HBO’s latest sleeper-hit, Chernobyl, has taken on a life of its own.
Currently sporting a 9.5 rating on IMDB, it’s being touted as one of the best TV series ever made. An emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, the series ends with what can only be described as an epic information dump about what happened following the events of Chernobyl disaster.
Still, there are some questions that the show leaves unanswered.
If, like me, you found you were left with more than a few burning questions following the finale, this article should at least put some of your thoughts to bed. From answering things like can you visit Chernobyl, to looking at the fate of some of the heroes behind the catastrophe, FinalBoss delve into life beyond the show.
Can You Visit Chernobyl?
Chernobyl was once a highly radioactive area, and in truth, it still isn’t safe to spend a lot of time there. However, radiation levels have lowered significantly, to the point that you actually soak up more radiation on a long-haul flight than you do spending a day on-site. This means you can visit the Chernobyl disaster zone and explore the eerie playgrounds and abandoned buildings.
Of course, some areas are still off-limits. The Elephant’s Foot — the actual pile of radioactive material left behind after the explosion — is still incredibly dangerous. The clothes worn by the first responder firefighters also lay in the hospital basement, as seen on the show, which means that area is a no-go as well. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of places you can explore.
So, can you visit Chernobyl? Yes, you definitely can. In fact, tourism has spiked in recent years, with the series likely pushing figures up considerably. For the time being, at least.
How Did The Divers Survive Chernobyl?
In HBO’s Chernobyl, we’re treated to a very dramatic scene, complete with annoying buzzing radiation detectors. Three men are tasked with navigating the tunnels under the plant to reach the valves connected to Reactor 4. In the show, it is made pretty clear these men would be subject to gruesome deaths after a short period of time. It was supposed to be a heroic suicide mission.
In reality, as we learn during the finale, they survived — two are still alive today. How is this possible? How did the divers survive Chernobyl?
The answer is simple. The divers were brought in and quickly suited up. They were sent into an area that was exposed to radiation, but not as high as suspected. A combination of lower radiation levels, protective equipment and quick work meant they were out and safely away from the area within a fast enough timeframe not to be given a lethal dosage.
This particular scene is one that hammers home the fact that while the series is based on true events, it is a dramatised version with fictional elements. Yes, these men did genuinely put their lives on the line for the sake of their country and families, bur the risk was not as high as we were led to believe.
Was The Mine Ever Necessary?
In episode 3 of Chernobyl, we are introduced to a group of hardened miners, led by Alex Fern’s Glukhov. Bound by a sense of Soviet pride and duty, they undertake a seriously dangerous operation to dig a tunnel under the powerplant in order to build a support structure to stop irradiated material leaking into the Black Sea. The mine proves to be a success, but at a massive human cost.
During the end credits, we learn that many of the miners got cancer following their exposure to the Chernobyl disaster area and died of their disease. But, in the series, we aren’t told of the impact they actually had.
In reality, they had no impact at all.
Tragically, these lives were lost for nothing. The nuclear waste never melted through the concrete beneath it. The mines, and the fortifications made as a result, did nothing at all. It was a risk that had to be taken, but a risk that never paid off.
Will There Be a Chernobyl Season 2?
It seems crazy to even contemplate, but given the success of the show, fans have questioned whether there will be a Chernobyl season 2. Creator, Craig Mazin, has clarified his position on this idea. He has stated:
‘The definitive answer to the headline’s question (referring to an article in Decider) “Will There Be A Season 2 of Chernobyl?” is “No.”
Instead, Mazin points towards the potential for a similar series surrounding a different disaster. After the crazy run-away hit that is Chernobyl, it seems unlikely that HBO will have no interest in trying to replicate the success.
Could we see an anthology series of catastrophic events like Chernobyl? Time will tell.
Why Was Dyatlov So Blind to Risks?
When you watch the show, you start to become infuriated with Anatoly Dyatlov, the engineer in charge of the plant at the time of the explosion. In HBO’s Chernobyl, he is the man who pushed the reactor to the brink and caused the disaster.
What we’re led to believe is that Dyatlov was so desperate to move up in his career that he took risks. He is portrayed as an almost villainous character. One so dead set on personal gain that he essentially got thousands of people killed. Sure, he thought there was a killswitch, but he still gambled on something he shouldn’t have gambled on.
Now, obviously, Chernobyl is a drama. This means it needs dramatic tension. While the real Dyatlov did play a part in the disaster, it wasn’t him and only him who caused the deadly explosion. What really caused the destruction of Reactor 4 was years of cutting corners and poor working habits across the entirety of the plant. Dyatlov was only part of a large culture of ignorance and ineptitude that failed to meet the required safety standards.
However, just like with the creation of Ulana Khomyuk as a way of portraying the masses of scientists and experts involved in the cleanup of Chernobyl, Dyatlov was cast as the villain to make it easy for the viewer to see how things unfolded. More than anything, he was the embodiment of a culture and work ethic that was present across numerous individuals at the Chernobyl facility.
What Illness Did Legasova and Shcherbina Contract?
The shows opener sees Valery Legasova recording a series of audiotapes before taking his own life. In the moments leading up to his death, we see a blood-stained rag that Legasova had recently coughed into. He was clearly ill at this point, but was it fatal? We see the same condition seemingly affecting Shcherbina during the trial.
It’s suggested during the series that Legasova and Shcherbina have around 5 years to live following the events at the plant, and that they will develop terminal cancer. Shcherbina nearly hits the nail on the head, passing 4 and a half years after the explosion. Legasova, though, takes his life a lot earlier than this. Was his illness worse than what affected Shcherbina?
In truth, we’ll never really know. Shcherbina’s exact cause of death is never stated, as a Soviet decree prevented knowledge from being exposed to the public. We do know, however, that Legasova was suffering from chronic radiation poisoning, after comments made by his daughter. It appears it wasn’t the development of a disease like cancer that was killing him or Shcherbina, just the harmful effects of radiation on the cellular structure of the body.
Want to explore more behind HBO’s Chernobyl? Read our discussion of the voice behind the show and the decision showrunners made to cut Russian accents from the series.
James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.