TELEVISION | A fragile post-apocalyptic community sets the stage for big questions about trust and government
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➤ Rated TV-MA
➤ Apple TV+
The earth is uninhabitable, and the last 10,000 human beings all live in an underground silo, waiting for the day they can go outside. That’s the setup for Silo, the new dystopian science-fiction series on Apple TV+ based on Hugh Howey’s apocalyptic novels. Walking the silo from one end to the other takes the better part of a day, and managing resources to survive in these conditions requires robust social control. A hierarchy of humanity’s remnant exists in which the further down the silo’s spiral staircase one goes, the further one travels down the social ladder.
Rebecca Ferguson stars as Juliette Nichols, an engineer living in the silo’s lowest levels charged with keeping the generator running. Through an unlikely encounter with the silo’s sheriff, the low-status Juliette finds herself thrust into leadership despite having a history of questioning authority. Order has started falling apart in the silo, and a string of murders sets the community on edge. The silo experienced a rebellion 140 years earlier that destroyed its cultural memory. The leaders fear a lack of trust could spark another rebellion that might jeopardize humanity’s existence.
The series’ sober midcentury aesthetic roots the narrative in a fully realized world of scarcity and brutalist architecture. Bureaucrats use old CRT monitors, and paper seems to be one of the silo’s most valuable commodities. This bleak existence feels recognizable as both our future and past simultaneously.
Silo is rated TV-MA for some bad language and adult themes. The characters use foul words, but the language isn’t pervasive or gratuitous, and the show contains no nudity.
Questions of trust dominate the series. Societies need trust to survive, but are those who hold the reins of power trustworthy? Across its 10 episodes, Silo reveals a slow-burn mystery that suggests a conspiracy is at play. Silo takes its time revealing the nature of the cover-up and who’s behind it.
This haunting and engrossing series offers a critique of totalitarianism and classism, but the show also asks us to think about how easily good people can allow bad things to happen when they fail to question the status quo. Which is more desirable for society, inventive curiosity or good-natured docility that preserves peace and safety? Our own recent pandemic lockdowns loom over the claustrophobic silo, giving these questions a disquieting sense of relevance.
By the end of the 10 episodes, Juliette uncovers answers to most of her questions, but those answers prompt even bigger questions. I’m eager for a second season in which we see how deep the conspiracy goes.
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