A Book Reader’s Hopes for Silo Season 2

From how to tackle pacing issues, immediate reveals, and what could be behind that big mysterious door, I detail my hopes for Silo season 2...

This article is for readers of the Silo book series and likely contains spoilers for future seasons of the show.

“Now things can happen.”

This was Rebecca Ferguson’s response to a question regarding the second season of Silo in a recent Entertainment Weekly interview. As a reader of the books – I’m just finishing up the third and final instalment (for now) in Hugh Howey’s series – that the Apple TV+ sci-fi series is based on, I completely agree with this statement from the show’s star and producer. Finally, after ten episodes, the show can truly begin.

Adapting the first novel in the trilogy for television is a mean feat. It was published in a serialised form, so it’s more an omnibus than a novel, and certain changes had to be made to introduce characters and plotlines at different times so it flowed as one narrative. The pacing is the key issue. The first book would make for a fantastic sixteen-episode season of television. The issue is that prestige shows don’t get commissioned for sixteen-episode seasons. So, instead, the novel was split down the middle, with the first season, consisting of ten episodes, adapting the first half. An understandable decision but one that still leads to pacing issues.

The middle of the season was stretched a little thin. The new elements for the show felt introduced just to pad out time. Sims being implied to be the main antagonist, only then for Bernard’s intentions to be revealed felt like manufactured drama. Having read the books and knowing the truth, you could see the writer’s hand at play. It was misdirection for misdirection’s sake. Even novelist Hugh Howey remarked at finding some of these elements unnecessary in a refreshingly frank Reddit AMA.

Upon realising the first season wasn’t going to cover the whole of Howey’s Wool, the events of the finale were obvious. It had to be Juliette’s walk outside and the reveal of the other 49 silos. It was an effective moment in the show, and overall, I thought the finale was very strong. But as a book reader I couldn’t help but hope there had been one extra reveal. We see Bernard run to the server room (which I’m very glad to see has made it into the show. I was wondering whether the janitor’s room had replaced it) but viewers of the series don’t know why. In the book he gets on the radio and speaks one of the series’ best reveals: “Silo one? This is silo eighteen. We, uh… we might have a, uh… slight problem over here.” It’s such a great reveal, not only confirming the other silos but also that Silo 1 is in control and Bernard is in contact with them. I wish it had been used as the final moment of the season, but I guess the visuals of the silos works better for the show.

Yet if Bernard’s call couldn’t be the final moments of the first season, then why not make it the opening of the second? I hope this will be the case. Now that the slow burn mystery of season 1 is over (the state of the outside world, which is answered by page 40 of the book) the answers can come thick and fast. This isn’t mere impatience talking but a desire to get to the meat of the story. Enough information needs to be revealed, initial questions answered, so that the real questions can be asked. The more philosophical questions rather than literal ones. “What’s outside the silo?” “Who is really in charge?” These are fun plot mysteries but Howey’s work is intelligent sci-fi pondering bigger issues. The books are about knowledge vs ignorance, the burden of information, control, trust, responsibility, and power. The only way to start dealing with these is to reveal more of the status quo, and quick.

Lukas Kyle is at the centre of these questions in the second half of the book. Hopefully his exile to the mines will be short-lived. I imagine Bernard, in anger over Juliette’s refusal to clean and the brewing rebellion, will again shun Sims and bring Lukas in to be his shadow. Like the book, he can then reveal the information that opens up the themes. Meanwhile, the rebellion in the down deep marching their way towards a fateful clash, and Jules trying to survive with Solo in Solo 17 can act as the more action-packed stories.

But I don’t want the show to rush ahead too fast. The second season should stick to the events of the first book. Shift, the second in the series, is my favourite of the three and while I know changes will have to be made, I would love to see as close an adaption as possible in a third season. There’s the temptation to use elements from Shift in the second season considering it takes place both before and during the first book, just in a different silo, but I feel that would be a mistake. It is a perfectly structured book, deftly handling the time jumps and perspective shifts, with themes and ideas acting as a throughline. It would mean a whole new cast for the third season, before jumping back to Juliette and co for a fourth and final season adapting Dust. A bold move, and one perhaps very unlikely, but I live in hope. I think it’s the best way to tell the story. Leave Shift alone, for now.

The first season introduced two new aspects to the story, not found in the books, and I’m intrigued to see how they play out. Firstly, this mysterious “syndrome” that Paul is afflicted with. Maybe it’s some adverse reaction to nanobots or propranolol-tainted water and will link into the lore that way, I’m unsure. But at the moment it seems to be a way for Sims and Judicial to hold power over Paul, who is a more flashed out character than he is in the books.

The other new addition is this big mysterious door at the bottom of the silo, which I can only guess leads to Silo 17. Other than needing a good explanation for why a simple door between them exists, I’m happy with this. My least favourite part of the novels is the start of Dust, which has over 100 pages of mining from Silo 18 into Silo 17. If they can just open a door (but still drain the bottom, like the books, to add danger and a trial) and get over there quicker then I’m all for it. Jumping ahead, if season 4 starts with the silos already connected then that’s a much more interesting narrative position with a new status quo to explore. Although, doing this would in turn affect the speed and urgency of the migration from Silo 18 to Silo 17 when the nanobots are released, which is so good a sequence that perhaps it’s worth the long set-up. Already having Silo 17 inhabited would affect this.

I have more opinions but they are less hopes for a second season and more wishes that the first did things differently. You don’t get a true sense of how long the silo takes to traverse when the series cuts from characters at the top arriving at the bottom. Nor is there a palpable feel of the tribalism at different levels. It all seems homogeneous. Without the uniforms and colour-coding, its hard to tell one level from another. Having to reuse the same sets is understandable for budget but no less disappointing.

But I don’t want to sound too negative on the show. I think it’s good. I enjoyed it. A solid adaptation that likely works better for newcomers than cliché insufferable ‘the book was better’ grumps like me. I’m looking forward to the second season because what Ferguson said is true: now things can happen. The big reveal kept back (a little too long) for the finale is unveiled and the story, and its themes, can now truly begin. And my last hope, so not to fall into the same pacing pitfalls as the first season? I think season two would flow so much better over eight episodes than ten.

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