Silo Season 1 Ending Explained: What’s Outside the Silo?

What's left of the outside world? We find out in the Silo season 1 finale.

Chinaza Uche in "Silo," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Photo: Apple TV+

This article contains spoilers for Silo season 1.

Featuring an exciting and eclectic cast, including Rebecca Ferguson, Common, David Oyelowo, Rashida Jones, and Tim Robbins – Apple TV+’s Silo is one of this year’s must-see offerings in the world of streaming. The series was developed and created by Graham Yost, who has forever gained the trust of millions of television watchers with his writing on The Americans, Band of Brothers, and his creation of the stellar neo-Western, Justified. Yost has always been known for his encapsulating character-driven drama, but Silo is one of the more creative works of his career. 

Based on the Wool series of novels by Hugh Howey, Silo takes place in a non-specific dystopian timeline where it seems the only surviving humans are all living in a massive underground silo. For over a hundred years, as far as they can recollect, humans have been surviving not knowing what happened on the unlivable, barren surface to force the “Founders” to build the silo and begin rebuilding human civilization. The season 1 finale offers up some answers while raising even more questions. 

Who Killed George Wilkins? 

There were so many deaths in the first few episodes, including Allison Becker (Rashida Jones) who volunteered to “go outside” breaking the cardinal rule of the silo. That was followed by the mysterious death of George Wilkins (Ferdinand Kingsley), which brought Sheriff Holston Becker (David Oyeloyo) and Juliette Nichols (Rebecca Ferguson) together, as Juliette insisted her former lover’s death was a murder.  

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This unraveled more mysteries, including the fact that Allison and George uncovered something massive. One of the other laws that Judicial enforces within the silo is that no one should ever come into possession of a “relic” – anything that is a piece of the pre-silo history of humanity. This could be something as innocuous as a wrist watch or a Pez-dispenser, or something worth killing over. 

George tells Allison that he’s come across a disc drive which could contain anything in terms of forbidden information, perhaps even holding a sacred truth about the history of the silo. When the two uncover a video on the drive that shows a lush and liveable surface world, it has them questioning why the silo exists at all, and why the politicians of the silo would keep it a secret. It was such a massive mystery in fact, that Holston, much like his wife, volunteered to “go outside”, or what the people of the Silo call “cleaning” to get to the bottom of things, a choice that undoubtedly meant both their deaths in the toxic wasteland outside.

While he may not have solved George’s death, one thing Holston was permitted to do before he went out to clean was name his successor, a right every former sheriff is allowed. To everyone’s surprise, he names Juliette, a woman with no previous experience within law. Juliette reluctantly accepts the position as there is a drive within her to get to the truth of everything. She had a traumatic experience with the government coming after her mother when Juliette was still a child, and this sparked a need to always get to the truth of the matter. She seemingly created that same spark in the emotionally dead Holston as well, while they were investigating what George and Allison were up to. Before his death on the outside, Holston left several clues about the truths he had discovered, and while she originally accepts in order to solve George’s murder, Juliette, like George, Allison and Holston before her gets more than she bargained for.

Juliette, with the guidance of all of these clues discovers that the Silo is being manipulated by the newly appointed Mayor Bernard Holland (Tim Robbins), once the head of IT, but now a man who runs the entire silo. Holland came into power after the mysterious murder of the former mayor (Geraldine James). Coupled with his pitbull from Judicial, Robert Sims (Common), Holland is seemingly hiding massive secrets from the public, including controlled breeding to help quell rebellious families and of course, the contents of the drive.

As Juliette unravels more and more, Holland and Sims even frame her, saying she asked to go outside to eliminate the rebel rouser, and ensure the truth of the silo, whatever that may be, is not revealed. Before she is sent to clean, Juliette is permitted to see the unedited footage of George’s death, and sadly, it was, in fact, suicide. George did so to seemingly protect Juliette, and possibly escape an even worse fate. 

What Does Juliette See Outside the Silo? 

With the drive destroyed, and George’s death resolved, there is sadly nothing left but for Juliette to accept her fate and head outside. Yet she was able to ask one more favor of her brethren in the lower levels of the silo. These men and women are the lifeblood of the entire civilization, and know how things work, and so Juliette has a theory about the heat tape Judicial uses when sealing someone in their hazmat suit before sending them outside. 

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Juliette, sealed in this new tape, heads outside and sees the same thing that Allison and Holston both saw – a beautiful lush landscape, not the hideous barren desert they see on the view screens inside the silo. But before she gives in to the beauty, as always, she digs a little deeper to find the truth.

Juliette discovers that it is the visuals being fed to her helmet that is the lie. The greenscape Allison, Holston and all those sent to clean before saw was merely that same video Allison discovered on the drive. Juliette pokes the ground and sees the holographic images phase away temporarily. She leaves the sheriff’s badge that Holston left her, with the word “truth” carved into it on the ground where Holston remains, and proceeds to walk further than anyone before. 

Does Juliette Live? 

She does. She is, in fact, seemingly the only one to go outside and live longer than a few minutes, thanks to the heat tape she and her lower level colleagues were able to steal. 

It would seem that everytime someone asked to go outside, or was sentenced to “clean”, the Silo government would purposefully use tape that would not properly seal the hazmat suit. Without that seal, even when those who would voyage outside did not take their helmet off, the toxicity of the surface was too much for them.  

Juliette outsmarted Mayor Holland, and as mentioned, began to voyage even further out than anyone, making it past the initial crater of dust that encircles the top of the silo.

What is Further Outside the Silo? 

As Juliette ventures further, past the one dead tree that can be seen from the viewer, a fallen cityscape can be seen through the dusty atmosphere in the distance. This appears to be a contemporary metropolis, but between the silo and the city is nothing but lifelessness and sandstorms. 

More importantly, as Juliette turns back towards the silo’s hatch after making it to the crest of the crater surrounding her subterranean home, she sees what appears to be dozens of the same circular craters. It clearly indicates that there are dozens if not hundreds of more silos buried in the earth, and all fairly close to one another. 

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What Does the Number 18 Mean? 

Several mysteries are solved, but major cliffhangers remain to be revealed. Holland was responsible for the drive and the secrets it contained. The drive was so important, that it caused so many citizens their lives, yet there was one rather innocuous detail about that drive which Holland seemed fixated on. 

An IT tech worker once asked the mayor if there was a specific serial number on it, to which Holland replied, it was simply marked with the number 18 (not a typical serial number). Holland was also seen carrying a key fob, with that same number embossed on it. 

In the final moments of Juliette’s epiphany as she walks outside, Holland panics and mutters to himself that Juliette “knows”. He suddenly bolts to a control board of some sort to use the now glowing key fob. The control board, full of different locks, all numbered accordingly, would hint at a larger conglomerate or network of all these newly discovered siloes. 

This could mean that Holland’s specific silo is the 18th silo in an unknown number of shelters, and that this sinister government, who is willing to kill to keep their secrets may be even larger than anyone knows. 

Will There Be a Silo Season 2? 

Apple announced this month that yes, the mysteries will continue to unravel in a second season, and that they had already begun principal production meetings. It only remains to be seen if outside forces such as the writer’s strike delay production on the second season.

Sadly, Juliette and the truth seekers are losing allies more and more. Between the deaths of George, Allison, and Holston, the murders of Mayor Jahns and Deputy Marnes (Will Patton) and even some of Juliette’s colleagues in the bottom level turning on her and reporting her to Judicial, Juliette needs all the help she can get.

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Lukas Kyle (Avi Nash), an analyst that Juliette befriends who notices patterns in the stars night after night, was caught up in Juliette’s hunt for the truth as well. Lukas was reluctant to help, as he feared what Judicial might do, but that didn’t stop Holland from exploiting those fears to try and find Juliette. Holland, securing his place as the most antagonistic figure in the silo, sentences Lukas to a decade in the mines, a punishment perhaps even worse than cleaning. 

Could this mean that the repressed workers in the lower levels and mines could one day rally and rebel against the mayor and Judicial? It seems likely, but in the meantime, poor Lukas’ fate seems to be one of toil for the near future. 

Audiences will also have to wait to see what will happen with the plucky engineer turned sheriff. Where will Juliette go now that she is alone on a desolate planet? How many other silos are there? If Holland is only in charge of Silo 18, then who is truly in charge? What really happened to cause humanity to have to live in dozens of different underground bunkers? 

All 10 episodes of Silo are available to stream on Apple TV+ now.