Amazon’s latest sci-fi series, The Rig, features a bit of John Cameron’s The Abyss, a dash of John Carpenter’s The Thing, and a layer of William Eubank’s Underwater. There’s even a jitter of Arrival’s messages in the later episodes, which is a good thing for fans of emotional sci-fi. It’s not all great, but enough to make it a compelling watch. While the pace is agonizingly slow at times in the six episodes, each of which could have been shortened by ten minutes, the ending of The Rig is a nail biter that kicks off a potential season 2 and wraps things up nicely for now.
A young crew member, Baz (Calvin Demba), fell off a tower while trying to restore communications on a troubled oil rig. Despite being badly injured, he gets up and walks again the next day. Over the next two episodes, it becomes clear that exposure to the ash and fog that inexplicably overtook the platform has the power to mutate and change people. It can make them better or worse, depending on what shape they were in, to begin with.
For Baz, who was young and in great shape, it cured him, but it came at a price. He changed. As the group searches for him, he seems to be following orders from something greater – a higher power, a little more meaningful, and a vast amount wiser than us. Cut off from salvation, their families and their homes, they depend on each other. When a group of survivors mysteriously appear on a lifeboat, everything comes into focus. However, is it too late?
The end of The Rig
At the beginning of The Rig Episode 6, we learn that Coake, Game of Thrones Mark Addy, was sent to destroy the organism Rose called the Ancestor. That’s what he did on the Charlie before it exploded. He had been given a secret mission to inject a poisonous poison into the Ancestor deep under the ocean in hopes of killing it. Pictor knew all about the traces, as the ancestor had already converted tons of oil into living plant matter. Since Pictor was in the oil business, this was a big problem. Combined with the seismic events that had begun, Pictor decided it was an us or them situation.
This poison is what Coake Hutton and the others had to spray on Baz, Hulmer (Martin Compston) and Garrow in episode 5. The poison kills the ancestor and everything infected by it. He is a selfish corporate man who doesn’t care who else dies as long as he destroys the organism. Coake tells everyone that two intelligent species can never coexist.
Meanwhile, Rose (Emily Hampshire of Schitt’s Creek), Magnus (Iain Glen of Game Of Throne) and Fulmer came to a different conclusion. They believed all along that Baz was right and the organism was trying to determine whether they would be an ally or an enemy. They thought if they could talk to the organism, they used quorum sensing (what is real), they could make it clear that they wanted to help. If they could convince the Ancestor that humans weren’t all evil, maybe they would spare us and we could work together to heal the Earth and the Ancestor herself.
Unfortunately, the Ancestor had already decided that another extinction-level event was needed, and the Holocene circle closed. The rings that Baz and later Fulmer drew were what the ancestor used to tell time. Like the aliens in The Arrival, time is not linear for the organism, and each closing circle marks the end of a life form’s cycle. So when the circle closed it meant our time was up. There have been five previous life cycles on Earth, each of which ended in extinction. They are the Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic and Cretaceous. We are in the Holocene life cycle and it seems that the ancestor decided that we must be removed as well.
Fearing they failed to convince the ancestor that we wanted to cooperate, not compete, the group retreats to the helicopter. Baz stays behind and tries one last time to show the organism that humans can be good. He willingly sacrifices himself to prove that we are capable of valuing something other than our own lives.
Everyone except Baz gets on the two helicopters as a huge wave crashes onto the platform. The wave hits the rig just as they take off, and everyone looks shocked. Coake informs them that they are not going home, and Cat panics because her wife is in a seaside town not far from the coast. She knows that the wave that destroyed the platform will soon reach the mainland. We see the crew for the last time looking confused and shocked as they fly off into the unknown. The series ends with Cat’s wife watching from her house as a huge wave prepares to hit the shore.
Where did the helicopters go?
The ominous ending to The Rig leaves all of the surviving crew members of the Kinloch Charlie in a helicopter that speeds away from their home. Thousands of people are expected to die in the huge wave on its way to shore. Coake says he warned them that they could never go home unless they destroyed the organism Rose called the Ancestor. Magnus, Fulmer, Rose, and Baz tried to communicate with it while everyone was evacuating, but it seemed they were too late. Coake and Pictor had a plan all along, and they probably have a bunker somewhere where they can regroup and come up with a new plan.
More than likely, they go somewhere near a military site and are landlocked. Assuming they also have to avoid major fault lines and the coasts, they need a stable and protected place. Groom Lake in the United States or Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker in the United Kingdom are both options. But unless Baz can convince the Ancestor to back down, nowhere is safe. We know from Jurassic Park that life always finds a way. The spores are in the air and nothing is immune. All I know is that Coake is a nightmare, and those infected with the spore should be very concerned.
The organism on which the ancestor is based
Several ancient organisms have already been discovered and more are being found all the time. There are trees and shrubs that are thousands of years old, and a flower variety called the Silene stenophylla found in Russia was revived after 32,000 years. The Pando is a clonal tree colony that shares one huge root system. It is 80,000 years old. The tree portion has an average life cycle of 130 years, but because we can’t determine the root age, some scientists believe the root system could be as much as a million years old. Unfortunately, the Pando is currently dying and they are looking for ways to save the majestic organism. Bacteria found in amber and yeast that are at least 45,000 million years old also exist.
Most shocking are the endolites. This is what the ancestor in The Rig is based on. They are over 100 million years old, found a mile and a half below the ocean floor, and are made up of viruses, fungi and bacteria. They combine the endolites with the Permian bacteria from New Mexico, which are 250 million years old. The message is clear. We are insignificant.
All the questions that need to be answered in The Rig Season 2
The Ancestor does not regard all of humanity as enemies. It spared Cat because she was pregnant and it currently lives in Fulmer, Baz and Magnus. Will our group be able to convince the Ancestor to stop destroying humanity before we’re all gone? Since Coake and Pictor are very business oriented, what happens when the group reaches the secret location? Several members of the crew are infected with the spores and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are experimented on or killed outright. Is Baz alive or dead?
Why does the ancestor Magnus keep showing his dead son? Is it trying to tell him that nothing is ever gone? It just changes shape. Is it proof that it understands that some people need to be saved, or is Magnus hallucinating because of the stress? Finally, what is left when the wave recedes? Is that wave the only one, or has the Ancestor caused environmental events around the world? Will our surviving group continue to evolve and change after their exposure to the Ancestor?
I’m reminded of the zombie-inducing spore people found in Gaia and HBO’s highly anticipated The Last Of Us. Destruction also comes to mind. The story of an ecosystem that changes forever still haunts me. For now, it appears that Fulmer and the others are retaining their memories and intelligence. If the mutation continues, will it always be the case, or will what remains be something entirely new? Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if it was new. So many questions have been left unanswered and even more, set up by the thrilling final episode. With no news of a possible season 2 of The Rig, we’ll have to watch and hope it doesn’t go Night Sky’s way and then it’s done.
As editor-in-chief of Signal Horizon, I enjoy watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up on old fashioned slashers, but my real passion is television and all weird and ambiguous stuff. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the editor-in-chief.