Show review: “Chernobyl”

The Easterner

By Karlee Van De Venter, Arts and Features Reporter

Karlee Van De Venter is The Easterner’s arts and features reporter. Her opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Easterner, its staff or Eastern Washington University.

The HBO Miniseries, “Chernobyl,” highlights many of the negative things Soviet Russia is notorious for, like lying, pride and the KGB.

Released May 2019, the series is now available to stream on HBOGo. It highlights the disaster of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986.

When the power plant prepares for a safety test, something within the reactor fails. The scientists working there that night think there’s a simple fix. By the time they realize the severity of the situation, several lives have already been lost. As time goes on, politicians, scientists, first responders and citizens all become involved in the aftermath.

The first episode highlights the preparation for the test, and the hours immediately following the failure. Families are affected, firefighters realize it’s not a normal fire, scientists try to understand what happened and politicians desperately scramble to find a solution.

In the second episode, scientists from outside the plant start to figure out what’s going on. This is showcased through the character Ulana Khomyuk, who is meant to represent the entire community of scientists that worked towards a solution.

“As time goes on, politicians, scientists, first responders and citizens all become involved in the aftermath.” -Karlee Van De Venter, Arts and Features Reporter

The third episode shows Ulana digging to discover what really happened the night of the failed test. This episode also follows Lyudmilla Ignatenko while she cares for her sick husband, Vasily. He was a firefighter called to put out the fire at the power plant before anyone realized how dangerous it was.

The fourth episode is by far the hardest to watch, as government officials finally realize the severity of the situation, and take matters into their own hands. At that time, it’s clear the government prioritized their image over their constituents.

While everyone else is working to resolve the aftermath that affects them most, the government hires soldiers to clear the area. Some soldiers get worse jobs than others, and have to do really inhumane tasks.

The fifth episode shows how the situation inevitably went to trial, and how hard it was to testify. It also shows what happened to each character in real life.

“Chernobyl” is only five episodes long, but each episode is over an hour in length. This show is not for casual viewing. It’s difficult to understand if you’re not paying attention. That said, the storyline is done in a very impressive way, and following along is easy to do once you’re invested.

“You’ll feel connected to the disaster.” -Karlee Van De Venter, Arts and Features Reporter

Because “Chernobyl” is about a nuclear power plant, there is a lot of scientific jargon and references that most people won’t necessarily understand. But the show doesn’t leave you confused. Some of the characters need to be levelled with as well. Because of this, everything gets explained in layman’s terms.

The most confusing part of the show for me was keeping track of the character names, especially with the plot’s quick pace. Usually you can tell who is being referred to by the context, but sometimes it takes a minute to realize what’s going on.

The cinematography is really well done in this show. It showcases the catastrophe in such an astonishing way. The show makes you feel like its events happened yesterday. You’ll feel connected to the disaster. Even with so few episodes, you really feel for the characters. “Chernobyl” is one of those shows that gets you thinking about what else you might not know. What other secrets are being kept from regular citizens?

Overall, I rate “Chernobyl” a 9/10. The acting was phenomenal. The actors really make you think they were part of the disaster. There was a wide variety of emotions present in the show. The storyline was very well done, putting a lot of information and plot points in only a few episodes. The visual effects seemed very accurate and were definitely believable. There were no unnecessary romances, like many shows add in when telling a true story. Everything seemed accurate and relevant to what was being told.

I highly recommend this miniseries next time you can’t decide what to watch. “Chernobyl” makes you think, pulls you in, puts you through a roller coaster of emotions and is an amazing viewer experience.•