Silo is full of mystery, but what’s really going on deep inside this underground humanity?
On May 5, Apple TV+ dropped the first two episodes to its new series Silo starring Rebecca Ferguson (Dune), David Oyelowo (The Cloverfield Paradox), Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption), Common (John Wick: Chapter 2), Harriet Walter (Ted Lasso), Avi Nash (The Walking Dead), Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), and Shane McRae (Sneaky Pete), among others.
Created by Graham Yost of Justified fame, Silo is based on the “Wool” trilogy of novels by author Hugh Howey. In a nutshell, the series is a post-apocalyptic story about a dystopian future where the last 10,000 people remaining on Earth live deep underground in a silo consisting of 144 stories. The structure serves to protect them from a toxic, deadly atmosphere, and its residents abide by strict regulations they believe are in place to protect them from that very thing.
Here’s what’s weird, though: No one knows when or why the structure was built, and those who express the forbidden desire to go outside must face the punishment of actually having to go, even when they know the result is death. They’re immediately equipped with special suits made by the IT Department, who mask the suit’s visor with a computer-generated image of a healthy, vibrant world, then they’re sent outside to clean external sensors so those inside can see what’s happening. Within a few minutes, the one sent outside runs out of air and succumbs to death. That’s the gist, but if you’ve found yourself noticing something is off, wondering what’s really going on, don’t worry; you aren’t alone. There are definitely other factors at play, and I’ve got you covered. At least a little!
The series follows the journey of a couple trying to have a child in this new world of humanity underground. All births are, of course, controlled and relationships sanctioned, but what the residents don’t know is there are enforcers in place to keep everyone subordinate and prevent certain things—lots of things, it turns out, like discovering the truth behind the silo’s existence and why its residents are kept inside.
Episode 1 does two important things: It tells us in a speech from The Mayor (Geraldine James) that some time ago, there was a terrible rebellion and things like books and computer drives were destroyed; it also introduces us to Sheriff Holston (Oyelowo), the silo’s sheriff, around whom the story is based.
Three years prior, Holston and his wife Allison (Rashida Jones) were trying to have a baby after medical allegedly removed her birth control, but they couldn’t conceive during the year they were given to try. During this time, while at work, Allison attempted to access deleted files that were lost in the silo’s troubled past but is denied. One day she answers a request from a computer repairman named George (Ferdinand Kingsley). It seems he’s found a hard drive from “the before-time” but needs Allison to unlock it.
When she does, they discover numerous silo blueprints, where George spots a tunnel leading out of the silo. Allison believes the blueprints are a relic and therefore forbidden to have, so she tells George he needs to destroy it before anyone finds out he has it. Later, the pair find a file showing images of a person outside of the silo and the world looks completely safe and prosperous. Soon after, Allison begins to question her reality.
She discovers the doctors never removed her birth control, so she removes it herself at home. Alone. With a knife. Yikes. She then starts ranting in the cafeteria to anyone who will listen that everything they know about the silo is a lie, and she requests to go outside. Holston tries to stop her, but her wish of the forbidden has already been spoken, and there’s no turning back. She goes outside, cleans the sensors, walks a few yards, then dies.
Fast-forward three years and Sheriff Holston is weighed down by grief. While tending to George’s sudden death (labeled a suicide), he gets wind that a mechanic named Juliette (Ferguson) from the down deep believes he was actually murdered. Why does she believe this? Because George was her lover, and she knew more than anything he would never kill himself, even if it was to cover up the fact he was hiding forbidden relics.
After talking with her, Holston quietly begins to investigate her theory and wonders if his wife was right. Long story short, he says he wants to go outside to be with his wife, and he does. He cleans the sensors, walks to his wife, and dies beside her. Before he goes, though, he leaves a note indicating his selection for the new sheriff: Juliette.
The powers that be don’t like Holston’s choice because she’s not a “born detective” in the ways laid out by The Pact, which is the silo world’s Constitution. She does, however, know how things work, as is evidenced in a nail-biting scene in Episode 3 by her knowledge of what needs to be done to keep the silo operational, and in that sense, she does have detective skills; she just doesn’t realize it.
After she accepts the position when The Mayor comes calling, she uses her opportunity to try and find Holston’s file on George’s death, but she doesn’t have much time before the silo’s mayor and Deputy Sheriff Marnes (Will Patton, of Halloween 2018 and Armageddon) turn up dead.
We learn through the first five episodes that, yes, not everything is as it seems, but, more importantly, there’s another factor at play: Someone or some entity is controlling what everyone sees, hears, and believes. So who is making all these decisions?
By Episode 5, we come to suspect the judicial department, known as only as Judicial, is part of this enforcer group, but it’s obvious they do not work alone. Common is part of Judicial, and he works hard to make sure tabs are kept on Juliette. The episode also alludes to a group of undocumented residents known only as “friends of the silo” who seem to serve as ears behind the gossip when bad or strange things happen. Are they the truth-sayers or the truth- spinners?
We also begin to suspect Head of IT Bernard Holland (Robbins) as having some sort of enforcer role as well. He’s too nice, too accommodating, and working too hard to cozy up to Juliette. He emits a “something’s not right” factor. Why? I’ll tell you: He has secrets, and he doesn’t want anyone, let alone the new sheriff, getting too close. His manipulation of Juliette into thinking he supports her is his way of keeping her in line and at bay to ensure all operations and beliefs about the silo stay intact.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the truth behind Silo, and it’s only just beginning to unravel. If you think back to earlier when Sheriff Holston went outside to clean the sensors and be with his wife, it’s important to note he actually removes his helmet when he runs out of air and he’s the only one to date to do so. When he removes the helmet, he sees the truth that the world really is desolate and toxic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible to survive out there; one just needs a proper suit. But shouldn’t the powers that be know that by now? Or is it that they already do, and, if so, what are they protecting? That also further begs the question of what the IT Department is actually up to, since they’re the ones inserting computer-generated images of lies. Why? For that revelation, we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of Season 1 fleshes out.
In a recent interview with Radio Times, creator Graham Yost teased he aims to cover the whole book trilogy with a four-season series. However, at this time, there is no news on that; it’ll be up to Apple TV+. While the second book of the “Wool” series massively expands the story and opens up new possibilities for our protagonists, fans will have to wait to find out more. Silo drops a new episode every Friday, but if you’re a nerd like me, you already know those episodes drop on Thursday nights at 8 p.m.
Silo is now available to watch on Apple TV+.