Your latest conspiracy thriller is here. Apple TV+ has become the home for genre mystery boxes, and Silo is the latest obsession-worthy series to grace our screens. With an intriguing cast of genre mainstays and high-powered stars, it is poised to keep you captivated all spring long. The sci-fi book series from writer Hugh Howey finds humanity surviving a post-apocalyptic future in a silo acting as an ark or Snowpiercer of sorts that grows food, raises livestock, and works. Unfortunately, the surface of our planet has become uninhabitable. It is a barren, toxic place where no one can live. At least, that is what everyone is told. Silo Episode 1 sets the stage for the mystery by establishing our free thinkers from the lemmings and the ruling class who rigidly protects the Pact that supposedly saved them all.
Allison, Rashida Jones, in a surprisingly emotional performance, and her husband, Sheriff Holston(David Oyelowo), are our entry into this world. They are a loving couple who just got the green light to have a baby. In the silo, everything is carefully regulated to prevent overpopulation and resource depletion. He is a cog in the enforcement machine. He is a conformed, a believer, and an optimist. She is an IT specialist working in Bernard’s(Tim Robbins) department, a free thinker, and an occasional annoyance to the powers that be for her distribution of information.
A brief history of this place is conveniently explained while we toggle between a rousing Freedom Day celebration and Allison’s discovery of a computer artifact with files that could date back more than 140 years ago. Freedom Day is a memorial of the day that the Rebellion was squelched. The rebels supposedly destroyed every library, record, and online resource, leaving the Judicial as the only source of information about what happened during the war.
Silo Episode 1 is a deeply personal story of Sheriff Holston and how he came to ask to go outside two years after his wife did the same. Allison did it after seeing the files on George Wilkins’s computer. They were schematics of the silo with tunnels and sections no one knew existed. This is shocking because no one knew how the silo was built or who did it. Most damning, however, is a file named Jane Carmody Cleaning which stuns them both. Although we can not see what is in the video, we hear the sounds of birds. The cleanings are procedures completed by those who willingly choose to exit the silo and die. They clean the windows of the silo before dying so those who live inside can see the decimated world outside.
Everything feels very steampunk Hunger Games, complete with dangerous propaganda and strict societal control. But, as I’ve mentioned many times, fear is only effective as a controlling device for so long. Humans are curious and rebellious. Coupled with Allison’s very visible biological clock clicking down, she has started to have doubts. When the town kook, Gloria, tells her she had a similar experience and knows it is because they were never going to be allowed to have children, something snaps in Allison. This is no longer a massive conspiracy but a personal attack.
The following day instead of appearing at the doctor’s office to have her birth control implant reinserted, she performed surgery on herself. She found the doctor lied about removing it a year ago. She was a liability to the Enforcers. They need docile people who never question authority. She is 1984’s Winston, who definitely can’t be allowed to procreate. Allison goes bleeding in a bathrobe to the mess hall and tries to convince everyone that what she is saying is true, but when no one believes her, she commits the worst crime in the Silo. She asks to go outside.
Before her request is met, she is placed in a cell while arrangements are made. It is a spectacle, and lucky lottery winners get to witness the grisly event. The authorities also question Gloria, who admits to talking to Allison, and Wilkins, who denies everything. They searched his pod but didn’t find the files. So, for now, he and the information are safe.
Silo Episode 1 ends on a sour note, though. Wilkins is dead, an engineer named Juliette(Rebecca Ferguson) says it was murder, and Sheriff Holston has asked to go outside. In the two years since Allison left, he has changed. At first, heartbroken, he flatly went about his day, but something happened when he met Julia that changed his whole perspective. He may have found proof that what Allison said about the screens was true. She told him she would signal from the outside that she was right by cleaning the screen. She did that, but that could have been a manipulation as well, so there is no way of knowing what is true.
It’s a mystery worth solving in a fun place to visit. This is a place that is industrial and aged while also appearing futuristic. It is a dystopian society on the verge of collapse, and they don’t even know it yet. Silo Episode 1 gave me more than enough to dive into the secrets and lies told by those who built the silo and those who want to keep humanity imprisoned there. With nine books in the Silo series and another on the way, there is more than enough story to fill multiple seasons. The first two episodes of Silo are out now on Apple TV+, and a new episode will air each week until June 30th.
Stray Silo Statistics
- Curiously Mayor Jahns and Deputy Marnes seem unaware of any conspiracies making me wonder if they are authority figures in name only. Public figureheads are trotted out to provide a suitable face for the corrupt governing body that lets them think they have power.
- Those who have read the books know there is a shocking misdirect that makes you wonder what you have been watching. Without spoiling anything, I wonder if Apple TV+’s Silo will take a similar route or continue with the shadowy government hiding a central conspiracy angle that is expected.
- Rashida Jones is gone too soon. She is excellent.
- What did Allison and George see in the video? She tells Holston it was proof that the world wasn’t deadly to them but is that all she saw? Why was the recording made 140 years ago when the Rebellion destroyed all information?
- Why did the Rebellion destroy all sources of knowledge? Are they even the ones responsible?
- Is it possible that it has been even longer than 140 years?
- Tim Robbins, a perenially good guy, is giving decidedly sinister vibes. His head of IT, Bernard, is going to be a major player. It’s always a good idea to side-eye a tech genius named Bernard.
- The books are called the Wool series because those who go outside to clean are given wool to clean the sensors.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.