DATELINE: What a Life!
Fictional Emily Watson?
The sheer horror of Chernobyl grows as the coverups are uncovered. Minor bureaucrats dispute the severity of nuclear destruction, out of sheer willful self-protection.
By the time this crisis is tossed into Gorbachev’s lap, as the head of the Soviet Union, he is faced with horrible options. As the second episode shows him dealing with giving a death sentence to three workers who must sacrifice their lives to go into a radioactive cavern on fire.
Jared Harris is the physicist who is indignant and ultimately convincing. Emily Watson first appears in this episode as the woman nuclear physicist who best understands what annihilation the world is facing.
Alas, she is a complete fiction as a character, being a composite of a half-dozen female scientists. It is another means of demeaning women while pretending to elevate one to heroic levels. There could never be a half-dozen heroic women.
The evacuation of the city around the burning radioactive power plant is quite impressive, after the authorities learn that the equivalent of millions of X-rays is hitting everyone with a few miles to start.
By seventy-two hours, they could be facing the deaths of 60 million people in the Kiev area.
The grim atmosphere of Russian society is enhanced by its poor living conditions and helpless population. As the opening show indicated, enough lies told will inoculate people to feelings about truth.
There are not enough iodine pills—and there is nowhere to go: the silent and invisible radiation is shooting skyward to come down with the rains.
This is dramatic and horrifying to say the least, and a lesson in how close to self-destruction the human race came in 1986.
Watching this five-part series is not uplifting, or educational. It is simply numbing.