Ice 1×7: Can I see some identification?

Whooo are you? Who, who, who, who?

If the problem with Morgan and Wong’s previous outing, Shadows (1×5), was that it was so lackluster that I had nothing much to say about it, the problem with Ice is that it’s so interesting I can’t come up with anything brilliant to say about it, I’m too busy watching it. The plot is heavily influenced by the movie The Thing, but that doesn’t make it any less clever or effective.

The structure of this episode feels almost like a play in that the location is mostly static. Except for the occasional digital exterior shot, you wouldn’t know whether it took place in Alaska or Florida. The atmosphere is stifling… suffocating. And in case you thought you weren’t supposed to feel that way, the writers make sure to let you know that the heater’s broken.

Since our favorite agents don’t go much of anywhere, the guest stars are crucial to creating the overall tension. Mulder finally meets someone more paranoid than he is in Dr. Dasilva, Professor Murphy provides some much needed comic relief, and is that Felicity Huffman I spy? Bear, our Steven Tyler/Willem Dafoe mash-up, provides Alaskan authenticity. He certainly feels like he could live in America’s final frontier. Add in Mulder and Scully and it certainly would’ve been an interesting group to have in the jury room for 12 Angry Men.

The benefit to having the motley crew is that we get to see a little more of Mulder and Scully against the world. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing Scully tackle Bear like a Heisman trophy winner after he clobbers Mulder? And to think, her very “unphysician-like” skills could have been wasted in a hospital somewhere.

If nothing else, this episode would be famous for the UST that started it all: Mulder and Scully inspect each other. I’m going to buck all trends and say that I think UST is a misnomer in this case. Tension? Sure. But I doubt it’s of the sexual kind. Rather, when they each turn their backs to let the other check them out, how do they know they aren’t about to be killed? And what if the other person does see something there? I’d be lying like CSM if I said there wasn’t chemistry, however. A memorable scene if ever there was one.

The caveat to solving this case is that the solution feels worse than the problem. Maybe it would save you, but no one wants another alien parasite digging around inside one’s brain.

And the Verdict is…

Ice, like so many of the great X-Files, touches on some deep fears. There is, of course, the instinctive fear of being trapped, of being buried alive above ground. The claustrophobia in this episode is tangible, ever-present in the swaths of red light that visually represent a mental hell on earth. Death is both outside and inside, our heroes have nowhere to go.

Then there’s the inverse fear of something being trapped inside of you. Is something squirming under the skin at the base of my neck? Just go ahead and kill me. Most people probably would kill themselves trying to get it out; such is the horror of a parasite. This is part of the same reason no one likes mosquitoes, leeches or ticks. Are they the most frightening insects in the world? No. But they leave you feeling violated. And Ice shows us a violation of the worst kind. It’s a toss up between these worms and demon possession.

The biggest fear of all? Not knowing whom to trust. Mulder and Scully are in the precarious position of not only being unsure about each other, but they don’t even know if they can trust their own minds. After all, we are not who we are. Is the parasite making them aggressive? Is lack of sleep and stress making them paranoid? Yet, if they make the wrong decision, they could all wind up dead. Good times.

Deep Throat might not declare, “Trust no one” until the season finale, but Ice is the episode that drives the point home.



Why are Mulder and Scully called in on this? Is that “expendable” line our only clue?

Just how did they figure out that the worm releases a poison when extracted? For that matter, how did they figure out much of anything with only the basic equipment they would’ve been able to fit on that tiny plane?

General Observations:

I’d like to give a much needed shout out to David Nutter for creating this episode’s suffocating claustrophobia.

How about that’s the cutest rabid dog I’ve ever seen?

The continual riff on the line “We are not who we are” may be obvious but it’s effective. Cue The Who.

Did anyone else catch that brief little moment where Mulder checks Scully’s ID?

Best Quotes:

DaSilva: Alright… parasitic diagnostic procedure requires that each of us provide a blood and a stool sample.

Bear: A stool sample?

Murphy: Wow. This kind of travel always makes that kinda tough… for me.

Mulder: Okay… Anybody got the morning sports section handy?

Bear: I ain’t droppin’ my cargo for no one.


Mulder: Before anyone passes judgment, may I remind you we are in the Arctic.

17 responses to “Ice 1×7: Can I see some identification?

  1. Emily Michelle

    This episode really does do a good job of making you feel trapped–nowhere to go, no idea who to trust. And what’s so interesting about it is that it’s all about trust, but not in the normal way of things–even if the characters trust each other as people, they can’t trust that the others haven’t been infected. How do you choose who to believe?

  2. The cast of this episode was excellent. Jeff Kober as Bear was such a small role, but it’s one I never came close to forgetting. Come to think of it, I need to look him up and see what else he’s appeared in. I really wish he could have stuck around a little longer in this episode, but it wasn’t meant to be. I also liked the San Diego ice dude a lot. He was one of those characters that they really succeeded in making me like so of course I was bummed when he bit the dust. I love how this episode is such a fantastic homage to The Thing, which is one of my all-time favorite movies, but it stands on its own merits just fine by managing to be unique and just as effective as Carpenter’s great film.

  3. One thing that always struck me about this episode is that, considering it is in the Actic, it always struck me as being a crowded, dirty, *sweaty* episode, if that makes sense. All tempers, anger & internal fire fighting the cold.

  4. Just rewatched this the other day, and I have to say Mulder and Scully with guns on eachother,screaming is amazinly well acted and i always get caught up in that moment. Very memorable scene.

  5. I never can commit to a favourite episode but – This is my very first favourite episode! For all the reasons previously mentioned. It was truely scary and plays nicely on all our fears – being trapped, out of our mind, seperated from the world completely, unsure of who to trust, dying a violent death and lets add creapy crawlys!! The plot and cast would have fit up on the big screne perfectly and we are only 8 eps into the series – i’ve always thought that about this ep – it would’ve made a great movie. David and Gillian have said recently the first season is hard for them to watch as their acting careers were so new – but they were both so fabulous in this ep. I wouldn’t call it sexual tension, this early but definately a new level of emmotional connectiveness – When he leans into her face “I WANT…….. TO TRUST ………..YOU”! #chills# (ha ha it’s the little things) another great moment as described above when they had their guns on each other – nail biting stuff.

    Yip like you I noticed Mulder check Scullys id I think it was meant to show how he thought it rediculous for them to have to prove their credentials.

  6. Agent Venkman

    Certainly one of the 5-stars Season 1 episodes, and of the entire run of the show, for that matter. All the guest stars in this were great: Xander Berkeley (24), Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Steve Hytner (Seinfeld) and Jeff Kober (Sons of Anarchy).

    Those CGI worms must have been state-or-the-art, for television, in 1993. The practical effect of the worm running under the dog’s skin is pretty effective too.

  7. For the record, Jeff Kober went on to play a brief but important role in s4 of TWD (The Walking Dead). The second I saw him I knew I’d seen him before. When I rewatched this episode it was like connecting the 90’s to 2010’s all thanks to one person.

  8. Ok, the dog passes the worms with it’s stool. But how would the worms end up in the digestive tract if they attach to glands in the brain? It’s been always bugging me. Such an obvious mistake.

    • Well, according to Phil Farrand (‘Nitpicker’s Guide for X-Philes’), there’s a lot more wrong with it: if the worm was in the brain, why do we see it roaming about subcutaneously in Bear’s, the dog’s, and the toxicologist’s respective necks? Especially since supposedly it was removed from Bear’s spine. Answer: for the sake of drama and convenience.

      But, for all that, still a tense, tight episode.

  9. Pingback: Medusa 8×13: Hot, sticky and crawling in the dark. | Musings of an X-Phile

  10. Pingback: 20 X-Files Episodes That Should Be on Your Top 10 List, but Probably Aren’t. | Musings of an X-Phile

  11. This is easily one of my favorite episodes from season 1, up there with “Fire.” I’m a huge fan of “The Thing,” so seeing a bottle episode version of it was fantastic. The acting was excellent, the tension was built up magnificently by the script and camera work, and everything just came together really well in the final product.

  12. A masterpiece!!
    Season One has a very special place for me- I love even the most ” least greatest episodes”, like Space, or Born Again. They take me back to a certain time in my life,and its great that over 20 years later, some of my favourite episodes like this have a meaning to me still, beyond nostalgia.

    Nothing more I can add really here- the tension is beyond boiling point in the frozen darkness outside. The acting is on point from everybody everything is brilliant and believable,as the bodies and mistrust mount to the surface. And how a small lil’ worm in ice can cause such huge ripples and terror. Its direction is gritty, grungy and the isolation is perfectly captured.

    Scully is magnificent in this. From the beginning of the pilot- curiously walking with Mulder into his crazy world, offering the best insight to even his suggested final scores- to this here. Red hot, taking the initiative and lead. Standing her ground and up for Mulder. I LOVE season 1 Scully in general- firey, animated, and in this episode- a total bad ass. I love her “Stop it, stop it, Shut Up!” order to everyone, diffusing the steaming tension. From this episode on, its when they really learn to fully embrace and trust eachother.

    This is easily one of my all time favourite episodes,and a 5 star classic to this day, in comparison to any of the terrific telly thats been on the air since.

    • “Season One has a very special place for me- I love even the most ” least greatest episodes”, like Space, or Born Again. They take me back to a certain time in my life,and its great that over 20 years later, some of my favourite episodes like this have a meaning to me still, beyond nostalgia.”

      THIS! Some of the episodes I watched over and over again back in the day evoke such powerful feelings for me when I re-watch them now. It’s a combo of nostalgic emotion combined with realising, again, how absolutely awesome these episodes are. Such a double whammy of greatness!

You Know You Want To...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s