DATELINE: HBO Series, Episode 3
Stellan Skarsgard as Boris.
Episode 3 of the HBO series about the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl continues to depress and to create outrage. Though the Soviet regime handles it with usual ant colony efficiency, there is something horrifying about people being “asked” to commit suicide to save humanity.
One wonders how different it would have been if Three Mile Island were on a par with Chernobyl.
Perhaps there will always be those who will involuntarily volunteer, their bravery is inexplicable. The drab veneer of communist life hardly inspires sacrifice.
Smoking cigarettes for everyday Soviets appears nearly as deadly and commonplace as radiation poisoning.
Jared Harris, son of movie star Richard Harris as the nuclear physicist closest to the crisis, looks like he has already been exposed to some deadly radiation. His growing irritation with non-experts making decisions about life and death may be the biggest surprise in Soviet life.
Challenges openly to Gorbachev in front of the head of KGB is considered fair play as Stellan Skarsgad notes that the scientist is regarded as a harmless fool. Otherwise, he would be in big trouble.
The performers cannot be faulted for presenting dire nausea as the bottom line of their performances as they watch people rot away—and know their own deaths will be delayed, as they have kept a slight distance from the worst.
To say you need to evacuate millions of people from radiation poisoning makes Jared Harris ridiculous and dismissed. The fictional woman played by Emily Watson is arrested by KGB. Coverup is a hard game to play.
Ignorance is bliss, for many think they have superficial burns. Yet, others know there is some kind of death sentence coming instantly after exposure for a short time. One young woman won’t leave her fireman husband, touching and hugging him despite pregnancy and sure devastation to come.
The meltdown is coming—and conscripts of young men, dour and worried, are the front line of defense for the world.
The proximity to doomsday permeates this little miniseries. It is a cautionary tale that helps no one.