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Silo Recap: ‘I Want to Go Out!’ — Grade the Apple TV+ Drama Premiere

Apple TV+ this Friday invited you inside the Silo, a mile-deep structure inside of which live the last 10,000 people on a dystopian Earth. After sampling the first episode (of 10), will you keep watching? (Episode 2 is also streaming now on Apple TV+.)

Silo Episode 1 opens with a passage from a text known as The Pact, as said by Sheriff Holston (played by David Oyelowo) as we watch him ready to do the unthinkable:

We do not know why we are here.
We do not know who built the Silo.
We do not know why everything outside the Silo is as it is.
We do not know when it will be safe to go outside.
We only know that day is not this day.

In this “current day” timeline, we see Holston at home tightening the screws on a vent cover (hmmm…) and then scribbling a note (“Double the flowers in front of the mirror,” hmmm) upon which he lays his sheriff’s star. He reports to work and tells his No. 1, Deputy Marnes (Will Patton), to meet him in Holding 3. There, Marnes finds Holston locking himself into a cell, pointing at a window (monitor) with a view of the outside and saying, “I want to see her.” Marnes dreads what comes next, Holston declaring, “I want to go out.”

We jump back a few years, where Holston and his wife Allison (Rashida Jones) learn that that they’ve been approved to try to conceive, within a 365-day window. This results in many congrats from the community, and an unwanted visit from a kooky fertility counselor, whom Holston shoos away. Husband and wife then visit the doctor, who appears to excise the birth control capsule implanted in Allison’s abdomen.

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After Allison gets admonished by Bernard (Tim Robbins), her boss in the IT department, she grumbles to Holston at home about all the “rules” they must follow. For example, since “the rebels” erased their history by destroying all files and burning all books, “Why can’t we ask questions? And why do people get sent to the mines if they have a ‘relic’ from before times?” Bernard reminds her that The Pact, from which the rules come, is “the only history we have,” and if there wasn’t order, “rulebreakers would open the door and we’d all be done.”

After some 200 days pass without any luck on the baby front, Allison stumbles into a conversation with the fertility counselor, who very privately poses the question: “Do you really think you’re the kind of person they want having children?” Later at work, Allison gets assigned an IT call to help George, a programmer from “the mids” (middle levels out of 144), and since Holston will be busy policing Freedom Day, she begins the overnight trek down the spiral staircase. Mayor Jahns, meanwhile, remarks to Holston and Marnes how dirty the viewing window to the outside has gotten — which she is reminded is a good thing, since it means no one has been sent “to clean.”

George, it turns out, has been filing ticket after ticket waiting for Allison to be assigned his case. After all, he spent “a small fortune” to print out her since-removed “how-to” on recovering deleted files. George produces a hard drive that someone brought to him after finding it under the carpet in a closet. Allison freaks out a bit at the sight of this very illegal “relic,” and upon managing to boot it up/see the mass of files inside, she bails on this illicit endeavor. “This could be the key to everything” they don’t know, George contends, but Allison as a sheriff’s wife knows all too well that if caught, they will be sent to “clean.”

Allison’s curiosity gets the better of her, though — especially after another confab with the fertility counselor — so she takes a day off to “go to the market” but actually show up at George’s saying,”I want to see everything.” And after a while of hitting dead ends, the opening of “just one more” file pops onto their screen a video of the outside, which is not grim and grey and dead, but beautiful, with happy birds in the sky.

When the babymaking clock hits “000” days and Allison is a no-show for a doctor check-in, Holston finds her at home with the faucet on (to thwart any surveillance mics). She attests that “they were never gonna let us” have a baby, because they are not the “docile, obedient” type that Pact enforcers want procreating. Holston counters that he saw them remove her birth control, but Allison makes clear, “No, you didn’t” — and she knows this because she just carved the actual device out of her belly, with a kitchen knife!

We next see Allison, bleeding from her makeshift surgery, alerting the crowd at the dining area that the view outside is bogus, that it is really “green trees and blue skies and things flying in the sky.” When Holston and others try to calm her down, Allison apologizes to her husband but insists there was no other way. She then bellows those five damning words: “I WANT TO GO OUT!”

Afterward, a compassionate Mayr Jahns tries to find a loophole to spare Allison, but as Holston himself must note, The Pact boils down to one rule: Don’t say you wanna go outside if you don’t f–kng want to go outside. When Holston visits his wife in her Holding 3 cell, she tells him, without specifics that might incriminate him, that “what they told us isn’t true,” and that the “big thing” she discovered is that the view of the outside is being altered to obscure the idyllic reality. Allison points out that those who get sent to clean always swear that they won’t fulfill that duty — and yet they are always seen wiping off the camera lens. That, she suggests, is because they hope that doing so will expose the lie.

SiloAllison tells her husband that if she gets outside and finds it is grim and deadly, she absolutely will not clean the lens. But if she confirms her theory that life is hunky-dory outside, she will. And after Holston leads the small ceremony that prefaces her send-off, Allison passes through a disinfecting airlock… walks up a ramp… and steps through the large steel door that opens at the top. Holston watches the viewing window as Allison walks to the hill just outside, then turn around and wipes clean the lens, with a smile. She then begins her trek over the hill… but collapses. She gets back up, to the dining hall’s cheers… only to collapse again, lifeless in her protective suit.

We jump ahead to “Two Years Later,” where Marnes informs Holston that George the programmer, who had since transferred to mechanical, has been found dead, having fallen over the railing from Level 120. It’s being chalked up as a suicide, but Marnes says that one of the engineers insists that it was murder. Marnes and Holston travel down to mechanical to meet this engineer, Juliette, who is busy fixing a fussy generator.

The premiere ends with a leap forward to the “present,” where Holston in his cell explains to Marnes that he is going to go find Allison, even though the window seems to show her dead body still splayed on the hill.

“I’ve got to know the truth.”

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