I had high hopes for Silo. I’m honestly not sure why, other than the fact it felt like another sci-fi mystery box show that could provide me some fun week-to-week speculation. And maybe spark some lively discussion between Ms. Hipster and myself. Not unlike another recent Apple TV+ series, Severance. The previews seemed to hint at some sinister post-apocalyptic puzzle and a cool-looking world existing entirely underground. Which, generally, is up my alley. It also promised Rashida Jones and David Oyelowo, but we only get them for about one episode each. It was only one minor disappointment in a show filled with disappointment.
There are so many issues with this show, I’m not even certain where to start. Let’s start with the acting. I know people like Rebecca Ferguson for some reason. But her fucking accent is so distracting on this show, I’m not even sure what to do with myself. She’s Swedish, which is fine. When you’re in a world where there might be other people with your weirdly unplaceable lilt. But when you grow up in a silo, where people have been for at least a couple centuries, and you have this unique, bizarre accent that nobody else has (including your parents), it’s a continuity problem. Her acting is what I would classify as “try hard.” It’s humorless and overly wrought. It reminded me of some of the eleven-level Claire Danes performances in the dark seasons of Homeland. Or her turn as the annoying Rose the Hat character in Doctor Sleep. I won’t go into Tim Robbins’ absolutely strange acting style. A giant goon who talks in this overly calm, hushed manner that made me want to throw things at the screen. And Common? The best thing I can say about his acting is that he’s a rapper. Otherwise there’s a lot of over-acting and awkward accent slips. I’m tired of Brits trying to play Americans. Or at least ones that don’t have a ton of practice, and just end up mush mouthed or constantly screwing up their faces into a death mask trying to pronounce their Rs. Any of the decent actors on this series, they kill off.
The silo in which all these people live is the central character of the series. Which you would think would make the creators really focus on the mechanics of the silo. The conceit is that the silo is like 144 stories high and the only way to travel up and down the floors is this centralized spiral staircase. No elevators, no ropes, no nothing but stairs. Planning to visit people, the characters often have to budget hours of time to get from one place to another. A fact they completely destroy later on when we’re shown the fact there is a trash chute that a couple of our protagonists use to go from floor to floor much faster. Something they just seem to think of on the spot despite the fact, again, the silo has been around for hundreds of years. And, in an even more egregious case of the creators just ignoring the rules of their own world, they inconveniently forget how long it takes to get from floor to floor when this big chase ensues in the finale. All of a sudden the bad guys seem to teleport from floor forty to floor 120 in a wink. And what used to take an entire afternoon now takes three minutes. It’s clumsy and head-spinning.
One last complaint. The writers had the concept down. The concept is pretty cool. There is this massive silo, as I’ve described, and we have no idea if the reasonably large population of around 10,000 of this silo is the only remaining population on Earth. They have no idea who built the silo and why it was built. The have one camera that shows them outside. And outside looks like your typical post-apocalyptic wasteland. There is your tropey fascistic government entity that keeps tight control over the citizens. And there is clearly some social strata represented by your floor number and various other things. The population is controlled (since they have a finite amount of living space) in a very regimented way, and any object that is a reminder of the pre-silo days is basically illegal to own and is collected and trashed. There’s more to it, but this is basically it. But instead of taking that concept and kind of keeping that the monolithic core for the debut season, they go into this really overly confusing thing about a hard drive and a suicide that may not be a suicide and the poorly explained leadership hierarchy. How big is this police force exactly? We see a few of them, but if we’re to follow the new sheriff around as our protagonist, it would be nice to be sure what size force she commends, no? What power does the “mayor” really hold, and why is the “head of IT” made mayor when the old one dies mysteriously? Because that is not a succession plan anyone has ever thought would be a good idea.
And now that I’ve gone on about all the suckiness this series provided, I’ll get into the good stuff. But, frankly, I’m having a little trouble finding it. It started off way less sucky, but as I mentioned, they killed off a couple of the more interesting characters right off the bat and made us hang with Ferguson as our POV character for the next nine episodes. I’m going to start calling her No-Fun Ferguson, because she is a real bummer. Humorless and abrasive in a way that was just off-putting to me. Hmm, what else? I mean I watched all ten episodes, so you’d think there was something I enjoyed enough to get me through it other than my stubbornness and my completist nature. But I’m struggling to put a positive spin on it. I think I tried to lean into the overarching mystery of the genesis of the silo, as the minutia of the details just didn’t interest me. They felt repetitive and overly complicated for absolutely no reason. I’d say the narrative basically spins for about seven episodes until they finally get to the shiz I cared about. At least, based on that finale, the second season actually has a better foot to stand on. But we’ll see; this one’s going to be on a short leash.