Rebecca Ferguson has been around for a while, but with Silo, showrunner Graham Yost gives her the chance to really put herself in the spotlight. She seizes that opportunity with both hands, playing an important role in the quality of one of the most mysterious series we’re going to see this year.
This is a spoiler-free review of the first season of Silo, a series on Apple TV+.
Gorgeous visual style
Graham Yost has been known to me for years as a great showrunner. For years he created a furor with Justified, even if it was a little under the radar. Yet it became one of my favorite series of all time. The television series got better and better each season. Yost’s excellent vision worked well with the acting of Timothy Olyphant, who played Marshal Raylan Givens in Justified. With Silo, he has created a series that will have you glued to the tube from the very first moment, with yet another star actor given the lead role in the form of Rebecca Ferguson (known from Dune, among others). Silo, unlike FX’s Justified, is exposed to a larger audience.
Silo tells the story of the Wool book series, in which we see the last tens of thousands of people on Earth living in a mile-deep silo. No one knows when or why the silo was built, and when they do try to find out, there could be fatal consequences. No one is allowed outside because the silo is supposed to protect the inhabitants from the toxic and deadly outside world. In this dystopian future, the inhabitants live under unswervingly strict rules, while each layer of the population has been given its own task. Main character Juliette (Ferguson) is initially at ease as a mechanic at the silo, the lowest layer of the environment in which humanity lives on. Yet not much later she is thrust into a different role when the silo’s sheriff breaks important rules and other people inexplicably die.
Despite this grim outlook, Silo has chosen a stunning visual style. In terms of sci-fi, the series is in the right corner, with Mark Patten for the cinematography (Taboo and Andor, among others) and Phil Harvey as the main art director (including Star Wars I – The Phantom Menace, II – Attack of the Clones and III – Revenge of the Sith). In terms of vibe, what ends up coming out is something of a hodgepodge between Fallout and Severance. In terms of mystery, Silo is also incredibly reminiscent of the latter, which turned out to be a hit series over time. It is clear to see that Apple has thrown hefty budgets at it again. How everything looks exceeds the level of a series as you are used to and even comes close to cinematic quality. After a few episodes, as a viewer you feel like you have become part of the silo. Every detail is right and the atmosphere is oppressive.
Unravel the mystery at the hands of Juliette
Silo is reminiscent of Severance in terms of slick visual style, and in terms of mystery, this series shows similarities. Every episode there is some big reveal that would make you as a viewer want to know what else is going on. Episodes of Silo will appear weekly starting next Friday (when the first two episodes will be released), but secretly I can recommend saving everything for this series if you can’t stand cliffhangers.
The mystery of Silo is largely told through characters and objects that are sometimes hidden in places you’ve long seen. In that sense, Silo feels a bit like a Metroid-style game, where you only gain access to certain rooms you’ve already been to because you now have that one item to open that one door. From moment to moment, Silo is unnerving. This is mainly because the danger is not always apparent to protagonist Juliette. Constantly something is waiting for her, even she herself doesn’t know in what way she will be put in harm’s way next.
At the beginning, Silo gets off to a somewhat slow start, which is why it is good that Apple TV+ starts immediately with two episodes. Better still would have been to put three episodes online right away, since the third episode is one of the most exciting where you can’t take your eyes off the screen. From several episodes before the end, it is impossible to stop watching. Emotionally, it is quite a grueling series, giving goosebumps several times.
In addition to visual splendor, Silo also contains an excellent soundtrack with plenty of humming sounds and strings. In this respect, the sci-fi series is occasionally reminiscent of Blade Runner 2049. This soundtrack is excellent on its own, but it also ensures that you are regularly on the edge of your seat with nerves while watching the series.
This is well established in the third episode when a broken generator needs to be repaired in the silo engine room. A special plan is drawn up for this by the silo’s mechanics, the team of which Juliette is part at the time. This is made so exciting in part by the soundtrack that it almost feels like a kind of heist sequence.
Silo, at the hands of Graham Yost, delivers the great quality production we have come to expect from Apple TV+. Although the series gets off to a somewhat slow start, after a few episodes it moves at a fast pace. That quality is helped by an excellent cast, soundtrack and its own visual identity. Regardless, Silo is one of the biggest mysteries of the year and is going to repeat the success Apple TV+ had last year with Severance.