Apple TV+ dystopian sci-fi hit Silo investigates a high-profile murder and a hero’s childhood this week.
The show, about the last people on Earth living in hellish conditions underground, follows new Sheriff Juliette Nichols as she gets wrapped up in her first homicide investigation with Deputy Marnes. Plus, it delves into her past as she remembers the circumstances under which she became a machinist.
As this show progresses, it gets a little better with each episode and each twisty plot development.
Silo recap: ‘Truth’
Season 1, episode 4: In this week’s episode, entitled “Truth,” it’s the first day of Juliette Nichols’ (Rebecca Ferguson) new job: sheriff of the silo. And already she’s got her first case. Someone poisoned the mayor of the silo, Ruth Jahns (Geraldine James), which means that head of I.T. Bernard (Tim Robbins) becomes mayor until they can hold an election.
Bernard and Justice Sims (Common) want to keep the murder quiet, much to the chagrin of Deputy Marnes (Will Patton), who was in love with Jahns from way back and finally got around to telling her recently. Marnes wants to raise hell about her death, and resents that Juliette is here to start her job as his boss.
Her reception is frosty everywhere. Sheriff Holston’s (David Oyelowo) old secretary, Sandy (Chipo Chung), makes it clear she doesn’t love her new boss. Sensing that Sandy has a prejudice against people from the lower levels, Juliette cuts through performative pleasantries and starts asking for things.
First, she wants to see the file on her friend and love interest, George Wilkins (Ferdinand Kingsley), who was killed a few months back. Holston was investigating — that’s how he and Juliette met. She was sure George was murdered, though the official story was that his death was an accident or a suicide. Juliette knows better. George had found artifacts from before the world was shunted into the silo. Maybe he knew even more than he was telling Juliette. Maybe that’s why they killed him.
A flashback to growing up in the silo
Juliette has flashbacks to her lonely childhood living on the bottom floor of the silo. She was raised by her dad, Dr. Pete Nichols (Iain Glen), after her mom and brother died of congenital health conditions. Peter didn’t want Juliette to be so independent, but she was anyway — fiercely so.
She cleared the house of reminders of their departed family members, started learning how to fix things on her own, but was also absent-minded in her quest to do so. Pete found her starting a kitchen fire one day as she was too busy trying to fix his chair, so he decided to indulge her industrious side.
Juliette went down to the silo’s mechanical level to apprentice with a machinist, who we know as Martha Walker (Harriet Walter). And thus began Juliette’s career, scavenging recycled materials to fix, a job usually left to criminals. To do this, she forged a note from her dad, who only found out days later that Juliette disappeared to somewhere. He would be worried, but instead he asks her one question: “Are you happy?” She says she’s just happy not to have to think about her losses.
Back to the present
Juliette gets pulled out of her melancholy reverie by an emergency call. Marnes is down a few flights, beating the hell out of a bootlegger named Franky Brown (Lee Drage), who poisoned some people with bad booze a few years back. Marnes, having no other leads in the poisoning of Mayor Jahns, starts beating him up for info in full view of dozens of people.
Juliette calms Marnes down and tells him the whole story — how Holston came to her to talk about George, how he believed her story that George was murdered, and that after Holston committed suicide by going outside, he sent her his badge with the word “truth” carved into it.
Marnes isn’t happy to be working with Juliette on the case of his dead girlfriend, but he trusts that she’s actually here to do some good. Marnes remains convinced that he was the target of Jahns’ assassin, though.
This means trouble
That night, Sims pays Marnes a visit. They talk about their theories about who killed Jahns, about a guy named Patrick Kennedy (Rick Gomez) and his wife Doris, who had a grudge against Marnes before she died. Kennedy punches Marnes when he and Juliette came around to ask questions.
Sims tells Marnes they have a candidate for sheriff all lined up, a guy named Paul Billings (Chinaza Uche), who seems like he’s going to fall in line with Judicial’s wishes. Marnes isn’t much in the mood to help anyone but he knows better than to ruffle Judicial feathers unnecessarily. That’s all well and good except for one thing: the assassin (likely sent by Judicial) waiting in Marnes’ apartment.
Juliette runs into Lukas Kyle (Avi Nash) while making her rounds. He’s the guy who helped Holston’s wife, Alison (Rashida Jones), uncover secret documents regarding the history of the silo. She doesn’t know who Lukas is, or that the hard drive she’s looking for from Holston’s possessions was one that he debugged for Alison initially. She goes back to Holston’s office and finds something in the vent. A secret folder he had hidden away which has George Wilkins’ citizen file in it.
Truth and trying matter
Will Patton is so good on this show. He’s reached the point in his career where he knows he’s done a lifetime of good and can just sort of drift through some roles, doing whatever occurs to him, rather than what a character might call for. Robert Duvall got there about 10 years ago; Brando got there in the ’60s and never looked back.
Patton has certainly earned the right to not give a shit after decades of incredible work, but it’s nice to know after seeing something like Minari — where he’s plainly just doing whatever, because his director didn’t show up — that he can still really hit you in the gut with his work. Shame the Silo writers kill off his character!
Also, and this has nothing to do with anything, but it’s funny to see Sienna Guillory, who plays Juliette’s dead mother, and Iain Glen share the screen again for the first time, unless I’m mistaken, since Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
Finally, I also liked the little glimpse of Harriet Walter’s character Martha wrestling with her own concerns for Juliette’s safety. Walter did some very subtle work in only a few seconds of screen time.
So far, Silo seems a little slackly paced, but it’s not really a problem because the cast is so good. It feels easier with each episode to become engrossed in the show’s central mystery.
Watch Silo on Apple TV+
New episodes of Silo arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper and But God Made Him A Poet: Watching John Ford in the 21st Century, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.