When The Queen’s Gambit hit Netflix in the Autumn of 2020, it took just four weeks for it to become the platform’s most-watched scripted miniseries ever.
Nearly two years and a treasure trove of accolades later, drama fans and chess enthusiasts all over the world have just one question…
“When will we see Beth Harmon again?”
To say that The Queen’s Gambit was a successful show is a massive understatement. But here we go…11 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series (the first show on a streaming service to win the category nonetheless); two Golden Globe Awards, for Best Limited Series or Television Film and Best Actress In a Miniseries or Television Film for Anya Taylor-Joy; a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie (Taylor-Joy again); a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media: and many, many more.
Usually, a show centred around a sport or pastime will attract fierce criticism from its enjoyers. Not this one. The Queen’s Gambit not only enthralled non-players but also received a positive response from the ardent chess community for its accurate depiction of high-level chess. But aside from the mountain of accolades, viewer figures, and critical response, it’s the show’s impact on the chess world that has perhaps been the most impressive of all. The Queen’s Gambit made one of the oldest games thrilling and, dare we say it, sexy. The unexpected success of the show caught many retailers off guard. In an industry that traditionally enjoys steady demand, chess stores worldwide were swamped and left with back-orders galore. According to US figures, in the three weeks following the show’s debut, unit sales of chess sets jumped 87% and chess book sales rose 603%.
Will there be The Queen’s Gambit Season 2?
In the finale, we left Beth Harmon, dressed like the white queen herself, in a Russian park playing chess with the locals having just achieved her life goal of becoming a Grandmaster. The show ends on a note of narrative perfection, satisfying the fanbase it held in its grip for 7 enthralling episodes. That’s not to say there isn’t demand for a second season. Far from it. The show’s millions of fans are eager to learn what’s next for Beth Harmon, but at the time of writing, a second season seems unlikely. For one, The Queen’s Gambit was always billed as a Limited Series. It was adapted from a 1983 book of the same name by American novelist Walter Tevis – who wrote three other books that were adapted into major films;
The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth. Sadly, Tevis died a year after The Queen’s Gambit was released. The death of the original writer might seem like more than a minor inconvenience… but still, there’s hope. Robert Ludlum died after writing 3 books in the Jason Bourne series which was to be continued for another 11 books by another writer, Eric Van Lustbader. As for the whole ‘limited series’ thing, HBO’s Big Little Lies was another novel adaption, also billed as a miniseries, that got a surprise second season.
Could The Queen’s Gambit Season 2 save Netflix?
The tightening of budgets post-COVID lockdowns and the cost of living crisis has been blamed for the cancellation of 1.5 million memberships to Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services in the UK in the first quarter of 2022. Many of us can no longer afford to subscribe to numerous streaming services and so are forced to limit ourselves to one. And let’s face it, we don’t subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime et al. through blind loyalty. We choose the shows and movies they offer. So, what better way to win back some of those errant subscribers than with a second season of one of its best-loved miniseries?
So you’re telling me there’s a chance…
The cast and powers that be behind The Queen’s Gambit have been badgered about a second season as soon as the show wrapped up – with mixed responses. In an interview with Town & Country, Taylor-Joy addressed questions about The Queen’s Gambit Part 2. “If I’ve learned anything from being in this industry, it’s never say never. I adore the character, and I would certainly come back if I was asked to, but I do think we leave Beth in a good place. I think the rest of her life will surely be an adventure as well, but in the quest that she goes on in this to find some form of peace, just some form of being able to be happy with who she is. I think it ends in a nice place.” Harry Melling, who played Harry Beltik in the series, showed even more enthusiasm when asked about the as-yet-unplanned second season, “It’d be good, right, a Queen’s Gambit part two? The place we end in the limited series is the place we end in the book. I don’t know if there can be another one, but stranger things have happened.”
When asked about a second season by Deadline Hollywood, the show’s executive producer, William Horberg seemed less hopeful. “It’s wonderful to know that people loved the show where they want to spend more time with these characters; we never envisioned it that way. We felt that the series had a satisfying endpoint and we’d allow the audience to fill in the space as to what happens next for Beth Harmon.”
What might happen in The Queen’s Gambit Season Two?
Although a second season might feel like a distant dream, there’s nothing to stop us from speculating on what lies next for our favourite Grandmaster.The series might’ve ended with Beth defeating the world’s greatest chess player, but no one stays at the top forever. Younger, hungrier players will keep her on her toes and could even topple her from her throne – something hinted at in the first series when she narrowly defeats the 13-year-old prodigy Georgi Girev. We might continue Beth’s fight with addiction. Her dependence on drugs and alcohol played an enormous role in the series and her use of tranquillizers even aided her success. For anyone struggling with substance abuse, maintaining sobriety is an everyday struggle and a relapse might be just around the corner. USA’s tense relationship with Russia could be explored further – maybe with hints of defection or an international romance causing rifts between Beth and the US Government. Taylor-Joy herself has been vocal about wanting to explore another potential phase in Beth’s life, motherhood. The actress told Deadline, “It would be very interesting to see how Beth would be as a mother, now that she’s sober and more cognizant of the demons that pull her down.”
A second season would be warmly received by fans and the chess community alike and there are a plethora of potential plot lines to explore. But alas, we have no evidence that Queen’s Gambit Part 2 will ever happen. But in the words of its star Anya Taylor-Joy, “Never say never…”