'Silo' Season 1 Review: Apple TV+ Sci-Fi Adaptation Features Rebecca Ferguson Investigating
We're far in the silo now, where they can hurt us. A new dystopian sci-fi series Silo and its first season is the latest contender in a heated survival game filled with expensive genre shows trying to make a splash in this streaming era. Adapted from the 'Silo' series of science fiction novels by Hugh Howey, it follows who are assumed to be the last 10,000 people left on Earth after a toxic airborne event has forced them to live in more than a hundred levels deep silo-like structure, with little to no recollection of technological advancements, culture or much of general history. Those few who choose to leave are seen from the inside to drop dead soon after they encounter the atmosphere.
Rebecca Ferguson stars as Juliette Nichols, an engineer later turned into a sheriff who ends up investigating the death of her boyfriend George (Ferdinand Kingsley) which then threatens to uncover secrets of the silo. Rest of the ensemble cast also includes Will Patton (as Marnes, a deputy sheriff), Iain Glen (Dr. Nichols, Juliette's dad), David Oyelowo (Holston, sheriff), Rashida Jones (Allison, Holston's wife), Common (Sims, security officer) and Tim Robbins (Bernard, interim mayor) among others.
Mostly we're getting off to a great start as the first episode alone manages to introduce the world, set stakes for these characters and showcase some terrific filmmaking, also doing something abnormal in the process as we meet our main character Juliette much later. The next few episodes are told more from her point of view, using some flashbacks too, and it's very clear that there are a lot of layers to Silo's storylines, some which are wisely left to our imagination and some which we see play out. Writing of the show (contributors include showrunner Graham Yost and Fred Golan) manages to make its characters recognisable and distinct, all of them having a past, present and purpose.
That type of character depth is an important ground floor for performances in TV and there's not a single bad apple in the bunch—if you're willing to forgive Glen's still-not-so-good American accent—as performers never fail to portray danger or hesitation even when writing is more interested in sobfests than it needs to be. Oyelowo covers this range superbly, though his time is cut short, while with Ferguson it seems like she'll get a much bigger emotional playground to explore in the upcoming seasons, based on these 10 episodes and what they lead up to.
But as some of this first season is simply creating building blocks for what's to come, the craft behind it is already enough to warrant one's time and energy. Production design by Gavin Bocquet does the impressive feat where it's hard to say where it ends and VFX (supervised by Daniel Rauchwerger) take over, latter also being great excluding few digital crowds that could've used more shallow focus. Atli Örvarsson's score also fills those spaces beautifully, never relying too much on themes like these kinds of shows often do unfortunately, instead showing versatility when it's able to shift from classical instrumentation to ambient which is when it becomes one with the series' suitably suffocating sound design. Charlotte Morris' costumes also fit that vision to a T, avoiding bright colours unless it's necessary.
Silo shows a lot of promise and expertise, especially in its respective genre, but it is also still on its way to truly becoming the next must-see television series. Considering their quite dour dialogue, Yost and his writers room could perhaps use a reminder that humanity rarely forgets to have a sense of humour even in bleakest of circumstances, seven light sources in just a living room can affect believability achieved by cinematography (for instance by Mark Patten) when resources in the silo seem so scarce and editing (by Hazel Baillie) really doesn't need to cut so frequently during conversations and action when a show has sets like this to look at and actors who are all very committed. It's good to let some oxygen in, you know.
Smileys: Production design, score, characterisation, story
Frowneys: Some issues with dialogue and editing
Putting the she in sheriff.