The very foundation of Silo is built upon a series of lies and secrets. The unique design of the underground settlement astounded us so much that we failed to see what secrets lay beneath. As humans, we believe that we should only trust things that we see with our own eyes. But what if the image in front of us is a lie to deceive us? It is a conflict between what to trust and whom to trust: the truth that is hiding in plain sight or the truth everyone is telling us?
Book Spoilers Alert
In Silo, we come across one such dilemma that everyone has been talking about. It all started with Allison Becker, who, out of her own curiosity, posted an article on recovering deleted files. They say curiosity is the mother of all inventions, but Allison’s curiosity was going to unravel some very dark secrets about Silo, which instantly made her a mortal threat to the order. Bernard, the head of IT, had always been afraid of people who wondered. Such souls ask questions and seek answers. Questions that have no definite answers initiate an infectious conversation. And maybe Bernard’s fears were correct. George Wilkins found Allison’s article and used it to retrieve files on a hard disk numbered 18. As per the pact, possessing such old relics is against the law, yet Wilkins and Allison weren’t afraid to dig deeper in order to find out what really brought them to the 144-floor structure.
After some scrutiny, Allison found a file inside the hard disk. A file that was going to change everything thereon. While there isn’t any mention of the file name in the “Wool” book trilogy, in the series, it is called “Jane Carmody Cleaning,” who might’ve been the first person to go out for cleaning, or maybe she was the one who developed this file. We don’t know where the file came from, but what we know for certain is that the founders of the Silo never wanted the general public to find it.
The file was a computer-generated video of the atmosphere outside the Silo. When Allison first saw it, she believed that it depicted the actual environment outside the Silo, but that was not true. Perhaps George Wilkins knew that the video was a bit flimsy, which is why he never went out for cleaning. Allison, on the other hand, had been struggling with a bunch of other lies fed to her by the management, which made her believe that this computer-generated image could very well be true. The doctors hadn’t removed the contraceptive implant from her body because the pact didn’t want such people to reproduce as they believed that their curiosity could be transferred to their kids. Well, it did happen in the case of Juliette Nichols. At the end of Silo Season 1, Bernard tells her loud and clear that her mother was never meant to have children. Nevertheless, the video influenced Allison to go outside, and it was her husband, Holston, who decided to follow his wife’s trail.
In the book, both Holston and Allison believed that the projection in the cafeteria displayed a computer-generated image. Through her program, Allison had found the software that could create such videos of the real world. She believed that IT had created one for the cafeteria as well so that they could manipulate people into staying inside. But she was wrong. In the book, Juliette’s friend in IT finds out that the program was never meant to create images for the large screen. Instead, it had a pixel density of 8 inches by 2 inches. That means that the computer-generated video was always meant for the helmet visor of the suit that people wore before they went out for cleaning.
The conspiracy around the computer-generated video brings us to our last question: why did the founders create it? In the series, there is no clear answer to the question. However, in the first episode, Allison reveals why people do the cleaning, which we believe could be the reason why this video was created.
According to Allison, people clean the sensors outside the Silo so that their friends and family back inside can also witness the lush green scenario that is playing inside their helmet. They want to expose the lies that the founders have been feeding them. However, they are unaware that even in their last moments, they are being fed a lie. The air outside the Silo has been toxic to humans for generations, but the video on the visor made them believe otherwise.
The pact never forces people to do the cleaning, but everyone eventually does. But will they ever clean if they see the reality? Allison, in her own words, had told Holston that she wouldn’t clean if things outside were like what appeared on the screen of the cafeteria. There is no motive here, as people already know the truth. However, the computer-generated video acts as a psychological trigger that convinces people that they need to tell the world the truth. They need to clean the sensors so others can see the reality too. But why is this cleaning so important?
The camera sensor outside the Silo that captures the image of the outside world gets dusty in the absence of cleaning. And the caretakers of the silos couldn’t afford to send someone outside to clean them because if they returned safe and sound, then everyone would be intrigued by the possibility of going outside at least once in their lifetime. They can’t even let the projection in the cafeteria get blurry, as it will drive people crazy and take away their willingness to live through another day. Maybe the camera sensors outside the Silo didn’t have an automatic cleaning system, which is why they needed cleaners from time to time so that people wouldn’t lose their only ray of hope.
Perhaps, cleaning was the only way to stop citizens from revolting against the system, and the video is their device to make sure that whoever is banished from Silo does the cleaning. But that’s not the end of their dark secrets. The IT department intentionally designed faulty cleaning suits for the outside world so that people would have just enough time to do the cleaning. The toxic air outside the Silo killed them before they could understand that the video in front of them was a lie. It was an intricately devised plan to maintain continuity, but then came along one person who saw through their lies and refused to do the cleaning. The repercussions of Juliette’s refusal to clean the sensors will have a far greater impact on the minds of the residents. Additionally, the hope of her survival will be enough to start a rebellion, as everyone would be willing to go outside to witness what it actually looked like. Juliette has sparked a new curiosity in the entire community, but will Bernard be able to stop them from uprising? Season 2 will tell the story better.