Love, Death and Robots: Ice Age

ice age1When I saw that Michael Swanwick was the writer of this episode, I ran to my basement.  I was reasonably certain I’d read a fairly good Sherlock Holmes book by him.  I couldn’t find it, and when I looked online, I can only find his name in a Mammoth Book of Sherlock Holmes so maybe that was all I was remembering, but regardless, I was happy to see a name I recognized.  Could he give us an episode to compare to those we’ve seen so far.  

At first glance, I would say no.  I liked the episode well enough but felt there was little to stimulate the mind.  A brief 10 minute story was all I saw.  And then I went to bed.  I woke up the next day, showered, and realized I’d have surprising thought!  

Ice Age opens with a couple finding an old style freezer in their newly acquired house.  Topher Grace comments on how these were much smarter devices because of their design.  He and his wife, played by the lovely Mary Elizabeth Winstead, sit for a drink.  He digs a piece of ice out of the freezer and finds something unexpected…

The Good

ice age 2While I’m still new to this show, it was neat seeing real actors instead of animation.  It took me a few minutes to realize it too but it dawned on me when the contents of the freezer are discovered.  

Topher Grace I’ve seen in a few things, though looking through his IMDb page didn’t spark any memories, but I like him.  He’s got a dry sense of humor that seems to be a hallmark of his acting.  I also like the fact that he references the Fortress of Solitude, placing this in a recognizable world that we know.  Winstead was amazing in both Fargo and 10 Cloverfield Lane and she’s beautiful to boot.

The animation is fascinating, reminiscent of an animated history of the world video one might find on YouTube or in a game like Civilization.  

“There’s a lost civilization in our freezer!”  Conceptually, the idea of finding a civilization in your freezer is unusual to say the least, but it was interesting and watching it evolve before your eyes was, for lack of a better word cool.  Visually I thought this was great but…

The Bad

ice age 3Grace and Winstead are entirely too calm and collected about the situation.  They watch the events unfold with detached interest like scientists, not a husband and wife who just found a lost city in their kitchen.  I say detached only because they don’t pull off a Sebastian Maniscalco or a Kramer (Seinfeld), leaping up and running to get all their friends and neighbors.  They clearly care about the miniature city, but they don’t act in a way that I think anyone would actually act having encountered such a miracle.  

The Ugly

ice age 4I was suddenly reminded of one of my early video games, Starflight, when watching this episode.  There was a great poem about time: Time it seems doesn’t flow.  For some it’s fast, for others slow.  For what to one race may be no time at all, another race may rise and fall.  I always loved that poem and it seems apt for this story. But what made it thought provoking?  What gives the tale an “ugly” truth?    

“We can’t expect them to outgrow war in a couple of minutes.”  We’re viewing this from the perspective of the two stars, but there is one scene where we get a brief view outward where two workers on the scaffold of a building comment on their watchers.  From their point of view, the faces never move because time moves so differently for them; their race is rising and falling in a time that is “no time at all” for the audience identification figures.  Stay with me…  What if we in real life are on that same path – a path that is superfast to our gods?  I’m not especially religious but acknowledge religion and if we ponder about the message in this story it gets more interesting.  

There is a moment when it looks like the race has wiped itself out having arrived at the “now” of our real world.  But we learn they survived.  They eventually break the confines of their freezer and eventually vanish leaving the freezer empty.  Do we eventually outgrow our gods?  Do we leave them behind?  Is that the end of our story, when that day comes?  Or, like the tail end of this story, does it all repeat the next day?  Is time really moving so slowly for us or so fast?  Is Deja Vu really brief memories of the repeat that goes by in a day?  Is the real world just a hologram and now and then a writer gets a hint of what really is?  It’s a long way down this rabbit hole…

The Game

Our little in-episode game features three images.  We have the outlet that appears to power the fridge, followed by the ice cube within which Topher finds a frozen woolly mammoth complete with spears in its body.  Finally we see the nuke that appears to wipe out the civilization before we learn they had actually survived.  So far, these have been very logical.  Will that continue?  

The Verdict:

Another episode that struck me hard hours after I’d viewed it.  I realize I need to sleep on these.  Jumping into a review of this series doesn’t seem to be a good idea; they need time to percolate, or age, like a fine wine.  However, like wine, this taste might not be for everyone.    ML

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6 Responses to Love, Death and Robots: Ice Age

  1. Roger Pocock says:

    From what you write, this just sounds like Outer Limits: Wolf 359, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      Not dissimilar, but I think infinitely better. Probably a mix of the tech involved and the lack of padding, but it’s 10 minutes you won’t regret watching. Wolf 359 was a good episode, but … you know. ML

      Liked by 1 person

  2. comedian37 says:

    “What is this? A center for ants? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read…if they can’t even fit inside the building?” – Derek Zoolander.

    This quote comes to mind when I watch this episode. Its like watching a colony of ants and how they interact with the world around them. It makes you also think that maybe we are the ants as well. Plenty of movies have touched on this topic, its nothing new. You have Men In Black where galaxies, such as ours, were captured in marbles and used as playthings for extraterrestrial beings. You have The Matrix where we are merely batteries and we are fed a computer simulation. Doctor Who has countless dimensions which mirror ours ever so slightly. Dungeons & Dragons have planes of existence. The list goes on and on….

    The entire span of the freezer Civilization lasts 24 hours roughly then resets. It seems to even reset once the refrigerator is unplugged. What we do not know is if relics from the previous Civilization can be found in the new one or if it’s a clean slate each time. Does the new civilization learn from the past? Do we learn from our History? These days it seems like we’d prefer to simply repeat it instead of learning from it and making ourselves better. All we hear about is religion, guns, and everyone trying to f*ck over the next person down the line. Disconnecting from social media is the best way to battle this type of “news”. Funny how I write that as I post to this form of social media.

    I agree with ML, the acting is unbelievable. I’d like to think I would be rather “chill” with the entire experience but I would totally be mind blown. The actors are way to calm about finding a mammoth in their ice cube and a Civilization in their freezer. I am also concerned that none of the aircraft made it out of the freezer. A few times they open the door to aircraft, flying cars, etc… and nothing escapes the freezer except for the very end when I believe energy is leaving the freezer as that Civilization transcends.

    The ten minutes were a fun watch. To me, it makes me think of my own existence. I am on this earth for not even a cosmic blink of an eye. The entire human species have barely been on Earth for a blink of a cosmic eye. Does my existence even mean anything? Am I simply a bug in the summer air flying around until I land and die a few hours later when my sole purpose in life was only to breed and push on my species existence for another day to do the exact same thing in the next 24 hours…..


    Liked by 1 person

    • scifimike70 says:

      Thank you for sharing some very good points on how our perspectives on the outside world can radically influence us with what we can learn or what we may teach others.

      Liked by 1 person

    • DrAcrossthePond says:

      Paul! What a great reply. And it’s exactly what I loved about this episode: it got me thinking. And sometimes, it’s a little morose, because you do wonder what it’s all about. I wonder all the time what the purpose is. Not that I want to give up, but as a man who never had biological children, I didn’t even help the species continue. So what’s my purpose? Maybe just to write a blog that will be remembered for a little while after I die? I don’t know. But I sure enjoy wondering.
      As for if you’re a bug… I’ll talk to our mutual friends to see what they think. It’s far more fun to pick on you, but the truth is, if you are a bug, it’s probably a firefly – you have a wonderful capacity to brighten things up when you’re around. ML

      Liked by 1 person

      • comedian37 says:

        Thanks ML! That is very sweet of you. In thinking about this episode more, I think we all may be thinking too hard about this. Sure the freezer is a strange location and the freezer civilization is just like our ancestors but we are absolutely surrounded by Civilizations. The ant colony living underneath the patio brick outside, the dust mites under the dresser, our own bodies have millions of microscopic critters LIVING, REPRODUCING and DYING ON AND IN US!!! We are surrounded by civilizations, the thing that makes the freezer unique is it closely resembled human civilization. We would be equally surprised if we saw ants in tiny flying cars but some ants have also evolved with wings which you could argue we created flying planes because we did not win the evolution lottery to have wings. How much fun would that be though!!! The possibilities..

        Liked by 1 person

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