The X-Files: Triangle   Rewatch 
December 6, 2015 9:01 PM - Season 6, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Lost in the Bermuda Triangle, Mulder believes he has traveled back to 1939 and has to evade Nazis aboard an historic British sailing ship similarly lost, encountering individuals who seem strikingly familiar to him.
posted by town of cats (13 comments total)
I don't have much to say about this episode because I love it too much to be terribly rational about it. It's so over-the-top and soooo showy and ridiculous. I was the kind of kid who watched The Wizard of Oz literally hundreds of times as a child so all the "subtle" references to it in the episode were glaring and obvious to me. And I actually think David Duchovny does some pretty cringeworthy acting here; he can't pull off the unironic Nazi-puncher persona he's trying to pull off and still come across as Mulder so a lot of his quips fall flat. To be fair, he's in a silly situation.

But Gillian Anderson more than makes up for it. The single long shot second act with all the elevator transitions and running around the FBI is such a fucking amazing performance. When she hops into the Gunmen-mobile with her little slip of paper and says "Got it!" you just want to stand up and cheer. Got it, indeed.

At this point in the series, AD Kersh is still a bit of a wildcard and I remember trying to figure out with my friends what his role in this episode signified. We had all assumed he was on Cancerman's side but the way things fall out in this episode seemed to imply that he has his own agenda. Frankly, I no longer remember what that agenda was - but it's interesting that this clearly "novelty" episode actually does impact the mytharc somewhat. But then, how was he going to be a Nazi if he's black? I bet "shit, WTF do we do with Kersh in 1939?" was a really uncomfortable conversation in the writer's room.

To be honest, I read a fair bit of timeshifted fanfiction of other media properties I like and I guess a big reason I like this episode is probably that it just reads like fic. The characters are kind of OOC and the setting is ridiculous and the history doesn't make sense and neither does the plot per se but it's such a fun little romp and so clearly a labor of love that it's hard to care. Everyone's having a good time and they clearly spent a mint making this episode look gorgeous. Good for them, X-Files was in a place to burn money in S6 and I'm glad they just went for it.

I wish, wish, wish, though...that when Mulder said, "I love you," Scully had responded, "I know."

The AV Club review makes an excellent case for this episode to have been X-Files' "shark jump" after which the series lost some crucial spark for many viewers. Looking back, although I never really thought about it that way before, I don't think I disagree. But boy, if they had to jump a shark they picked one hell of a shark to jump. Well jumped, Carter et al.

Just two more episodes in my list, Monday and Field Trip. I'll try and get 'em both posted before the end of the year.
posted by town of cats at 9:03 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I remember this being the first X-Files episode to be broadcast in a widescreen aspect ratio, which was pretty new for television shows at the time. Most people still had square 4:3 aspect televisions, which meant it was letterboxed.
posted by Pryde at 9:34 PM on December 6, 2015

I love this episode. I have great affection for Scully being badassed. And the bit where Scully and the not-Scully walk through each other in the split-screen and pause is delightful.

It's one of the episodes I show people for fun X-files (but not Bad Blood or Jose Chung levels of silliness).
posted by rmd1023 at 5:26 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I remember when this originally aired I got the impression that this episode was like a "letting loose" episode for The X-Files, made possible by the production's move to LA. If I recall correctly, there were very few steadicam operators working in Vancouver at that time. And in LA they could just throw a pebble out the window and hit one. So this episode kind of has a feeling of "Dobby is FREE!" It was fun to watch, despite the sour grapes feeling I had living in Vancouver at the time.

I remember the first episode of season 6 opening on a really bright sunny shot of an LA suburb, and thinking, "man, they're really rubbing our noses in it."
posted by wabbittwax at 7:16 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I can't remember what set me off, but this was the last episode I watched on first run. A weak season 5, mythology starting to obviously spin out of control, and the move to California were likely background motivations. But teenage me either couldn't suspend disbelief or buy into the gimmick for this one, so it ended up being the breaking point. On later rewatches it's fine and fun and very well shot, but I just wasn't having it back then.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2015

wabbittwax, yes, definitely there was a big element of that. I lived in Los Angeles at the time and there was a lot of giddy local news coverage about how this episode proved once and for all that while you could make acceptable TV in other places, you still had to be in LA to make exceptional TV.
posted by town of cats at 11:08 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is one of my favourite episodes as well. When watching on Netflix I always hope this one is next.

there was a lot of giddy local news coverage about how this episode proved once and for all that while you could make acceptable TV in other places, you still had to be in LA to make exceptional TV

If they're willing to make such as flimsy causation judgement what did the news coverage say when the show subsequently tanked?
posted by juiceCake at 2:20 PM on December 7, 2015

They blamed the creative team, of course :D
posted by town of cats at 5:52 PM on December 7, 2015

This is one of my favorite mastibatory episodes of season 5. It doesn't add to the mythology but there are moments that made me fangirl. Scully pushing Spender around, barging into Skinner's office, and running off with the Lone Gunmen were my favorites. Perhaps the hospital scene at the end. As an older person rewatching this episode I can appreciate that it's a hoaky plot that makes me feel sentimental.
posted by toomanycurls at 6:58 PM on December 7, 2015

As a long time die-hard shipper, I adored this episode when it aired and I adore it now.

To be honest, in my re-watch, I thought this was the only episode I wanted to see from Season 6 (in my head everything went to hell after Season 5) but there were a lot more episodes in Season 6 that I enjoyed than I realized. Season 7 so far is boring me to bits. But hooray for 6!
posted by olinerd at 2:52 AM on December 8, 2015

Shaenon Garrity wrote this about Triangle:

"Another period piece! Mulder disappears in the Bermuda Triangle and gets picked up by a cruise ship that vanished in 1939. In no time he’s fighting Nazis, delivering action-hero quips, and meeting unexplained 1930s versions of Scully and other characters (this episode is, among other things, a tribute to The Wizard of Oz). But the real action is back in the present, where Scully has to navigate an FBI building swarming with agents of the Conspiracy in order to rescue Mulder. An unusually action-packed episode, this is one of a handful directed by Chris Carter, who went all-out with the fancy camerawork. The whole episode is designed to look like a series of extended takes in the style of Hitchcock’s Rope, and one sequence in particular, with Scully running up and down FBI headquarters for eleven uninterrupted minutes, looks impossible to shoot. Near the end, there’s another neat trick: a split screen tracking the 1939 and present-day action, during which the two Scullys pass like ships in the night and switch to the opposite sides of the screen. Also, Nazis get punched."
posted by jwgh at 7:57 AM on December 8, 2015

I absolutely love this episode, especially the silliness. However, I couldn't recommend it to The X-Files naive - aside from being a pretty significant departure, it requires a lot of canonical knowledge to get full enjoyment from this episode.

Only complaint is Duchovny's acting but Anderson pulls weight for him.

Another 'is Mulder dead?' tease. Quickly resolved, though.

TLG pulling up in their van in the parkade? Gold.
posted by porpoise at 7:19 PM on June 26, 2020

This is definitely a Very Special episode, with so much to admire. The camera work, the period setting, the fun premise, a 30s-style Gillian Anderson in a bias-cut evening dress and marcelled hair, the little Wizard of Oz references.

The van was hilarious -- do they call it the Mystery Machine or the Alien Automobile or the Conspiracy Car?

One of my favourite little moments in this episode happens when the ballroom scene becomes a brawl, and one of the passengers -- a 60-something woman in a beaded white evening dress -- smashes one of the Nazis over the head with a bottle or a vase or something similar, causing him to collapse on the floor, and then gets a little satisfied smirk on her face. Who among us would not relish braining a Nazi?

I find it hard to believe that Irish sailors would be so very hostile to an American.

Mulder's "oh shit" reaction upon realizing that, rather than the ship having gotten in 1998, he'd gotten into 1939, was fun. That is probably the worst possible year of the 20th century to find oneself transported to.

CSM makes a very convincing Nazi officer.

This was Mulder and Scully's first mouth-to-mouth kiss of the series, but I suppose it doesn't "count" given that the entire experience was a hallucination on Mulder's part. Meanwhile Skinner gets a kiss from Scully first -- sucks to be Mulder.

I think the lost 1939 ship actually turning up with the power still working was far too much of a stretch, but if Scully and the Lone Gunmen hadn't boarded it, we wouldn't have had that split screen moment with the two Scullys.

"There's a little trouble at the White House, but it'll soon blow over."

"That rat bastard!" -- Scully, after learning that Jeffrey Spender has informed on her to Kersh.
posted by orange swan at 9:52 AM on July 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

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