Wednesday, January 04, 2023

The Rig, on Prime

Deep sea oil rigs are an effective setting for movies like ffolkes and The Burning Sea and series like Brazil’s Ilha de Ferro (“Iron Island”), because when something goes wrong out there, the crew has to fix it out there. Far off in the Scottish North Sea, Kinloch Bravo station boss Magnus MacMillan has all the usual personnel challenges, but his team must also face a fantastical (and perhaps even primordial) threat in creator David Macpherson’s six-episode The Rig, which premieres Friday on Prime Video.

Many of the crew, especially Baz Roberts were already upset, because they were bumped from their scheduled rotational flight home, to accommodate a corporate meeting arranged by company hack, Rose Mason. Unfortunately, that chopper won’t be coming anyway when the weather takes a freakish turn and all the communications signals cut out.

Tempers flare when Roberts is hurt during the storm, perhaps because Mason’s not-so-secret workplace lover, Fulmer Hamilton did not fully follow procedures and protocols. On the plus side, Roberts physically recovers at a superhuman pace. However, he seems to have a personality-altering “infection.” Between creepy Roberts and Lars Hutton, an openly insubordinate, crusty old field worker, MacMillan will have unnecessary distractions inside the platform, diverting his attention from the growing danger outside.

As you might guess, there is an environmental angle to all this ominous chaos, not unlike Larry Fessenden’s
The Last Winter, but Macpherson and his co-writers present and explain it with much more intelligence. They are clearly sf-literate, considering MacMillan’s trusted manager Alwyn Evans is often seen reading John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes.

Iain Glen (from
Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey) has instant credibility as wise and grizzled MacMillan. Likewise, Mark Bonnar and Owen Teale are perfectly cast as the Kinloch Bravo’s good cop, Evans, and bad cop, Hutton. Calvin Demba is also eerily disconcerting as Roberts, but the way the phenomenon alters his character is somewhat reminiscent of the “Purity” (or “Black Oil”) episode of The X-Files. However, Emily Hampshire’s Mason is essentially a cookie-cutter corporate loyalist, who still makes bizarrely inappropriate decision in the office.

Based on the first three episodes provided for review,
The Rig is not nearly as didactic as you might expect. There is at least one character mouthing misanthropic Green platitudes, but he always gets pushback. Maybe it builds to an eco-horror crescendo, but most of the time, viewers’ attention will be focused on the extreme crisis management. Recommended so far as a slightly speculative disaster thriller, The Rig starts streaming Friday (1/6) on Prime Video.