Season 1, Episode 8: “Ice”
The X-Files does love its parasites. I have to admit that these are the episodes that freak me out the most; I can deal with creepy outside the body but when it’s inside…ugh. I have already mentioned Season 5’s “Travelers” in another review, an episode that I almost never see appear on any “Scariest X–Files Episode” list but I swear has got to be one of the most terrifying things to ever appear on television. The X-Files does an incredible job with parasitic creatures, and “Ice” is the episode that started it all.
People look to “Squeeze” and “Tooms” as being the iconic episodes of the first season, and maybe they are, but in terms of Season 1’s “Monster-of-the-week” episodes I’ve always preferred “Ice.” There’s just something different and strange and unsettling about it. The atmosphere is tense, the tension is high, and it even manages to stay away from the awkward bug most of the time (no pun intended). Because it’s set in the middle of a snowstorm in Alaska, we get to see Mulder and Scully working in a weird and new environment. It almost feels like a Star Trek episode, as if Mulder and Scully are traveling to a whole new planet and encounter strange things while on the surface.
What’s really special about “Ice,” though, is that it’s the first “Mulder and/or Scully goes crazy” episode. Because everyone’s mental health is questionable, Mulder and Scully don’t know if they can trust each other. They don’t have a problem mistrusting anyone else – in fact, in Mulder’s case he’s a bit too quick to mistrust just about everyone except for Scully – but when it comes to one another, it’s a pretty big deal for them. Scully, especially, is furious when the other members of the team lock up Mulder, despite his rather suspicious behavior.
It’s also fun to see how the other members of the team, especially Hodge and Dasliva, react to Mulder and Scully. To the audience and to themselves, Mulder and Scully are about as un-FBI as you can get, but to an outsider, like Hodge in particular, they’re just two FBI agents keeping secrets from everyone else. In a way, Mulder and Scully play the roles they usually end up fighting against – the government that keeps secrets from the people. They’ll always be our heroes, but to the other characters, they’re kind of like the bad guys.
The suspense in this episode is sharp, and we find ourselves wondering who’s infected right along with the characters, a wonderful “whodunnit” story (albeit one that involves parasitic worms). After Mulder starts acting a bit crazy, we’re genuinely worried that he might have been the one who killed Murphy. Which makes Scully’s faith and loyalty to him all the more engaging and reassuring. It’s the episode, I think, that marks the transition from “Squeeze” to “Tooms” – from Scully struggling in her loyalty and values to “Mulder, I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anybody but you.”
And nothing could be so symbolic of this than the ever famous neck-touching scene.
It sounds so odd in writing. This is the scene many consider to be the first true Shipper moment. Scully pulls down the back of Mulder’s shirt to check for the worm in his neck, and Mulder does the same for Scully. In type, it sounds logical and insignificant. But any Shipper who watches that scene is paying close attention to every movement, every gesture, every line their fingers trace, every brush of skin. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I too see something beneath the surface there. It’s just not a parasitic worm.
“Ice” is a really solid episode, even by first season standards. It’s notable for being an episode where, at long last, Mulder’s crazy beliefs and Scully’s science don’t come into conflict with one another. In fact, it is Mulder who acts more like the scientist in this episode, regretting the lost chance to study the worm, which had survived in the ice for a gazillion years. Scully, usually the scientist eager to research and learn things through the lens of a microscope, is the one who speaks the good, honest truth that only Scully can speak –
“Leave it there.”
Final score for “Ice” is 8/10. Engaging, suspenseful, and is, in my opinion, the most solid episode so far.
- Scully in a parka? Adorable.
- Hodge gets the “Over-the-top Jerk of the Week” award
- WORMS ARE GROSS. SCULLY IS RIGHT. LEAVE THEM THERE.