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A Frightening Journey For a Transplant Patient in 'Chambers'
April 26, 2019  | By David Hinckley
 

Sasha Yazzie clearly got a deficient education in slasher movies.

She apparently did not even know the basic rule that when the cheerleader sneaks off into an abandoned room to have wanton sex with her boyfriend, bad things happen.

In the case of the cheerleader, it’s usually something like a long knife coming up through the mattress to impale the bad girl and bad boy.

In Chambers, a new series that launches Friday on Netflix, Sasha (Sivan Alyra Rose, top) doesn’t end up meeting her maker after an abruptly terminated romantic encounter with her boyfriend TJ (Griffin Powell-Arcand, below).

But she comes close. She has a massive heart attack, the result of an undiagnosed echo-something-or-other, and she survives only because another teenage girl happened to die that day, making a heart available for transplant.

Whew. Except that’s not the end of the story. It’s more like the beginning, both for Sasha and, oddly enough, the donor, Becky Lefevre (Lilliya Reid).

When Sasha gets back on her feet, she and her single father Frank (Marcus LaVoi) get a surreptitious visit from Becky’s father Ben Lefevre (Tony Goldwyn, below, formerly best known as the president on Scandal).

Ben and his wife Nancy (Uma Thurman, below) seem to want a relationship with Sasha as a means of staying connected to their late beloved daughter. Okay, slightly creepy, but whatever. Sasha and Frank find this a little weird, too, but when the Lefevres sweeten the deal by getting Sasha a full scholarship to a prestigious high school for the rich and privileged, that’s too much for the blue-collars Yazzies to turn down.

This changes Sasha’s life and also the course of Chambers, which morphs into a study of race, class, money, power, and privilege. While that’s hardly a new area for television drama, Chambers tackles it from enough of a fresh angle that it doesn’t just feel like reruns of 90210.

The larger thrust, however, edges toward the paranormal, as Sasha starts getting weird dreams, visions and moments when it feels like she has inherited part of Becky’s spirit along with her heart.

That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, since Becky was smart, popular and multitalented, except that there’s this nagging little mystery about how Becky really died.

The official story, passed along to Sasha by Becky’s best friend Marnie (Sarah Mezzanotte), is that she was electrocuted in the shower by a falling radio.

That’s grim enough. But it’s possible the truth might be even grimmer, and as Sasha gets more comfortable with Nancy and Ben, she picks up little clues and details that have troubling undercurrents.

Those paranormal moments create interesting challenges in Sasha’s relationships with the people around her, particularly those in her new school. Sasha previously attended a regular public school, so even though she’s bright enough to succeed here, the trappings of a richly endowed elite institution sometimes require some adjustment: nap rooms, life coaches, a cafeteria that’s half the size of Rhode Island and lets you eat all you want.

Frank, who comes from a Native American Reservation and lost his wife when Sasha was 2, has struggled all his life to keep a roof over their heads and give Sasha the classic American dream of a better life than her parents.

So Sasha getting this scholarship feels to him like hitting the lottery, and Sasha feels that tacit pressure even as she copes with strange forces that are hard to explain to anyone – even her best friend Yvonne (Kyanna Simone Simpson).

While Chambers builds its long-term mystery around events science can’t explain, it grounds its more intriguing story in the real-life trials from which no amount of power, money, treachery or kindness can provide insulation.

 
 
 
 
 
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