In ‘The Rig’, the crew of Kinloch Bravo tries to understand the function of the bacteria they call the Ancestor, but by the time they do, a tsunami finds its way to the oil rig.
Network problems, blinking of lights, and milder shakes became the first signs of something being wrong with Kinloch Bravo on the day they were supposed to go home. The crew sits tight, and soon they see a thick fog coming their way.
The fog brings more mysteries as it rains what at first looks like ash. If that isn’t enough, Baz, a fellow crew member, literally survives a fall from the tower and begins healing on his own.
He receives visions of a wave that is coming their way and becomes delusional. He starts believing that he has to protect the thing that is growing on their rig.
Rose, the representative of the oil rig company and a fellow scientist, decides to investigate this ash, though the area is outside of her expertise.
The ash is a microorganism
Rose experiments with the ash by introducing a particle of her blood to it. Upon doing so, she discovers that this is not ash. They are living organisms, and ash is just their carrier. It’s more like a parasite.
These organisms attach themselves to organic substances, repair the damage, and drive out impurities from that substance. These organisms did something similar to Baz’s injuries.
Cat, the crew’s medic, assumes that they do this because they want a healthy host. This bacteria spreads when a person is exposed to it for a very long time or has a cut or an injury.
The mysterious circles
Apart from wanting to protect it, the people who got infected by this bacteria also started having visions of mysterious circles. Fulmer, who got exposed to the bacteria while looking for Baz, started drawing them.
The crew, on the other hand, in order to stop Baz from opening the well head, sent Bullseye underwater to close the S valve, where they came across mysterious circles surrounding the valve.
Fulmer recognized them and realized that he has been drawing the same circles. He just couldn’t figure out what they meant. Rose later finds his drawings and attempts to make sense of these circles.
When Cat mentions that the circles look like the rings on the tree, Rose sums up that this bacteria is using these circles to measure time.
Rose assumes that the bacteria has been living for millions and millions of years. For this bacteria, even a century passes in a millisecond.
Since it’s underwater, it can’t use the sun or the stars to measure time. That’s why this bacteria measures time by using life.
There are around four circles, and the fifth is still incomplete. The gap between the circles matches the time between each of the five major mass extinction events: Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic, and Holocene.
The circle of the Holocene, which is incomplete, is the present time. The circle will close once another mass extinction event takes place, and it’s not too far.
The motives of the Ancestor
Pictor, the oil rig company of Kinloch Bravo, knew about the bacteria and had plans to destroy it so that they can save their oil rigs and the money put into these.
David Coake, from Pictor’s Research & Development Department, tried to destroy it once on Kinloch Charlie and failed miserably, costing the lives of many crew members. He intended to do the same at Bravo, but Magnus and Rose managed to stop him.
Rose is pretty sure that this bacteria can’t be killed that easily, especially given the fact that it has managed to survive a number of mass extinction events. Rose calls it the ancestor of every other being that has lived on this planet.
In order to figure out the Ancestor’s motives, Rose asks Fulmer to use quorum sensing, a process through which bacteria communicate.
When bacterial colonies encounter a new species, they use quorum sensing to decide whether they should collaborate or compete.
Since Fulmer is attached to the Ancestor, he uses quorum sensing and learns that the Ancestor intends to trigger a new Storegga Slide, a tsunami that will cause thousands to perish.
Magnus starts thinking that Coake is probably right about killing it, but that’s when Rose suggests that all this time the Ancestor has been trying to determine whether they are its enemies or not and whether it should collaborate or compete.
Attacking the Ancestor would give it another reason to trigger the tsunami. Humans have been destroying nature for years, and this bacteria is now retaliating. Baz tried to tell the crew the same thing, but no one cared to listen.
Magnus, Rose, and Fulmer finally decided to follow Baz’s way. They go down to the production module to convince the Ancestor to collaborate with them, but it was too late.
The tsunamis came close, and the trio had no option but to leave in their rescue choppers. Baz stayed behind and decided to sacrifice himself so that he can show the Ancestor what they can give to the world.
This way, the bacteria may spare a few beings around the world. The surviving members of Kinloch Bravo escaped, but they can no longer go back home as the tsunami will destroy their cities and kill their loved ones.
Also Read: What is the Great Dying in The Rig?