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Recap / Love, Death & Robots: "Ice Age"

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"There's a lost civilization in our refrigerator."
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A young couple moves into an old apartment and finds a tiny, thriving civilization in their antique freezer. Based on the short story of the same name by Michael Swanwick.

The only episode that utilizes a live-action set, it stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gail and Topher Grace as Rob.


Tropes:

  • 1 Million B.C.: After the fridge is unplugged and thawed out, it becomes home to primitive, Australopithecus-like apemen sharing a tropical landscape with scaly dinosaurs.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • Lampshaded by Gail, who objects to prehistoric mammoths appearing long after they should.
    • At the end, when the whole history of the freezer civilization starts again, apes, probably australopithecines, are shown alongside some dinosaurs, despite in reality evolving millions of years after the extinction of all non-avian-dinosaurs.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In the end, the micro-people build a (proportionally) vast machine that catalyzes their collective ascension, causing them all to turn into flying motes of light before collecting into one mass of energy and vanishing from existence.
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  • Compartment Shot: Several scenes are shot from inside the fridge.
  • Eternal Recurrence: After the entire civilization vanishes in a flash of light, either having teleported away or evolved into energy, the couple leaves the fridge unplugged for the night. When they check on it the next morning, the ice has melted and early hominids have evolved, hinting the whole thing is going to play out again.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Gail and Rob are surprisingly blase about discovering a miniature civilization in an old fridge, a discovery that would have most questioning the entirety of existence.
    Rob: Huh!
    Gail: Yeah.
  • God Guise: Subverted for laughs. When the couple wonder if the beings in the fridge consider them to be gods, it cuts to a couple of construction workers on the inside complaining about them staring with no reverence whatsoever.
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  • It Came from the Fridge: A whole civilization develops in a refrigerator.
  • Lilliputians: A refrigerator's icebox is home to a civilization (at least one city; the presence of additional areas is hinted by the nuclear war but never shown) of minuscule people and accompanying wildlife, scaled so that a mammoth is the size of an insect. The medieval stage shows them as "mining" a pile of frozen Brussel sprouts for food, lifting them off one a time with a wooden crane.
  • Mammoths Mean Ice Age: The couple's first hint to the presence of an ice-age civilization in their fridge is when they discover a miniature woolly mammoth frozen in an ice cube.
  • Neon City: The miniature city of the future has this look.
  • Pocket Dimension: The inside of the fridge resolves as one of these, possessing accelerated time compared to its outside, an entire miniature ecosystem and appearing to extend far further than it should from the outside.
  • The Singularity: After the fridge civilization recovers from the nuclear war, it advances past a near-future stage and through increasingly advanced hypertech stages before eventually turning into Energy Beings and coalescing into a literal singularity that then vanishes.
  • Something Completely Different: The only short that has a (single) set and actors in it.
  • They Don't Make Them Like They Used To: Rob talks about how the old freezer's design, with the compressor on top, is actually a lot more efficient than modern designs with the compressor at the bottom, since it doesn't have to work against itself when cooling food.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Time inside the fridge moves centuries for every few minutes on the outside, going from the Middle Ages to The Singularity over the course of a day.

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