Each week Joe and Terry discuss the most recent episodes of Apple TV’s Silo, alternating between our respective sites.
Spoilers follow for Episode 8, “Hanna”
Episode 8 “Hanna”: New information causes Juliette to see her family’s past differently – and she finally gains access to the silo’s biggest secrets.
Well Terry, we didn’t need to wait long to get the answer to your final prompt from last week: it turns out that, yes, both Sims (Common) and Bernard (Tim Robbins) are in cahoots, and are actively working against Jules (Rebecca Ferguson).
It’s definitely a mustache-twirling villain reveal for Bernard, who actively pretends to be on Jules’ side after she arrests Sims. Hell, he even low-key rescues her from a belligerent Judicial guard who is checking IDs on the stairwell. By this point the Upper Levels are basically in a kind of lockdown state, despite Sims’ removal from power, which hints that he is able to organize his goons from his jail cell (as we see him doing when he demands first coffee, then a walkie talkie radio from the guard). The depth of coordination for Judicial to still be out in full force like this suggests that Sims had help, so as soon as Bernard appeared at a convenient moment to rescue Jules, I knew the jig was up.
What follows is a pretty frightening display of power. “Hanna” spends a fair amount of time among the corn in the Farm, and perhaps it’s just because in horror, corn is always a symbol of terror, but watching men circle and chase Jules down among the rows is quite scary. Even the way that Bernard casually asks Sims if he heard Jules say that she wants to go outside (something she emphatically did not say, and repeatedly protests throughout the rest of the episode) captures how helpless people are in the face of such tyranny. All it takes is Bernard and Sims to lie and they’ll get away with kicking Jules out of the silo to her (presumed) death.
Of course, we can see the cracks in the facade and the roots of rebellion even in the midst of this darkness. Sims orders a man and his son to stop paying attention after he punches Jules in the stomach publicly, and Billings (Chinaza Uche) sides with Jules when she orders Sims’ arrest earlier. Even Lukas (Avi Nash), with whom Jules has spent so much time star gazing, seemingly feels something when he sees the parade of Raiders break down her door. Sure, he claims he has to look after his mother, but if push came to shove, his knowledge of the cameras behind every mirror might be enough to spur him into action.
The real question is whether Jules has enough time. She’s in a pretty dire spot now that she knows Bernard and Sims are working together, actively sedating dissenters like poor Gloria (Sophie Thompson) and presumably threatening Judge Meadows to keep her silent. Jules unfortunately doesn’t have a lot of support on her side: Lukas bails, her dad (Iain Glen) literally spends his screen time admitting he’s a coward who never fought for his family, and Martha (Harriet Walter) can’t take more than step outside her front door due to her agoraphobia.
One wonders how much of the intel Jules has accumulated can save her. Besides getting herself into a heap of Judicial trouble, the family revelations continue in “Hanna.” Jules spends most of the episode realizing that her mother Hanna (Sienna Guillory) was not just associated with the Flamekeepers; she was a major member. In addition to making deals to get bunnies from the Farm, Hanna actively built a full-blown working microscope to perform medical procedures with! It’s super impressive, especially when she hauls out the dozens of pieces to assemble it when the family’s house is searched.
Needless to say, Terry, I don’t think her “suicide” was anything of the kind.
But over to you: were you shocked by Bernard’s betrayal? Did you cheer when Jules arrested Sims (and used the Pact to do so, no less!)? How do you feel about Billings’ role in all of this? And were you more sympathetic to Dr. Nichols’ confession than me?
We are eight episodes in, Joe, and finally…finally…we have the answer to the most pressing question since the first few episodes: Jules’ best friend’s name is Shirley (Remmie Milner)!
Obviously, I’m being facetious in an episode filled to the brim with reveals and twists and turns, but after watching close to 8 hours of television, we finally know that Jules’ friend from mechanical is named Shirley because of an off-handed comment from Martha. I was honestly thinking we’d go all ten episodes and never know.
That aside, “Hanna” is an intense episode of television and, contrasted with the other, longer intense episode, is incredibly short at just under 44 minutes. I’m so glad it was because the pacing was absolutely fantastic. Aside from a couple quibbles that I’ll be addressing when I answer your prompts, this was an almost faultless episode that does what Silo has been fantastic at doing: grounding the larger mythos and questions in the characters. It’s viewing the macro through the micro, just like Hanna examining the large rabbit heart through small magnifying mirrors.
The episode opens with a flashback of a farmer handing Hanna a bunny, but he does so saying, “The Silo always wins”, an ominous statement that hangs over the episode like a pall. “Hanna” uses flashbacks like this incredibly well, giving us subtle statements tied to larger reveals. For instance, the fact that Hanna calls Jules “Bean” is endearing, sure. But it also suggests a seedling from which rebellion can sprout. Based on the way things move in the latter half of this episode, that sprouting isn’t far in the future.
That’s one of the more subtle moments, but it also gives us a few more dramatic ones. The way in which “Hanna” contrasts the titular character’s frustration with her husband, thinking he betrayed her with our knowledge that Judicial has been spying on everyone, broke my heart. You’re absolutely right that it’s very likely Hanna did not commit suicide but was instead taken care of by those in charge, but even so, this perceived betrayal ruined Jules’ family. Neither Hanna, nor Jules trusted her father and, as he explains in the future, the death of his son had the classic trope result of sending him deeper into his work and further from his family.
That was the only part of Jules and Peter’s tearful reunion that worked for me. Sure, I was sympathetic towards Dr. Nichols, but that scene played out very poorly. It came across stilted and a little cringey. I didn’t feel as if the metaphorical dam broke and the years of separation, distrust and anger finally gave way to understanding. It felt a little overacted and melodramatic; probably the first time in the series that something didn’t feel authentic.
If Bernard’s reveal as the Big Bad was mustache-twirling silly, this was eye-rollingly cringeworthy. A much needed resolution, sure, but not executed with the same care that the writing and acting of Silo has seen previously. But it’s a small blemish on what is otherwise a thrilling 43 minutes of storytelling.
Yes, I cheered when Jules turned The Pact against Sims. Yes, I loved that Billings turned against his former boss to enforce The Pact. But I also loved that “Hanna” turned this somewhat milquetoast character into something more intriguing. He truly is a man with honor; a boy scout without the badges who has the integrity to do the right thing and actually live by-the-books. I never really thought about how he’s the perfect foil for Jules until the moment he sided with her against Sims. They operate with different moral codes, but when they are together they are a force to be reckoned with.
But between his nature and his worsening medical condition, I am fearful Billings isn’t going to make it out of this season alive.
Back to you, though. What do you think about the way Martha and Shirley talk about rebellions and bringing the topic of hunky Knox (Shane McCrae) back into the series? Are they members of the Flamekeepers or whatever the rebellion calls itself? Did you enjoy the way “Hanna” was basically a cat-and-mouse game between Jules and Sims and are we to assume that the HDD is now in Bernard’s possession? What do you make of the message Dr. Nichols sent Martha about “the runner”?
Oh, I absolutely think that the hard drive is in Bernard’s possession now, though it’s almost a McGuffin at this point. We know that it has the blueprints for the silo on it, but do we need it for anything other than the threat (promise?) those documents offer in terms of lighting the fuse of rebellion once silo residents learn they’ve been lied to?
The hard drive remains vitally important, but, if anything, its status is almost mythical at this point. We just need to know that it’s around to know it will be important in the future.
As for your questions about Jules’ father: it’s interesting, Terry, because despite seeing Dr. Nichols plead with Hanna in the flashbacks to turn over her magnifying glass to Judicial, we still don’t have a clear sense of what he knows about the Flamekeepers. Was he involved? Was he unaware Hanna was in that deep? My gut says that he suspected his wife was up to no good, but that he basically stayed out of the way because he, like Billings, didn’t want to get involved with breaking the rules.
All of these questions are bouncing around in my head in response to your first and last questions. It’s clear to me that “the runner” in question is Jules, who Martha worriedly tries to leave the apartment in search of when she doesn’t arrive.
Silo is nothing if not aware of the tropes of dystopias, so while Dr. Nichols may just be using non-descript language to avoid arousing suspicion (appropriate considering how quickly Judicial has turned the silo into a totalitarian state), I think there’s more to his word choice. A “ runner” is such a loaded term – from The Running Man to The Fugitive – so this feels like a coded message, even if it’s just from the writers to the audiences. It implies to me that Dr. Nichols needs/expects Martha to help hide his daughter when she makes it downstairs.
We’ve heard rumblings about rebellion throughout most of the season. It stands to reason that people in the Deep Down might be involved, including folks like Martha (who work on illegal equipment just like Hanna) or Shirley and Knox. I didn’t get the impression that any of these characters are actually active in the burgeoning resistance, but if Jules gets threatened, I have no doubt that they’ll side with and fight for her.
Which would make perfect sense: it’s very common for blue collar workers to come together to overthrow their wealthy, powerful oppressors in dystopian narratives. If these characters weren’t itching to rebel, you can bet they will once they learn what’s happening to Juliette.
But Terry, do you agree with me about who might be involved in the rebellion? Do you think Bernard and Sims will continue working together or will they turn on each other? How badly injured will Juliette be following her tumble over the stairwell? And will our intrepid protagonist be sent out to Clean next episode?
I think my confusion comes from the somewhat convoluted and maybe hastily edited climax in “Hanna.” So much happens so quickly, from the moment Sims asks for a cup of coffee to Dr. Nichols sending a message to Martha to her finding Shirley outside her door to Jules smashing the mirror to show Lukas they’re being watched to the cornfield altercation to Martha and Shirley’s intriguing conversation. For the most part, it’s one-off scenes hastily hemmed together that really helps to showcase the chaos that’s unfolding in the silo. It works, but it also makes it easy to gloss over some of the more dramatic moments that might be more important than they seem.
It’s the second to last scene, though, that has me curious. Shirley tells Martha that Jules has been arrested and that there were witnesses saying she wanted to be sent outside. And then Shirley says, “Knox said they’d eventually punish us for the rebellion. I always thought he was crazy…so…what happens next?” It’s so casually dropped that it made me second guess myself. Did we know they were involved in a rebellion? Or is this not one of the “big” rebellions we’ve heard about? But it’s also this comment that made me think that maybe they are part of whatever remains of The Flamekeepers.
Bernard and Sims, meanwhile, remain a kind of powder keg. Bernard is obviously the one in charge and his mustache-twirling reveal colors his original comment back in “The Flamekeepers” that IT can’t fall into “the wrong hands.” With his allegiance truly defined, it’s obvious that the “wrong hands” are regular people in the silo. Why? Because they will know what their life and their home truly is about. But I would not put it past Sims to try and usurp Bernard’s power. I keep thinking back to his story about his father, the janitor, and the upward mobility that has been ingrained in Sims’ mind. He might be okay with letting Bernard be the figurehead while he quietly operates in the shadows, but I could easily see that power dynamic change.
This entire season has been showing us the illusive power that those in charge wield. Silo has systematically deconstructed all of the safety mechanisms supposedly put in place to protect its citizens. Whether it’s the police and sheriffs who don’t actually hold the power to Judicial and Judge Meadows, the latter of which is simply a figurehead who’s afraid of losing her tenuous grasp of privilege, to the mayor who was easily dispatched and displaced by the head of IT. All of these people thought they were taking on a role of power and privilege before realizing, sometimes way too late, how illusory that power really was. So it would not surprise me that the de facto man in charge, interim mayor and the holder of IT, doesn’t actually have the power. I do wonder if we’ll see his fall by the end of the season.
This leaves us Jules, who, like her boyfriend before, has now been forced off the stairs. She’s obviously not dead…but I can’t imagine she’ll have an easy landing. I brought up the question of the runner and the HDD because while you’re most certainly right that Bernard probably has the drive, she was alone with Lukas–who also works in IT–and it would be easy to switch the drive. It’s possible, however improbable, that he actually has the real HDD and the runner could actually be him. Next episode’s title is “The Getaway” and that suggestive title has me incredibly excited to see what happens next.
Maybe we’ll see whether these predictions are true when we go back to Gayly Dreadful for the penultimate episode!
Silo airs Fridays on Apple TV