Rebecca Ferguson in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Rebecca Ferguson in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Premiering with its first two episodes on May 5th, ‘Silo’ represents Apple TV+ moving into the sort of dystopian territory covered extensively in movies and TV series, but also managing to say something new about human foibles and the lies that can build up within authority.

What’s the story of ‘Silo’?

‘Silo’ tells of the last ten thousand people on earth, their mile-deep home protecting them from the toxic and deadly world outside. However, no one knows when or why the silo was built and any who try to find out face fatal consequences –– if you do end up challenging the authority, you’re sent outside to clean the lens of the one camera sending footage of the outdoors… Which as far as anyone knows is a death sentence in the most agonizing fashion. Rebecca Ferguson stars as Juliette, an engineer, who seeks answers about a loved one's murder and tumbles onto a mystery that goes far deeper than she could have ever imagined, leading her to discover that if the lies don't kill you, the truth will.

Adapted from Hugh Howey’s book ‘Wool’ (originally self-published online by the author, who cannily held on to the rights to the early stories), ‘Silo’ has ‘Justified’s Graham Yost as its showrunner and Morten Tyldum and David Semel among its directors.

Tim Robbins in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Tim Robbins in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Who else appears in ‘Silo’?

The ensemble cast starring alongside Ferguson includes Common, Harriet Walter, Chinaza Uche, Avi Nash, David Oyelowo, Rashida Jones, Ferdinand Kingsley and Tim Robbins.

Should you dive into ‘Silo’?

Like most of its Apple TV+ stablemates, ‘Silo’ is the product of a company willing to spend an expansive budget to bring it to life: the world that these characters live in is an immersive one, a concrete realm of curving stairways and chunky, basic chambers. It’s all low-tech brought to life into an incredibly high-tech fashion –– the giant sets aided by CGI.

But great production design is nothing without compelling people and an interesting story, and fortunately ‘Silo’ boasts both. Yost and his team have embraced the complicated political mystery and danger of Howey’s story, resulting in a thorny, twisty mystery that will keep you guessing.

As for the cast, this is an eclectic line-up that offers something to keep hold of while the story weaves around them. Ferguson in particular is beguiling as the intense Juliette, who would much rather be nurturing the giant generator that keeps the lights (and everything else) on in the Silo than step up to be the new sheriff. But inspired by the suspicious death of Kingsley’s tech-obsessed George Wilkins, she reluctantly agrees, digging up yet more secrets, including some that impact her own troubled past.

Given such meaty material, Ferguson shines, exploring Juliette’s layers even as she explores the various levels of her home. Kingsley, meanwhile, brings emotional heft to a relatively smaller role. And there is a host of other reliable talent offering memorable work.

Rashida Jones and David Oyelowo in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

(L to R) Rashida Jones and David Oyelowo in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

The structure of the show is also interesting, kicking off primarily with the story of the current Sheriff (Oyelowo) and his wife (Jones) who learn some disturbing information that challenges what they believed to be true about their subterranean world. Soon, these previously model citizens are looking for more answers, and that ends up dooming then. The narrative then shifts mostly to Juliette’s story as the new sheriff and the various forces at play in support of her and against her.

Will Patton is the experienced, careworn deputy not looking for advancement but thrust into a much more responsible role as his department and the mysterious, Judicial Department, which runs its own secret police force and becomes ever more powerful as the story develops. And slithering around it all, the IT autocrat Bernard played by Robbins with chilly, sociopathic intensity like something out of a George Orwell story.

What really works about the show is the successful blend of tones and genres that Yost and his writers have pulled off here –– along with the dystopian tale and conspiracy mystery thriller, there’s police procedural sleuthing, showdowns that evoke Westerns and philosophical debate.

David Oyelowo, Geraldine James and Will Patton in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

(L to R) David Oyelowo, Geraldine James and Will Patton in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Related Article: First Trailer for Apple TV+ Sci-fi Adaptation ‘Silo’

Tricky Tropes

If there’s anything to complain about with the new series, it’s that the actual story proper takes a while to get moving (though it does all coalesce successfully towards the end) that might put off viewers unable to binge the whole season in Apple’s current plan of launching with two episodes and then drip-feeding an episode a week through June 30th. Yet it’s certainly worth sticking with.

This is also not a show to recommend if you’re after a cheery, lightweight series. There is gallows humor within, but this has an expectedly dour tone, dealing as it does with dark conspiracies, desperate humans, murder and state sanctioned executions-by-exile.

Some will no doubt roll their eyes at the extensive use of invented terms to define how this society speaks and thinks –– there’s lots of talk of the “founders”, the “before-times”, “the Pact”, the “down-deep” and the “up-top”. If your patience runs thin for such sci-fi language, ‘Silo’ might not be the show for you. But it’s all handled without drawing too much attention to itself.

The real focus of the show is the broken, fascinating characters poking into the darker corners of their world. And in that, ‘Silo’ most certainly succeeds. It might not end up drawing the buzz of something along the lines of fellow Apple TV+ S-word series ‘Severance’, but it’s more than worth your time if you’re willing to dive deep.

‘Silo’ receives 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Common in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Common in 'Silo,' premiering May 5, 2023 on Apple TV+.

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