The Queen’s Gambit Season 1 Episode 5 Recap – what happened in “Fork”?

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 23, 2020 (Last updated: December 3, 2023)
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The Queen's Gambit Season 1 Recap
Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen's Gambit - Image Courtesy of Netflix


Up until now, Beth has been completely dependent on others; The Queen’s Gambit episode 5 brings a different life for the lead character as she has to navigate the adult world.

This recap of the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit Season 1 Episode 5, “Fork,” contains significant spoilers.

We recapped every episode — check out the archive.

The opening

Episode 5 begins with a flashback of a young Beth — her biological mother tells her that it’s important not to be scared of being alone. In the present day, Beth returns to Kentucky after the traumatic events in Mexico. She’s alone in a house that now belongs to her. Everything is reminding her of Mrs Wheatley.

The Netflix series has seen the character dramatically leap from a dependent girl to a wholly independent woman in quick succession and all born from tragedy.

Harry wants to help Beth

In the middle of the night, Harry Beltik calls her and asks her about the game she lost against Borgov. He offers to train to her. Beth invites Harry over immediately. Harry tells her he’s reanalyzed her match with Benny and highlights that when she gets angry, she becomes too zoned in on one strategy. Henry gets her to replay her moves with Benny. Beth and Harry agree that they’ve both changed. Harry tells her that he’s got his teeth done which is the major difference.

Giving Beth the reality check on Borgov

It’s a repeated plot point, but Beth’s insistence that she cannot be beaten makes her weaker at the game and Harry gives her a reality check in Episode 5.

Harry returns the next morning and tells Beth she needs to improve a lot to beat Borgov. He gives her a background of his chess career and how Borgov became world champion. In the bathroom, Harry notices the tranquillisers. When he leaves the bathroom, Beth is dancing to “Fever”. Harry seems a little uncomfortable around her.

An unlikely pair

Episode 5 strikes up the unlikeliest of romances, but Beth is such a quiet character when it comes to her thoughts and opinions that it’s easy to be surprised.

Harry continues to practice chess with Beth. He tells her about a new apartment he’s moving into so he will not be around as much. Beth asks him to move into hers, for free. Harry instinctively kisses her, and he says sorry, but Beth says she wasn’t ready and then they hookup. In bed, Harry is not sure whether to go to his room or stay with her — he seems overawed by the situation.

A former high school student

While out, former student Margaret sees Beth in a shop. Beth sarcastically tells her that she enjoyed the chess and the travelling due to the “thrill of seeing the boys” — she references “the boys” because Margaret asked her about it when they were younger. Beth sees that Margaret has a baby and has plenty of alcohol under the pram.

Henry waited for it

Back at home, Henry asks Beth if she and Townes were “a thing” and she instantly says no. Henry admits to waiting for her, and that’s why he got his teeth fixed, but then Beth changes the subject. Later, the pair argue over a chess play, and Henry states she is sharper than him.

Harry does not love chess

Episode 5 brings a dramatic epiphany when it comes to having a career in chess and how it dawns on Harry that he’s not the same as Beth.

The next morning, Harry tells Beth he’s moving to an apartment after teaching her everything he knows. Beth tells him that he’s really helped her. Henry admits that he doesn’t love chess as much as he used to do and he’s not interested in “Winning all”. Harry gives her one last book to look at and tells her to be careful after telling her about a famous chess player that lost his mind and retired at 22 — he reckons Beth is the same.

An old foe

It’s now 1967 in Ohio at the US State Championship. Benny is at the tournament, and the mind games begin. Both players storm through the tournament. Outside of the building, Beth sees Benny talking to a student reporter. She asks him about the knife he carries around. Benny says it is for protection.

Speed chess isn’t the best idea

Episode 5 sees Beth falling into the same traps and allowing Benny to get into her head.

Beth joins Benny and his friends for some speed chess. Benny asks Beth regarding the next move on the board; she agrees to play one game with him at five dollars a game. The pair play speed chess. They play round after round and Beth keeps on losing, and she has to hand him a lot of money. An audience gathers around as Beth keeps losing. Beth heads back to her room, and she is agitated and emotional. She doubts herself.

The ending

The next day, Beth asks Benny if he’s trying to psych her out. He denies doing so and claims she’s the best player around and that he’s always been better at speed chess. They both meet in the final — she beats him in thirty moves convincingly. Afterwards, Benny and Beth drink and Benny is fuming about the quick defeat. He asks her what she’s going to do about The Moscow Invitational as the winner of US State Championship gets automatically invited. Benny then asks Beth about her drinking, and he seems to care her health — Beth tries to change the subject by playing with his hair, but Benny wants to talk to her about Moscow as he thinks she has a chance. Benny suggests being her trainer and invites her to New York.

Eventually, after much pulling and throwing, Beth accepts the offer — Benny says sex is off the table; he’s playing hard to get, absurdly.

Up until now, Beth has been completely dependent on others; The Queen’s Gambit episode 5 brings a different life for the lead character as she has to navigate the adult world.

Chess Club Archives
  • Beth buys cigarettes from the same local shop Mrs Wheatley used to. She’s slowly turning into her.

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