While nuclear physics professor Valery Legasov hides evidence of what really happened, expecting to die soon and as scapegoat for the world's worst nuclear disaster that contributed to the demise of Soviet Union, he recalls the 1986 Chernobyl power plant disaster. The under-qualified night shift in the Ukrainian reactor control room is incapable of rasping, let alone controlling the nuclear reactions getting completely out of control. No timely warnings are given until the uranium rods escalate an unstoppable meltdown. Party officials pigheadedly keep pretending it's just a building fire, so time is wasted and people are contaminated before the horrible radiation symptoms became impossible to ignore and Moscow has to learn the truth. The KGB vice director is assigned by Gorbachov to handle it with outspoken expert Legasov as imposed counsel, whim he would prefer to dispose of but finds crucially, albeit inconveniently, knowledgeable. The rest of the world is kept ignorant, but ...
Did You Know?
Following the accident, Soviet authorities failed to warn neighboring countries of the disaster. Two days later, a dramatic increase in radiation levels at a nuclear power plant in Sweden caused immediate alarm, and investigation led the Swedes to suspect it came from the western Soviet Union. The Soviets admitted there was an accident, but denied it was serious. Sweden, however, persisted and announced it would file an official alert with the International Atomic Energy Authority, which would have sent investigators. Only then did the Soviet Union admit to the world the seriousness of what occurred. See more
Throughout the series, people refer to each other in the form "Comrade-surname," which is inappropriate among colleagues. Dyatlov's subordinates would have called him "Dyatlov" among themselves and "Anatoly Stepanovich" (his first name and patronymic) when addressing him directly, rather than "Comrade Dyatlov," as they do in the episode. Colleagues familiar with one another would have referred to each other either by first name or surname, but also without the use of "comrade," which is an official/bureaucratic form of address. Ironically, when Bryukhanov summons the local Party leadership into an office to figure out what's going on, he refers to them more than once as "gentlemen." Now, if ever there were a time to address a room as "comrades," this would have been it. "Ladies" and "gentlemen" (Russian: "damy" and "gospoda") were terms that had been tossed out of the lexicon upon the establishment of the Soviet regime in the late-1910s/early-1920s for being "bourgeois" and were replaced by "comrades." At a meeting of Communist Party officials, no one would dare address the others as "gentlemen" for fear of appearing politically degenerate. See more
What is the cost of lies? It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories? In these stories, it doesn't matter who the heroes are. All we want to know is: "Who is to blame?"