"Triangle" was an ambitious hour of television. Paying homage to "Rope" and "The Wizard of Oz" while using only one Steadicam camera must have driven the crew insane. Fortunately their insanity brought a great episode into the world.
So what happened? Here's an attempt to summarize this time-bending plot:
In the Sargasso Sea (64 degrees West by Southwest for those scoring at home) a camera shot pans up from the briny depths to reveal the wrecked vessel Lady Garland. Floating amidst the debris is an unconscious Mulder who, it would appear, was up to his old tricks and once again got himself in some serious trouble.
The sky goes black and Mulder is lifted to the deck of the ocean liner Queen Anne. He's brought on board and smacked about by a crew of slightly-less-than-aristocratic Brits. The rejects from a Monty Python skit take him to the Captain's quarters where Capt. Harburg takes great joy in continuing Mulder's abuse and accusing him of being a Nazi spy. Nazi spy? Didn't the Nazis take a drubbing decades before? You'd think so, but the Captain, his crew and the boat Mulder just boarded are all floating in 1939, and the Nazis are a very real threat.
At first Mulder thinks he's found exactly what he was looking for. He travelled to the Bermuda Triangle to search for the Queen Anne, a luxury ship that had disappeared there in 1939. The gentle caresses of a time wrinkle have brought the ship into 1998 without anyone on-board realizing it. Since it's 1998 there's no threat of war and the boat certainly won't be run over by angry Nazis. Despite a bevy of information, the captain doesn't believe Mulder (gee, I wonder why) and he's convinced that it's still September 3, 1939. To make matters worse, Hitler's henchmen have just boarded the liner and are steering a course for their homeland. The captain has no time to discuss the ins and outs of time travel so he locks Mulder in his cabin and heads to the bridge to take care of business.
Mulder's belief that he's still in 1998 takes a severe hit when he turns on the Captain's radio and hears a report from England detailing Hitler's invasion of Poland. The announcer says that as of today, September 3, 1939, England is at war with Germany. So much for 1998.
As Mulder ponders his position in time, the door to the Captain's quarters is sheepishly opened by a slim Nazi. Mulder hits the lights and hides in the shadows, jumping the Nazi as he approaches the radio. The two men trade punches in the dark room but Mulder has the upper hand and easily knocks his opponent out. In the light from the doorway Mulder sees that the unconscious soldier lying before him looks exactly like Agent Jeffrey Spender. Something is most definitely amiss.
Mulder steals Spender's uniform (which is way too small) and emerges into the hallway, but when he neglects to properly greet a group of gun-toting Nazis they suspect foul play and begin pursuing. A game of cat and mouse ensues as Mulder ducks in and out of hallways, eventually finding temporary refuge in an elaborate ballroom filled with well-dressed passengers. A party is in full-swing but Nazi soldiers don't mingle well and Mulder quickly calls attention to himself. He strides toward the stage where he recognizes the lounge singer and while he stands there he's bumped by a dancing couple. The woman he's bumped into is Scully, but it's the 1939 version of Scully and she's dressed to the nines in a red dress.
Unfortunately, the 1939 Scully doesn't mesh well with the 1998 version of Mulder, especially since '39 Scully sees the Nazi uniform. Mulder and the '39 Scully will have to work their differences out later because a platoon of Nazis has just entered the ballroom and the lounge singer (who also doubles as A.D. Kersh's assistant) is screaming something in German while pointing at Mulder. It's never a good sign when a lounge singer screams at you in German.
Mulder takes his second beating in less than 20 minutes, but this time it's the Nazis who are doing the punching. Mulder fights with his fists and his barbed comments, relishing in the knowledge that the Russian winter will destroy the German army in a matter of years. His Bloodthirsty Nostradamus act doesn't impress the Nazis and they continue to drag him up to the bridge.
A lovely little scene is developing on the bridge as Captain Harburg refuses to turn the ship toward Germany. Diplomacy was never a Nazi strength and they waste little time planting a bullet in Harburg's head. With the business of navigation taken care of, the lead Nazi calmly turns, lifts a cigarette to his withered lips and plants himself in front of Mulder. It's CSM, and he's trying to say something to Mulder in German, but Mulder's language skills are lacking. The language barrier is broken when a Nazi soldier points a pistol at Mulder's head, but before the time-traveling agent is sent to a different dimension another Nazi soldier marches in and hands what appears to be Mulder's FBI identification to CSM. The soldier carrying the ID is A.D. Skinner, and whatever he said causes the pistol-holding soldier to stand down. Mulder is taken to the ship's engine room to join the other prisoners.
With Mulder in the brig and Nazis overrunning the Queen Anne, things don't look too good. Fortunately, Mulder has the Lone Gunmen watching his back on the other side of the time wrinkle. The trio of intrepid hackers rushes into the FBI building, desperate to tell Scully (the 1998 version) that Mulder has disappeared. The Gunmen spill the beans, informing Scully that earlier that morning a satellite sent an image of a ship that "inexplicably" appeared in the Bermuda Triangle. And guess which ship it was -- the SS Queen Anne. The boys gave Mulder the information and Fox hightailed it to Bermuda where he rented a powerboat and set out to reach the Queen Anne before anyone else got there. The Gunmen tracked Mulder via satellite for over an hour, but a storm blew in and when it dissipated Mulder was nowhere to be seen. They need Navy tracking data to find Mulder, but that's one thing they don't have access to -- and that's why they've come to Scully.
The word "frantic" is given new meeting as Scully rushes through the building looking for help. First stop: Skinner's office. Scully darts into Skinner's wood-paneled work space, tells her former boss that Mulder is missing, hands him a piece of paper and asks if he knows anyone in Naval intelligence who can find her partner. Skinner says he can't help her so Scully tries a different tactic. Beneath a beaming picture of Janet Reno she reminds him of the long history they have together. All the good times. All the Mexican Goat Suckers and Fluke Men. Surely that must mean something? Apparently not, for neither the past nor the beautiful visage of Janet Reno sway Skinner. Scully and Skinner trade comments about heads and asses (you do the math) and Scully storms away.
Second stop: Kersh's office. Why Scully would ask for help from the same man who gave her a tongue lashing about doe-eyed bible-school urchins in "Drive" is anyone's guess, but she asks anyway. Kersh's assistant tries to block the door to her boss' office, but Scully fakes her with a move that one-ups Deion Sanders. Once inside she breathlessly asks for help, but her request loses steam when she glances to her left and sees CSM quietly sucking a cigarette in the corner. Kersh takes the piece of paper Scully has been carrying and Scully dejectedly leaves the office.
Third stop: Agent Jeffrey Spender's meticulous basement office. On her way to the basement Scully tries to call Mulder's cell phone, but seeing as he's 60 years in the past and cellular technology has yet to break the space-time continuum, she doesn't get through.
When she appears in the doorway to Spender's domain she's lost all ability to rationally ask for a favor. She orders Spender to help her, cuts him off when he asks questions then watches in disgust as he leaves. The phone rings, Scully picks it up and CSM mistakes Scully for Agent Fowley. Instead of identifying herself, Scully pretends to be Fowley, then listens as CSM describes what just happened in Kersh's office between the assistant director and Scully. The conversation ends as CSM realizes he's not talking to Agent Fowley. Scully hangs up, runs from the office and almost bowls over A.D. Kersh's assistant. The assistant has been sent to find her because Agent Spender, being the little weasle he is, squealed on her.
Scully rushes into the elevator, where her cell phone rings. She can't hear who's on the other end but she figures it's Mulder. The door opens, but boy did it open at the worst possible time. CSM, Kersh and Spender are waiting in the hallway. Scully sees the men, does an about-face and rushes back into the elevator. She travels to another floor, the door once again opens and Skinner is standing there with a cell phone pressed to his ear. Mulder's isn't the one calling her, it's Skinner and once again the big lug has come through. He joins her inside the elevator, hands her the information she's been looking for and gets an unexpected kiss from the usually stoic Scully. The elevator travels down a floor, the door opens (yet again) and CSM, Kersh and Spender are still standing in the hall. Skinner pretends to scold Scully, then blocks the door as Spender tries to rush into the elevator. The elevator reaches the parking garage, Scully emerges and the Lone Gunmen drive up in their Mystery Mobile to whisk her away.
Okay everyone, deep breath...BREATHE IN....BREATHE OUT...
As Scully and the boys embark on their rescue mission, Mulder spends some quality time with the ship's prisoners. While below decks he learns that the Queen Anne might be carrying arms from the U.S. to England, which would explain why the Nazis took an active interest in the ocean liner. But there's more. The head crewman (a man who seems to know far too much) says the Nazis boarded the boat after intercepting a message with the code words "Thor's Hammer." Mulder spins around with a look that clearly exclaims: "Thor's Hamer! Thor's Hammer isn't a code word, it's a man. A man who will help build a weapon that will win the war that has just begun!"
Mulder forgets that even in 1939 you must trust no one and he blabs about how he saw Thor's Hammer (his real name isn't given) in the ballroom. The Crewman Who Knew Too Much smiles, walks to the door, spouts something in German then walks out. Damn those double agents!
The remaining crew members decide to shut down the engines, but to do so they have to get through a stubborn Jamaican that looks a lot like A.D. Kersh. The English crew wants to take the ship back to England, but Kersh says they're plotting a course for Jamaica. Mulder has a different idea -- turn the ship around and head back to the future (so to speak) As the great docking debate rages, Nazis march in and take Mulder to the ballroom so he can identify Thor's Hammer.
The ballroom is considerably less festive than when we first saw it. Mulder is brought to the center of the dance floor and thrown at the feet of Spender and CSM. The Nazis want Mulder to identify Hammer, but he refuses and that's when the Nazis begin shooting people. Two innocent passengers hit the floor before Hammer steps forward. '39 Scully tries to convince the Nazis that she's the scientist, but in actuality she's an undercover OSS agent who's protecting Hammer. With Hammer in custody, Mulder and '39 Scully are expendable so the Nazis force them to their knees to be executed.
But there will be no execution tonight because the Queen Anne's crew has other plans. A horde of angry Englishmen and Jamaicans (accompanied by a swingin' soundtrack) busts into the ballroom and an old-fashioned riot begins. Mulder and '39 Scully crawl outside to escape.
At the same time, '98 Scully and the Gunmen find the Queen Anne, board her and begin searching the empty halls. Mulder and '39 Scully dart in and out of rooms and at one point it seems that the '98 Scully and the '39 Scully walk right through one another. What the hell is going on?
While we're left to ponder what we've just seen, Mulder and '39 Scully reach the deck and Mulder tries to explain how '39 Scully can save the ship. The ship must head back into the triangle so as not to disrupt history. If the ship continues on its present course neither Mulder nor Scully will ever be born, the X-files will never come to be and I'll have nothing to do on Sunday nights. Mulder, realizing this might be the last time he ever sees Scully, grabs the back of her neck, pulls her to him and kisses her semi-passionately. '39 Scully reacts by pounding his face with a right hook. Now that Mulder has fulfilled his destiny and finally kissed his partner, he walks to the railing and jumps into oblivion. '39 Scully tosses a life ring after him then returns to the party/riot.
A blue underwater haze fills the screen and a boat pulls alongside Mulder's unconscious form. When Mulder wakes up he's in a 1998 hospital bed that's surrounded by Scully, the Gunmen and Skinner. It's right out of "The Wizard of Oz," but the similarity is lost on Mulder. He's too busy relaying his story of Nazis, time warps and how Scully saved the world. Scully tells Mulder that the ship was empty, but Mulder will have none of that. He looks deep into Scully's eyes, pauses, then says "I love you." Scully rolls her eyes, mutters "oh brother" under her breath and walks away.
So there it is, an attempt at recounting the plot of "Triangle." Even though I studied this episode there are a number of questions still going through my head: Did Mulder actually board the Queen Anne or did he imagine the entire scenario while unconscious in the water? Can we read into the dual nature of the characters? Did Mulder and Scully actually kiss?
We'll probably never know, but I suppose that's part of the fun.
Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.