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Silo season 1’s ending is the best kind of sci-fi promise

The final scene explains why the show had too many mysteries

Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson) staring down something in disbelief wearing a spacesuit Image: Apple TV Plus
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

From the very start, Silo has been a mystery show. What was the Silo government doing with its birth control? What did they know about life beyond the door to the outside? Who was behind all these murders? What could Juliette Nichols (Rebecca Ferguson) do about it?

Season 1 ends with some resolutions. But ultimately what season 1 ends with is a lot more questions — and frankly, that’s for the best. The arc of Hugh Howey’s Wool series promises a lot more sci-fi intrigue than we got in Silo season 1. And the ending of season 1 promises a much bigger, more complicated season 2.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the end of Silo season 1, and some discussion of the first book in the Silo series, Wool.]

What does Silo’s season 1 ending mean?

Juliet (Rebecca Ferguson) and the sheriff (David Oyelowo) stand and talk in a still from Silo season 1 Image: Apple TV Plus

In a certain light, Silo season 1 is burdened by all its conspiracies. Luckily (or unluckily, for her), Juliette manages to untangle most of them in just a few weeks as sheriff. The government has been effectively controlling the population by keeping some people sterile. Robert (Common) and Judicial have been surveilling the Silo and controlling the citizens through a mix of espionage, brutal force, and bureaucratic nonsense. George’s death was actually suicide, trying to escape Judicial’s clutches. And the new mayor Bernard (Tim Robbins) has been colluding with Robert to keep the Silo population placated and in the dark.

But the full extent of their control isn’t something Juliette, or the audience, fully understand. After all, we get hints that the denizens of the Silo might be getting drugged so they forget the outside world (explaining why no one remembers what “stars” are, even after just a little over a hundred years underground). It’s not something Silo really gets into — yet — but it seems in line with the mysterious Founders’ mission to focus on life in the Silo.

Perhaps most importantly, Juliette learns what outside the Silo actually looks like — and it’s actually worse than the government was letting people know. The idyllic “outside” Juliette and others had been spreading was an illusion, seemingly a visual effect the government made so those sent outside the Silo would feel the urge to clean the sensor before dying.

Silo’s own depressing, topside “expectations vs. reality” meme, with the healthy illusion (L) and the desolate reality (R) Juliette sees.
Image: Apple TV Plus and Image: Apple TV Plus

Ultimately, Juliette is able to stay alive thanks to actually functional heat tape that keeps her suit airtight. And by getting over the hill she sees two very important things: The world up top is even more desolate and ruined than the cameras led them to believe, and there are many other silos.

It is a perfect place to leave Silo to pick up in an already-greenlit season 2. The “What’s outside the Silo?” puzzle took a backseat to most of the inside-Silo intrigue. But it was also the problem looming over everything, a mysterious motivating factor behind both Julliette’s personal questions with George and Bernard’s efforts to keep the Silo under his thumb. Though season 1 could get bogged down in one mystery over another, the final episode promises to unite these all behind the bigger, animating force. There are more silos, more people, and more dire circumstances to explore than just that of Julliette’s Silo.

Which is good, since the Wool book series Silo is based on has even bigger problems afoot once Julliette understands the full extent of the conspiracy.

How does the first Silo book end?

[Ed. note: This is where the book spoilers start, obviously, so only read on if you want to know what happens in the book and maybe the show.]

Rebecca Ferguson as Juliette Nichols looking shocked Image: Apple TV Plus

Interestingly enough, though Silo is fairly faithful to the overall plot of the first book, Wool, the season stops short of where the book ends.

In the book, after Juliette gets sent out to clean, she finds herself at the entrance to another Silo. A man explains that she’s currently in Silo 17, where he is the lone survivor of an uprising several years back. He shows her how to make contact between silos and she reconnects with her IT guy in her home Silo (Silo 18), and together they force Bernard to reveal his real plan. Turns out, the silos have been frequently disrupted by rebellions, which often fail. But if a Silo rebellion succeeds, then the authorities in Silo 1 will exterminate everyone in that silo; Bernard simply hoped that maintaining order would be for the greater good. In the end, Bernard gets sent outside to clean (and dies), while Juliette is overwhelmingly elected mayor of Silo 18.

We’re not sure yet how closely the show will follow the rest of Wool, or the rest of the Wool series for that matter. But it’s yet another compelling place for the show to go — a sci-fi series that’s asking: Maybe that government conspiracy… made some points?

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