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Silo season 1’s ending, explained

If you have been looking for something to fill the dystopian-sized hole in your TV schedule since the first season of The Last of Us ended, Apple TV+’s Silo is a more than worthy candidate. The sci-fi thriller, which has already been renewed for a second season and is arguably one of the best new shows this year, is a unique apocalyptic story delivered at an exciting pace that will keep you at the edge of your seat, yearning to learn what happens next, all the way through.

The story takes twists and turns that you might not see coming. While the end offers a satisfyingly horrifying resolution, it also leaves the door open for plenty more story to tell in the already confirmed season 2 of the hit Apple TV+ show.

What is the Silo?

Allison on a computer, Holston standing behind her in a scene from Silo on Apple TV+.
Apple TV+

The first and most important question is answered right from the beginning: what is the Silo? It’s a silo-shaped underground structure that’s hundreds of floors high. Survivors work, live, and communicate with one another, from the laborers on the ground floor to the elite on the upper levels. No one knows why, how, or by whom the silo was created. But they have all been told that the world outside is a dangerous wasteland.

How do they know? They get a glimpse through an oversized cafeteria window that shows the grey, lifeless land. They aren’t prisoners. Anyone who declares they want to “go outside” is granted that wish. But as everyone inside watches as the person leaves the facility in protective gear and presumably dies instantly, not many ever utter these two words.

Silo — "Don't Say It" Clip | Apple TV+

The story begins when the silo’s sheriff Holston (David Oyelowo) locks himself in a cell claiming he wants to go outside to find “her.” Flashback to years prior and the “her” he speaks of is his wife Allison (Rashida Jones). They were elated to be given “permission” to have Allison’s birth control device removed. But months, a full year later, they still can’t get pregnant. Skeptical about this, Allison meets George (Ferdinand Kingsley), a curious man who works in IT. He has suspicions, too, that not all is what it seems.

Desperate and angry at learning that she might have been duped, Allison cuts into her body to prove that the birth control device was never removed. She’s right. It turns out that those in charge didn’t think she was the right type of person to have a child but gave her false hope anyway.

Convinced that this is just one of many things she’s being lied to about, Allison makes that harrowing two-word request. After being suited up and walking outside, Holston looking on in horror, she seemingly falls lifeless to the ground. Years later, something (or someone) convinces Holston that he needs to go outside, too.

Enter Juliette

A man and a woman talk in Silo.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Pivotal to the plot is Holston’s meeting Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson), George’s close friend (later revealed to be his romantic partner) and the silo’s lead engineer. She is convinced George’s untimely death, which occurred long after Allison left, was no suicide. She believes he was murdered and Holston wants to know why.

Over time, Juliette begins to trust Holston and he, despite his fierce loyalty to the silo, can’t shake the feeling that her theories sound just like his late wife’s. The pair secretly investigate, and eventually, Holston decides he has to know the truth for himself, so he requests to go outside and names Juliette as his successor. Based on silo rules, Mayor Ruth (Geraldine James) wants to honor his request, despite her reservations about a lowly engineer with no experience in law enforcement being the preferred option of her cohorts.

After first rejecting the position, Juliette realizes the access would afford her the opportunity to dig deeper, taking her out of the dark depths of the basement and able to explore the entire silo. She might be able to make George’s death mean something and uncover the truth that they had been getting so close to before his death. But first, she has work to do fixing a bent blade in the turbine that’s crucial to the functioning of the silo.

Doing this requires a forced temporary black-out, and during the hours of blackness, the power momentarily glitches. Instead of a dark wasteland, an image of luscious greenery and birds appears on the massive screen residents look at all day. It’s just a split second, but it’s enough to make a few residents do a double-take. They quickly shake it off, reverting to the “no, it can’t be” state of blissful ignorance and blind following. Would they really want to “go outside” to find out? Is it worth the risk?

Juliette looking suspicious in a scene from Silo on Apple TV+.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Juliette doesn’t see this, but she continues to be suspicious. The discovery of every clue leads to the realization that she needs to tread lightly. She doesn’t know who she can trust.

Bernard (Tim Robbins), the head of IT, is opposed to her being appointed to the authoritative position. So is the head of security Sims (Common), who wanted his friend and deputy Paul Billings (Chinaza Uche) in the position instead. After several mysterious deaths, including shockingly Mayor Ruth and Holston’s former partner Deputy Marnes (Will Patton), Juliette is certain something sinister is going on. But what, why, and who is behind it?

‘I want to go outside’

Juliette looking scared in a scene from Silo on Apple TV+.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In a major twist, as Juliette gets closer to the truth, she discovers that both Bernard and Sims are in on a lie and cover-up, protecting secrets that are yet to be known.  After a high-action run through the Silo that involves kidnapping Sims’ wife, learning of secret cameras behind mirrors, and getting help from defectors in IT, the walls begin to close in. Sims and Bernard capture Juliette and tell the citizens she requested to “go outside,” though she did no such thing.

Terrified, Juliette is outfitted with the elaborate suit and, as is customary with everyone who leaves, is given a cleaning cloth to wipe the camera lens and give everyone a clearer view of the outside. The ritualistic act is typically a last move from former residents before seemingly perishing. As Juliette walks outside, breathing heavily, everyone in the silo looks on from the camera. She holds up the cloth then defiantly drops it to the ground. She refuses to submit.

How does season one of Silo end?

Bernard and Sims looking at something in a scene from Apple TV+'s Silo.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Juliette walks and trips over the presumed dead bodies of Allison and Holston, which she can’t actually see through the VR view in her suit, but recognizes by feel. She lays Holston’s badge down and notices something strange, like a projected image under her hand. She looks at the heat tape on her sleeve and recalls what Martha (Harriet Walter) told her. The mentor, mother figure, and skilled electrical engineer ensured she had this tape to provide adequate protection.

Juliette continues walking farther than anyone else has. Watching on, horrified, Bernard screams “She knows” and rushes to turn the system off. There’s something he doesn’t want – no, can’t have – the others see. Is it an illusion? A social experiment? Or is there really an uninhabitable wasteland outside, but other secrets that would upset the populace? When Bernard flips the switch, Juliette sees the same wasteland that’s viewable from inside the silo, and it goes on for miles and miles. But most shockingly, as she reaches the top of a hill, she sees other silos all around her. Maybe the wasteland is real and the picturesque scene is the lie. But why the secrets?

The fact is that no one has ever left the silo and returned. If they are truly dead or still alive, what the real world looks like, and most importantly, why, all remain a mystery. A secret tunnel Juliette once discovered might hold the key. But who on the inside is left to help? The mystery of the silo and the world outside will continue in season 2.

Stream Silo on Apple TV+.

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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