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"Triangle" is the third episode of the sixth season of The X-Files. Premiering on the Fox network on November 22, 1998, the episode was written and directed by series creator Chris Carter.

It is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc.


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.


Floating in the sea is the wreckage of a small sailing vessel. Amongst the wood and debris is Fox Mulder, floating face down.

Brits bring Mulder to the captain. They think he is a German.

He is pulled from the water by British sailors, who suspect him of being a "Dirty Jerry." He shows them his FBI ID but, insisting they have never heard of such an organization, the sailors take him to the captain, still believing he's a German spy. Upon meeting the captain, Mulder tries to convince them that their ship has been caught in the Bermuda Triangle and somehow traveled to 1998. When the ship is boarded by a group of Nazi soldiers who intend to take the ship back to Germany, the crew locks Mulder in the captain's cabin as he unsuccessfully tries to convince them they should be taken to Germany, as the Germans "make nice cars." Left alone in the cabin, Mulder tries to send out an SOS but instead hears the transmission that confirms he has actually gone back in time—the date is September 3, 1939, and Poland has been invaded by Germany. World War II has begun.

After knocking out a Nazi soldier bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jeffrey Spender, and taking his uniform,

Disguised Mulder finds "Scully" and important scientist.

Mulder is able to escape the confines of the cabin. Chased by Nazis, he ends up in the ballroom, where he encounters "Scully" dancing with an older gentleman. She doesn't know him, and treats him in a hostile manner since she thinks he's a Nazi. He's captured by the Nazis and when taken to the bridge sees the captain killed, having changed the course, and refusing to reset it towards Germany. A Cigarette Smoking Nazi leader addresses Mulder in German, asking where the weapons are being hidden. Not being understood by Mulder, he orders him to be shot, when he stopped by "Skinner" who has realized Mulder's American citizenship, and shooting him would risk the United States entering the war that has just begun in Europe.

The Lone Gunmen inform Scully about Mulder in the Bermuda Triangle.

Meanwhile in the present, The Lone Gunmen find Dana Scully at her desk at the FBI headquarters to inform her that Mulder has disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. He was looking for the S.S. Queen Anne, which has suddenly been spotted for the first time since its disappearance in 1939. In order to find him, she needs to get information from the Pentagon to get his position. After being turned down by A.D. Walter Skinner, she then forces her way into A.D. Alvin Kersh's office, but hastily leaves when she finds Cigarette Smoking Man is also in his office. Desperate, she goes to Agent , threatening to kill him if he doesn't do what she asks. Spender's phone rings after she has left. It's CSM, who believing Scully to be Agent Diana Fowley, inquires about the paper Kersh had taken from her. She quickly hangs up and leaves the office, running into Kersh's secretary sent to retrieve her. She tells Scully that Spender is with Kersh. Ducking into an elevator to avoid them, she again meets with Skinner who is able to give her the information she has tried so hard to obtain. Taking the elevator to the parking lot, she climbs into the Gunmen's van as they leave the FBI building to find Mulder.

"Kersh" steering the ship for Jamaica.

Back on the Queen Anne, Mulder is still a prisoner of the Nazis, locked up with the British sailors and the Jamaican engineers. He's told by a British sailor that the Germans are looking for what they believe to be a weapon named "Thor's Hammer," hidden somewhere on the ship. Telling them Thor's Hammer isn't a weapon, but a man who can build a weapon, and that he saw him in the ballroom, one of the British sailors reveals himself to be a German spy. A Jamaican scolds Mulder, telling him there are spies everywhere and to "trust no one." While the British sailors want to scuttle the ship, "Kersh" has chained the controls, steering a course for "home"—Jamaica. Mulder tells them they have to turn the ship

Mulder with "Cigarette-Smoking Man" and "Spender"

around and go back the way they came. Taken back to the ballroom by the Nazis, Mulder is ordered by "CSM", with "Spender" translating, to identify Thor's Hammer or else they will begin shooting passengers. After two men have been shot, "Scully" speaks up saying Mulder doesn't know anything, and in a parallel to real life, yells at "Spender," calling him a weasel. Mulder says the first man shot was the scientist, but they don't believe him and point a gun at "Scully."

Scully & The Lone Gunmen find the Queen Anne, deserted in the triangle.

Back in the present, Scully and the Lone Gunmen find the Queen Anne, noting that it has power, and board the ship to look for Mulder. The Nazis call Mulder's bluff by asking the dead man's name, when the real scientist steps forward. "Scully" tries to say she's the scientist, but he says she's OSS traveling with him to protect him. "CSM" takes Thor's Hammer and orders "Scully" and Mulder shot. Before that happens, the engine is shut down, and the British sailors descend upon the ballroom, taking on the Nazi soldiers, allowing "Scully" and Mulder escape in the midst of the chaos. While Scully and the Lone Gunmen search the Queen Anne, Mulder and the 1939 Scully are held at gunpoint by a Nazi, who is then subsequently shot by "Skinner," who reveals himself to be a mole working against the Nazis.

Mulder and "Scully" end up on the deck of the ship, as the British are still fighting the Nazis. Mulder tells "Scully" that she has to get the ship out of the rift in space by turning around and heading back into the Triangle. Mulder grabs "Scully" and kisses her, in case they "never meet again." After she punches him in the face, he jumps overboard, and "Scully" throws a lifesaver after him.

Mulder is found floating among the wreckage of the small vessel, and wakes up in the hospital in the present day. Scully, the Lone Gunmen and Skinner are there. Scully explains Mulder did something "incredibly stupid," looking for a ship in the Bermuda Triangle. When Mulder informs Scully and Skinner that they were there with the Nazis, everyone thinks that he's delirious, but he insists that Scully saved the world and that she believed him. Scully explains the Queen Anne was nothing more than a ghost ship, and his boat was smashed into a million pieces. As she's leaving the room, Mulder calls her back and tells her, "I love you." Scully rolls her eyes and leaves the room. Mulder gingerly touches his black eye, presumably given to him by the 1939 Scully after he kissed her.


Devil's Triangle; J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building; Navy; Sargasso Sea

Background Information[]

  • This episode uses very specific and thought out choices with regards to editing. The most distinctive feature of this episode is that it is was all shot as a series of long takes, with very little use of cutting. The vast majority of scenes were filmed to appear on screen as a single shots. While the crew managed to film some in single shots, others were edited to merely give this appearance, with cuts taking place when the screen goes dark, so as to be masked. When transitions were made between the two different time periods, this would often occur as a side swipe, rather than the traditional cut. With the exception of Mulder jumping off the S.S. Queen Anne, the only noticeable editing occurs between scenes, and when shifting the action between the two different time periods. Although this episode is well known for being a series of four one-offs, Chris Carter says in the episode's commentary track that there are actually 34+ cuts used in the episode, hidden in pans or darkness.
  • Chris Carter was inspired by an MTV video of the band Semisonic for the split-screen shot in which past and present Scully cross paths. Rather than displaying two different events, each side of the screen shows the same event from almost identical angles. When Scully runs around the corner, she does so at the same time as Mulder and the female scientist. This was also filmed in such a way that as they passed each other in the hall way, they also passed into the opposite frame of the split screen.
  • Every time Scully gets in and out of the elevator, there is a cleverly disguised cut because the elevator is actually stationary. However, in the scene where Scully isn't getting reception on her cellphone, every time the elevator rises to a new floor, the crew had to switch the set (extras, props, everything) very quickly. According to Chris Carter, this led to funny shots where the doors would open too early and reveal crew members scurrying about with pictures and props in their hands.
  • Towards the end of the scene in which Scully is trying to find information on where Mulder is, she runs out of Fowley and Spender's office and goes around the corner toward the elevator, here she slips and almost falls. It's quite obvious that this was not intended, since you can see Gillian Anderson's arm shoot out to catch herself. She's in fact quite lucky that she didn't fall because if she had, since they filmed the entire episode in real time, they would have had to start back at the very beginning of that scene and do it all over again.
  • Due to the filming of the episode, no one is seen getting shot on screen. When people are shot, we see the person who is firing, but the victim is either obscured, or out of frame, as there would be no way to apply the make up necessary for the gun shot wound.
  • In order to get more action into each frame, this episode was aired in letterbox format, the same height-to-width ratio used for big-screen motion pictures.
  • Taking advantage of the recent move to Los Angeles, many of the ship scenes were filmed on the Queen Mary, a luxury liner built in the 1930s that was (and still is) a tourist attraction in Long Beach Harbor.
  • Locations mentioned are the Queen Anne, near the border of the Bermuda Triangle in the Sargasso Sea, the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington D.C. as well as the home countries of the three different nationalities on board: Great Britain, Germany and Jamaica.


  • It is entirely possible that everything Mulder experiences, prior to waking up in the hospital, happens only in his mind. In the teaser Mulder is seen lying face down in the water, and could feasibly experience the events on the Queen Anne as some kind of oxygen-deprived dream and/or hallucination before being rescued by Scully and the Gunmen. This would also explain the similarities between the people on board and those Mulder knows in reality.
  • The military German spoken in the corridors of the ship is indeed quite accurate in regard to intonation and vocabulary as used by Nazi soldiers before and during WWII. The American actors, however, don't do such a good job: their lines include massive pronunciation and some grammar mistakes, making it hard to understand what exactly they are saying even for people who speak German as a mother tongue.
  • Mulder says that the current troubles at the White House (presumably the Monica Lewinsky scandal) will soon "blow over."
  • He also jokes that Great Britain has done little that it needs to apologize for to America, "except maybe the Spice Girls." The Spice Girls' first single "Wannabe" had a video that was shot in one long sequence, much like the long shots of this epidose.
  • This episode we see one of the first on-screen kisses between Mulder & Scully, although it is Scully's past life.
  • Many of the costumes used in this episode were ex-Titanic costumes from the Fox wardrobe department.
  • The song played while Scully is running about the ship avoiding Nazi's is "Hot Liquorice" by Dick Walters.
  • This is one of Gillian Anderson's favorite episodes.

Memorable Quotes[]

Mulder: "I love you." ~ Scully: "Oh brother."

"Trust no one, man." - A Jamaican engineer to Mulder.


  • In this episode, which takes place on September 3, 1939, "Scully" is an agent in the OSS, the predecessor to the CIA. In actuality, the OSS was not created until June 13, 1942, nearly three years later.
  • When Mulder is brought aboard the Queen Anne, the British crewmen claim never to have heard of the FBI. This is possible, as the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), founded in 1908, did not change its name to FBI until 1935. However, movies of the late '30s often ignored the earlier name when portraying the events of the Prohibition era. Worldwide distribution of US movies, already prolific by this time, should have familiarized non-Americans with the term.
  • As already mentioned in the comments, the soldiers would hardly use the informal "du" to call after a fellow officer whose face they may not be able to see but whose uniform (collar badge and shoulder strap) clearly indicates that he is a SS-Untersturmführer (SS-Junior assault leader), which basically equals a lieutenant. Addressing someone who is higher in rank with "du" instead of the formal and polite "Sie" is generally considered an insult as it shows no respect and would undoubtedly have serious consequences in this military context.
  • The German message "Die Wahrheit ist irgendwo da draußen" in the opening credits translates to "The truth is somewhere out there." Since the tagline is written with capital letters and there is no uppercase "ß", the word "draußen" would usually be expected to be written with a double s ("draussen"), however, this is not considered a spelling mistake.
  • Scully adds in an additional line when speaking to agent Spender (see []):
 SCULLY: ..maybe a ship. 1939 luxury liner. 
 SPENDER: 1939?
 SCULLY: Don't ask too many questions. I don't care  what you do [ or who you do]


  • The scene in which Mulder points to an already dead man on the ground when asked who the scientist on board the ship is, is a reference to a scene in the film Schindler's List, in which a young Jewish boy tells the Nazi officers that a man who had just been shot stole the chicken they were interrogating them about, thus saving more people from being killed. Unlike the boy, Mulder is unsuccessful in his attempt to trick the Nazis.
  • Much like "Post-Modern Prometheus" was a homage to Frankenstein, this episode was a homage to The Wizard of Oz:
    • First of all, the story loosely follows that of The Wizard of Oz, with Mulder in a sort-of alternate reality, running into people who look amazingly like the important people in his life. Furthermore, the events he witnesses onboard the Queen Anne take place in 1939, the very same year the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was released.
    • The performing band in the ballroom of the Queen Anne is named "Elmira Gulch and the Lollipop Guild". Elmira Gulch was the non-Oz name of the Wicked Witch of the West (the mean old woman who wanted to take Toto away from Dorothy), and the Lollipop Guild was the ruling body of the Munchkins.
    • Mulder rents his boat, the Lady Garland (a reference to Judy Garland, who played Dorothy), in Hamilton Harbour. Though this is an actual place, it is also the last name of the actress who played Elmira Gulch.
    • Captain Yip Harburg was so-named for The Wizard of Oz lyricist, Yip Harburg.
    • An obscure reference (probably not for those who speak German) is in the altered tagline, which translates into "The Truth is Somewhere Out There", possibly a homage to the song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
    • At the end of the episode, Mulder wakes up in a hospital bed in a scene that nearly parallels the end of the film. The three Lone Gunmen represent the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow who have come to see Dorothy after her 'dream'. Furthermore, Skinner mentions Toto , Scully says "There's no place like home" and Mulder tells Scully, "I love you."



Also Starring

Guest Starring


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