Chernobyl (“Vichnaya Pamyat”)

Part 5 of 5
Date of airing: June 3, 2019 (HBO)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.089 million viewers, 0.30 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.16 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.41 rating with Adults 25-54, 0.61 rating with Adults 50+

The only great news that came out of the final moments of the miniseries, out of the blocks of text accompanying the summary of the Chernobyl accident and what happened after the timeline of the year after the explosion, was that Lyudmilla was still alive and that she was healthy enough to bear another child. Of all the things that happened, of all the tragic and trauma she went through, I really would have thought she was getting some of the radiation as well. But as it turns out, and like I said during the previous episode, her unborn daughter caught all the radiation, protecting her mother. One life was paid to save another life. I’m almost more interested in hearing Lyudmilla’s account of what happened after the explosion and during the following years than listening to the points of view from all the other people. Lyudmilla’s account is the most personal one, and probably the most surprising one, both emotionally and medically. Thanks to the knowledge I got from watching ER, I knew that fetuses were able to function as a sort of sarcophagus for illnesses that the mother might have caught during the pregnancy. You get poisoned? Maybe the fetus will absorb all the poison and die, while you get to survive? You get loaded with radiation during pregnancy? Lyudmilla’s story showed that the fetus caught all that radiation and protected you. That life within you functions as a sponge — how do you feel after you come to learn that truth, and what will you think of life when you come to realize that your unborn child sacrificed itself for you?

The court introduces the expert witnesses.

This was an excellent finale to the miniseries, and it almost brought the entire thing full circle. The miniseries began with the explosion, and it ended with what happened before that explosion. In a way, you could simply watch the premiere episode again, now that you know what really happened. Now that you know what conspired in the hours before the accident, it makes it easier to understand what happened immediately after it. I love that full-circle narrative, and I would wish for more scripted programming to try to get there. The computer game “Lost: Via Domus” kind of went that direction, and while it might have been an obvious way to either end the game or the entire series of LOST that way, it was still a cool way to show that there is never an ending, and that the viewers can trap themselves in a loop. TWELVE MONKEYS ended that way, and maybe even TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES ended that way, essentially building a bridge to the prologue of the first film with its unintended series-ending cliffhanger. Yes, CHERNOBYL didn’t really end that way, but it gave a depiction of the explosion which wasn’t seen in the first episode. What I found a bit problematic during the premiere, because I didn’t get to know what happened immediately before the explosion, was explained away by the decision to depict the hours and minutes before the explosion in the finale. Life is a full circle after all. We were created, we are born, we live, we die, we get created again. Stars are born and end their life with a supernova, with the following stardust creating other stars.

The court introduces itself.

I was a bit worried at first about what the final episode of the show might entail. Consider me happy that it focused almost entirely on the court drama, as well as Boris, Ulana and Legasov’s explanation of what happened and why it happened — just in case there were still people who did not understand what happened. Legasov’s explanation of how the events unfolded was excellent and reminded me of how he explained to Boris how a nuclear reactor was working. When he started off with the red and blue cards, I was thinking that I would stop understanding the science behind it, but as it turned out those cards were just a visual representation of how the core inside reactor 4 worked, and what needed to happen and be removed from the circle of chemical life inside a core to make it explode. And besides that, even I had to shake my head when he mentioned that the graphite tips of the fuel rods only existed because it made the reactor cheaper to build — the mumbling in the court audience resembled real-life astonishing and bewilderment in cases that just delivered a huge twist of what happened. I could have watched Legasov explain what happened in the minutes and seconds before the explosion for an hour or two, because it was fascinating. While I still don’t understand the chemical science behind it, it does make the whole business of nuclear reactors seem like they are all waiting to explode, and they are all a nuclear bomb. You can bring as much safety into it as possible, but you will never know what is going to happen in the worst of circumstances. How did the episode end? “Why worry about something that isn’t going to happen?”

It’s the second before the explosion — where the world was still alright.

Best part of the episode: The text captions at the end, telling the viewers what happened after and how the world perceived Legasov’s memoirs, almost made me cry. Not just because of how important Legasov’s words were, after he was told that his legacy will be the legacy of other people who decide to live under the rules and laws of the Soviet Union, but also because of Lyudmilla. Everyone has heard about the Chernobyl disaster, but who really has known about Valery Legasov? The man turned out to be a hero, whose legacy was threatened by the Soviets, so he decided to create his own legacy in the aftermath of the disaster. Would someone other than Legasov hired by the Soviets to investigate the explosion and create a disaster protocol have been equally led by the disaster to tell the truth at the end? Would any other scientist have followed Soviet rule instead?
Worst part of the episode: There was nothing bad about it. Maybe that it was an hour shorter than it could have been. The whole trial could have deserved its own little miniseries, in the style of the Nuremberg process, in which Alec Baldwin starred.
Weirdest part of the episode: Can it be that Anatoly Dylatov was depicted a little too much like the villain in the room when he decided to stop Legasov from testifying? I didn’t really like that moment, although I guess every Soviet story need a villain like that.
Player of the episode: To all the people who saved Europe from radioactive destruction in 1986 – thank you. I never knew about you before I watched this miniseries, but now I do. And you have my gratitude. As someone who grew up under communist rule created by the Soviets in the GDR, it’s almost a miracle that none of the lies and deception has defined my family and I came to be the most liberal progressive I ever thought I could be.

Chernobyl (“The Happiness of All Mankind”)

Part 4 of 5
Date of airing: May 27, 2019 (HBO)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.193 million viewers, 0.33 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.16 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.45 rating with Adults 25-54, 0.64 rating with Adults 50+

I might not have liked the character aspects of the opening hour, I might have found the previous hour to be a little slow, but damn, if CHERNOBYL isn’t one of the finest shows HBO has ever produced, then I don’t know what is happening on this planet. It could easily become one of my favorite miniseries from the pay cable channel, and I never really consider miniseries on HBO that important to watch. There is GENERATION KILL, and while the 2003 Iraq invasion might be a different genre altogether, there are some similarities between David Simon’s 7-part war satire and Craig Mazin’s story of one of the worst nuclear disasters in world history. You watch both shows and you keep mouthing ‘what the fuck’ over and over, simply because you cannot explain to yourself why the authorities are not only so goddamn stupid, but also riding on the wave of power that could kill everyone below them. In GENERATION KILL some of the captains and group leaders were simply inexperienced and not listening to their soldiers. In CHERNOBYL, the nation was trying to keep all the secrets, even if they needed to be exposed for the sake of humanity. Both shows have been making me mad over how authoritative persons were acting like they carried all the balls.

Cleaning up an entire town of radiation is a moist job.

This episode started off a little slow, but the last 20 minutes or so were tense as hell, as it’s usual with CHERNOBYL after four episodes. I couldn’t quite connect with the narrative of Pavel being trained to kill puppies, and Legasov and Boris preparing and discussing how to push the graphite off the reactor roof and into the core, but as soon as Pavel turned into a trained puppy killer, and after the German robot failed to do the mission which led to Legasov’s idea of biorobots, the episode took off and became that horror show from the first episode again. That scene on the roof, one long uninterrupted shot of the biorobots pushing the graphite off the side of the roof, was terrifying, and I was playing a scenario in my mind that had something else happen than just one of the biorobots getting their feet stuck between rocks. What if they stumble over one of the rocks and fall into the reactor core? Okay, they are dead immediately, but what must be going through someone who has been a biorobot in Chernobyl, and how long did they survive after spending the most horrifying 90 seconds of their lives on the roof of an exploded nuclear reactor building? CHERNOBYL isn’t just telling the story about the explosion and its aftermath, this episode went into the deep ocean of that premise and told stories that none of us might have thought about ever happened. Like killing puppies which couldn’t be evacuated. Like sending humans onto the roof to push the graphite into the core. And whatever else Legasov and Boris came up with before they were able to cover the reactor building.

Cleaning up an entire area of radioactive pets is an emotional job.

I’m kind of loving how Boris has changed his mind about what has been happening over the past eight months. He started off his story by threatening to shoot the pilot of the chopper he was sitting in, if said pilot is not going to fly directly over the burning core. He started off his story by wanting to keep the secrets to himself, by wanting to please the KGB and Gorbachev. The following winter, Boris was essentially telling Legasov to really think about what is going to happen when he tells the world the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the reactor explosion. In no uncertain terms Boris said that if you divulge Soviet secrets, you will get a bullet and your family will get a bullet. In between the lines it essentially means “Get your family out first and have an exit strategy prepared for yourself before you speak in Vienna.”

Pavel and Lyudmilla’s stories were also fine. The former might have been a newly introduced character with not much of an arc, while the latter didn’t have a lot of screentime, but each of them showed other aspects of the aftermath, even months after the explosion. I never even thought about that Lyudmilla’s unborn baby would get all the radiation (from being in Pripyat after the explosion, or from being with Vasily while he slowly died?) and die mere hours after the birth, and I never expected for Lyudmilla’s life to be pretty much over, as she was sitting there, separated from the other patients, no child of her own to call son or daughter. The only thing that would have kept her from not forgetting her husband died right after the birth, because that thing saved her from what killed her husband. I wouldn’t call that poetry, but damn, that is some horrific shit.

Cleaning up the roof of reactor 4 can be a deadly job after more than 90 seconds.

Best part of the episode: Like the ending of the second episode, the roof scene was even more terrifying because of the sound effects of the Roentgen meter catching all the radioactive atoms while the biorobots were working. A horror movie set in a roof, during daylight, with basically no music, and the only thing you hear are the breaths of one of the characters, the Roentgen meter and the steps. Apparently that’s how you do horror now.
Worst part of the episode: Just that one slight problem of the show jumping through four months of storytelling over the course of the episode. I’m pretty sure there were more interesting stories to be told, which Craig Mazin decided to leave out.
Weirdest part of the episode: I celebrated with a fist bump when the Soviets were thinking about a West German robot that might be able to get on Marsha and do the job. German engineering and technology to the rescue, I thought. And then it crapped out after one meter of travel on Marsha. So much for West German technology and ingenuity…
Player of the episode: That biorobot who got his foot stuck and then stumbled into the radioactive soup deserves an award as well. People like him on a scripted television drama makes me want to look up the real-life people who were involved in these horrifying missions. Who had to die to save the world, and how many of them had to die to save the world?

Chernobyl (“Open Wide, O Earth”)

Part 3 of 5
Date of airing: May 20, 2019 (HBO)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.063 million viewers, 0.32 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.15 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.39 rating with Adults 25-54, 0.55 rating with Adults 50+

This episode was less tense than the previous one, but the horror was still present, although this time around in the form of Soviet bureaucracy, as well as the KGB. Of course the story of Chernobyl had to be filled partially with what the KGB has been doing to Soviet comrades in the government, and how the Kremlin probably wasn’t trusting anyone, or at least just keeping tabs on everyone, so that no one will spill any secrets, which are still being buried even after the explosion of the reactor core. The Kremlin is still keeping secrets, even though hundreds of thousands of people will have to try to fix the problem created by the accident, and tens of thousands of people will continue to die over the next few years. The Kremlin will still have its KGB agents follow people — probably even those who are to die, because for the KGB, people revealing why they are dying might be a secret too dangerous to share with the world.

The coverage of a news event in 1986 looked like this.

With the rising amount of bureaucracy though, the show became a little less interesting. The Ignatenko story has been the most impressive one, thanks to the fact that Lyudmilla had a lot more screentime, and her emotions were shared with the viewers. Sitting in a hospital, in which your husband is slowly dying of radiation poisoning, must be traumatic for the wife, which is probably why she decided not to bother to listen to the staff there, when they tell you not to touch your husband and always stay outside the plastic tent. For Lyudmilla, her life might have ended when she saw her husband dying, and while I have no idea whether she has contracted some of the radiation poisoning from Vasily or may have given birth defects to her unborn child, there was a sense of a finale in her life, and that nothing which comes after the cold, steel and concrete funeral of the firemen who responded first will bring Lyudmilla hope or love again. For her, her life ended here and who knows how long she will still be alive. Maybe she is lucky and she’s not sick of radiation poisoning. Maybe she is lucky and her unborn child will be born into this world healthy. But she will die over the course of the next few decades like the miners will die over the next few years after they have finished doing what they were hired to do. Like Boris and Legasov will die over the next few years, because they have always been getting a low but steady radiation poisoning while trying to fix all of this. Lyudmilla’s story was dramatic, and I would have wished for some of that being part of the previous episode, while I also hope it will define the next two episodes. Because now I kind of can’t image what is following now. A few weeks have passed since the explosion, the miners are at work, and Legasov introduced the next action plan. All they fear now is that the core will melt down quicker than anyone would have thought, but it’s essentially the only imminent threat at the moment.

Only a few things help against protection from a radioactive man.

And in the meantime, the remainder of the disaster aftermath lies in bureaucracy and preventing more deaths from happening all over Europe or in the immediate vicinity of Chernobyl. But does that really need depiction, now that Legasov has established what is to be done now? Granted, I would love to see the work of hundreds of thousands of men rebury the earth miles in and miles out, but I’m not quite sure what all of that hard work would mean for the story, except telling us over and over that all those men will be catching the radiation from the air and will eventually die. Going to work and knowing that work will kill you in a few years — there is a story there, but I don’t think for more than one episode.

Which means some of the remainder of the story has to lie in Ulana’s work finding out what happened that night and how the reactor core exploded. Maybe the remainder of the story will lie in preventing accidents like that to happen in the future, which means nuclear power plants have to be reformed, maybe even rebuilt, simply because one freak-nature accident caused all this chaos and fear and death. It would definitely help in bringing home the morale of the story that carries danger when being around a nuclear power plant: If you don’t know how to handle it or what danger it could bring when something is wrong, maybe you shouldn’t be playing with one. It’s basically the only morale left in the show, except of course the next two episodes will go knee-deep into the thousand-mile radius of Chernobyl and showcase how much trouble radiation really can bring, and how much of an effect the disaster really had. We only know of Pripyat and we have seen the abandoned town in photographs, and maybe in Transformers and Die Hard movies, but that town cannot be the only area heavily affected by the radiation.

You don’t care about your figure when it’s 120 degrees.

Best part of the episode: It was soft gore, but it was still gore, but the way Vasily’s outer skin layer was decaying almost looked like a nightmare in itself. The pilot of FRINGE had a similar effect on someone’s outer skin, but over there it was the skin becoming translucent, and it looked more like a special effect than anything else. Here it looked like prosthetics and make-up done well, putting an extra layer of fear and horror into the show.
Worst part of the episode: The worst part is that most of the horrific tension of the previous episodes is gone now. Nothing to mouth ‘holy fuck’ to again, or to be scared about what is going to happen now, and what the characters will get to see around the corner.
Weirdest part of the episode: Hospital staff just let a stranger through like it’s nobody’s business. Bribing and persuading someone to let you through to visit someone who is sick seems pretty easy and a daily occurrence in the Soviet Union. And this after the KGB was portrayed as being ever-present No wonder the country fell apart four years later.
Player of the episode: All those naked miners deserve respect for not giving a damn about their looks while kind of indirectly saving millions of people. No homophobia found here.

Chernobyl (“Please Remain Calm”)

Part 2 of 5
Date of airing: May 13, 2019 (HBO)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.004 million viewers, 0.31 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.16 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.41 rating with Adults 25-54, 0.51 rating with Adults 50+

I didn’t appreciate the missing characters of the first part, as the first 60 minutes focused entirely on the immediate aftermath of the explosion and burning reactor building. Characters I don’t know were dealing with the accident, and those who looked like they were part of the story throughout the miniseries were introduced in a rather limited fashion. But I freaking loved the tension and end-of-the-world feeling while the plant workers were finding their way through the plant to check out the reactor building and the core. What the second part delivered was the fix to the problem I’ve had with the first part, as well as a continuation to the tense premise of the show I loved during the opening episode. In a way, the second part is double the “fun,” which means twice as good as the opener. And that is going to say a lot about CHERNOBYL, because now that the immediate aftermath of the accident has been dealt with, and all the incidental victims have been pretty much killed off, the remainder of the miniseries can focus on the central characters, of which I counted four: Valery Legasov, who really tried his best to warn everyone of the catastrophe that is about to come; Boris Shcherbina, who was a non-believer at first, but as soon as he heard from Legasov that he will be dead in five years or less, he believed; Ulana Khomytuk, who was introduced in this episode as the female representation of saving the world; and Lyudmilla Ignatenko, who represents the civilian point of view of the premise, as she will most likely be on her way to Moscow to find her fireman husband, one of the first people on the scene of the radioactive mess and probably dying as quickly as all the other firemen who were the first responders.

To survive this apocalypse, take one pill a day.

Turning the show from a disaster movie into a frustrating thriller with four central characters about saving the world, in which the word “frustrating” stems on the fact that not a single one of the authority figures have been listening to the people who have knowledge when talking about nuclear energy, exposed reactor cores and radioactive contamination, was a wonderful idea for this episode, and with that little change I suddenly know what is actually going on in this show. Maybe the chaotic and sometimes hectic immediate aftermath of the accident, depicted through multiple point of views, was necessary, because it was the immediate aftermath, and no physicist would have even noticed something is happening within the first six or seven hours of the accident — stuff needs to “cool down” first for the real problems to emerge, as evident in this episode when Ulana came to Pripyat to tell the men that they don’t have a month to get their shit together. They don’t even have 72 hours. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about the Chernobyl disaster, and while I flew through the Wikipedia page, I definitely did not come across the potential of the remaining reactor cores exploding, because the tanks of the first reactor core were unexpectedly filled to the topand could lead to a thermal super explosion. I mean, that pretty much sounds like true end-of-the-world stuff, and I really don’t want to know how close Europe really was in 1986 to be mostly uninhabited, how many people would have died, and how fucked up the world would have been if the thermal explosion really had happened, and blown off the roof of the remaining reactor cores.

This is what vomit of a nuclear core looks like.

There was even more tension in this episode because of all the potential horror that could have happened. Some of it did happen, as the authorities did not listen. Would Deputy Secretary Garanin, whom Ulana was trying to convince something went terribly wrong at Chernobyl, have listened and reacted, if a man had told him the same information Ulana did? That’s unlikely, since no one was listen to the plant workers of the previous episode, let alone Legasov, but that scene alone riled me up so much that I was repeatedly mouthing ‘holy fuck’ throughout the scene. And not just that scene — also during the chopper flight above the reactor building, Boris mentioning that he is in charge about whether to evacuate Pripyat or not, and having been told not to, and finally the fact that Legasov was lying himself when he told the people at the bar they shouldn’t worry, followed by him not mentioning to the potential volunteers at the end that they will die when they go back into Chernobyl and flush the water out of the tanks. Frustrating stuff that comes close to being comparable to what is happening when it comes to global warming, which I saw was one of the parables viewers came out with while watching CHERNOBYL. Because none of the authority figures and politicians are listening, when experts and civilians ring the alarm, danger comes raining down and killing people. It happened in 1986, will it happen again, only in a much more global scale, and with radiation replaced by floods and fire and storms?

Are you ready for evacuation?

And the horror really began when the episode ended with the three volunteers on their way to empty the tanks. That moment they stepped close to the exposed core and their Roentgen devices were going mad, while their flashlights were turning off… I never knew how terrifying real life can be, and how other horror movies with supernatural monsters and ghosts or serial killers are tame in comparison to the final minutes of this episode.

Best part of the episode: Legasov’s explanation of how a nuclear power plant works was fantastic. It was explained for the mind of a child, like Donald Trump’s, and not unlike Boris, I now know how a nuclear power plant works. I love it when highly technical storytelling gets simplified for the general audience for a hot minute, making the greater narrative more understandable for the viewers.
Worst part of the episode: No subtitles during the Pripyat evacuation scene? I would have loved what the loudspeakers were telling its citizens.
Weirdest part of the episode: This much I knew about the Chernobyl disaster: Pripyat was evacuated within the first two days of the accident. This episode made it seem like the order to evacuate was not given until 36 hours in, which means an entire town was evacuated within the afternoon. I don’t quite believe that.
Player of the episode: Ananenko, Bezpalov and Baranov for the most obvious reason of sacrificing their own lives to save millions.

Chernobyl (“1:23:45”)

Part 1 of 5
Date of airing: May 6, 2019 (HBO)
Nielsen ratings information: 0.756 million viewers, 0.19 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.06 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.26 rating with Adults 25-54, 0.44 rating with Adults 50+

How to watch a television show with characters you don’t know anything about? Hoe to review a television show with characters who don’t have been established properly? You have the “cast in order of appearance” list, but what does that bring you, when rarely more than five characters are called by their name, while the rest of the episode did not establish anything resembling a back story? The premise of the show could be as exciting as stepping on the moon and walking around, but that’s not gonna help me when I don’t have any characters to connect to.

This might be the lesson to learn from the first episode of CHERNOBYL. A very tense beginning of the miniseries, depicting the immediate aftermath of the explosion, turning the premiere episode into a realistic horror film, in which you find yourself slowly (but quickly) dying after taking a look into the reactor core. A horror film, in which the characters realize no one is listening to you, their superiors have no clue what is actually happening in the power plant, and the state itself never wants to believe that something as catastrophic as an explosion of the reactor core can actually happen here. What this episode definitely focused on was the horror of the immediate aftermath of the explosion, as well as the first instances of the Soviet state downplaying and downtalking the explosion, filing it under a minor mishap without any consequences, and shutting up everyone who might say otherwise. This could make CHERNOBYL an interesting show without having to focus too much on the characters: Turn the story into a political and environmental upheaval, and showcase that the disaster had a geopolitical aftermath as well, which the viewers might not even know about, considering the way the Soviet Union was already trying to keep the real accident a secret from everyone. Not knowing a lot about the history of Chernobyl and what followed after (which is kind of a shame for me, since I was born a few months after the disaster, which means as a family living in the Eastern block of Berlin, Chernobyl might have caused a little bit of worry), it could be educational to find out more about it in general, and not just the fact that the radioactive cloud was screwing everything over and killing people, turning Pripyat and its surroundings into a ghost region. But here is the thing: When I don’t know anything about the Chernobyl disaster, how am I supposed to know what about the show is historically accurate, and what within the story is essentially creative freedom by its sole writer Craig Mazin?

In the middle of a catastrophic night, blue lights can’t do anything against raging fire.

I am however happy that this entire episode focused on the immediate aftermath of the explosion. 55 minutes of sheer terror set within the first 6-or-so hours after the core blew up, and all of a sudden I am intrigued to know what the premise would have looked like with a Hollywood film budget and with someone like Peter Berg on the helm, who did respectable work with real-life disaster films like DEEPWATER HORIZON and PATRIOTS DAY. Would he have delivered the same kind of intensity as this episode did, with darkness behind every corner, but as soon as you look at the power plant from the city, its almost-brightness might freak you out? Would a Hollywood blockbuster production have had the same claustrophobic feeling this episode had, when the workers at the plant were walking through the destructed hallways, closing in on the reactor room? Would a big-budgeted movie have had the same effect on me, when Sitnikov was “forced” to get to the roof and look down to the reactor building, but instead just saw a freaking black cloud of death shooting out of the reactor core? Those are quite shocking moments to realize that the worked was about to end, and you probably can’t do a single thing to stop that from happening. And thankfully, all those moments worked beautifully during this episode.

The night is bright over there.

The rest however … not so much. But it begs the question how differently one could have started off the miniseries, and whether it might have been a good idea to start the narrative on the day before the accident, just so the main players of said narrative can be introduced. In a way, Jared Harris’ character Valery Legasov has been the only character getting the honor to be introduced to the audience, but only because it was decided to begin the show with the end of the character. And maybe the Ignatenkos have been somewhat introduced, as they were the first to see from their window that the plant has just blown up, giving a sense of what the two were like before shit was raining down to kill them all. I would have loved at least some moments with character depth, because after 55 minutes I don’t know a single thing about each of the characters, let alone do I know their names by memory (the end credits are helping me out here). One can only hope the next episode or two will fix that, otherwise CHERNOBYL will become a show difficult to grasp, because none of the characters are known to the viewers.

This is what happens to you when you deny the catastrophe ever happened.

Best part of the episode: The shots of the burning reactor building from the point of view of the firemen was super impressive. It looked like part of destroyed Europe during World War Two, but for them it was current and right now, and it looked like armageddon. It was dark, it probably smelled bad, and you tend to notice sick people around you, after they touched the graphite. That was even more of a nightmare image than the plant workers just walking through the hallways.
Worst part of the episode: Maybe it was a little too dark though, as barely anything was visible to the naked eye. While I like the realistic setting of the show, I would have loved more visuals, even if the episode was already defined by images of the actual core, as well as the radioactive smoke shooting out of it.
Weirdest part of the episode: It’s not really weird, because it’s part of the narrative, but seeing the people in Pripyat being “snowed in” by the ash and radioactive cloud from the plant while they look at it burn from the distance is something that could also give me nightmares. There they were, feeling safe, but then the scene turned into a mirror image of that movie theater scene in OUTBREAK, and suddenly everyone was in danger of dying of radiation. And no one even knows to give a shit.
Player of the episode: All the supervisors, superiors and state people in this episode made themselves known as the power players of the incident. They successfully portrayed what I imagined the Soviet Union sounded like in the 1980s, and what its successor Russia sounds like in 2019.