‘Silo’: What Did The Number 18 In Bernard’s Keyring Symbolize?


Bernard Holland’s real identity was hidden from us for the longest time in Silo, and nobody apart from Robert Sims and a few other employees who worked for them knew that he was the one who was running the show. Bernard was not the most friendly person that would come across in the Silo, and we had seen how Allison Becker had a hard time dealing with him. Bernard was the head of the IT department, and he was very particular about how his employees conducted themselves, and he always kept a check on whether they were following orders or not. Disobedience was something that he did not tolerate, even if it was for the tiniest of things. One of the earliest encounters that Juliette had with him was when she was accused of stealing heat tapes from his division. Bernard had branded her as a thief, and when she became a contender for the post of the sheriff, he used the same cause to veto her. Bernard told Mayor Ruth Jahns that Juliette was a thief, and she had that element of non-conformance in her that really bothered him.

Spoilers Alert

Bernard wanted to have those kinds of people in important positions who strictly abided by the law and made sure that others around them did too. But still, Juliette became the sheriff because Holmes, before going out for cleaning, had made it clear that he wanted her to take his position once he was gone. Nobody knew why Holton had vouched for such an unlikely candidate back then, but Mayor Jahns knew that she couldn’t just ignore his recommendation. Bernard had extreme right-wing ideologies, and even when he didn’t understand a lot of rules and regulations, he never questioned the motives of the founding fathers. But in the first episodes of The Silo, we never saw him as a villain, as that place was reserved for Robert Sims, and additionally, we didn’t have a clue about who was really in charge. There came a point when Bernard actually pretended to be Juliette’s ally, and she too started trusting him somewhat and confiding in him, believing that he would take her side in front of Sims. Juliette hadn’t expected that she had been playing all this while, and when Bernard revealed his real identity, it took her a while to process things.

What Did The Number 18 Symbolize In Bernard’s Keyring?

Before saying anything in this respect, it is to be noted here that there were a lot of things that even Robert Sims didn’t know about, and only Bernard had access to that information. Robert knew that whoever was sent outside eventually died since the suit didn’t protect them, but what he was not aware of was the fact that in their last moments, a video was displayed on their helmet’s screen that misled them into believing that they were walking in a lush green field and what they saw from inside the Silo was a lie. Bernard had a key ring with a red night in it with him that sometimes randomly blinked. The keyring had the number 18 inscribed on it, and we noticed that the same number was also engraved on the hard disc that Juliette had in her possession. We believe that Robert didn’t know what that key was used for, and maybe it wasn’t blinking randomly, but it was a kind of signal that informed Bernard about something. There were many other Silos (50, according to the book), and each one was given a specific number.

Number 18 was the identification mark of the Silo of which Bernard was in charge, and the blinking light may be signified that someone else from another silo was trying to communicate something. At the end of Silo Episode 10, Bernard realized that Juliette had somehow gotten to know that what she was seeing on her helmet’s screen was a fake display. He blurted out the words that “she knew,” and Robert, who was standing just next to him, couldn’t understand what he was murmuring. Bernard realized that she was not going to die, though he didn’t know that it was Martha who had gotten the sensor wool on her wrists changed, because of which she had survived. Bernard rushed to the server room, and he opened the lock with the key that came out of that same red key chain. We believe that the room probably had equipment through which Bernard could establish contact with people residing in other Silos, and he ran there to inform his counterparts that Juliette had been successfully able to escape from Silo no. 18.

What Would Be Bernard’s Plan Of Action In season 2?

Bernard feared that Juliette not clearing the screen would lead to a rebellion, and if we take into context what was written in the book, his speculations were right. It is possible that there would be a civil war inside Silo 18 and Bernard’s worst fear came true. He was the kind of man who was ready to go to any extent to stop the rebellion, and he would probably do the same in the second season too. But what he did not understand was why people wanted to rebel in the first place. Juliette, just before going out, told him that if, for the safety and security of the people, as he claimed, he had to kill people like Marnes and Ruth Jahns, then there was certainly something grossly wrong with the way things were inside the Silo. But Bernard simply put everything on the founding fathers and said that nobody had the right to question their credibility and go against the rules they had established, considering there were a lot of things that they still didn’t know about the outside world. Bernard made it feel like he didn’t have a choice and that to make sure that law and order were not disrupted, he had to inevitably kill the people he had. But under the pretext of being a protector of justice, he had turned the entire administration into a dictatorship.

Freedom was just an illusion, and people were being monitored in their personal spaces. Even if we agree to the point that there would be a rebellion if the truth was disclosed, Bernard’s action couldn’t still be justified. He had literally taken the lives of people, tortured them, made sure mothers were not able to give birth, penalized them for asking questions about things they had the right to know, and all those things were not pardonable even if he took the defense that he was acting in good faith. We believe that in season 2, Bernard will also stay true to his element and try his level best to suppress the mutiny if it happens. It is possible that he might try to get Juliette killed, as even her presence has now become a threat to the administration. Secrets will be divulged, mutinies will rise and expose the structural flaws of the Silo, and we believe that it would take a miracle for Bernard to save his seat and suppress the revolution.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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