Silo S1E5 Recap: “The Janitor’s Boy” Leaves Things a Little Messy

Juliette sits at her desk in front of a window
Screenshot/Apple TV+

The following recap contains spoilers for Silo S1E5, “The Janitor’s Boy” (written by Graham Yost and directed by David Semel)

As Silo S1E5 opens, we learn that Marnes (Will Patton) is dead. That makes sense, insofar as I don’t see why Douglas Trumbull (Henry Garrett) wouldn’t have followed through with killing him after he got control of that shotgun and pointed it in Marnes’s face in S1E4. What I’m a little less clear on is why he killed him.

The easy answer would be that it had to do with Marnes refusing to depose Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson) from her job as Sheriff, and that Mayor Jahns (Geraldine James) was likewise killed for giving Juliette the position in the first place, but I don’t think that quite lines up. Sims (Common) was involved behind the scenes, to be sure, but before he pushes Doug to his death, he says that Trumbull also messed up with regard to George (Ferdinand Kingsley).

So all indications are that the real concern is with covering up what George had found, but if the worry was that, as Sheriff, Juliette would discover and reveal George’s discovery, then why didn’t they just kill her instead of killing the Mayor and then the Chief Deputy? Something isn’t tracking here, and I’m unfortunately not sure if it’s a narrative mystery or less than stellar writing. I hope it’s the former.

Regardless, we get some forward movement with regard to the central mysteries of Silo in “The Janitor’s Boy,” as Sims tells Doug that the janitorial closet is not what it seems. He’s not allowed to tell anyone what’s behind that door, but it’s the most important thing to preserving the silo.

So my guess is that this is where they keep the computers that manipulate the view of what’s outside. We know the actual vista is lush, even if the environment might still be toxic.

Sims and Doug Trumbull stand in a hallway with a door that says Janitorial behind them
Screenshot/Apple TV+

The most interesting character to me at this point might be Bernard (Tim Robbins). Since I’m starting to like him, he’ll probably die next week, but in the meantime he seems to have gone from stooge for Judicial to ally of Juliette in a way that makes me think he was never quite the former. He tells her that the subtext of virtually every page of The Pact on her position suggests she should kiss Judicial’s ass, so maybe that goes for IT as well. Maybe it goes for virtually everyone and he’s just trying to navigate his way through the politics rather than actually being a bad guy.

Speaking of The Pact, it’s a running thread in S1E5 that Juliette hasn’t read it, and I have to say I do not respect that at all. If you’re going to fight a system, it might be helpful to understand it, and there may be clues in there as to what’s really going on. Indeed, Martha (Harriet Walter) relays some to Jules in this episode: that The Pact forbids them from creating mechanical means of traveling the silo, and that it forbids the creation of devices capable of magnification beyond a certain degree.

The latter I might speculate is about magnifying lenses being able to puncture the illusion of the outside they’re creating. As to the former, your guess is as good as mine, but I can’t help thinking about how George claimed to find something down deep that we’ve yet to see.

Bernard sits at his desk, looking to the side
Screenshot/Apple TV+

I thought that Juliette was going to resume that quest as Silo S1E5 neared its conclusion, but I guess not. Instead, she was after that Pez dispenser for some reason. It’s implied that she thinks it will help her open the kind of investigation she tells Martha she wants to open, in order to get to the bottom of things. But if there’s a reason she’s not actually getting to the bottom of things (i.e., of the silo itself) besides her fear of the water, I’m not really seeing it. So that’s a little frustrating.

Paul Billings (Chinaza Uche) is introduced in “The Janitor’s Boy” as Marnes’s replacement, and maybe he’s an alright guy, if one who’s easily duped. Judicial suggests that they look into someone named Ralph Melby, which Juliette sees through as an attempt to distract her while they frame Patrick Kennedy (Rick Gomez), so I wonder if we’ll hear or see anything more about Ralph. Perhaps not.

Paul Billings wears a badge with his hands on a desk, in Silo S1E5, "The Janitor's Boy"
Screenshot/Apple TV+

It’s also worth noting that Juliette tells Paul that a man they question clearly has “the syndrome.” I think this is the first we’ve heard of this medical condition, but the implication is that there is a relatively widespread ailment in the silo, since she doesn’t name a particular syndrome but uses a definite article that implies Paul will surely know what she’s talking about. So that’s something to keep an eye on.

Lukas (Avi Nash) is apparently so enrapt by looking out the cafeteria window at night because he’s discovered the existence of stars. It’s a little bit lame to suggest that no one in the silo had noticed them before, and his notes about their movement probably would have done the same narrative work on their own, but it does remind us of the fact that these people have lost their history, and that includes a lot of general knowledge we take for granted.

Two bodies wrapped in white, in a hole, surrounded by apples, in Silo S1E5 "The Janitor's Boy"
Screenshot/Apple TV+

People who die in the silo are buried in the orchard to provide nutrients to the food being grown. I’m fully on board with that, but can’t help but question the ritual of each person wasting all but a bite of an apple to throw in the ground with them. That seems excessive for the purposes of composting, and also kind of like a waste of perfectly good food.

That’s probably a minor quibble, but there is a general way in which I continue to worry about Silo’s ability to square its apparent contradictions. It could be on the track of something interesting about how conflicting forces determine the human condition, as it could be that the real plan that led to several murders is more sophisticated than we can see at this point. Or it could be that everything about this story is just a bit messy. I suppose we’ll find out.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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