new shows to check out: endgame edition

Okay, I know, I know, I know, "get a new hobby and stop being so into crime procedurals!" I don't care. I like them.

Endgame (spelled with a backwards E at the end for reasons I cannot fathom) centers around Russian chess master (former world champion) Arkady Balagan who, after his fiancee is murdered (pre-episode 1), becomes agoraphobic. However, he's living in an insanely classy hotel in Vancouver, and any time he wants to leave, he gets these crazy PTSD-style flashbacks of the day his fiancee was killed (right outside the hotel! WTF HOTEL, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE CLASSY).

This is actually a point in the show's favor - I think that they do an excellent job of portraying what a panic attack really feels like (and as someone who had her first panic attack at 12, I think I know what they feel like).  Arkady also does an excellent job of trying to overcompensate for his new-found PTSD with excessive bravado and exerting control over minute details. Hooray! Accurate portrayals of psychological issues that aren't in a serial killer! What!

The other thing I'm really into about this show is the ragtag crew that band together to solve crimes. They include: a PhD student studying game theory, who runs errands (CRIME-SOLVING ERRANDS!) for Arkady in exchange for one-on-one chess matches, and who is sort of sweet in his clueless Ivy-tower-type privilege; a maid in the hotel (who is played by professional badass/Chilean expat Carmen Aguirre) who starts out sort of milquetoast in the first episode, giving advice from mother/grandmother perspective, but then develops more and more (and we're on episode three here in the US) into a clever, witty baller who is the only grandmother character I can think of that I am actively willing to have a dramatic romantic subplot; a pretty bartendrix who wields her bartending-social-skills like some sort of insane superpower; a blogger/activist/documentary filmmaker, the sister of Arkady's deceased fiancee, who focuses her efforts on finding out who killed her sister; and finally, an ex-FBI agent who now runs the hotel's security (whom you may remember as Ken Tanaka, if you watch Glee).

Did any of you notice that? That's right, Canada. You get your diversity on. I love you.

Another thing that I really like, and I'm not entirely sure why, is that Arkady gets into crime-solving for the money. His inability to leave the hotel keeps him from earning money in the traditional chess-grand-master way, which is apparently touring eastern Europe on autographing-tours or something, but the hotel he lives in/cannot leave is incredibly expensive, and he's a self-important jerk who refuses to move out of his enormous suite. He's also generally drunk. I love a good anti-hero, guys. I love it.

Basically, he sits in his resplendent hotel, shoeless, as you do when you are eccentric, sending his pawns out on strategic missions --

Oh, I see what you did there, Canada. Very nice. Chess grand master sends out minions on strategy missions. I'm picking up what you're putting down.

Anyway this show is pretty great, and you should watch it.