Sand & Boron
Chernobyl returns this week with the aftermath of last week’s explosion still a very real and present danger. 7 hours after the explosion, irradiated victims pile into the hospitals while a commission is called with Professor Legasov to discuss the situation.
Angered by the apathy shown by the other members, Legasov pleads with the commission to evacuate the area. After trying to explain nuclear energy to the other members, they eventually agree to fly a helicopter over to Chernobyl with Legasov and another member of the board, determined to get to the bottom of the misinformation being spread.
As the helicopter approaches the plant, Legasov’s wide-eyed stare says it all. He tells the men not to get any closer – he can see the core has been exposed thanks to an eerie, blue glow emanating from the plant.
On the ground, the plant directors from last week tell them they’re mistaken in what they’ve seen and vehemently deny that any graphite is on the roof or the ground. After accusing them of misinformation, Legasov manages to obtain a high-level reading thanks a lead-coated vehicle driven up to Chernobyl Plant. The reading is 15,000.
Now realizing the seriousness of their situation, Legasov tells them they need to drop sand and boron on the core to try and extinguish the flames. As the helicopters begin their drops, coded messages get through to Ulyana Khomyk, a nuclear physicist, about the operation. Getting nowhere with the politicians, she decides to visit the area herself.
36 hours after the explosion, Pripyat’s 49,000 residents are finally evacuated courtesy of hundreds of coaches piling into the city. With the town now an eerie relic of what it once was, Khomyk arrives and quickly informs Legasov and the others that they’ve made a mistake – the water tanks in the plant aren’t empty. As dread sets in, Legasov realizes the seriousness of the situation and calls for an emergency meeting with the commission.
With this newfound knowledge that these water tanks will cause mega-tonnes worth of damage, Legasov asks the board for permission to allow 3 workers to go in and manually open the tanks to release the water, subsequently saving the country. Unfortunately, this also means sending the men to their deaths.
The episode then ends with the 3 brave souls stepping forward for the greater good and heading inside the watery, radioactive reactor where their flashlights go out.
Once again Chernobyl delivers a harrowing and true account of the events that led to one of the biggest human disasters of our time. Although the acting is fantastic throughout, there will inevitably be some people put off by the differing accents and lack of authentic Soviet language. Still, there’s enough here to make the characters endearing and realistically depicted nonetheless.
The haunting, minimalist music and great camera work are ultimately what make Chernobyl such a gripping and enthralling watch. There’s a lot of really nice shots here that help keep things engaging and the numerous scenes depicting Chernobyl’s thick, poisonous fumes do a great job reinforcing the seriousness of the situation.
Given the way this series continues to stay true to the timeline of events, it’ll be interesting to see how far this show goes in terms of depicting the extent of human casualty and gruesome injuries but for now, Chernobyl is harrowing stuff, deliver another very good episode.