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All Your 'Silo' Questions Answered
There's a lot of misinformation and confusion about season one
After finishing Silo, I did what I always do when something I love ends: I turned to Google. Sometimes it’s to check out the true story that inspired a movie. Sometimes it’s to see what else someone has been in. This time, I was just interested in one thing: Season 2—when?
In the course of that—btw, season 2 is already filming and expected to release in 2024, which seems hella far considering how season 1 ends—I discovered a lot of people have some crazy ideas about what happens in season 1. And by crazy, I mean crazy-wrong. Which I get! Silo is big on intrigue, miserly on exposition. That’s generally a plus in my book. I’d rather figure something out myself than be told by a writer-via-actor interface. Still. Silo could’ve thrown us a bone or two.
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My wife and I chatted after every episode, comparing observations and wonderings. I’ve read the books and have a leg up in this regard, but not as much as you’d think. The series is its own thing. George Wilkins is a footnote in the books; he’s the driving subplot of season one.
I read several articles on reputable websites where the writer suggests something that is patently untrue. Again, not really their fault, though I think a closer examination is probably warranted before you start posing as an expert. To that point, I thought I’d do a little public service here. I’m only answering questions the show raises and attempts to answer. Stuff it sets up for later will remain unanswered, as the good Lord intended.
Spoilers incoming, obviously.
Where is the Silo located?
Let’s start with an easy one.
I’ll answer this with a question of my own: What was the subject of the contraband book that Juliette discovered, and Paul later destroyed? (I audibly groaned at this part, because I treasure books in general, and books in post-apocalyptic societies run by fascist oppressors specifically.)
Knowing that, you can probably guess the ruined city Juliette sees in the distance.
What’s the deal with the heat tape?
As we see with each cleaning, the suits are wrapped with heat tape at the joints to keep the cleaner alive as long as possible. Which isn’t very long—no cleaner makes it beyond the ridge because their suit is compromised before they get that far. The underlying reason: The tape is garbage.
This is confirmed in dialogue, as Walker makes what appears to be a throw-away comment about IT’s crappy tape. She later decides to swap out IT’s tape for the good stuff, to help ensure Juliette’s suit can last as long as possible.
Which is why the Bernard was annoyed that Juliette got her hands on IT’s tape. He was afraid someone would put two and two together. And they did, eventually.
Why do people clean?
This is an interesting philosophical question. You’ve been sentenced to death, and part of that includes a bit of voluntary community service before you keel over. Would you do it? Most people would say eff that, but in Silo, everyone cleans the external cameras, every time, without fail. And then they die.
The reason everyone cleans? Because the world outside is green and blue, and they want everyone else to see it, too. They no longer need to hide underground. So they scrub the camera the best they can, hoping everyone inside will see. In their elation, they kinda forget that no cleaning has ever shown the world to be this vibrant.
Throughout the season, the show openly shares the fact that the display is a lie. But how is it a lie? The audience is led to believe the outside world is safe, and therefore everyone is being kept inside by sadistic overlords. This lie—that the world is plush and green—is only shown to the cleaners, who die shortly after. The only purpose of the lie is to get the cleaning done. The external cameras, however bleak the footage, provide the only window to the outside world. Without them, people would go mad. This is covered in greater depth in the books, but even in season one, there are references to people getting restless if it’s been too long between cleanings.
When Juliette is sent out, she’s initially overcome by what she sees. Then she realizes it’s the exact footage she watched on the hard drive, and understands that the display is a lie. This is why she decides not to clean. She elects not to participate in the lie.
What did the Mayor mean when he said ‘she knows’?
He’s talking about Juliette realizing the display is a lie. That seemed pretty obvious to me, but there’s some confusion about this point. The Mayor freaking out and running out of the room caused a lot of people to wonder if something deeper was going on. (There definitely is other stuff going on, but he’s just referring to the display.)
You could make the argument that the Mayor suspects Juliette knew before she went out, and therefore made arrangements to ensure her suit didn’t fail, but that’s a real stretch.
Did the Mayor disable Juliette’s display?
No. This is an unfortunate byproduct of the way the scene is framed. The panicked Mayor opens a door using his glowing key with the 18 on it. We cut back to Juliette and her display changes, trading the pretty lie for bleak reality. It’s a signal strength issue—Juliette was out of range.
But even if you didn’t realize Juliette helmet had just lost Wi-Fi, why would the Mayor cut the display? It makes no freaking sense. And yet, Collider claims that’s exactly what he does, even though we never see him “flip a switch” (Collider’s words), which is why I don’t frequent Collider.
The real question is: What is the Mayor doing?
What are all those big craters?
Umm… they’re other silos. You can clearly see concrete structures that look like the one Juliette emerged from.
Since I’m spelling out stuff, between the Mayor’s glowing key and the hard drive, I think we can safely assume Juliette’s silo is number 18 out of many.
Why are the cleaners sent outside with faulty suits?
Coming back to that crappy heat tape: Why does IT bother? What’s the point? If the world outside is so bleak, won’t these people just wander off and die after their oxygen is gone?
Yes, they will 100% die. There is no hope outside. As they say in the cleaning speech, “We do not know when it will be safe to go outside. We only know that that day is not this day.” So, again—why bother ensuring people die before they can climb the ridge?
If you lived your entire life in an underground bunker, and knew of no history outside the bunker, and of nobody but those that lived within the bunker, how would you react if someone came wandering into view outside? It’d be like E.T. landing in your driveway, checking out some flowers, and then flying away. Your entire worldview would shatter. And one thing Silo makes eminently clear is that the people at the top consider the Silo a combustable house of cards.
If you have any other questions you’d like addressed, drop a comment!