husband, her dreams of being a pianist, it's clear she was let down by life.  And I think she saw Beth as a gift.  I think she truly appreciated that the happiness she always sought all stemmed from her daughter, and she truly wanted to be a good mother in return.

I just finished the series for the second time, and upon rewatch, I realized how weird this was played out.  I didn't notice it, especially because I'd already read the book so I knew when and how Alma died, but in the show, we see her get dumped, take to the bed (and we don't really know based on what we have so far seen that she isn't just depressed rather than actually ill, other than the coughing), get up to go to the Beth's match and instead stop and stare at herself in the mirror.  Then the next thing we see is her dead.  Considering her bio mom committed suicide, it's weird that they did Alma's death in a way that really made it look like it could have been suicide, though they did say it was hepatitis.  It was just odd.

On 11/12/2020 at 5:49 PM, snarktini said:

Loved the kid. Glad she at least paid him a compliment at the end. Was wondering how much of her getting up and pacing was to intimidate him, versus the other possibility she was trying to approach each move with fresh eyes. Her mom had said she did best when she didn't overthink, but just threw down. And getting up and down enabled her to see the board fresh and pounce.

Because I just rewatched it, she is struggling in the match before the kid asks for the adjournment.  She goes in her room, kisses her mom, and then I think sat and figured out the game.  When she comes back she is cocky because she has found her win, but she is also PISSED because this kid had her in trouble so she is being a complete ass to him.  She is a cat playing with a mouse.  Then once he resigns, and so respectfully of her, she feels bad, and that's when she calms down and talks to him.  Beth has her bad moments, which I'm grateful for - she's also well written, but this is probably when I liked her the least.  It's understandable, but understandable doesn't equal likeable. 

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6 hours ago, lasu said:

It's understandable, but understandable doesn't equal likeable. 

I appreciate that the show was willing to make her unlikable at times. It's more human. We all do shitty things sometimes and it is totally in character for her, the pissiness when she's not "the best" then the cockiness when she is. Beth is a definite work in progress and a very real and flawed character. 

Loved your take on Alma as well. Another beautifully written character who has been dealt a crap hand and struggles just to get up each morning, so she's not a great mum until she gets some breathing room, via Beth's winnings, and then you see the Alma she could have been had live not knocked her down too much. 

Their relationship was the most interesting of all the relationships on the show for me. Just beautiful, tragic, fascinating, and ultimately loving. 

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This was the most interesting episode of the show so far for me.  I was very engaged in the dynamic between Beth and her stepmom adoptive mom , and was stunned and saddened by her mom's death.  Alma reminded me a lot of my own mom (I was raised by a single mother).  She had her demons but really cared for Beth and only wanted two things in life - a child to care for and a good man.  In a bittersweet way, I was glad she died happy at least.  She took a lenient approach with Beth in part because Beth was so exceptional, and in part because she didn't want the time they spent together to be defined by conflict.  Beth was all she had.  Her ex-husband's coldhearted reaction to her passing underscored this.  Beth's stoic reaction to Alma's death was also disturbing.  Throughout this story we have seen that she is someone who displays little emotion or empathy, and who has difficulty connecting with most people.  Is Beth simply reserved, afraid of showing her feelings, or is something amiss?  The timing of Alma's death with Beth's very early transition into the adult world and the array of booze, drugs, and sex, will play heavily into the last half of this story, as Beth no longer has any family or close relationships, no one to help keep her grounded.

I also enjoyed our first glimpse at the Russian chess players in this story, both the young prodigy who wanted to know what a drive-in movie is, and the Russian champion who was noted as having KGB agents with him to make sure he didn't defect.  Very good recollection of what life in the Soviet Union used to be like.  The elevator conversation was very revealing too.  A side note, Beth's distracting behavior on the second day of her match with the Russian prodigy is reminiscent of the kind of things Bobby Fischer used to do. I suspect that was based on him.

Edited by Dobian
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1 hour ago, Dobian said:

Beth's stoic reaction to Alma's death was also disturbing.  Throughout this story we have seen that she is someone who displays little emotion or empathy, and who has difficulty connecting with most people.  Is Beth simply reserved, afraid of showing her feelings, or is something amiss?

I agree that she took the news quite well. I think being an orphan played a big part in that. She has already lost a mother, and she was in the orphanage until her teen years, so she became very self-sufficient. On top of that, her chess winnings were supporting the household anyway, so she didn't have to worry as much about who would take care of her now. She's also extremely mature, basically a 30-year-old in a 16-year-old's body.

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On 11/18/2020 at 5:01 PM, ElectricBoogaloo said:

It isn't often that a kid gets orphaned by a second set of parents. Sure, Mr. Wheatley is alive but he's about as much of a parent to Beth as a tree. The only good thing he did was let her keep the house. If not for that, she would have nowhere to go so I begrudgingly admit that he was slightly less cold hearted than he could have been. But it was obvious he didn't care at all that his wife had died.

At the time that house was probably worth $15-20K with a mortgage on it.  Probably worth a grand or so in net gain after paying off the loan, closing costs, and taxes.  Not worth the time and trouble to him.  Today it would sell for $300K.  I bet if this story played out today Mr. Wheatley wouldn't have been quite so generous.

Edited by Dobian

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Wheatley also wanted to cut ties with Beth and Alma for good, and getting rid of the house is a good way to do that. What a worthless POS he turned out to be. Agreeing to adopt Beth was probably the only generous thing he ever did.

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I also doubted Mr. Wheatley had been paying the mortgage payments anyway.  I think Alma had, out of her 15%.  So to him, it was just maintaining the status quo and not having to be bothered to do anything.

I would honestly watch an entire other series on the Wheatleys, especially Alma.  

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On 11/25/2020 at 4:12 PM, Mabinogia said:

she's not a great mum until she gets some breathing room, via Beth's winnings

One of my absolute favorite moments in the show is when Beth's "mom" asks for 10% of her winnings as an agent's fee and Beth says 15% seems more appropriate.  It was the BEST possible response.  If she'd said no that would have been awful and if she'd just said yes there might still be feelings of resentment (or suspicions of resentment) lurking under the surface.

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3 hours ago, WatchrTina said:

One of my absolute favorite moments in the show is when Beth's "mom" asks for 10% of her winnings as an agent's fee and Beth says 15% seems more appropriate.  It was the BEST possible response.  If she'd said no that would have been awful and if she'd just said yes there might still be feelings of resentment (or suspicions of resentment) lurking under the surface.

She WAS her mom, not “mom.”

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Also, I think one has to remember Alma *asked* for 10%.  She could have exploited the hell out of Beth, taken all of her winnings.  I'm fairly certain at that time it would have been perfectly legal.  It seemed like all she expected was for the expenses for the tournament to come out of Beth's winnings.  And I got the impression once she did get the 15%, she paid all their bills out of that, and did things like buy Beth the Bulova watch out of that percentage. While it was clear Alma enjoyed the luxuries Beth's winning provided, it was also clear (to me, anyway) she didn't feel entitled to Beth's winnings.

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2 hours ago, lasu said:

Also, I think one has to remember Alma *asked* for 10%.  She could have exploited the here out of Beth, taken all of her winnings.  I'm fairly certain at that time it would have been perfectly legal.

Given all the horror stories you hear about child stars of that era you're right, Alma could have just said that whatever Beth earned was family money and Alma would spend it as she saw fit. 

The 10% scene is one of my favorite of the entire series because it was a small scene but it said so much about the relationship between these two women. It is a brilliant example of show don't tell. They are showing us that Alma cares about Beth enough not to exploit her but also is practical enough to know she needs money and it shows that Beth appreciates Alma and wants to show Alma how much she does. It was such a touching moment for me between two people who love and respect one another. 

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And naturally her absentee foster-father is not willing to make any effort to help deal with the situation.  And because I am deeply suspicious, I don't trust his word about letting her keep the house.  

There’s something off with this. He’s never shown any kindness to – well anyone – but especially to his daughter. I read this as possibly suggesting the house had little to no equity (or perhaps even a negative equity) because he took out additional mortgages without telling his wife. His “strapped for cash” story would not be consistent with “giving” her the house otherwise. And he seemed oddly precise with the banking information too.

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In retrospect I guess I should have seen it coming, but I was shocked when Beth's mom died. She was coughing a lot the last two episodes

Every cough she hacked over multiple episodes darkly foreshadowed her demise. Thus, it wasn’t really shocking that she died, but it was still a bit shocking that she sadly passed so soon, and at such a stressful moment in a foreign country. And if you're going to comp a hotel bill under these circumstances, do you really need to add that the liquor bill was "significant?" That's pretty dickish.

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Loved the kid who played the Russian prodigy - he was absolutely adorable.

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Loved the kid. Glad she at least paid him a compliment at the end. Was wondering how much of her getting up and pacing was to intimidate him

This was an interesting encounter not merely because the kid was indeed adorable. This is the first person we’ve seen Beth play who was noticeably younger than she – and he was almost as good despite his age (but with an apparent similar level of chess experience, having started at 4, when Beth started at 8). Like her at his age, he was innocent, precocious, and very talented. It was almost as if Beth passed her wunderkind baton onto him.

Juxtaposed against his innocence was the loss of hers. Sensing he was more formidable than she anticipated, she used her older status with more world experience to throw him off and manipulate him. She knew what she was doing and purposely diverted his attention. It worked. The kid too realized that it worked, but he also knew she wouldn't win against Borov, with or without such manipulations. 

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The 10% scene is one of my favorite of the entire series because it was a small scene but it said so much about the relationship between these two women.

This was such a simple and moving scene, in part because it effectively captured and condensed what could have been several episodes of character development. Impressive indeed.

 

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22 minutes ago, ahpny said:

And if you're going to comp a hotel bill under these circumstances, do you really need to add that the liquor bill was "significant?" That's pretty dickish.

Ah, that's a whole little fantastic vignette I keep forgetting about, where it seems like the subtext is: 

Hotel guy: "So, eh, sorry about your Mom's death. We'll comp the room, but don't go blaming us because, you know, she drank a lot."

Beth: "Yeah, she mentioned the shitty quality of the liquor, so maybe you did kill her?"

Hotel guy: "Yeah so um we'll comp everything, call if you need help bye." 

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Just a few remarks not yet entirely covered above...

In the elevator when the Russians didn't know she understood their language, they were spot-on in saying she gets angry when she's losing. 
And such a sad premonition when they (Borgov?) observed that she was like the Russians because she was an orphan and could not afford to lose. Now she's twice an orphan.

Also a sad premonition when we kept seeing the twins with the empty space between them for her mother.

 

On 10/26/2020 at 4:10 PM, Mabinogia said:

What I really liked about her adopted mom was that she wasn't perfect but she also wasn't horrible. She didn't mistreat Beth but she didn't magically know how to be a mother to her either. Their relationship was one of my favorite things about the show. I was sad when she inevitably died, though we all knew it was coming. I am glad she got that one last fling before she died though. That woman's life was no picnic. I'm glad she and Beth bonded the way they did even if she wasn't the best mom. 

In many ways she was the perfect mom. She was the mom that many teen girls wish they had. Not my ideal mom, but the perfect mom of at least one of my daughters.

On 11/25/2020 at 9:34 AM, lasu said:

Alma is one of the best characters to come along in a long, long time. . . .

Alma obviously had hopes in the past (her saying she found the onions in the Gibson more refined than olives is sentence that says EVERYTHING), and losing her child, her husband, her dreams of being a pianist, it's clear she was let down by life.  And I think she saw Beth as a gift.  I think she truly appreciated that the happiness she always sought all stemmed from her daughter, and she truly wanted to be a good mother in return.

I loved the ending scene when Beth ordered Gimlets on the plane and toasted her mom in her imagination. Beautiful acting, but also terrific writing because it wove Beth's lifelong hallucinations into a very different moment.

 

On 11/15/2020 at 1:43 AM, lucindabelle said:

I wonder if we’ll run into the father who was a math professor at Cornell ever again

I had forgotten about him, but when we last saw him leaving, it seemed we might not have seen the last of him. And now she's famous.  

 

 

 

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Since everybody has pretty much covered the deep and significant moments, I'll say that Beth sleeping with the dude from Russian class was a relief. As others have mentioned, I felt the threat of sexual violence in previous episodes, so Beth sleeping with someone of her chosing and volition, even if it was hilariously underwhelming or maybe because of it, was the moment I exhaled. I'll also add that she's an amazing house guest, with all the cleaning and vacuuming. 

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This show has been so good about totally avoiding the regular tropes (custodian didn't molest her, adoptive dad didn't molest her, orphanage matron was actually kind and not an evil witch, etc.) that I really didn't see Alma's death coming.  And it was such a great episode for her, up until that point. 

A few questions...  Why didn't Beth have the Wheatley's last name?  It only hit me this episode.  Back then, there's really no way an adopted kid would have kept their old last name.  And, with that, I'm surprised her bio dad hasn't shown up.  She was in Life Magazine.  Same name, the red hair, there's no way he wouldn't know that was his kid. 

Also, can someone explain the first 1/2 of her game with the Russian boy?  I thought the point of the timer was to keep games to a limited time, but he said they had been playing for 5 hours???  How is that possible at that level of play?  Did I mishear, or just miss something here?

I really expected Beth to say something to Borgov mid-game, either in Russian or even in English to acknowledge that she understood their conversation in the elevator, just to throw him off. 

And, Borgov may have won that match, but Alma's death would have stolen a good chunk of that victory from him.  You can't exactly gloat when your (teenage) opponent's mother missed the match because she had died upstairs in the hotel room. 

 

 

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On 10/24/2020 at 7:39 AM, dubbel zout said:

Beth's mom is quite laissez-faire with her, and that cracks me up. It makes sense given her own disappointment with her life. I like how the bond has developed between those two.

I don't think it's just that. It's a delicate situation because Beth was not only Alma's child but also their family's breadwinner, and they both knew it. So Alma gave Beth "adult" privileges that she may not otherwise have give her, because Beth had the adult responsibility of providing for both of them. 

On 10/28/2020 at 5:38 PM, DearEvette said:

I liked the little Russian kid, Girov?  The actor was a like an old man in a little kid's body. 

I liked him too, but I wish he had pronounced his own character's name correctly. It's Georgiy with two hard Gs, not "Georgie" like he said it.

On 10/29/2020 at 2:10 PM, tennisgurl said:

Good thing she took those Russian language classes though, those sure came in handy.

There's absolutely no way she would have understood anything that was said in the elevator (other than her own name) after one or two semesters of Russian. In the scene in Russian class earlier in the episode they were learning verb conjugations, so it was an absolute beginners' class. She's years away from being able to understand conversation.

3 hours ago, chaifan said:

orphanage matron was actually kind and not an evil witch

Except for that whole thing where she had the children drugged, then withdrew the drugs cold-turkey, then punished Beth for trying to get the drugs by not letting her play chess ever again.

ETA: I thought it was interesting that in the year 1966 Beth and the twins were joking about a computer program that can beat humans at chess. It wasn't for another 30 years, until 1996, when a computer program (IBM's Deep Blue) won a chess match against a reigning world champion (Garry Kasparov) for the first time.

Edited by chocolatine
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On 12/18/2020 at 9:19 PM, chaifan said:

And, with that, I'm surprised her bio dad hasn't shown up.  She was in Life Magazine.  Same name, the red hair, there's no way he wouldn't know that was his kid. 

In thinking about it, I'm not surprised. He wasn't depicted as being hard up for cash. I think he was a professor or at least a professional man, and it appeared he might have been married or something, he sure didn't want to acknowledge that he knew Beth's mum, so I doubt he wanted to acknowledge that he had a "bastard" child out there, no matter what magazine she was on the cover of. It wasn't like she was a millionaire and he was desperate to cash in or something. 

On 12/19/2020 at 12:59 AM, chocolatine said:

It's a delicate situation because Beth was not only Alma's child but also their family's breadwinner, and they both knew it. So Alma gave Beth "adult" privileges that she may not otherwise have give her, because Beth had the adult responsibility of providing for both of them. 

That's a really good point. Their mother/daughter dynamic was muddied by the fact that Beth was the one supporting Alma. In a lot of ways Beth was the parent in this parent/child relationship. Alma was a very fragile woman who came across as more childlike than Beth in many ways. I could have watched a show dedicated to their relationship alone it was so rich and fascinating. 

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