01x03 - Open Wide, O Earth


MISHA: Where are you going?


Ignatenko, fire and rescue unit. I need to find him!

VALERY LEGASOV: Moscow. Hospital number six.

WOMAN: Are you here because of the fire?

Anything we should be worried about?


It cannot go over the core.

BORIS SHCHERBINA: The nuclear plant in Sweden has detected radiation.

MAN: At least evacuate Pripyat.

When the lava enters these tanks, it will instantly superheat, causing a significant thermal explosion.

And how long before this happens?

Approximately to hours, but we may have a solution.















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Is it possible that the water has already killed them?


Then what?

If it doesn't work?


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Get them in the truck.

Get the hoses in! Start pumping!

Uh, I'm here to see my husband, Vasily Ignatenko.

He's a firefighter from Chernobyl. I have permission.

Chernobyl? I'm sorry, no visitors.

Well, but Major Burov told me,

- he said...
- No exceptions.

Please. I've come all the way from Kievskaya Oblast.

Excuse me.

Excuse me, excuse me.

Who are you? What are you doing here?

- I have a pass.
- You can't be here. It's not safe.

I am here to see my husband.

Vasily Ignatenko.

He's a firefighter from Chernobyl.

I know who Ignatenko is, but you can't.

I have permission. I-I've...

You can see him for minutes, not a minute more.

And you cannot touch him in any way. Do you understand?

- Yeah.
- Room .

Thank you.

- You're not pregnant, are you?
- No.

I won't have to give that to you.

There they are.

No, wait, wait, wait. I haven't finished yet.

No, he hasn't.

Yeah, that's good.

Yeah, better.

Look who the cat dragged in.

What did I tell you?

- There's no hiding from you, is there?


Easy, easy. It's okay.

We're all okay. Yeah, we're okay.

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How, how, how did this happen? Who gave them the idea?

- Are you suggesting I did?
- Someone did.

Someone decided that the evacuation zone should be kilometers, when we know, here, Cesium- in the Gomel district.

- That's kilometers away!
- It was decided.

- Based on what?
- I don't know!

Forgive me. Maybe I've just spent too much time in my lab.

Or maybe I'm just stupid.

Is this really the way it all works?

An uninformed, arbitrary decision that will cost who knows how many lives made by some apparatchik, some career party man?

I'm a career party man.

You should watch your tone, Comrade Legasov.

PIKALOV: Comrades...

We have visual confirmation that the fire is nearly extinguished.

There has also been a reduction in iodine and cesium- emissions.

Good. Yes?

PIKALOV: But the temperature is rising.

And, uh...

There's a spike in zirconium- .

It's from the cladding on the fuel rods.

Meaning what?

The meltdown has begun.





MAN: Get it off me!

Get it off me!


NURSE: Stop moving!

- Get off him! You're hurting him!

- You can't be in here.
- What's happening to him?

- Get out!

You can't be in here!


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Man (OVER PHONE): Comrade Shcherbina is on the phone.

Put him through.


SHCHERBINA: The fire's nearly out.

The bubbler tanks are being drained.

We have successfully eliminated the risk of a thermal explosion.



The situation inside the core is deteriorating faster than anticipated.

The concrete pad will last for six to eight weeks, but after that, Legasov estimates a % chance that the fuel will breach the pad and melt down into the groundwater itself.

(STAMMERS) And where does this groundwater go?

The Pripyat River, which feeds into the Dnieper.

The primary water supply for approximately million people, not to mention crops and livestock, would be... unusable.

We're recommending we install a heat exchanger under the pad to lower to core temperature and halt the meltdown.

And in order to do that, I'm told that we will need... all of the liquid nitrogen in the Soviet Union.


- All right.
- Yeah, and of course, we'll also need...

Whatever you need, you have it.

- That should be clear by now.
- Yes.

- Anything else?
- No, no, no. Thank you.

Yes. I'd like to address the
-kilometer exclusion zone.

Wait, what? Professor Legasov, is that you?

What exclusion zone?

Minor details, General Secretary.

Um, Premier Ryzhkov has determined that...

If he determined, then he determined.

Look, Professor Legasov,

you are there for one reason only.

Do you understand? To make this stop.

I don't want questions.

I want to know when this will be over.

If you mean when will Chernobyl be completely safe, the half-life of plutonium- is , years.

So perhaps we should just say, "Not within our lifetimes."


I think you and I should take a walk.

It's late. I'm tired.

We're taking a walk.


Was it it you want? An apology?

Not gonna sit back and...


What will happen to our boys?

Which boys? The divers?

The divers, the firefighters, the men in the control room.

What does the radiation do to them precisely?

At the levels some of them were exposed?

Ionizing radiation tears the cellular structure apart.

The skin blisters, turns red, then black.

This is followed by a latency period.

The immediate effects subside.

The patient appears to be recovering.

Healthy, even. But they aren't.

This usually only lasts for a day or two.


Then the cellular damage begins to manifest.

The bone marrow dies, the immune system fails, the organs and soft tissue begin to decompose.

The arteries and veins spill open like sieves, to the point where you can't even administer morphine for the pain, which is... unimaginable.

And then three days to three weeks, you are dead.

That is what will happen to those boys.

And what about us?

Well, we've...

We've gotten a steady dose, but not as much of it.

Not strong enough to kill the cells, but consistent enough to damage our DNA.

So, in time... cancer.

Or aplastic anemia. Either way, fatal.

Well... in a sense, it would seem we've gotten off easy then, Valery.

I've seen them before.

Now you know why I wanted to take a walk.

We can presume the work site is bugged.

And our rooms, even our bathrooms.

They've been here the whole time.

Of course they've been here the whole time.

But if we're seeing them out in the open now, it's because they want us to know.



KHOMYUK: You've seen that?

The fuel is melting faster than we expected.

I know. I have a plan.

Heat exchanger, I hope.


There's something I've wanted to ask you, comrade, but I see you're already asking yourself the same question.

Why did it explode?

I've worked the numbers over and over, presuming the worst possible conditions in an RBMK reactor.

And I always get the same answer.

Which is?

It's not possible.

And yet...

You're not going to solve this here.

Not on paper.

Everyone who was in the control room, Dyatlov, Akimov, Toptunov, they're all in Moscow, Hospital Number .

We need to find out exactly what happened that night, moment by moment, decision by decision.

Go now while they're still alive.

Talk to them.

Because if we don't find out how this happened, it will happen again.

And, Khomyuk... be careful.

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Well, f*ck you!


Hey, here's one, here's one.

What's as big as a house, burns liters of fuel every hour, puts out a shit-load of smoke and noise,

and cuts an apple into three pieces?

A Soviet machine made to cut apples into four pieces!



- Who's in charge here?
- GLUKHOV: I'm the crew chief.

I am Shadov, minister of coal industries.

We know who you are.

How many men do you have?

On this shift, here, a hundred in total.

I need all men to gather their equipment and get in the trucks.

Do you? To where?

That's classified.

Come on, then.

Start shooting.

You haven't got enough bullets for all of us.

Kill as many as you can, whoever's left, they'll beat the living piss out of each of you.

- SOLDIER: You can't talk to us like that!
- Shut the f*ck up!

This is Tula. This is our mine.

We don't leave unless we know why.


You're going to Chernobyl.

Do you know what's happened there?

We dig up coal, not bodies.

The reactor fuel is going to sink into the ground and poison the water from Kiev to the Black Sea.

All of it.

Forever, they say.

They want you to stop that from happening.

And how are we supposed to do that?

They didn't tell me, because I don't need to know.

Do you need to know, or have you heard enough?



Now you look like the minister of coal.






(SOFTLY): No, no, no.

They told you no touching.

It's not safe.

They touch you. (KISSES)

If it's safe for them, it's safe for me.


Where are the others?

They took them to a special room.

They won't tell me where.

Will you open the curtains?

- Hmm?
- Open the curtains.





Please, tell me what you see outside.

Tell me everything.


I can see the Red Square.


the Kremlin.

Spasskaya Tower, the Mausoleum.

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You see St. Basil's?



Yes, it's beautiful.

I told you.

I told you I'd show you Moscow, remember?

- Huh?
- Yeah. Yes.

Thank you.


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I'm not eating that. It's sh1t.

Get me something else.

I'm not a nurse, Comrade Dyatlov.

I'm a nuclear physicist.

Well, then, Comrade Nuclear Physicist...unless you happen to have a butter and caviar sandwich on you, you can get the f*ck out of my room.

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I'm not good at this, Boris.

The lying.

Have you ever spent time with miners?


My advice: tell the truth.

These men work in the dark. They see everything.

Andrei Glukhov, crew chief.

Do these work?

To an extent.

Of course.

So what's the job?

We need to install a liquid nitrogen heat exchanger underneath this concrete pad.

There's no way to approach from the interior of the building, so you have to get at it from underground.

- And what's above the pad?
- The core of the nuclear reactor, which is melting down.

What? Like...


Is it gonna fall on top of us?

Not if you're done within six weeks.


Break ground here, dig a tunnel meters to here, excavate a space by meters for the heat exchanger.

And because we need to keep disruption of the ground above to a minimum, you can't use any heavy machinery.

It has to be done by hand.

Then I need more men.

Four hundred at least.

We'll have to work around the clock.

How deep do you want this tunnel? Six meters?

- Twelve.
- Twelve? Why?

For your protection.

At that depth, you'll be shielded from much of the radiation.

The entrance to the tunnel won't be meters below ground.


And we're not meters below ground now.

No. We're not.

SHCHERBINA: We have some equipment here on site.

More will arrive by midnight.

You can start in the morning.

No. We start now.

I don't want my men here one more second than they need to be.

If these worked, you'd be wearing them.


Are they all like that?

They're all like that.

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- What's it up to?
- Uh, degrees.



Hey you!

- We need fans.
- For what purpose?

What do you mean, "For what purpose?"

To dig your f*cking tunnel, that's why.

- Who's talking to you?
- Whoa, whoa. Comrades.

It's degrees down there.

We can't breathe without the masks, we can't breathe with the masks.

It's like a f*cking oven. We need ventilation.

Fans will put dust in the air, the dust will go in your lungs.

I've been breathing dust in my lungs for years.

- Not this dust.
- I'm sorry.

For your own good, no fans.



My name is Ulana Khomyuk.

I'm a nuclear physicist with the Chernobyl Commission.

I want you to tell me everything that happened on the night of the accident.

Is that all right?


I want to tell.

All right.


Your official title was?

My name is Leonid Fedorovych Toptunov.

I am the senior reactor control chief engineer at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Senior engineer?

How old are you?

(GASPING): I'm .


VASILY (WEAKLY): Lyusya? Lyusya?

Yes, I'm here, I'm here. I'm...


Have you been here this whole time?

No one said I should leave.

I did.

Thirty minutes, I said!

Well, where have you been? When he's in pain?

When his sores stick to his gown?

When he soils himself five times a night?

I've been looking after him. Where have you been?

I've been In the north and west wing, where there are dozens of patients from Chernobyl exactly like him.

- It isn't safe for you here.
- He's my husband.

Not anymore.

He's something else now. Do you understand?

He's dangerous to you.

He's burned.

Go home.


It won't take much longer. I, uh...

I don't want him to die alone.

Stay on the other side of the plastic.

Or I'll have you removed by security.

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- Lyusya?
- Yes, my love.

Is it day?

No, it's nighttime now.

I think I had a dream, it's just gone.


We're going to have a baby.


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The fire's out.

It's out, Valera.

The miners are making incredible progress.

They say the whole job will be finished in four weeks.

Four weeks.

Can you believe that?

I know the job isn't over.

But it's the beginning of the end.


I'm sorry to bother you, Deputy Minister, but... it is the miners.




You wouldn't give us fans, it's too hot for clothes.

So we're digging the old way.
This is how our fathers mined.

We're still wearing the f*cking hats.

What do you want?

You're not as protected now.

Are you telling me it will make a difference?

When this is over, will they be looked after?

I don't know.

You don't know.


So the power level jumped from to megawatts?


Very fast.

Why didn't you initiate an emergency shutdown?

Why didn't you press the AZ- button?

We did.

I reported the increase to Akimov, and he pressed the button.

Leonid, that's... that's not possible.

He did.

I s-swear.

I saw him do it.

And that's when it exploded.





- Which room is Akimov?
- Twenty-seven.


AKIMOV: I pressed it... before the explosion.


(WEAKLY): But why?

Why would that happen?

I shut it down. I pressed AZ- .


Thank you, Comrade Akimov.


AKIMOV: I did everything right.

I did everything right.


(WHISPERING): Get out.

Get out. Get out of here.

Let me go! Let me go!

Stop it! Stop it!

You let her in that room?
Inside the plastic, touching him?

- Did you know she's pregnant?
- It's not true!

What have you done?

What kind of place is this?
Where is her protection?

- Do you have any idea what you're dealing with?
- Of course I do.

- Please, I do not...
- No.

- People are going to hear about this.
- Wait.

People are going to hear. Do you understand?

Everyone is going to hear.

MAN: What is everyone gonna hear?

I am with the official Chernobyl Commission, and I've been authorized by Valery Legasov.

- You can check this. My name is Ulana...
- We know who you are.

What is everyone gonna hear?

You have your notes?


Khomyuk was arrested last night.

What? Why?

I don't know.

- Was it...?
- Of course it was.

I'm working on it.

- Boris...
- I'm working on it.

What more do you want from me?

Fix your tie.


They'll see you now.

After thousands of sorties, our brave helicopter crews successfully extinguished the fire.

The miners are working heroically to ensure that the fuel does not reach the groundwater.

And furthermore, there is no longer a threat of additional explosion.

The Soviet people have faced the challenge and risen to the task, and they and everyone in this room are to be commended.

Lastly, Professor Legasov and I have been vigilant to protect the security interests of the State.

And since the unfortunate release of information directly following the accident, we believe that there has been no further lapse.

Comrade Charkov, we hope we have lived up to the highest standards of the KGB.

You have.

SHCHERBINA: Thank you.

Professor Legasov will now speak about the work that remains.

Thank you.

Deputy Chairman Shcherbina has given you the good news, and it is good.

The immediate danger is over.

Now, I'm afraid, a long war must begin.

There is an enormous amount of radioactive debris and contamination spread out across a zone of approximately square kilometers.

This entire region must be completely evacuated.

We must go to every town, every village to ensure this.

And all animals still surviving within the zone, whether domesticated or wild, must be presumed contaminated and will have to be destroyed to prevent the spread of radiation and disease.

In the immediate area surrounding Chernobyl, uh, every rock, every tree, the very ground itself, has absorbed a dangerous amount of radionuclides, which will be carried by the wind and the rain if left exposed.

So we will have to raze entire forests.

We will have to rip up the top layer of earth and bury it under itself, approximately, square kilometers.

Um, and finally, we will need to construct a containment structure around the power plant itself, which will, of course, still be extremely...

There will be deaths.

What amount of time, and how many men do you require?

We expect this liquidation effort to take three years and approximately , men, including a number of doctors and structural engineers.

How many deaths?


Perhaps tens of thousands.

GORBACHEV: Begin at once.


- LEGASOV: Comrade Charkov.

Yes, Professor?

My associate was arrested last night.


I mean no disrespect, but I was wondering if you could tell me why.

I assure you, I don't know who you're talking about.

She was arrested by the KGB.

You are the first deputy chairman of the KGB.

I am.

That's why I don't have to bother with arresting people anymore.

But you are bothering with having us followed.

I think the deputy chairman is busy.

No, no. It's perfectly understandable.

Comrade, I know you've heard the stories about us.

When I hear them, even I am shocked.

But we are not what people say.

Yes, people are following you.

People are following those people.

You see them?

They follow me.

The KGB is a circle of accountability.

Nothing more.

You know the work we're doing here.

- You really don't trust us?
- Of course I do.

But you know the old Russian proverb:

"Trust but verify."

And the Americans think that Ronald Reagan thought that up.

Can you imagine?

It was very nice speaking with you.

I need her.

So you will be accountable for her?

Then it's done.

- Her name is...
- I know who she is.

Good day, Professor.

No, that went surprisingly well.

You came off like a naive idiot.

And naive idiots are not a threat.

MAN: I'll come back when the paperwork is complete.

- Are you all right?
- They didn't hurt me.

They let a pregnant woman into a room with a...

(SIGHS) It doesn't matter.

They were stupid. I was stupid.

Dyatlov won't talk to me.

Akimov, yes, Toptunov, yes, but...

(SIGHS) Valery,


his face was gone.

You want to stop?

Is that a choice I even have?

Do you think the fuel will actually melt through the concrete pad?

I don't know. A % chance maybe.

I said . (CHUCKLES)

Either way, the numbers mean the same thing:



Maybe the core will melt through to the groundwater.

Maybe the miners who I've told to dig under the reactor will save millions of lives.

Maybe I'm killing them for nothing.

I don't want to do this anymore.

I want to stop.

But I can't.

I don't think you have a choice any more than I do.

I think, despite the stupidity, the lies, even this...you are compelled.

The problem has been assigned, and you will stop at nothing until you find an answer.

Because that is who you are.

A lunatic, then.

A scientist.


Did you know that they were running a safety test?

- Yeah.
- There's something else.

Akimov says they shut the reactor down, and Toptunov confirms it.

- They pressed AZ- .
- Apparently not soon enough.


They say Akimov pressed AZ- , and then the reactor exploded.

If it had been just one of them, I would have put it under faulty memory or delusion even, but they both agreed. They were adamant.


- Do you think it's possible?
- I think it makes no sense.

I think it's what I would say if I was trying to cover my own mistakes.


I believed them.

Then you should pursue it.

We have to pursue every possibility, no matter how unlikely, no matter what or who's to blame.

I'll go back to the hospital and reinterview Akimov and Toptunov.

If they're still awake.

They're not.

GUARD: Khomyuk.

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ULANA: To hell with our lives.


Someone has to start telling the truth.

MAN: You think the right question will get you the truth?

I know they're listening!

There is no truth.