Chernobyl : Open Wide, O Earth

Pripyat has been evacuated, we are now just under or maybe by the time the episode starts just over 2 days from the explosion, Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov have volunteered to enter the basement of Chernobyl to drain the water and stop a nuclear explosion that would destroy much of Eastern Europe.

This show continues to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to watch but by now I don’t want to stop.

One thing this show has honestly shown is that there are a lot of heroes that no one ever hears about. People who had a politician come to them and tell them the bear minimum but them knowing that the job they were being forced to do was the job they had to do so they went and did it.

That is a human story that gets forgotten so often.

Every tragedy has heroes who might do what they have to do because they have to but who still go willingly to do so. The three volunteers who drained the water in the basement, the helicopter pilots in the episode before who tried to get the sand in the core to stop the fire, the coal miners in this episode who never had to be near Chernobyl and honestly might have been killed if they didn’t go but who still went.

Again, like just about everything, it was hard to watch as they cheerfully walked towards their own damnation knowing that they had no choice. If the contamination reached the ground water then the contamination would spread into rivers and eventually the sea.

Glukhov is once more another character, played by Alex Ferns, who just elevated the show so much. As the crew chief of the mining crew he honestly took no shit but he was very much a human. Everyone knows a laborer of some sort and the way they speak and hold themselves and that was what he was and how he played it, no nonsense and there to get the job done. It had to be done, there was no one else to do it, but he’d get it done and get his people away from this place as fast as he could.

Whilst the defiance of the miners might send up some giggles when you see a bunch of miners walking around totally naked at the same time it is a reminder that these men did their best for something I researched before writing this as I do with most of these things for something that ended up not being a threat at all.

Away from that probably the hardest things to watch happened in Moscow.

Both Lyudmilla and Khomyuk end up in Hospital 6, Lyudmilla bribed her way into the hospital to see her husband whilst Khomyuk was there for answers.

Neither story is one I want to ever see again as we see a process happen that Legasov explained to Shcherbina happen in both Lyudmilla’s husband Vasily and also others from inside the plant as Khomyuk tries to find out what happened.

In my head I kept screaming for Lyudmilla to stop touching her husband and listen to the pleas of others for her to stay away but as his body slowly destroyed itself and the man she loved slowly vanished in front of her I could understand the need to be at the side of the person you love. No one explained the real threat and I don’t think if they did they would ever be able to stop her do what she did putting her life and that of a unborn child at risk so that her husband didn’t die alone. It was such a strong showing for Jessie Buckley whose journey from seeing her husband badly burnt but up and playing cards to basically a unrecognizable shell of a human within a small period of time was one of the hardest things I’ve ever watched.

Khomyuk talking to 25 year old Toptunov also broke my heart. The realisation on Khomyuk’s face when she realised his age and saw what he looked like, knew the fact that this young life was coming to the most painful end you could imagine was more heartbreaking then you could ever imagine.

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