I’m a huge X-Files fan. Seriously. I devoured this show in all its cooky glory back in the day. I’ve long been planning a Netflix binge of the series but have been putting it off in order to be a productive adult. That’s all over! With news that the series will be brought back for a short stint I decided it’s time to revisit the entire show. And, whaddya know? There’s buggy stuff in it! I’ll post updates as I progress through the series because I KNOW you want to know all about those bugs. This has actually been pretty fun. For the most part, the show holds up. Although, I will admit I cringe now at some of the “science” but that is not restricted to this show by any means. And, for the most part, the cringe-worthy elements are less painful than on other shows (Bones, I’m looking at you).
I just finished season one and here is a summary of what I noticed. I may have missed some things because it didn’t occur to me that I should actually be documenting everything I saw…I know, I know. Bad scientist…
The X-Files: Season 1 – Episode 8: Ice
Basic Premise: People died! It was a multiple person, murder-suicide at a research station in Alaska! Holy crap! Whaddyagonnado? Send in Mulder & Scully of course! The episode itself was meant to be a “bottle episode” meaning a cheap, easy to film, self contained episode. You need to remember that this show wasn’t considered a guarantee for FOX. It was running alongside another experimental show (a personal favorite: The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.) and it wasn’t doing so well. The fact that this show got off the ground and succeeded was not expected. Every penny spent went up on screen. There wasn’t anything wasted in that first season.
Back to the episode…A small investigative team is sent to Alaska to uncover the truth of this event. While up there, they get attacked by a rabid dog, are exposed to weird ancient ice, and people get all pissy for the plot. And it works! As I rewatched this I found myself really glued to the screen. It was the first time I felt completely sucked in. The acting is great, the set, being cramped and restricted adds to the sense of anxiety and claustrophobia that the characters must be experiencing. As a 20-year old episode, it holds up quite well. Without giving away too many spoilers (because if you haven’t seen the show yet you need to go do that…right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait) there is a parasitic organism that has been transmitted to people/dog and is causing them to act strangely. “We are not ourselves” we are told early on. And that’s the point. Mind controlling parasites! This is classic science fiction and a well done piece of television history.
No, the microorganism in the episode isn’t an insect, nor is it an arthropod. But it’s an invertebrate, so I’m counting it.
The Science of the Episode: For the most part it works. Some cringe-y elements but not distractingly so. There are examples of parasitic organisms influencing behavior in similar ways. One example are parasitic flukes (Leucochloridium paradoxum) ingested by snails. Once the fluke enters the snail it alters the snails behavior, causing it to scoot to easily visible locations where its normally benign eyestalks begin to fluctuate. This movement of the eyestalks makes the snail easily visible to birds. The birds come along and eat the eyestalks and possibly the whole snail. (Zombie Snails on YouTube)
To be honest, Ice is one of my favorite episodes so far. As the season progressed I came upon another buggy-related episode that I remembered being a favorite, and it still is. I put this episode in my Top 5 for season one. Mulder also gets some great one liner’s in this episode.