Silo offers a compelling worldbuilding that takes pain to fine tune the way the society works
Silo review by Jennifer AJ
In this dystopian thriller, a society formed inside an elaborate underground city - the Silo - lives under totalitarian rules prohibiting them from going to the surface. Their governing body, the Judicial, insists that the surface is so toxic it’s uninhabitable and prohibits all sorts of queries into how and why their ancestors ended up in the Silo. When members of the society start questioning the Judicial’s doctrine, their search for truth will slowly unveil an elaborate conspiracy that has cut them off from the outside world since time immemorial.
The series is yet another ambitious offering from AppleTV+, a nascent streaming service from a massive company with budgets to spare. The money shows: the visuals have a sleek cinematic quality to it, the ensemble cast is populated by A-listers, and the underground bunker city is incredibly detailed. The lattermost is strongly influenced by The Matrix’s Zion with a dash of The Hunger Games - not a bad benchmark at all.
With the dystopian genre, there’s barely any new ground to cover so the devil is in the detail. Silo offers a compelling worldbuilding that takes pain to fine tune the way the society works by establishing believable rules and a governing system that resembles the real world. Some of the ideas are still outrageous (but then, what dystopian society isn’t?), but at least there is no YA-style silly caste system based on personality traits or superpowers. Also, these people have normal names like Sam, Martha, and Allison - refreshing in a landscape of weird science-fictiony monikers.
But really, it’s the taut writing that keeps you going. The always charismatic Rebecca Ferguson plays Silo engineer Juliette Nichols, an audience proxy who begins suspecting something amiss with Judicial since the alleged suicide of her lover. Playing like an investigative noir, Silo peels back the layer of its central mystery in tantalizingly slow build-ups. We follow Juliette’s journey across Silo's labyrinthine structure as she encounters a slew of colourful characters who either dissuades or brings her closer to the truth. The 10-episode first season is tightly written, equally balancing worldbuilding with a suspenseful plot-driven narrative.
The acting is stellar across the board. Aside from Ferguson’s compelling lead turn, David Oyelowo as Holston Becker gives a particularly heartbreaking performance as the widower Sheriff who inadvertently aids Juliette’s investigation. Series with plot-heavy premise often sideline human storylines, so it’s a relief to see mature, character-driven developments in Silo. It’s certainly a layered addition of intrigue to watch.
With season 2 already greenlit, it’s safe to say that there’s more to unearth in the Silo universe. Stories like these tend to lose their appeal once the true nature of their existence is revealed, so let’s hope they’ve got plenty of tricks left in the tank just yet. For now, it’s thoroughly enjoyable with just enough cliffhangers to keep you craving for more.
Published on June 9th, 2023. Written by Jennifer Ariesta for Television Heaven.