blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Silo (2023) s01e03 – Machines

Is Machines a great episode, or is it a sign “Silo”’s going to be great? It’s a phenomenal fifty minutes of television (in an hour-plus episode), but the show’s still got all the existing problems. There’s just this one outlier. So far. But the episode, writing credit to Ingrid Escajeda, is fantastic. If director Morten Tyldum, who wouldn’t know if a cinematic shot if it were a hundred-foot-tall steam generator spinning around, ready to slice up the heroes going to replace it so the silo doesn’t lose power forever… well if it weren’t Tyldum, it’d be better. Even with his profoundly banal direction, it’s great.

And the cast can find the energy in the action, even if Tyldum can’t bring it, even if the weird accents continue. They’re intentional. I’m pretty sure. Based on Iain Glen having the same weird, not quite anything, but definitely a very white European-ish accent. Glen hasn’t given this bad of an accent since he was in Resident Evil and has spent his subsequent career showing off his ability with accents and middling directors. So if he’s giving a bad accent now, it’s because they told him to give a bad accent.

Harriet Walter’s back with her weird one too. However, she has some okay scenes. One opposite Geraldine James, who’s walking down the silo to offer Rebecca Ferguson the sheriff job while also getting in some quality time with Will Patton. Halfway through the episode, I turned to my wife and asked her if she thought it was weird Patton has become a soulful, sensual type in his old age. She hasn’t seen H40 so she was very confused.

But it’s fine. I’m here for it. It’s at least not wasting Patton.

And James, with her weird, weird, weird accent, is more likable this episode. This episode should’ve been the first episode, and they should’ve figured out how to get the backstory in later. It’s got an excellent three-act structure for a feature narrative. James needs to decide if she’s hiring Ferguson or if she’s going to kowtow to her rival branch of government (an unnamed female judge, who will be a stunt cast later on) while Ferguson needs to convince boss Shane McRae they’re running out of time to fix the generator.

If they don’t fix it, the silo loses power, and everyone dies. Badly.

Along the way, we finally find out Tim Robbins really is an asshole and doesn’t just seem like one in the flashbacks. And Common threatens James, which is a weird moment, but later on, we find out Common’s just a good dad trying to get by in a bad future. Common works for Judicial; James is the Mayor, so her rival is the Judge.

I wonder if it’s Diane Lane. There’s a somewhat deep cut.

Susan Dey would be baller.

Especially if they make her do an accent.

Anyway, the stuff with the generator is great. It’s not a real-time episode because Tyldum’s bad, but it’s exceptionally tense, with big stakes.

It’s so good it makes up for the cliffhanger resolve being almost entirely toothless.

Ferguson also gets to run a room instead of brood or moon. She does okay. Not great, but successful.

The episode also doesn’t shy away from comparing how worker-class boss McRae supports and values women to how Robbins hates them.

I was reluctant on “Silo.”

Tedious Tyldum or not, I’m much less so now.

Machines is great.

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