Welcome to Rebecca Ferguson Nation, a directory of fan sites for the Swedish actress, Rebecca Ferguson. Though Rebecca has been an actress since the age of 15, her first prominent role was in The White Queen in 2013. However, it was in 2015 with her role as MI5 agent Ilsa Faust in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation that catapulted her to stardom. Rebecca gained even more praise through roles such as Jenny Lind in The Greatest Showman, Rose the Hat in Doctor Sleep and most recently in Dune as Lady Jessica. Since then, hundreds of fan sites and accounts have popped up all across the internet. Rebecca Ferguson Nation (RFN) hopes to catalog these sites from across the globe as every fan (stan) has a different perspective.
Based on Hugh Howey’s 2011 dystopian sci-fi-thriller ‘Wool,’ the AppleTV series was announced in May 2021. Set inside a 144-floor underground silo, the series, starring Rebecca Ferguson, follows Juliette Nichols, an engineer, as she investigates the death of a lover. Juliette’s findings lead to bigger mysteries in this puzzlebox show.
The Story: I won’t say much so as not to spoil anything, but ‘Silo’ is a bit deceptive. While the series is set in an apocalyptic dystopia, the story unfolds much more like a police procedural in which one answer leads to three more questions. Thankfully, that kind of drama typically keeps general viewers interested. Twists and red herrings are woven within the story, but seeds planted early in the series become important. Series creator Graham Yost (Justified) and the writers did an excellent job with callbacks and linking major (and minor) events through the overall plot. One early episode, which featured a young Juliette, originally felt unnecessary, but it laid the groundwork for important episodes later in the series. In another example of great storytelling, an offhand mention of a petty crime works as character development for the head of IT and a key story component. In other words, come for the dystopia, but stay for the characters and mystery.
The Set: In Hugh Howey’s world, the last 10,000 people on Earth inhabit an underground silo. In the center of this structure is a staircase that spans 144 levels. Three levels of the silo staircase were built for the show – enough to give the actors a daily workout.
“The team — the amount of stairs everyone’s climbed is just bonkers. We’re in good shape!” – Rebecca Ferguson.
While the other 141 steps are CGI and some blue screen was used, the level of practical detail is extraordinary. Like the actors, the silo and the stairs are characters in their own right. Rusted signs labeled with propaganda are around every corner. The brutalist architecture of the silo looms over its residents, creating a constant feeling of foreboding. The winding staircase, reminiscent of a double helix in DNA, is a stage in which every moment of life is played out – life, death, love, hate, etc. The world of Silo feels heavy and burdened but alive.
The Worldbuilding: An audience has to buy into a new world from the beginning, or it’s all over. Some series or movies will begin with a prologue filled with exposition to bring the viewer up to speed. Silo starts by telling the story of Sheriff Holston Becker (David Oyelowo) and his wife, Alison (Rashida Jones), as they try to have a baby. It’s a simple tale that never holds the viewers’ hands but quietly nudges the audience toward the deep end. By the episode’s final, we know what a cleaning is and why silo residents fear them. We know enough about the silo’s history to become invested and why the powers that be are so authoritarian. We visit the mids, the down deep, and the up top. We even hear someone say ‘the before times’ with a straight face.
The audience receives a few helpful nudges throughout the series, but we are on our own for much of the season. That’s a tough way to sell a TV show, but an audience is hooked when it works.
The Pacing: For some, Silo can be slow. ‘Glacially paced’ was one description that I read. For others, it’s a good slow burn. The show can sometimes be a little slow; otherwise, it’s just right. For most, patience may be required around the middle portion of the series, but that patience will be rewarded.
The Accent(s): Many of the actors in Silo hail from the UK. Rebecca Ferguson was born in Sweden. However, all are tasked with providing an American accent. Most of them do a fine job. Most. Rebecca Ferguson does not. Her American accent isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty good when she uses it. The problem is that Rebecca cannot maintain the same consistency as her other castmates. Her many slips did bother me initially, but I got used to it by the end of the second episode. Halfway through the series, I found her slip-shot accent endearing. For some people, it drives them crazy. Others can’t hear the mistakes. The accent never took me out of the show, and that’s where I will leave it.
The Characters/Actors: Silo is a bit like Game of Thrones regarding its characters. Don’t get too attached. That said, whether or not they are in the entire series or not, Silo has some fantastic people in front of the camera. (Note: I will only discuss a handful of the actors. All were great, but I wanted to focus on a few favorites. If I passed by your favorite, apologies.)
Holston Becker/David Oyelowo (Selma, Spooks): It can be tough portraying a moral character who must walk a line between what is right and what they love. Oyelowo plays Holston with a humility that is too good for any world, let alone the Silo. When his faith is shaken, it’s to the core, but Oyelowo’s Holston maintains a dignified calm grounded in his belief in right and wrong. Oyelowo gives a powerful but understated performance worthy of much praise.
Marnes/Will Patton (Armageddon, Halloween): Patton often portrays a down-to-earth character with cut-and-dry morality and simple needs. Silo is no different, except the actor’s portrayal of Deputy Marnes may be his most layered version of the archetype. When Marnes is thrust into situations that make little sense, Patton plays him as a man lost in the woods, panicked and angry, a far cry from the typical Will Patton character. It’s a joy to watch him.
Martha Walker/Harriet Walker (Ted Lasso, Succession, The Crown): A mother figure to Juliette, Harriet Walker portrays Walk as a tough ol’ broad who has seen everything the silo offers. Walk is a tropish character that the actress elevates with a tender vulnerability. Her most matter-of-fact jibes are laced with care, and her soulful eyes convey more than she ever says.
Paul Billings/Chinaza Uche (Dickenson, Fear the Walking Dead): Paul Billings is introduced as a company man—a yes-man. And he does come across as a naïve true believer, but Deputy Billings is more than that. Much like his predecessor, Marnes, he becomes lost, but Billings gathers his strength to push ahead instead of lashing out. Whether terrified or content, Chinaza Uche plays the character with compassion and honor in every breath. In this, Billings is the soul of the show.
Robert Sims/Common (The Hate U Give, The Tale): A true believer in every sense, Sims is a mirror image of the boy scout, Paul Billings. Using fear to enforce the letter of the pact (law of the silo), Sims struts around like the silo’s personal guard dog. Common’s straightforward approach to the character imbibes him with a dispassionate sense of duty. But Sims roars with terrifying anger when his passions flare, betraying the fear inside.
Bernard Holland/Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption, The Player, Mystic River): When we first meet Bernard, he comes across as petty and self-serving – a man desperate for any power he can attain. But who is Bernard? He wears many faces for a multitude of purposes throughout the show. Tim Robbins plays the character so confidently. There is always an air of superiority in his tone and mannerisms. Such a character could have been cartoonish, but Robbins adds a soul to this harrowing person.
Juliette Nichols/Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible, Dune, The Greatest Showman, Doctor Sleep): Juliette is an unusual protagonist for a show, especially a female lead. Usually, the socially awkward protagonist is male, funny, a psychopath, or an endearing woman trapped in her own shell. Jules is none of these. An engineer whose job is to maintain the generator that powers the silo, Juliette is thrown into a job she is ill-equipped to handle. Cast out of her familiar territory, she hurts people. She lies. She is selfish. She steals. The good person Jules once was is buried under years of personal trauma. However, the mysteries she unravels force Jules to become a reluctant hero, hell-bent on seeking out the truth whether she (or anyone else) likes it or not.
“I studied trauma for the role and how expressive, or non-communicative, those people become because they’re so locked in their grief. That, for me, was one of the biggest drives for her – how to maintain physical elements… of embodying trauma, like how does it show on your body?” – Rebecca Ferguson.
Ferguson’s Juliette is unlike anything the actress has done before. She overdoes it a bit with some of the twitches, and there is the accent, but otherwise, it’s a powerhouse performance. A great example is in the last episode near the end. Without dialogue, Ferguson displays Juliette’s terror while she feigns confidence. The portrayal is all in her eyes, lips, and minute body movements. It is a masterful performance in subtly.
In Conclusion: I once described Silo as a 1970s dystopian flick filtered through 21st-century prestige TV. For the most part, I stand by that definition. But it’s more than that. Silo takes full advantage of the Streaming medium by combining a compelling mystery with strong, complex characters in a multi-genre setting. Silo is not afraid to be science fiction, but the show does expand the genre to its benefit. As with most fans, I can’t wait until season 2. I guess that’s the best testament to any series.
Note: I first heard of the Silo trilogy when Rebecca Ferguson was cast as Juliette. While I am currently reading Wool, I consider myself a nonreader. Take that into account with this review.