Apple TV Plus has always emphasized quality over quantity, proven by the likes of Ted Lasso, For All Mankind, Severance, Shrinking, Pachinko and Bad Sisters. Yet despite their excellence, most of Apple's shows tend to fly under the radar — and the latest is the sci-fi drama Silo.
This is the latest edition of a column where members of the Tom's Guide staff share what they're watching and enjoying right now, with the goal of helping you find great shows and movies that you may have missed. We previously covered I Think You Should Leave.
Silo has been warmly received by critics, whose reviews give it an average 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And despite a lack of buzz, it's earned a second season after becoming Apple TV Plus' No. 1 drama series.
I've been eagerly tuning into the weekly episode drops since the premiere on May 5. The finale airs next week, so this is the perfect time to catch up.
What is Silo about?
Silo is based on the Wool series of novels by author Hugh Howey. It's set in a dystopian future in which the eponymous structure houses the last 10,000 people on Earth a mile deep into the ground, protecting them from the toxic and deadly world outside.
Nobody knows when or why the silo was built, and anyone who dares to ask questions is usually exiled "outside" to certain death. After her lover is seemingly murdered, bottom-dwelling engineer Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson) goes looking for answers.
The investigation is being handled by the Silo's sheriff, Holston Becker (David Oyelowo), whose wife was sent outside a few years before. As he looks into the incident, Becker begins to uncover truths that shake his beliefs.
Later, when Juliette takes his place, she continues to pursue the mysteries of the Silo, of what came before it and what the outside world is truly like. But she's hampered by enemies like head of security Robert Sims (Common) and IT boss Bernard Holland (Tim Robbins).
Silo will keep you on the edge of your seat
Silo combines many tropes found in the best science fiction television. It's got the mystery box element of Westworld; societal and social unrest like Battlestar Galactica; retro-futuristic production design like Firefly; conspiracy intrigue like The Expanse; and vivid character work like Lost.
Even with these familiar aspects, Silo weaves them together in an exciting, thrilling way. Silo reminds me, in a good way, of the first season of Westworld. The two shows have a lot in common, including the frequent use of flashbacks. Silo's theme song even sounds like the successor to Westworld's iconic opening score.
But Westworld stumbled in later seasons because it got too complicated. The plot began to meander. The essential premise of the show changed (and not for the better). No longer did it meditate on ethical quandaries, morality and the human soul; instead, it turned into a sequence of action set-pieces.
Silo remains in the sweet spot, where all the characters are (trapped) together in one place. Their differing desires and agendas bump up against each other, creating an incredibly tense friction.
If Westworld's initial question was, "What is the nature of reality?", then Silo's is "what is the nature of the Silo's reality?"
Week to week, Silo has captivated my attention as I try to figure things out alongside Juliette. What happened that caused the Silo to be constructed? Who built it? Why was the Silo's society and government structured the way that it is? Why are artifacts from the before times forbidden? Who is really pulling the strings and what is their goal?
I'm counting the minutes until the finale to see which of these questions are answered — and what new questions will be asked.
Outlook: Silo is worth the binge
While I've been watching Silo weekly, I think it will make a great binge before the season 1 finale airs next week. The story is gripping and well-paced. And I should now mention the excellent performances, led by Ferguson as Juliette. She's tough and stubborn, but flashes of vulnerability make her a protagonist to root for.
There are weak links in the rest of the cast. Oyelowo and Rashida Jones are the charismatic focal points when Silo begins, as Sheriff Holston Becker and wife Allison. Their fates will hit you right in the gut. Common is a suitably menacing villain, while Robbins is a more nuanced unknown quantity. Supporting turns from Harriet Walter as Juliette's friend Walker and Iain Glen as a doctor are bonuses.
Silo just works on every level. Don't miss out on one of the best sci-fi shows in recent memory.