“Why worry about something that isn’t going to happen?” In its five-episode miniseries event, it is hard-hitting realities like this that HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ presents to its viewers. The show has gained tremendous popularity, all and more of which it deserves owing to the great work that has gone in its making. All of us knew about the Chernobyl disaster; we had the topic in our schoolbooks. But very few knew of the true cause and effect of this tragedy. It is only when we see people dying in the most horrific ways while the bureaucrats are involved in keeping the state secrets safe that we realise the extent of human vanity. How could something possibly go wrong in a country that is meant to uphold the idea of perfection?
Through its characters, most of whom are the heroes whose name will forever remain a vague figure in history, the show presents to us one of the worst faces of human errors in the form of the most catastrophic man-made events in history. It brings us dangerously close to the world that would have been had there not been selfless people who knowingly embraced whatever version death would come to them in, the people who sacrificed themselves for “the happiness of all mankind”. It also shows us how vile the face of human greed is and what price is to be paid to steady the shaky grounds of a state’s ego.
The series has received a backlash from Russian media and has been accused of painting certain things in a worse light than they actually were. Despite this, or perhaps due to it, the series is rather popular with the Russian audience. What makes ‘Chernobyl’ so impactful is not just its honest, mostly undramatized, version of the events that happened about 34 years ago. Its relevance is increased by the fact that incompetence in the places of power and the undying lust for power and the preservation of self-importance, all over the world, is still around and poses the possibility of some other danger-in-waiting. If you haven’t yet seen the series, you should catch it on HBO, as soon as possible. It is an eye-opener and you don’t want to be sleeping in this treacherous world.
How did the Chernobyl disaster happen?
The one thing that drives the plot of the story is the question: what exactly happened that night? Akimov repeatedly says, “we did everything right.” Whenever someone reports that the reactor has exploded, the question asked is “how does an RBMK reactor explode?”. Apart from the task of controlling the situation, Legasov has to get rid of the nagging feeling, what led to all this! By the end of the series, we have a clear picture. There were two things that were responsible for it. The first was the mechanical error and the second was human. Further digging, done by Khomyuk, reveals that the technical errors and all those things could have only gone so far to lead to the explosion had it not been pushed to its furthest limit by the people in charge of the machinery.