Beware: Spoilers Ahead!
The opening scene of Ice Age: The Meltdown gives us only a fleeting and preliminary reference to the last film for the benefit of those who didn't see Ice Age, so that those of us who did could get on with the show. Like any good story, the conflict was immediately established. The ice is melting and the animals are sitting in a valley wherein one side is a wall of ice holding back a large body of water. Adding sea salt to injury, the animals tell Manfred (Manny) the mammoth he is the last of his kind.
Nicely nestled within the main theme are several engaging stories-within-the-story, giving the sequel a depth and dimension lacking in Ice Age. Unlike many badly made sequels, Ice Age: The Meltdown did not rely on Ice Age for foundation and instead gave us an original story, more of what we'd come to expect from old characters, and brought new characters to life – and into our hearts.
Manny gets everyone on their way — Diego the saber-toothed tiger, Sid the sloth, and all the other animals — but he stays behind for a few moments, suspiciously eyeing a mammoth-sized piece of ice floating around in what was everyone's water hole. As Manny turns away to join the others, the ice turns to reveal its very suspicious contents.
On the way through the valley, Sid and Diego come upon a couple of menacing marsupials whilst elsewhere, Manny comes face-to-face-to-tree limb with the only other mammoth he's seen since losing his family long ago - Ellie.
Once young, abandoned, and lost in a snow-covered landscape, Ellie took shelter under the same tree where a Momma opossum and her two babies resided. Presumably, the Momma raised Ellie as her own. While we meet the Momma but once, and only briefly, we see first-hand how well she instilled family loyalty within all members of her brood.