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INT. TRIAL ROOM - NOW

542

542

Legasov is staring at the room. It's dead quiet.

LEGASOV

1:23 and four seconds. With every



decision, they have pulled this

reactor back like a slingshot...

further than anyone has ever pulled.

beat


(

)

The test begins. The pumps are shut



down.

opens his fist

(

)

And they let go.



Legasov moves to the board. On the right, the single red

"Nuclear Fission" card (R1). On the left, blue "Water" (B2)

and "Xenon Poisoning" (B4, B5). He removes the "Water" (B2)

placard.


LEGASOV

The pumps stop moving water through

the reactor. The uranium fuel is now

unchecked by fresh coolant.

Unchecked by control rods. The

balance immediately swings in the

opposite direction. In less than a

second, reactivity increases.



INT. CONTROL ROOM - REACTOR #4 - 1:23:05

543

543

The operators watch their panels. None of them notice the

power output display. 205... 210... 220...

INT. TRIAL ROOM - NOW

544

544

LEGASOV


Inside the core, the remaining water

is quickly converting to steam. A

void is being created. There is no

fresh water to replace it.

45.


As he speaks, he adds multiple RED PLACARDS to the right

column. "Positive Void Coefficient" (R2), "Nuclear Fission"



(R3), "Positive Void Coefficient" (R4), "Nuclear Fission"

(R5).

LEGASOV


Steam increases reactivity increases

heat increases steam increases

reactivity. The fuel is too cold to

counter the vicious cycle. The

remaining xenon decays away.

Legasov removes both blue "Xenon Poisoning" placards (B4,



B5). There are NONE on the left side now. And five RED ones

on the right.

LEGASOV

The power is rising. And nothing



left to stop it. 1:23 and 35

seconds...



INT. CONTROL ROOM - REACTOR #4 - 1:23:35

545

545

Akimov and Toptunov watch the panel. Then Toptunov notices:

LIGHTS blinking on, one after another in quick succession

on the large CIRCULAR FUEL CHANNEL display.

Oh god. He looks up at the power output display.

320... 360... 400...

TOPTUNOV


We have a power surge! Sasha!

Everyone turns at once to look at the power output.



440... 500...

DYATLOV


in shock

(

)



What did you-- ?

INT. TRIAL ROOM - NOW

546

546

CLOSE ON LEGASOV.

LEGASOV

1:23 and 40 seconds. The power is



surging. The men in Control Room 4

have only one option left.

(MORE)

46.


In every control room of every

LEGASOV (cont'd)

nuclear reactor in the world, there

is a button with one single

purpose-- to "scram" or instantly

shut down the reaction. In Soviet

reactors, that button is called "AZ-

5". You press AZ-5, all of the

control rods insert at once, and the

reaction is stopped dead.

beat

(

)



But.

He stops. Glances over at Khomyuk, who knows that the

moment is almost upon them. Then the SIX SCIENTISTS.

And Khomyuk realizes-- he's going to do it. He's finally



going to tell the truth. But before he can say a word:

DYATLOV


What are you waiting for Legasov?

Tell your lies.

A hushed gasp from the room. Legasov turns in disbelief to

the defendant BOX, where Dyatlov glares back at him.

JUDGE KADNIKOV

Comrade Dyatlov, you will not be

warned again.

DYATLOV


Or what?

BRYUKHANOV

shut up!

(

)



For god's sake, Dyatlov--

DYATLOV


Legasov's already given it away. He

said before there was no way to

avoid what was coming. He knows

something.

points to Khomyuk

(

)



She knows something.

JUDGE KADNIKOV

Strike that from the record.

Dyatlov rises, jabbing his finger toward a stunned Legasov.

DYATLOV

I know what you are, Valery



Alexeyevich. You're a liar. You're a

liar and a coward.

47.


The soldiers grab Dyatlov's arms to pull him away, but:

JUDGE KADNIKOV

We've heard enough for today. The

defendants will be remanded to

custody. Court will--

Legasov finds his voice.

LEGASOV

I haven't finished.



Stepashin turns his dark gaze on Legasov. How dare he?

LEGASOV


I have more evidence to give.

Shcherbina leans forward. Impossible for us to tell what

he's thinking...

STEPASHIN

It is not necessary. Your testimony

is concluded.

to

(

Kadnikov)



Your honor.

Legasov deflates. Turns back to Khomyuk. He tried. He tried

to do the right thing.

JUDGE KADNIKOV

Court is now adjourned. We will

resume tomorrow with--

Shcherbina rises. That wonderful, terrible look in his

eyes. The last stand of the stubborn, impossible Ukrainian.

SHCHERBINA

The trial continues.

Judge Kadnikov begins to sweat. This is different. He looks

at Stepashin, who falters.

JUDGE KADNIKOV

Comrade Shcherbina--

SHCHERBINA

Let him finish.

Stepashin is outranked. He glances at the CAMERAS. The dead

faces of the "press." The audience. KGB scattered among

them, no doubt. The show must go on. He gestures to

Legasov. Very well. It's your funeral.

48.


Shcherbina nods to Legasov. He knows what Legasov has

decided to do. If we go down, we go down together. Legasov

nods back. Gratitude.

Now he looks out into the audience. There are the SIX

SCIENTISTS. Listening intently. Almost as if they, too,

know the choice he is about to make.

LEGASOV

Dyatlov broke every rule we have,



and pushed a reactor to the brink of

destruction. He did these things

believing there was a fail-safe. AZ-

5. A simple button to shut it all

down.

beat


(

)

But in the circumstance he created--



there wasn't. The shut-down system

had a fatal flaw.

Dyatlov listens in stunned horror. What did they not tell

him? What did he not know?

LEGASOV

At 1:23 and 40 seconds, Akimov



engages AZ-5.

INT. CONTROL ROOM - REACTOR #4 - 1:23:40

547

547

Akimov flips the cover off the AZ-5 switch and PRESSES IT.



INT. TRIAL ROOM - NOW

548

548

LEGASOV


The fully-withdrawn control rods

begin moving back into the reactor.

These rods are made of boron, which

reduces reactivity. But not their

tips. The tips are made of graphite,

which accelerates reactivity.

JUDGE KADNIKOV

disbelief

(

)

Why?



LEGASOV

Why? For the same reason our

reactors do not have containment

buildings around them like those in

the West.

(MORE)


49.

The same reason we don't use

LEGASOV (cont'd)

properly enriched fuel in our cores.

The same reason we are the only

nation that builds water-cooled

graphite moderated reactors with a

positive void coefficient.

beat


(

)

It's cheaper.



Legasov turns back to the room. And to his jury.

LEGASOV


The first part of the rods that

enter the core are the graphite

tips. And when they do, the reaction

in the core, which had been rising--

now skyrockets. Every last molecule

of liquid water instantly converts

to steam, which expands and ruptures

a series of fuel rod channels.

beat

(

)



The control rods in those channels

can move no further. The tips are

fixed in position, endlessly

accelerating the reaction.

He lets it sink in.

LEGASOV


Chernobyl reactor 4 is now a nuclear

bomb.


beat

(

)



1:23 and 42 seconds.

INT. REACTOR HALL - 1:23:42

549

549

Perevozchenko is in the observation room, making notes on a

clipboard. He hears a terrible CLUNKING and HISSING.

He looks out through the window, and his jaw drops.

LEGASOV (V.O.)

Perevozchenko looks down on the

enormous steel lid of the reactor,

and sees the impossible.

THE LID - DOZENS of individual STEEL SQUARES are JOSTLING

UP AND DOWN like popcorn... now more of them. And MORE.

50.


LEGASOV (V.O.)

The fuel channel caps, which each

weigh 350 kilograms, are jumping up

and down.

Perevozchenko DROPS his clipboard in horror, and RUNS out

of the room onto the catwalk... racing for the stairs...

LEGASOV (V.O.)

The pressure required to do this is

unimaginable. He runs to warn the

control room.

Perevozchenko half runs, half falls down the catwalks

stairs, scrambles back to his feet, and keeps running.

LEGASOV (V.O.)

But there's nothing he can do to

stop what is coming. 1:23:44.

INT. PUMP ROOM - 1:23:44

550

550

KHODEMCHUK backs away from the pumps. They are ROCKING in

place... valves begin to POP OFF like BULLETS...

INT. CONTROL ROOM - REACTOR #4 - 1:23:44

551

551

Akimov's hand is still on the AZ-5 button. But the LED

DISPLAY is climbing. 700... 1000... 1800...

ON THE PANEL - hundreds of indicators and meters LIGHT UP

at once.

LEGASOV (V.O.)

The steam blows more fuel channels

apart. We do not know how high the

power went. We only know the final

reading. Reactor #4, designed to

operate at 3200 megawatts--

Akimov and Toptunov look up at THE LED DISPLAY as it

jumps... from 1800 to-- 4800 ... 9280... 12700... 24720...

INT. TRIAL ROOM - NOW

552

552

LEGASOV


--went beyond 33,000.

beat


(

)

The pressure inside Reactor #4 can



no longer be held back.

(MORE)


51.

At long last-- we have arrived.

LEGASOV (cont'd)

1:23:45. Explosion.

INT. REACTOR HALL - 1:23:45

553

553

EXPLOSION - a thunderous BLAST of SUPERHEATED VAPOR erupts

from the core. The massive STEEL REACTOR LID is BLOWN UP

and TO THE SIDE... like the open lid of a tin can.

The shockwave PUNCHES THROUGH THE CEILING, sending concrete

and glass into the night...

INT. JUST OUTSIDE THE REACTOR HALL -

554

554

CONTINUOUS

Perevozchenko is THROWN to the ground. He turns back,

and... horror.

INT. CONTROL ROOM - REACTOR #4 -

555

555

 CONTINUOUS

A deep THUD echoes through the room. Everyone ducks a

bit... looking around... what the fuck was that?

INT. TRIAL ROOM - NOW

556

556

CLOSE ON LEGASOV - retelling the story as if he lived

through it. In his mind... he has.

LEGASOV


In the instant the lid is thrown off

the reactor, oxygen rushes in. It

combines with hydrogen and

superheated graphite.



INT. REACTOR HALL - 1:23:47

557

557

A rush of air, and a terrible crackling as the gases inside

the core ignite, and:

INT. TRIAL ROOM - NOW

558

558

LEGASOV


The chain of disaster-- is complete.

EXT. REACTOR #4 BUILDING -

559

559

CONTINUOUS

CATACLYSM

52.


--as the true power of the atom is finally released. In an

instant, the building becomes a VOLCANO. Nuclear forces

explode up and out, and turn NIGHT INTO DAY.

A PLUME of DEBRIS is sent ROCKETING 1,000 METERS INTO THE

AIR, as if shot from the center of the earth itself.

EXT. REACTOR BUILDING -

560

560

C0NTINUOUS

A HAILSTORM of BURNING GRAPHITE comes raining down from the

plume... and as the last bits of deadly debris clatter back

to the surrounding roof and ground...

...a thin BLUE LIGHT materializes in the air, shining

straight up and down between the open reactor and the sky,

piercing through the choking black smoke.

The BLUE LIGHT widens... a color we were never meant to

know... a glowing column connecting the earth and heavens.

A trillion atoms set free. Death, the destroyer of worlds.



INT. CONTROL ROOM - REACTOR #4 - 1:24

561

561

 AM

No sound except distant hissing noises. All we see is

SWIRLING WHITE DUST, illuminated by emergency BACKUP

LIGHTS. And now we make out:

The operators. Cowering. All except for Dyatlov.

CLOSE ON DYATLOV - SLOW MOTION - the white dust swirls

eerily around his face. He's bewildered. Shell-shocked.

We hear a voice echoing as if from far away:

VOICE (O.S.)

Comrade Dyatlov? Comrade Dyatlov?

DISSOLVE TO:



INT. TRIAL ROOM - NOW

562

562

DYATLOV, NOW - thinner and terribly older... but the

expression is the same. Shell-shocked.

LEGASOV


No one in the room that night knew

the shut-down button could act as a

detonator. They didn't know it--

because it was kept from them.

53.


The six scientists listen in shock. A rare thing in the

air, the sound of truth...

JUDGE KADNIKOV

Comrade Legasov-- you are

contradicting--

searches documents

(

)

You are contradicting your own



testimony in Vienna--

LEGASOV


My testimony in Vienna was a lie. I

lied. To the world.

ON KHOMYUK - a mixture of disbelief and gratitude. At last,

someone has spoken the truth.

LEGASOV


I am not the only one who kept this

secret. There are many. We were

following orders. From the KGB, from

the Central Committee. And right

now, there are 16 reactors in the

Soviet Union with this same fatal

flaw. Three of them are still

running less than 20 kilometers

away... at Chernobyl.

Kadnikov is frightened by Legasov's words. But he too has

his orders. He too is at risk. And this is not the

narrative over which he was meant to preside.

JUDGE KADNIKOV

Professor Legasov, if you mean to

suggest the Soviet State is somehow

responsible for what happened, then

I must warn you-- you are treading

on dangerous ground.

LEGASOV

I've already trod on dangerous



ground. We're on dangerous ground

right now. Because of our secrets

and our lies. They are practically

what defines us. When the truth

offends, we lie and lie until we

cannot even remember it's there. But

it is still there. Every lie we tell

incurs a debt to the truth.

beat

(

)



Sooner or later, the debt is paid.

54.


Legasov turns back to the six scientists. His colleagues.

His peers. His secret jury. His hope.

LEGASOV

That is how an RBMK reactor core



explodes.

beat


(

)

Lies.



And one by one, the scientists look down or avert their

eyes. Ashamed. Or frightened. Or in denial. It doesn't

matter which.

Legasov can tell from their faces. So can Khomyuk. It

didn't work. It wasn't enough. They've failed.

It's over.



INT. HALLWAY -

563

563

MOMENTS LATER

Legasov walks down the hallway that leads away from the

trial room. One of the ARMED SOLDIERS-- who had been

guarding the defendants-- now walks behind Legasov.

Guarding him.

They arrive at a DOOR. The soldier says nothing. Just

gestures to the door.

Legasov opens it, and walks into:



INT. FACILITY KITCHEN -

564

564

CONTINUOUS

A large facility kitchen designed to supply catering for

the building. Or it once was. Now it's mostly empty, save

for a few scattered folding chairs.

Legasov takes a step into the room, then stops. Looks down.

There's a small DRAIN set in the floor. So. This is where



he dies. In an abandoned kitchen of an abandoned city in an

abandoned land. He closes his eyes.

BOOM.

The echoey thud of the DOOR behind him. The soldier has



left. Legasov is alone. He finds his breath, and we

DISSOLVE to:



OMITTED

565

565

55.


INT.

566

566

FACILITY KITCHEN - LATER

The door opens. CHARKOV enters. He closes the door behind

him, and takes a seat across from Legasov.

He reaches into his coat pocket. Removes a piece of paper.

Unfolds it. Puts on his glasses to read.

CHARKOV


Valery Alexeyevich Legasov. Son of

Alexei Legasov, Head of Ideological

Compliance, Central Committee.

looks up


(

)

You know what your father did there?



LEGASOV

Yes.


CHARKOV

continues reading

(

)

As a student, you had a leadership



position in Komsomol. Communist

Youth. Correct?

LEGASOV

You already know--



CHARKOV

Answer the question.

LEGASOV

Yes.


CHARKOV

At the Kurchatov Institute, you were

the Communist Party secretary. In

that position, you limited the

promotion of Jewish scientists.

A long pause.

LEGASOV

Yes.


CHARKOV

To curry favor with Kremlin

officials?

Yes.


This is how they break you. With the sins of your father.

With your own.

56.


Charkov sighs. Puts the paper away.

CHARKOV


You're one of us, Legasov. You've

always been one of us. I can do

anything I want with you, anything,

but what I want the most is for you

to know that I know. You're not

brave. You're not heroic.

beat

(

)



You're just a dying man who forgot

himself.


Legasov looks down. No.

LEGASOV


I know who I am, and I know what

I've done. In a just world, I would

be shot for my lies.

beat


(

)

But not for this. Not for the truth.



CHARKOV

Scientists... and your idiot

obsession with reasons.

leans in


(

)

When the bullet hits your skull,



what will it matter why?

A grim moment. Then-- Charkov smiles. Leans back.

CHARKOV

No one's getting shot, Legasov. The



whole world saw you in Vienna. It

would be embarrassing to kill you

now. And for what? Your testimony

today will not be accepted by the

State. It will not be disseminated

in the press. It never happened.

beat

(

)



No, you will live-- however long you

have. But not as a scientist. Not

anymore. You'll keep your title and

your office, but no duties, no

authority, no friends. No one will

talk to you. No one will listen to

you. Other men-- lesser men-- will

receive credit for the things you

have done. Your legacy is now their

legacy. You'll live long enough to

see that.

Erased. He's being erased. Before he can speak--

57.


CHARKOV

What role did Shcherbina play in

this?

LEGASOV


None. He didn't know what I was

going to say.

CHARKOV

What role did Khomyuk play in this?



LEGASOV

None. She didn't know either.

Charkov stares into Legasov's eyes. He sees no waver, no

blink, no false bravado. He wasn't expecting that.

CHARKOV

After all you've said and done



today, it would be-- curious-- if

you chose this moment to lie.

LEGASOV

unfaltering



(

)

I would think a man of your



experience would know a lie when he

hears one.

A long pause, as Charkov passes silent judgment. Then... he

nods. Very well. He believes. But:

CHARKOV

You will not meet or communicate



with either one of them ever again.

You will not communicate with anyone

about Chernobyl ever again. You will

remain so immaterial to the world

around you that when you finally do

die, it will be exceedingly hard to

tell that you ever lived at all.

LEGASOV


And if I refuse?

Charkov's eyes deaden. The face of a murderer. Then, as if

by the flip of a switch, an amiable shrug.

CHARKOV


Why worry about something that isn't

going to happen?

And Valery Legasov, as dead as a living man can be, can't

help but smile at that.

58.


LEGASOV

"Why worry about something that

isn't going to happen." That's

perfect.


beat

(

)



They should put that on our money.


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