Based on the bestselling trilogy of novels by Hugh Howey, Silo is set in a future where the outside world is deadly, and a community of 10,000 people survives within a giant underground silo. Their lives are governed by a strict set of rules and to disobey them is a death sentence. After a series of troubling and puzzling events, a hardworking engineer named Juliette, played by Rebecca Ferguson, is led down the path of solving the larger mystery of the silo and everything she’s ever known is soon turned upside down. If the lies don’t kill you, the truth will.
The series of mysteries contained within the silo start to unravel as soon as the story begins. How did the silo come into being? Who has access to information? What really exists in the world outside the silo — a seemingly desolate land the residents can only see from a giant window in the cafeteria. Those who dare challenge the authorities can be ordered to leave, or alternatively, if a silo dweller utters the words that they want to go outside, they will not be given an opportunity to change their mind. As they venture outdoors, they are given a piece of wool to clean the sensor to better show the inhabitants the current state of the outside world, before they inevitably collapse just moments later as their friends and family watch on. But is what those inside see really accurate? What follows is both a political conspiracy thriller and a murder mystery.
In celebration of Apple TV+ releasing Silo, The Koalition spoke to Chinaza Uche to learn more about Paul Billings, discovering the secrets of Silo, finding inner peace and more.
Paul Billings, played by Chinaza Uche, starts out working in the judicial department, but despite being his bosses’ pick for Sheriff to take over from Holston Becker, he instead becomes Juliette’s deputy. “He’s a real big fan of the founders who created the silo,” says Uche. “He really understands the rules they set in place that are contained in the pact. I’d call him a disciple of those founders and his job is to make sure that those rules are continued. He also spies on Juliette to make sure she doesn’t cross too many lines. He doesn’t understand why this person has been chosen to be the sheriff when they don’t have any of the pre-requisites required like he does. He feels a bit betrayed but still has a commitment to doing things the right way. So, if he’s the deputy, he’ll be the best deputy to Juliette that he can be. I think everyone underestimates him.”
“Paul, at the beginning of the show, wanted to be judge of the silo. The judge is a person who runs all the laws and enacts The Pact, which is almost like the holy book of society. He’s a devout follower of that and he believes he has what it takes to get there. The question of does he know what there is. Does he know who he really is? All of that starts to shift. That’s where he starts now [but] that may not be where he ends up.”
In most respects, the silo is an old city set in the future and it was this concept that the various members of the creative team held onto as their North Star. This is a society in which everything that exists in the silo is either 300 years old or something they have to make themselves.
The world of the silo is that it’s both future and past. It happens in the future, but it’s also a society that has lower tech than we have. They have computers that look like something from the late $80s or early $90s. They don’t have phones or televisions. The silo is designed for people to think about how the founders — the people who built the silo — would think. Even in death, their presence is felt throughout the show. They hold an unseen power that people are willing to protect hundreds of years later.
“I don’t think he’s gullible [about believing what he’s told about what the silo is], I think he’s a rabid believer. I think he likes things to make sense and The Pact makes everything make sense. It really has been the foundation that’s kept society alive for a long time, but he’s smart and when you show him something he can’t unsee it. He saw it. He personally has a moral sense of what truth is and he can’t help but be curious about that truth.”
At the core of this show is the question: Who owns the truth and what is the truth? and what’s the mystery around it. What happened before the silo was built? Why is it dangerous to go outside and what is the surface really like? Is it lush or is it deadly? Silo takes the audience on this journey, trying to find out what actually happened and who is trying to either mislead or tell the truth.
“When we meet Paul, it’s a bit [of him wanting inner happiness and to please the silo because] of some of the stuff he’s dealing with, but he has to really be careful what situations he puts himself into. At the beginning, it was about ambition, it was about finding a place he couldn’t [like] rise up in judicial the way he wanted to in the sheriff’s department. He finds an opportunity. He doesn’t really care what [people] think [because] he knows where he’s going, at least at the beginning.”
“If he can get to the top of the silo [and be in power], I think he can love himself. I think he believes proving whatever it takes to become that top person will let him love himself. This is a character who’s lied to himself or at least lied to everyone around him except for maybe his wife for a very long time. What I think you see in his character is the weight of something you are not. I don’t think he has any sense of what his authentic self is [at the] start of the journey. I don’t know if [he] can put those words together, but slowly, he might discover that he exists outside of the bounds he’s created.”
“He’s looking for peace or at least that’s one thing that resonated with me. He feels like he’s got a lot to prove to a lot of people and a lot of voices in his head. If he believes that is a place to get to where all that goes quiet and he’s now finding that in himself. He’s finding it outside of himself.”
To learn more about Paul Billings and Silo, check out our full interview in the video above.