“Ice” wasn’t one of my favorite episodes but it’s still a solid story, echoing movies like John Carpenter’s “The Thing“, Ridley Scott’s “Alien“, as well as “The Twilight Zone’s ‘The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street’“.
The themes of isolation, paranoia, and cabin fever are well set up in the isolated location of the Arctic Ice Core Project, with the characters pitted against each other and no one sure who is infected or who will die next. The location and set up are most akin to ‘The Thing’ which, from IMDB, saw “Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.” In this case, the shape-shifter comes in the form of an alien creature that becomes attached to the spine/brain of its host, resulting in violent reactions towards others. It is in this aspect that we see the characters rip each other apart, as do those on ‘The Mosters Are Due On Maple Street’, where it is enough to simply set the fear among the characters and they will do the work of the creature.
Given that this is the X-Files we’re talking about, episodes rarely exist in a vacuum. The creatures being found in a meteor crater is akin to the Tunguska episodes further on and the notion of an Arctic-dwelling alien, one resulting in a possible plague and the beginnings of the ‘black oil’ – shown in the black nodules that presage the takeover of the host – is echoed in later seasons. The aliens are ‘us’, perhaps literally in that this organism could have evolved into us, but also in the very human sense – that we too exhibit violent, aggressive behaviour towards each other.
In the end, it is perhaps our ability to trust in each other, to overlook the fears, that put us above that and there is a small but intimate scene between Mulder and Scully when they check each other for the parasite. It’s an echo of the pilot episode, when Mulder checks Scully’s back for marks. The two agents behave appropriately with each other but there are always these moments in the episodes that offer a glimpse of something beneath the surface.
The goal of this research project is to drill and analyze two high-resolution ice cores from the Prince of Wales Icefield in Central Ellesmere Island, and use these to investigate the interactions between Arctic climate, sea ice, and ice cap mass balance over the past millennium. Understanding these interactions is of fundamental importance to predicting the response of the Arctic climate system to anthropogenic forcing over the next century, and assessing its’ effects on traditional lifestyles of aboriginal peoples in the region, Arctic navigation and marine biological productivity.
Ice cores can provide multi-proxy records of former climatic and oceanic conditions in the Arctic. The Prince of Wales Icefield on Ellesmere Island has the highest rate of snow accumulation in the Canadian high Arctic, so ice cores from this site permit the construction of precisely dated, sub-annually resolved proxy records of air temperature, summer melt, net accumulation on the ice cap, local and regional sea ice conditions and marine biological productivity. Pooling these records with those from all Arctic ice cores will provide a multi-site, multi-proxy based investigation of pan-Arctic variability and trends in these parameters.
This project represents a major collaborative effort between three Canadian Universities, the National Glaciology Program (Geological Survey of Canada) and the University of Copenhagen and is helping to build a strong program of ice core research by Canadians within the Canadian Arctic.
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Original Air Date —5 November 1993
Director: David Nutter
Writers: Chris Carter, Glen Morgan, James Wong
Mulder, Scully and 3 scientists travel to the arctic to investigate what happened to the previous team of scientists sent there, and discover what they believe is a new life-form that makes its host want to kill other people.
- The dog is the father of David Duchovny’s dog Blue.
- This episode borrows heavily from John Carpenter’s movie, The Thing, and the short story on which it was based, Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell. Those stories involve a team of Antarctic researchers, isolated from the rest of the world, who are infiltrated by a malevolent alien. The being devours other living things before it assumes their memories and appearance. The researchers try to hunt down the alien before it reaches the rest of the world.
- According to co-writer Glen Morgan, his initial concept for this episode was influenced by an article in Science News about “these guys who dug something 250,000 years old out of the ice”.