Chernobyl – Episode 3 “Open Wide, O Earth” Recap & Review


The Human Cost

Chernobyl returns this week with another harrowing dose of historical drama. Picking up where it left off, the three men emerge from the depths of the plant, successful in their mission. After challenging the officials on their evacuation efforts, Legasov asks for more resources to stop the core overheating before taking a walk with Shcherbina, explaining the horrifying effects of radiation.

In Moscow, men are gathered to help with the ongoing works at Chernobyl. With over 100 miners shipped off to the plant, they’re tasked with digging underground to set up a heat exchange for the core. “We need at least 400 men for this,” One of the miners replies sternly, staring the men in the face while schematics scatter their table. His request is denied but he gets to work nonetheless, showing the relentless work ethic of these brave souls.

We then cut forward 9 days after the explosion to find the workers continuing to work hard, digging outside. Sweat clinging to their brows, one of the miners requests fans to help ventilate the area but the offer is refused due to the toxic dust in the air.

Meanwhile, Ulena interviews the chief engineer in hospital who is deteriorating fast under the effects of radiation. As she starts to understand more about what caused the explosion at Chernobyl, the fireman’s wife, Ignatenko, ignores the warnings heeded by the nurses and gets close to her husband, who is suffering badly from radiation himself. As the nurse grabs the woman and pulls her out the room, Ulena witnesses the commotion in the hallway and immediately confronts her. “He’s not your husband anymore,” She warns him, but her pleas fall on deaf ears as members of the KGB appear and arrest her.

In Moscow, the officials congratulate one another for a job well done, knowing the tunnels are nearing completion thanks to the efforts of the miners. However, Legasov updates them on the current situation. The long term effects are far worse at Chernobyl and require a massive country-wide effort to put right. They need to destroy all animals, evacuate men, raze the Earth and build a structure around Chernobyl to contain the core – no simple feat to say the least. As the board members vacate the room in silence, Legasov asks for an imprisoned Ulena to be released, claiming he needs her assistance.

Promising to be responsible for her actions, the official agrees to his request and Legasov visits her in prison. She tells him what she’s learnt and decides to head back to the hospital again and keep digging for answers. Meanwhile, the brave men who fought the Chernobyl fire are all dead and as they bury the bodies in steel caskets and consume them in concrete, Ignatenko looks on with dread as she starts to realize the seriousness of the situation.

Once again Chernobyl delivers a beautifully written and haunting hour of television. The gritty realism of the situation mixed with the attention to detail make Chernobyl a realistic and accurate depiction of what happened in this disaster. The cinematography is beautifully orchestrated too, with plenty of long shots lingering uncomfortably on certain scenes, especially those including the firemen in hospital. It’s hard to fault this show and HBO are on to a real winner here. Chernobyl is must-watch TV and on-course to be one of the best mini-series of 2019.


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