Silo: Season One   Books Included 
May 5, 2023 7:07 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

In a toxic dystopian future, a highly regulated community lives and works in a giant underground silo, forbidden from ever visiting the surface.

Apple TV's latest, based on Hugh Howey's Wool. Starring Rebecca Ferguson, Rashida Jones, David Oyelowo and Tim Robbins. Created by Graham Yost (Justified, Slow Horses, Band of Brothers).

Shades of Fallout, strong worldbuilding and notable actors make this a potentially interesting watch. I've included the Silo books series in the discussion since the episodes screened so far follow Wool fairly closely.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (38 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The second episode diverges from Wool enormously halfway through, and it feels like they're not letting the mystery of the silo develop at all. Disappointing start so far for me.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 9:23 PM on May 5, 2023

i found the music totally distracting. it sounds just like Westworld, and i kept thinking about those plotlines. the acting is good, i will keep watching to see where it goes. i haven't read the books.
posted by lapolla at 10:47 PM on May 5, 2023 [3 favorites]

When I was in my teens, back in the nineties and early 2000s, movies showed command prompts and tape reels if they wanted to convey “this is an old-fashioned computer!” Now, CRTs, wired mice, and email clients that look like AOL or Prodigy are sufficient. I feel old; I’m gonna lie down and shop for canes on Amazon, right after shooing those kids off my lawn. 😁
posted by Mr. Excellent at 6:19 AM on May 6, 2023 [10 favorites]

If you, like me, were going "wait, didn't we already see this?", that was 2014's Ascension featuring Tricia Helfer.

I'm sure they're completely different, but the trailer gave me a hell of a sense of deja vu.
posted by Kyol at 7:25 AM on May 6, 2023 [3 favorites]

I liked the first episode OK. It felt a little thin / low budget, like a SyFy channel special. Don't love the actors other than David Oyelowo. The production design seems good though. They definitely embraced the cost-savings implicit in set design for such a small world. I loved the lotek computers, particularly the square CRTs. Some Max Headroom vibes for me.

How does a whole season post work when the show is still being dribbled out? Do we just discuss with full spoilers as soon as an episode is released?
posted by Nelson at 10:31 AM on May 6, 2023 [3 favorites]

Watched the first two episodes. Lukewarm. It's the type of subject that can be right up my alley, but the execution here feels low effort and thin. Not just the budget, but the cinematography, the acting and especially the writing. I'll probably watch the rest as I did get more interested as it went on. But I don't have high hopes for this show.
posted by SoberHighland at 6:57 AM on May 7, 2023 [1 favorite]

How does a whole season post work when the show is still being dribbled out? Do we just discuss with full spoilers as soon as an episode is released?

posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:03 AM on May 7, 2023

I read the books long enough ago that I don't remember the details.....I'm liking it so far.
posted by Spumante at 6:58 AM on May 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

Hmm. I'm in, and I don't hate the changes from the book too much yet. But I liked the books enough (the first one anyway) that some of potential changes are already starting to rub me the wrong way. Since we didn't see what Holston saw after he removed his helmet, are they telling us that the world outside really is green?
posted by Mchelly at 12:43 PM on May 9, 2023

He died instantaneously after removing his helmet, so I assume things are still dusty and bleak out there.
posted by Uncle Ira at 8:43 AM on May 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

I read the books a long time ago, and don’t remember a lot of details of the story. I think I had an easier time suspending my disbelief than I’m having with the show. The whole turbine thing felt paper thin.

But I do like the set design and several of the actors, so I’m along for the ride.
posted by boogieboy at 12:46 PM on May 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

I'm not super happy with the divergences I'm seeing from the books, but some things do not translate well to screen and I get that there's a need to show, not tell.

The thing I hate the worst? Tim Robbins should not be Bernard. Bernard's described as a "small man" with a "plump little belly" when Jahns and Marnes meet up with him on their way down to meet Juliette. Neither of those things describe Tim Robbins. They describe, like, Paul Giamatti.
posted by hanov3r at 10:41 AM on May 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

Are people really looking at this very obviously CGI-generated "outside" video loop that's playing inside the cleaners' rigged helmets and thinking it looks like REAL blue sky and green vegetation, denoting a healthy exterior atmosphere?

Because when I see the loops on that hard drive Alison found playing reflected back in her glasses, and inside the rigged cleaners' helmets, all I see is color-corrected bright greens and blues that look anything but 100% natural to me. Like, it's just a few shades off someone basically cribbing the Microsoft background, only with bonus CGI birds. And while that's an iconic/idyllic photo, Microsoft admitted to cropping it and enhancing the color green to make it "pop" visually vs. the original version uploaded to Corbis.

I mean, I guess if I grew up in an underground Silo and had NO concept of television, computer-generated imagery or color-correction software, I might think I was looking at a healthy landscape through my helmet when I went out to clean. And of course I'd want people to see what I was seeing, though I'd probably stand in front of the window and try to spell out "it looks normal to me" with rocks or something where everyone inside could read it.

With my luck, though, I'd spell out "it looks no" and then collapse dramatically into a human semicolon, scaring off a whole generation of potential cleaners.

Anyway, I loved the books a great deal and literally signed up for Apple TV just to watch this show. I'm enjoying it so far, though I can see why some people would be upset by the TV writers compressing the first 3 books into essentially 1.5 TV episodes (and skipping over a good deal of world-building and character development as well).

It definitely feels like they're trying to rush into the "good parts" of the story in case Apple cancels after 1-2 seasons.

In a world where nonsensical, derivative trash shows like NBC's La Brea get greenlighted for 3 seasons, I'll gladly take a less-than-perfect adaptation of Silo.

P.S. Yes I saw the flicker on the big cafeteria window during episode 3. I think IT controls all screens throughout the Silo, and it's very possible that 1-second flash of "green/normal outside" is yet another prompt to keep conspiracy theorists busy whispering about what's "really" going on so they don't have to wait 3 more years for the next cleaner to step out.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:57 AM on May 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

I'm still trying hard to reconcile what they've changed and where they're trying to take this. I admit I'm a bit of a book purist, and I did like the books. But I was also really happy with the recent adaptation of Pachinko, and for the first time possibly ever, I thought the film adaptation was actually better than the original in the (non Apple TV) Station Eleven series, because of some of the things they decided to change. So I'd like to think I'm open to mixing things up.

But it really does seem like they're trying to suggest that the world outside is actually green? But also oversaturated and weirdly green and blue? If it's fake, why make the big screen have that capability - only altering the visor screens makes far more sense. If it's real, why are the colors so otherworldly? I also understand that having everything running out and breaking down with all the attendant civil unrest makes for great drama, but for me that kills the book's tension that everything in the Silo is fine, and no one in their right mind would want to go out - not just because it's a punishable offense, but because they believe the silo is literally the only place in the world that's safe. Right now it just feels like a refugee camp where everyone wants out and things keep getting worse. But I like Unicorn on the cob's theory that maybe they need the occasional conspiracy theorist so they can have a steady stream of people to push out to clean.

As far as this latest episode (3) goes, I do like how they keep playing up Juliette's fear of drowning. If they do get to her underwater episode in book 2, it will play out really well. And I thought the drama of the fix was really well done. Though Ferguson's American accent completely disappears every time she yells or otherwise shows fear. I also wish they had showed that IT still has power even when the generators power down. I don't remember how / when they revealed it in the books, but in the books they also had "power holidays" as a very infrequent but occasional thing, and IT always fought them because they said they needed the power - which made it more impactful when it turned out they actually didn't.
posted by Mchelly at 12:42 PM on May 15, 2023 [4 favorites]

Another book vs movie thing that’s really bothering me - and I just saw it popping up in the non-book thread: having the set design of the center of the silo be wide open with lots of room around the open stairway just hammers in the question of why they haven’t invented / included elevators. In the book they not only explicitly said why from a malicious design perspective, they also built the silos in such a way that elevators couldn’t be built later - there was no open space available to put them, and the floors were concrete so a shaft couldn’t be carved out.

This looks cool, but it also makes the residents look like idiots.
posted by Mchelly at 5:23 AM on May 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

I wonder how much they plan to cover of Shift. I just re-read it, and man, I either forgot how grim it was or it didn't really affect me the first time around, but holy yikes.

I also wonder where they're going with Judicial here. It's barely a thing in the books at all; the power is in IT. So I wonder if they're going in a different direction for the actual plot contrivances.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:27 PM on May 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

Pretty disappointed after episode 5 - definitely a book purist I guess. The changes make no sense. Judicial was not a thing in the books, and Tim Robbins as Bernard is more genial companion than conniving adversary. There's no thread of tension.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:05 PM on May 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

Agreed. They took everything I liked about the books away, and now it's about the Silo has dumb rules, plus chase scenes? Even the scene with Lucas, which was such a nice moment in the books, got hit with a stupid stick. No one ever noticed there were lights in the sky before? But when you look at the screen you can see a whole sky full of constellations and they're all really bright?

And now the IT control room isn't even Judicial, it's in the janitor's closet? Why? To make a class point? If so, then is Mechanical above or below Janitorial in the class pyramid?
posted by Mchelly at 7:45 PM on May 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

So now there’s a “syndrome” too? I’m trying really hard to hang on here, and the very last scenes of this latest episode (6) were well done, but I really don’t care about George or their relationship or even the hard drive. If someone doesn’t say something about the non-IT heat tape failing soon I really don’t know what it is I’m watching anymore. How many episodes are there going to be?
posted by Mchelly at 7:20 PM on June 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

In a recent episode of Triforce podcast the guys were discussing full season releases versus weekly episodes. I can think of successful examples of both - Beef (2023) was a full season dump and I couldn't have binged that if I wanted to, Severance (2022) was weekly and the better for it.

With Silo, I watched the first two episodes, immediately bought the book trilogy, and had binged the books by the time episode 4 was released. Now I'm watching week to week and feeling disappointed in the show. There are elements being set up (Judicial) or ignored (Bernard's entire personality) that leave me having to accept this is an adaptation, and it remains to be seen if it is a good one or not.
posted by Molesome at 1:54 AM on June 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

Just re-reading Wool Omnibus now and holy cats but they changed so, so much. Can't tell if it's for the better or not; I'm liking the TV show less and less every episode so I'm pessimistic. The book is so well written as a book. As a self-published serial, at that. Tightly written, good story, compelling page turners. Pacing's a little weird occasionally but basically it works really well as a book. The TV show is.. OKish? Not great. And many of the additions they've made don't seem for the better (like the expanded role of Sims.) I do like how they did more with Walker though, she's great in the show.
posted by Nelson at 6:25 AM on June 19, 2023 [2 favorites]

I agree so much! I do like how they changed Walker’s character, and the new take on Juliette’s mother. But otherwise? I don’t know if I’m more relieved or amazed that I’m not the only one left here who liked the books who’s still following this…

I was glad to see the reveal that yes, Bernard is still the Big Bad. And I’m guessing the plan is for this series to end on a cliffhanger where she goes out to clean… and finds the other silo. But so many of the things they changed are so stupid. If they want to create a world where troublemakers can’t reproduce, why not just have their numbers never come up in the lottery? Why have the “no elevators” rule at all except to allow them to keep the pretty set design? If they’re banning relics, why are there so damn many of them, and allowances, and yet no one else has any questions about what came before? And surely that Georgia book would be more nuclear than anything on a hard drive that no one can read without a lot of knowledge and high access? Wouldn’t someone care more about the whereabouts of that relic?

It’s a tangent, but I loved Severance for most of the reasons I’m hating this. So many dangling weird mysteries that seem to only be mysterious for their own sake. I don’t know if it’s because I read the books and hate the changes, or because in Severance the inability to solve any mysteries is the point, but every new conflict just feels so gratuitous. I can’t stop watching, but I’m resenting it.
posted by Mchelly at 2:27 PM on June 19, 2023

Mchelly, my thought is they'll justify who gets to procreate (and insist on people reporting they have The Syndrome to doctors/judicial) because it's a type of spontaneous prion disease. If this is the conceit, then Bernard et al are allegedly "perpetuating the greater good" by helping to minimize that as a potential Silo-ending genetic disorder by tracking who gets it and refusing to allow them to have children by removing those names from the Baby Lottery.

This seems like a likely explanation they've used in the past to maintain order in the Silo, but who knows. I'm a fellow book reader who obsessively loved the series, and my husband and I talk about the heat tape issue pretty much every. single. week.

Like. SURELY in ep 10 we'll see Jules insisting on using her stolen heat tape on the Cleaning suit, yeah? But if they say nothing until that moment, then... I don't even know. For something that's so crucial to the plot and that they mentioned at the very beginning of the TV series, it's weird to just drop it for the entire first season.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:07 AM on June 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

Just finished Wool Omnibus and I'd forgotten how much book there is after Juliette goes out. Definitely a second season, and I agree the season cliffhanger will be when Juliette is sent out and/or Bernard calls another silo. I also agree that the heat tape needs more setup, but it's been mentioned enough in the show for them to make it work. No idea at all where they're going with The Syndrome.

The other puzzle in book changes are the tunnel digging machines. They're mentioned in the book but not until very late and end up being a bit of a red herring. But we see them quite early in the show, implying they want to do more with them. IIRC those become relevant much later in Howey's novels; that'd be a fourth season at the earliest if the show follows the book's plotting. Maybe we're just shown them early as a way of creating some mystery in the TV show.

Why have the “no elevators” rule at all

That's addressed in an interesting aside in Wool Omnibus, when the book dives in to the Robbers Cave study and related psychological experiments from the 50s. Basically it's a form of social control, to keep people isolated. It's one of the more interesting parts of the story IMHO.

OTOH why have a "no magnification" rule at all? That's not in the book, indeed Walker's use of magnifying glasses is a plot point mentioned several times. (They're expensive and rare in the book, but not forbidden). Maybe it's a stand in for how IT Judicial doesn't want people looking too closely at things.
posted by Nelson at 10:07 AM on June 21, 2023

I totally understand why there are no elevators in the books - but there the silos were also structurally designed so that there’s no room for them (and they also later talk about how they reinforced the floors so that none could be drilled later and as a way to eliminate / implode a silo altogether). But in the series, theres no way to see it as anything but a crowd control thing. I just think it’s a stupid change, and it makes the society / leadership seem stupid. The amount of usefulness a simple pulley system would give for transporting goods or injured people - it’s just ridiculous that it’s “not allowed.” I genuinely think it was written in because they wanted the pretty set design.

I agree that the no magnification thing makes no sense either, but it doesn’t make me as angry.
posted by Mchelly at 10:37 AM on June 21, 2023

there the silos were also structurally designed so that there’s no room for them

I've seen that in this thread a few times. I just reread the Omnibus and I don't remember ever seeing that description. But, didn't book!George die by purported suicide by jumping/being thrown to his death?
posted by hanov3r at 12:55 PM on June 21, 2023

I don’t remember how he died - but I know other people did die from going over the rails when there were stampedes or violence on the stairs. I think I remember there was a central column of some sort, and they mention landings on some floors, but not a wide open central area. In the silo in Shift (can we talk about book sequels here?) they mention they put the elevators into Silo 1, but the architect was then asked to change the plans of the other silos to move some structural elements over where the shafts had been.

Sorry if I’m talking too much in this thread. The set and the heat tape are killing me. Speaking of the set, why do all the apartments have an almost spherical rounded wall? The silo is enormous. There’s no way it could have that small a curve, let alone however many dozens of them on a floor. Grr.
posted by Mchelly at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

Huh well episode 9 takes it in a far different direction than the book. Lukas is burned early, Bernard knows he knows Juliette, which makes the setup for most of the second half of Wool Omnibus impossible. Also the Big Mystery in the show is some door under the water in the void below. That's not in the Wool book at all, maybe it's in one of the later ones, anyway they're going somewhere different with it. It's fine, could be entertaining, just disorienting since I just re-read the book.

They've hammered home the number 18, albeit without explaining what it signifies. I suspect that'll be the big reveal in the final episode, maybe also with the secret of the faked video of the outside.
posted by Nelson at 9:09 PM on June 23, 2023

I'm just here to recommend the BingeTownTV Silo podcast for people who've read the books and are also watching the show - I think it's probably fine for non-book-readers also, but they did do an interview with Hugh Howey that some mind find mildly spoiler-y.

My husband and I were talking about some of the fakeouts the show's already done to keep book-readers on their toes, like the "wake him up" line at the end of episode 4, I think? And yet, show-only viewers assumed "him" meant "Sims" or maybe "Bernard" rather than someone we haven't seen before... or talking about the Rebellion, blurring the references between the 140-years-ago uprising mentioned in the show and the one Mechanical plans only after events we haven't seen yet unfold in the books... and that the "magnification" issue is really a HUGE spoilery hint about events revealed much later on in Shift.

I mean, I guess the intent is to move different chess pieces around to keep book-readers equally engaged as show-only viewers without totally ruining the story. So far I'm still in 100%, but it seems a lot of people are unhappy with the changes in the show. I'll be far more interested to see how they handle the rest of Book 1's resolution in S2, since I found the transition from Wool to Shift rather jarring in the books.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

Having watched the season finale I’m kind of meh on the show so far. It’s had some good moments, but it seems to me the books got away with the more implausible bits of world-building better than the show? I read the books when they came out and i don’t remember having my suspension of disbelief broken so many times.

Were people sent to “the mines” in the books? It felt idiotic to me to have mines with iron ore? Especially considering the final shot
posted by boogieboy at 5:08 AM on June 30, 2023

The books mention that the silo has a mine, though it doesn't ever show you anything about it. Nobody gets sent to the mines though, I don't think it's ever shown as a punishment, just a job.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:18 PM on June 30, 2023

Yeah, the silos are built over "ore veins", presumably so the generations to come can access resources of some kind?

I feel like the last 5 minutes was the best five minutes of the series, and the only part that they really did nicely in line with the book. The "syndrome" and all the other distraction BS made no sense when you gave such good bones for a story already. And now Lucas is off the table, eliminating a huge plot line from the coming books. Eh. We'll see I guess.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 8:20 PM on June 30, 2023

I was entertained by the TV but disappointed at how poorly they adapted the book. As I said above, I recently re-read it. And one real pleasure was seeing how effectively Howey sets up the whole reveal about the heat tape and the display screens. It's woven through a lot of the narrative, dribbled out over chapters, and doesn't quite come together until near the end when Juliette and her friends in mechanical also put it together. It's the gears in the puzzle box meshing together to unlock the mystery.

Here it was a lot more rushed. The heat tape was mentioned early on in the show, sure, but not in any clear way. And then everything has to be explained in like three minutes this last episode. There's none of the building of the rivalry / respect between Mechanical and Supply, that's all substituted with a 30 second scene here of Walker visiting her supply counterpoint and asking for help.

And the display in the suit... Was that even explained in the show at all? The book makes a big point about how these images and artifacts that are just the right size (4" x 9"?) keep turning up in different contexts and no one quite knows what it means until the very end, when Juliette puts it all together and has the Big Epiphany. It's a magical moment in the book. In the TV show, is it even clear she has a display in front of her at all? On screen we get these big shots of this clear thin plexiglass screen on her face, her lit up face behind it, and it sure doesn't look like an artificial display in any way. Also we had that fake-out in episode 2 or 3 where the display screen in the cafeteria supposedly glitched out showing the green world. How does that make any sense if the fake display is for the cleaner helmet? It just didn't hold together.

Meh, nitpicking from the book. Still entertaining TV and judging by the other Fanfare thread folks got the main points and weren't troubled by these details. So it worked. I'm a little surprised they didn't show Bernard calling another silo though, nor anything about setting up Lukas to be read in on the big secret.
posted by Nelson at 9:12 PM on June 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

My husband, son, and I all watched the whole show without having read the books and thought it was a boring incoherent mess. Now I’m more than halfway through the Wool book and have just been texting them updates “hey, it’s not garbage! It makes sense!” I really like the book and wish I’d known about it before the show.
posted by artychoke at 9:10 PM on July 3, 2023 [1 favorite]

We have a book related question in the show only post if someone from here could take a (book spoiler free) look? Removing this from my recent activity to avoid book spoilers!
posted by ellieBOA at 5:57 AM on July 4, 2023

I read the books and was trying to decide if I wanted to watch the tv show. This thread makes me think I don't want to? I looked at the cast list out of curiosity, and I noticed it was quite diverse. My interpretation of the books is that the inhabitants of the silo are deliberately NOT diverse, and even if they started out as a diverse group, after many generations of inbreeding, it seems like they would kind of even out. Does this get addressed in the show?
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:19 AM on August 17, 2023

The show's fun, you will be entertained if you watch it. I complained about details here but basically it's a successful TV adaptation.

I don't recall any addressing of the racial or linguistic diversity inside the Silo. It seems unusual to me. Particularly different accents. It's not clear how many generates old the Silo is from the show (or the book?) but even after two generations you'd expect the accents to even out. The cultural diversity between different groups and different floors is a theme in the show though, albeit a background one.
posted by Nelson at 9:57 AM on August 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

It's not clear how many generates old the Silo is from the show (or the book?)

One of the later books is pretty clear about the dates of important events - the precipitating event that sends people into the Silos happened in 2052 while Juliette's trip to Silo 17 happens in 2345. Just about 300 years; "generation" is normally defined as between 20 and 30 years, so 10 to 15 generations.
posted by hanov3r at 11:35 AM on August 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

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