Chernobyl 1986 Ending Explained – Does Alexey die at the end?

Chernobyl 1986 Plot Synopsis

In its simplest form, Chernobyl 1986 is a love story set during the time of the Chernobyl disaster. At the center of this are the estranged couple of Olga and Alexey who find themselves thrown in the midst of this horrific accident.

The small town of Pripyat is the setting here, with the focus solely on the rescue workers and their endeavours to try and stop Chernobyl from reaching a critical point of no return.

Is Alexey the father to Alexei?

As the film opens, we see Alexey get a haircut from Olga, who’s not exactly pleased to see him. The pair used to be lovers 10 years back but Alexey is a selfish man, having left Olga numerous times (a key bit of dialogue late on reinforces this, with Olga retorting “Why do you always abandon me?”)

However, Olga has a son named Alexei who happens to be 10. It’s heavily implied that his child is Alexey’s. When he finds out as much, he applies for a transfer to Kyiv and abandons Olga once more.

Oga and Alexei do continue to show up through the movie though, with Alexey helping to bundle the pair onto a bus to escape from Pripyat’s radiation.

Do Alexey and Olga love each other?

Late on, the pair start to rekindle their flames from the past but again, Alexei abandons her to go down into the core. This act of heroism seems to be a spark of sorts for Olga, who visits him in hospital while he’s suffering badly from radiation burns. She hugs him without protective clothing, which is a significant moment of saying goodbye before heading back to see Alexei.

Viewers could interpret this scene in one of two ways. The first, that Olga has forgiven Alexey after his selfless act of sacrificing himself for the greater good. Her hug is one of affection and love, having now decided that Alexey is part of her life and has redeemed himself.

The other is one of a simple goodbye. As the father of her child, Olga has a deep-rooted respect and affection for this man despite his questionable behaviour.

Her final act of removing her protective gear to hug him could well link back to what’s happened with Alexei’s burns. Olga is ready to move on and she’s touching him as a final act of closure. We’ll leave that interpretation up to you!

How is the Chernobyl disaster averted?

After only suffering mildly from exposure to radiation, Alexey is summoned to a committee with various different officials and department heads. They deduce that there’s going to be another steam explosion when the radioactive core comes in contact with the coolant water. If this occurs then it’ll be absolutely devastating.

In order to avert that, a brave team of volunteers are tasked with releasing the water in the reservoir below the reaction. However, that includes traversing through boiling hot radioactive water.

Does Alexey die?

Accompanied by an engineer called Valera and military diver Boris, Alexey enters the reactor and the trio dive underwater. When Boris is fatally exposed to radiation, Valera suggests a much riskier endeavour. He wants to open the reservoir manually. Alexey joins and the pair open the underwater valve. However, they’re unable to resurface and pass out.

After a brief montage, Olga heads into hospital to say her goodbyes to Alexey. He’s clearly suffering from nasty radiation burns across his body. It seems almost certain that he died from radiation poisoning.

How does Chernobyl 1986 end?

Skipping forward three months, Olga waits eagerly at the airport for young Alexei to return from his treatment. He’s been in Switzerland (thanks to an earlier deal Alexey managed to strike with the officials) and looks weak, showing up without any hair. This seems to indicate that he’s still suffering from the effects of radiation.

Given how close Alexei was to the power plant when it exploded, it’s fair to say the young boy was exposed to a significant amount of nuclear radiation. Undoubtedly, he will have to live with that for the rest of his life.

Although we’re not told this, one of the long-term effects of radiation poisoning include cardiovascular disease and cancer. This somber ending seems to hint that Alexei is suffering from the latter. It’s a poignant ending, one that reminds us of the horrors inherent with the Chernobyl disaster.



Read More: Chernobyl 1986 Review

Thanks for reading our Ending Explained article! So what did you think of the ending? Did you enjoy it? Or did you think that final time rewrite was a bit of a cop-out? Let us know in the comments below!

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