Silo S1E10 Recap: The Season 1 Finale Takes Us “Outside” What We Thought We Knew

Bernard looks on, with Sims at his side, in the cafeteria in the Silo Season 1 finale
Apple TV+/Screenshot

The following recap contains spoilers for the Silo Season 1 finale, S1E10, “Outside” (written by Fred Golan and directed by Adam Bernstein)

I’m prone to make the argument that television isn’t really about the plot; it’s about the characters and overall vibe of the show. I may not have always stayed true to that thought as I’ve written on Season 1 of Silo, as I’ve complained about a lack of forward movement for most of the season.

But I’m tempted to mark another distinction between what happens in terms of plot and what happens in terms of servicing the premise of a sci-fi show. It’s on the latter front that I would say nothing has happened in Silo since the two-episode premiere, and this has made the season a bit of a slog for me, personally. There has been a lot of plot action, but it’s been plodding. What I’ve wanted was an event that shifts our understanding of things, which is what the Season 1 finale finally gives us.

I could couch my criticisms of the show in terms of characters and tone. I’ve consistently enjoyed the world of Silo, and that’s kept me going. If I felt like the characters were well fleshed out across the board—if I cared about the people in Mechanical, for example, instead of having to look up their names when they showed up again in S1E10—I may have just loved getting to know them and not had any complaints about the show at all. Instead, it’s felt like a death knell whenever a character starts to get proper depth.

At the same time, I’ve made no bones about my distaste for our protagonist Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson). It’s not that she annoys me in some thin way; I fundamentally do not respect her or her scofflaw attitude. And that wouldn’t be a problem except that Silo seems to rely on precisely this aspect of her personality to try to get us on her side.

Juliette looks upward from a ladder in the trash chute
Apple TV+/Screenshot

Maybe it says more about me than anything that this doesn’t work for me, and I’m trying to acknowledge the extent to which one’s enjoyment of Silo Season 1 might hang on how Juliette lands for you. Further, I don’t think my personal distaste for the protagonist is an argument against the show, though I do think more should have been done to provide her with depth early on. The fact that I chafe at this character doesn’t mean she’s a bad character, nor an unrealistic one. It might even be that she irks me because she reminds me of people I know.

Nevertheless, her decision-making continues to rankle me. In the wake of Episode 9, I guessed that she and others would try to go and find the door George (Ferdinand Kingsley) mentioned in his video, but Juliette doesn’t even seem to consider that. Instead, she moves to insist they broadcast the footage of Jane Carmody’s cleaning to every computer screen in the silo, which just bolsters the idea that she wants to start another rebellion.

I don’t know what good she expects to come from this plan. Does she think that, confronted with this video, people will rise up en masse and demand the truth? That seems woefully idealistic. What’s more plausible is that she doesn’t even think that far ahead.

Further, from what we see, it’s not at all clear that the video got out wide. They see it in the surveillance room, for instance, but I’m not sure anyone else saw it at all. Plus, this move shows a striking failure on Juliette’s part to think through what happened to Allison (Rashida Jones). If Allison saw this same footage and went outside because of it several years ago, shouldn’t Juliette question the immediate inference to the idea that it’s actually safe outside?

Maybe she does, eventually, though it’s not clear exactly when, as Silo leaves us to fill in her reasoning.

Bernard sits at a console with screens showing a lush landscape outside
Apple TV+/Screenshot

Juliette is ultimately captured because Bernard (Tim Robbins) is able to figure out she’s in the trash chute (even if he’s never seen Star Wars because the silo has lost its history). And, at his threat against everyone she cares about, she agrees to his deal to stop protesting her sentence to clean. Walker (Harriet Walter) figures out something about the tape (more on that presently), and she sends Juliette a note with the food Shirley (Remmie Milner) brings her, which helps Juliette snap to the reality of things.

A note read "You wanted the truth. The truth is I love you. Have no fear. They're good in supply."
Apple TV+/Screenshot

After Juliette goes outside, we thankfully follow her perspective beyond what we got with either Allison or Holston (David Oyelowo). And what we know for sure in light of this scene is that it’s the vision of the outside as clear and healthy that’s the fabrication.

Juliette pokes at the simulation, which makes things blur, but I guess her whole point with Holston’s badge was to place it on his body. She does this even though she can’t see Holston’s body but sees a rock instead. That tracks with her requesting the badge before she realized the truth of things, but this is also the moment when Bernard, inside, says, “She knows,” so I did find it a little confusing at first.

A hand with tape around the wrist placing a badge onto a rock that gets blurry because it isn't really there
Apple TV+/Screenshot

It is noteworthy that Sims (Common) doesn’t know what she knows, but we do now—though we should continue to note that the view from the cafeteria window is of a desolate landscape. I think what hung me up initially was thinking about what Juliette was doing with the badge as though this was how she was learning that what she was seeing was fake, and Bernard’s comment at just this moment bolsters that impression. However, we could see Bernard making an inference from Juliette placing the badge on what she would see as a rock when it is, in fact, Holston’s body. This indicates that she’s not being tricked by the illusion.

What’s weird about all of this is that none of the shots we get of the desolate landscape as S1E10 comes to a close show us Holston’s body (or anyone else’s) in a definitive way. I think maybe you can make them out, and maybe I’m overthinking this, but as someone who’s been hung up on this question since the series began, it felt a little unclear whether this was supposed to be lingering as a mystery or not.

It makes the most sense if Juliette placed the badge on Holston’s body, meaning that he and Allison really did die at the beginning of the series. But it continues to feel like we only see their bodies when we’re given a perspective through the cafeteria window.

If Bernard’s inference is what I’ve laid out above, why does it send him running to turn off the simulated reality Juliette has been seeing? It could merely be an attempt to convince her of the hopelessness of her situation, but the man moves with a frantic urgency. Perhaps he believes it to be important that she not get over the crest of the hill, and this is a last-ditch effort to get her to give up before that point. But the door remains open to some other explanation.

Juliette stares forward, wearing a suit for cleaning
Apple TV+/Screenshot

And then, there’s the tape. Walker finally figures out that it never made much sense for the muckety-mucks to get so upset about Jules stealing their tape when her tape is better—I guess we’ll look past the obvious question of why Juliette didn’t just come to her for some tape instead of stealing an inferior kind—and takes her own tape to Supply to be used during Juliette’s cleaning.

I’ll try not to get too hung up on this, but I absolutely hate the trope we see play out with Walker here, as it basically amounts to suggesting that a character can overcome her disability if she just wants to badly enough. Martha has been depicted over the course of the whole season as being unable to leave her apartment due to crippling anxiety, yet she seems able to take some deep breaths, suck it up, and take her tape to Supply.

This kind of thing feeds into a general tendency to not take mental health issues seriously, or to view them as some kind of moral failing. You could read this more charitably, and Silo is definitely not giving the worst example of the trope ever, but it’s there and I do not care for it. At the very least, Walker should have had a harder time doing what she needed to do.

Walker looks on plaintively
Apple TV+/Screenshot

Regardless, as Silo S1E10 comes to a close, the truth of things comes into view. It’s not that the window in the cafeteria is lying; rather, those who are sent out to clean are subjected to the lie that things outside are actually pretty swell. This implies that Jane Carmody was one of the first subjected to this illusion and that the footage on the hard drive does not prove what Allison and Juliette thought it did.

The tape is important because the powers that be of the silo use inferior tape on purpose, which allows toxins to seep through. Bernard has this timed out, and he makes comments to this effect as he and Sims watch Juliette from the cafeteria. That it would seem that Sims does not know about any of this is noteworthy, but the more interesting thing is in working out the details of what’s actually going on with the plan that structures the silo.

People are sent out to clean as a form of punishment. Since it’s a death sentence, Allison wonders—way back in the pilot—why they actually do the cleaning part. She tells Holston that if she’s wrong, she won’t clean, but apparently she’s convinced enough by what she sees that she does.

We now know she was wrong—it actually is a hellscape out there. Taking the twist that the season finale provides us, then, we have to infer that the whole point of the apparently beautiful outside is to convince people to clean. It’s exactly what Allison suggested but itself based on a lie: people see this vision of what it’s like outside and want everyone inside to see it as well, so they clean even though they’d know, with a moment’s reflection, that this won’t make any difference.

This raises at least two questions for us to think about. At something like a philosophical level, we might be led to ponder how we’re naively prone to accept what our eyes tell us, even in the face of countervailing evidence. Which is a big and ever-increasing worry in a world populated by deepfakes and other forms of manipulation.

Within the context of the show, we might ask whether this is plausible, but I think it is. The deeper question is whether it feels warranted from the perspective of someone like Bernard, who knows the truth.

A lush field with a tree and blue skies
Apple TV+/Screenshot

We have to believe that he believes that what he’s doing is necessary for the survival of the silo, and you could question this. Why couldn’t this whole thing work without the deception, as we’ve come to understand it? If it actually is toxic outside, why the whole thing with the illusion?

There has to be more to this that we don’t know yet. For one thing, there has to be some really important reason that people clean beyond some notion that it’s important for people inside the silo to see what it’s like outside. Because if it were really just that, we could easily imagine the window getting so grimy over time that you couldn’t see through it. That itself might either serve as a motivation to people to not want to go out there or as enough of a motivation to some to clean on occasion, so the whole artifice wouldn’t be necessary.

I’m trying to take up the perspective of someone like Bernard, to be clear. If they had a rebellion 140 years ago, was this illusion in place prior to that or was it instituted after? And, either way, is it really necessary to maintaining the existence of the silo?

Let’s recap it again, as succinctly as possible. It actually is not safe to go outside. The outside world is toxic, will kill you, and the only reason Juliette survives as long as she does is because she has better tape around her suit. At least, this is how I interpret the closing scenes of the Silo Season 1 finale.

But then why all the deception? The only thing that would really hold up is if it is very important for people to clean.

Numerous circles on dusty ground with a city skyline in the distance
Apple TV+/Screenshot

It’s a cool twist for Silo to reveal that its central lie is basically the opposite of what one would have thought, and I think this does have some impact on an ethical assessment of the whole program. Fundamentally, they are only lying about what it’s like outside to criminals, and while the Kantian in me would still say that’s immoral no matter what the end, it’s certainly less immoral than if they were lying to everyone all of the time about everything.

Further, it’s interesting to think about how someone like Allison, who goes rogue after seeing the Carmody footage, is indeed wrong. She truly should have believed the powers that be instead of her lying eyes.

Allison makes a pained face
Apple TV+/Screenshot

Of course, she was not wrong about being kept from having children. That there is a policy along these lines is well established over the course of Season 1. It’s confirmed by Juliette’s father (Iain Glen), who has participated in keeping women sterile, and Bernard tells Juliette here in S1E10 that she should have never been born (though he makes a point of affirming the intrinsic worth of every living person at the same time).

If the reasoning behind this whole program simply amounts to some kind of atavistic thought about keeping curious types from breeding—which is really the only suggestion on the table as of the Season 1 finale—then it is wildly indefensible. I think you could make good arguments for limiting reproduction under the conditions of life in the silo in terms of there being limited resources—and, indeed, there seems to be a general system in place justified along these lines—but to deny people children on the basis of some assessment of their personality traits is a special form of bigotry.

Juliette puts a hand to her face, crying
Apple TV+/Screenshot

At the same time, the Silo Season 1 finale reveals that there is much more to the story than we may have guessed. As Juliette makes it over the hill, we pan out to see that the silo we’ve known is not the only one that exists. They seem to be all over the place, and in the distance there is a city skyline.

Are there people in that city? If so, one would have to surmise that they are the true persons of power in this world, and we might get to thinking about how a silo, in the traditional sense, is used to store grain against future need. And let me just say that I will not be unhappy if there end up being cannibals in this story.

Does Bernard know about the existence of other silos? Does he know about the city? It seems to me like even odds that he does not, insofar as it might be most effective if the leader of each silo thinks they are responsible for the fate of humanity as a whole. On the other hand, he’s freaked out by Juliette surviving longer than she is supposed to, so maybe he does know something of what awaits her.

I’d have to guess that Silo Season 2 will expand the setting of this story by having Juliette wander over to another silo, or something like that. It’s really a compelling place to leave us, and I’m on board to see what comes next.

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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  1. I am hopeful for the first episode of Season 2 to be a crossover that includes OCP Crime Prevention Unit 001, Adam (from Sic Mundus), T-800, Dolores and Teddy, the Borg, and Bender with the reveal that everything is under control by “The Man With No Eyes” who, in turn, is actually Bran (Stark).

  2. Are you kidding yourself ? You said it, Bernard is freaked out by Juliettes surviving, and he frantically goes to the server room. But you reach the wrong conclusion, since you also fall the deception that’s prevalent here. Although the fake display in her helmet stops, it doesn’t neccessarily mean he switched it off. That wouldn’t make any sense. It stops because she’s out of range, or that there is no more fake footage to stream. This has been confirmed. The reason he hurries to the server room is again something you sort of grasp at, which is that he is in contact with other silos or other groups outside the silo (as he must be), and he needs to contact them. Another misunderstaing, is that Bernard has a clear interest that people sent out will clean and die on camera. If they won’t clean, and the public won’t see them die, then that will raise tensions and calls from people to leave the silo. So his basic goal is that the cleanings happen according to script. So for that purpose, they use bad tape to make sure people die quickly. But even with bad take, it’s unlikely that people would die quickly enough, so the logical conclusion is that they are secretly poisoned in the silo, before leaving, by a very strong poison that kills them quickly. Another mistake you have is that in the other cleanings we saw in the beginning of the season, they stumble since they’re dying, but Juliette stumbles becuase her foor hit a rock, but she’s fine otherwise. All this is clearly depicted on screen.

    • I think the biggest thing worth mentioning is that I definitely got hung up on how in Ep 3 when the power goes out, we see the beautiful outside through the cafeteria window. So, I never even really thought about the obvious idea that it’s a projection inside the helmet and always presumed it was some other kind of projection or something. And also continued to distrust what we see through the cafeteria window. It definitely makes more sense if it’s in the helmet, and I have read that book author Hugh Howey does not know why that bit is in Ep 3 and does not like it. But also I don’t see any point to that episode as a whole if we’re to discount this scene. The show is not the book and I don’t view the book of its author as having irrefutable authority about what’s happening in the show. And, honestly, if this was just something like a mistake we’re supposed to wave our hands at that would make it hard for me to respect the show. So I don’t know, we’ll have to see how that plays out. No idea what you mean by “this has been confirmed” unless you’re maybe appealing to the books or something.

      I think I did raise the question of why Bernard went running to the server room as something we didn’t know for sure. As for the logic behind cleaning, I guess I don’t think what you lay out cuts the mustard for me, but sure, maybe that’s it. I don’t even really recall talking about the stumbling and why they stumbled, so not sure what you’re intending to call out there. Or what you think I might be kidding myself about…

      It kind of seems like you’re taking issue with how I’m viewing some questions as open/not definitively resolved instead of jumping to conclusions you like. But, mea culpa, I did not even consider that the projection was inside the helmet because of that bit in Ep 3

      Anyway, thanks for reading! I’m not trying to argue, just respond

      • The irony is that you don’t respect Juliette, however she figured out that her helmet display is fake in seconds while she was outside by remembering the cleaning video clip from the hard drive. But for the viewers of this TV show, including you, this was the fifth or sixth time we got to see that clip (and it always looks exactly the same, including the bird formation and animation), and yet YOU couldn’t figure out that it means this is a fake depiction of reality (vs Jules who figured it out while seeing it only for the second time while being in a life threatening situation). btw, the reason they decided to flash the green world view for a couple of seconds in the cafeteria, is probably as another hint to help the viewers realize it’s fake.

      • I think the episode 3 tease where a power outage briefly causes the lush green world to appear on screens, when contrasted with the new “lore” that in fact the lush green world is a projected fantasy, is basically the writers farting in our faces.

        It means it’s going to be like “Lost” where the writers thought they could just throw any random nonsensical crap at us, whilst never explaining anything that had gone before, and expect us not to notice.

        There is no possible way to reconcile these two pieces of information that wouldn’t be as unsatisfying as an “it was all just a dream” plot twist.

        Anyway, I won’t be finding out… I’m not investing another 10 hours of my life in a second season of this glacial storytelling.

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