Silo series plot explained: what is “the Syndrome”?

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Silo is definitely one of the most exciting series of 2023. Landed on Apple TV+ in May 2023, it follows the story of humanity in a dystopian future where everybody lives in a silo, forbidden to go outside or even to know what’s there. Along Season 1, the plot gets more and more complicated, and questions arise continuously. One thing that gets increasingly important is “the syndrome,” something that needs to be appropriately explained: let’s discover what it is.

You can watch the official trailer for Silo here on Youtube.

Silo series plot explained: what is “the syndrome”?

First, it’s essential to note that “the syndrome” is not present in the book series that inspired Apple TV+’s production. The syndrome is introduced only in the TV show Silo and isn’t clearly explained while the plot develops.

The first time we discover about it is in Episode 3, where we see the sign below in Mechanical:

This is the text you can read on that sign:


Do you know the signs?

  1. Involuntary twitching is the first sign, leading quickly to
  2. Shaking of the extremities,
  3. Flashes of pain and muscle spasms are next.
  4. Balance and movement is severely impaired.
  5. If untreated infection will attack the brain, resulting in reduced cognitive function and finally,
  6. A shut down of the entire nervous system.

For those who are infected or think they may be advice and treatment are free at any Medical Level. You must report your symptoms there to receive the necessary treatment.

Don’t be afraid. Be Honest. There is help.

Clean living is the real safeguard

In this thread on Reddit, fans have passionately explored the reference and the possible disease the syndrome refers to. One user found this old lithograph from the 50s about the prevention of syphilis and gonorrhea, which looks almost identical to the one we see in the TV show. And the last line, “Clean living is the real safeguard,” is a direct quote.

Of course, the syndrome description in Apple TV’s Silo has nothing to do with syphilis and gonorrhea. Based on what we see in the show, it’s a form of nervous breakdown. The Silo’s authorities guarantee free medical help to those who suffer from it, on the condition that it’s reported immediately. Apparently, the authorities want people to believe that it’s a serious and contagious condition that people cannot underestimate. 

Knowing how the Silo’s rulers want to keep people far from dangerous feelings and knowledge that could trigger a revolution or simply want them to leave, we can imply that the syndrome is a breakdown people can have because of the living conditions they are in: spending every day caged in a structure, feeling guilty every time they wish for a different life, marked as criminals if they develop a connection to a relic or to anything that relates to how life was before the Silo. Living that kind of life daily can become overwhelming, and the Silo’s residents can crumble to pieces.

From this point of view, the syndrome would not be something biologically contagious. But the authorities consider it a threat to the Silo’s social stability. If someone suffers from the syndrome, it’s probably a sign that their tolerance to the rules of the silo is getting more difficult. It’s a sign that their body and mind are starting to rebel against that controlled order. And if that’s happening, those people need to be isolated to prevent their perspective from being shared with other people, feeding the need to react against the order.

That’s probably the reason why Deputy Billings is trying hard to hide this condition in Episode 6: most likely, he fears that if he reports the syndrome symptoms, he will be treated at the medical center and isolated from his wife and baby. And, as we saw in the episodes, he will do anything to avoid that. In Silo, the syndrome is explained as a threat to the community that needs to be faced together to maintain order. Another rule applied because of historical reasons, even though people can’t recall if something happened in the past because of it.

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