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Silo isn’t afraid to kill its characters — and the show is better for it

Rebecca Ferguson stands on a catwalk in Silo.
Apple TV+

Warning: this article contains major spoilers for Silo episodes 1-4.

Silo is refreshingly ruthless. Based on a series of novels by Hugh Howey, the new sci-fi thriller comes from Justified creator Graham Yost, and it boasts the same kind of cutthroat drama as that beloved FX original. Over the course of its first three episodes, Silo, which is the latest addition to Apple TV+’s growing library of sci-fi dramas, has killed off not just one, but three of its major characters.

To make matters all the more shocking, many of the characters that Silo has killed off have been played by some of the show’s most recognizable stars. That includes Geraldine James’ Ruth Jahns, the honorable mayor who gets mysteriously poisoned at the end of Silo’s third installment. While it’s still unclear whether Rashida Jones’ Allison Becker and David Oyelowo’s Holston died when they walked outside of the show’s eponymous, underground silo as well, they’ve been, at the very least, narratively killed off for the time being by the sci-fi series.

What’s even more impressive than Silo’s willingness to say goodbye to some of its biggest stars is how well it has — forgive the pun — justified their exits. The deaths themselves haven’t just been shocking. They’ve also made Silo’s story feel all the more dangerous.

Ruth Jahns stands near a jail cell in Silo.
Apple TV+

Silo’s first episode revolves entirely around Allison and Holston Becker. Following its opening flashforward, the episode spends the majority of its runtime exploring how Jones’ Allison went from the content wife of Oyelowo’s Holston, their silo’s publicly appointed sheriff, to a distrustful woman desperate to leave her society behind. It’s not until the final minutes of Silo’s premiere that the series’ actual lead, a headstrong engineer named Juliette Nichols (Rebecca Ferguson), is introduced. Unfortunately, when it then looks like Ferguson’s Juliette will get to team up with Holston to uncover Silo’s greatest mysteries, the latter character follows in his wife’s footsteps and seemingly dies.

It’s only in its third and fourth episodes that Silo fully turns its attention to Juliette. The two installments, the latter of which recently premiered on Apple TV+, follow Ferguson’s mechanic as she reluctantly takes over Holston’s position as sheriff, much to the chagrin of both Tim Robbins’ Bernard and Common’s Robert Sims. It’s clear, thanks to some clues left behind by Holston, that there’s more going on beneath the surface of Silo’s central facility than meets the eye. The show’s opening episode also suggests that there are forces within its silo that are hellbent on ensuring that its deepest secrets never get out.

And therein lies the brilliance of Silo’s early deaths. In order for the show’s stakes to have any weight, viewers have to think that its characters — namely, Juliette — could actually get in real trouble if they look too deeply into the history of its fictional society. Jahns’ murder helps the series accomplish exactly that because it makes it clear that there are people within Silo’s titular structure that are willing to kill even its most seemingly untouchable of heroes in order to protect their own interests. Allison and Holston’s on-screen “deaths,” meanwhile, add a layer of uncertainty to whether or not Juliette would die if she got sent outside.

Marnes and Juliette stand near a door together in Silo.
Apple TV+

At the end of Silo’s most recent episode, it looks like Will Patton’s Deputy Marnes may have joined the show’s growing list of victims. Viewers will, of course, have to wait for the series’ next episode to drop to find out whether or not that’s actually the case. For now, though, things definitely don’t look good for Marnes, which means Silo may very well have killed off another one of its most recognizable stars, as well as one of its few morally righteous characters.

As bad as his death would obviously be for Marnes, too, it’d be even worse news for Ferguson’s Juliette. After introducing a number of potential allies for her, Silo has slowly but surely picked them off one by one. Therefore, if Marnes is dead, that not only means one of Silo’s few likable characters has died, but that Juliette is now even more alone as sheriff than she already was.

Killing off Marnes would also prove just how well Silo understands the function death can serve in a TV series. Up to this point, every single one of the show’s farewells has managed to both shock viewers and ratchet up the stakes of its story. In other words, Silo’s ruthless streak hasn’t just been shocking to witness. It’s also made the show far better than it might otherwise have been.

New episodes of Silo premiere Fridays on Apple TV+.

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Alex Welch
Alex is a TV and movies writer based out of Los Angeles. In addition to Digital Trends, his work has been published by…
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