Triangle 6×3: I would’ve never seen you again, but you believed me.

And it’s Skinner for the win.

This is the first of, well, quite a few episodes in Season 6 that strike me as officially stamped productions of fanfic. Brilliant fanfic, mind you, but fanfic nonetheless. And I mean this as the best possible sort of compliment.

If there’s one common complaint about Season 6 is that it’s largely dominated by “X-Files Light” episodes, episodes in the vein of “Small Potatoes” (4×20) and “War of the Coprophages” (3×12) that are more fluff pieces than hardcore Monster of the Week scare fests. These episodes aren’t always necessarily overt comedies, but they purposefully lack depth in an effort to give the audience a break both from mythology angst and MOTW seriousness.

It’s a far cry from the types of episodes that dominated Season 1 and Season 2, but if you look at the direction The X-Files has taken since Season 3 I don’t see much cause for indignant surprise. And considering the show has just come back after the climax of a hit feature film, a little self-conscious indulgence has been well earned. How could The X-Files pretend that it’s not iconic? That Mulder and Scully aren’t beloved stereotypes? If the show didn’t start poking fun at itself on the regular or throw out knowing winks and nods to its bulging audience it would implode in unvaried solemnity.

“Triangle” is one such wink and nod and it’s quite possibly the best of them. The whole adventure feels like a reward, a thank you card if you will, to a long-suffering audience; as if Chris Carter knows that we love these characters and decided to treat us to a fantasy. Like Mulder we’re having a really cool dream where all our favorite people are transplanted into unusual circumstances, but that’s exactly its charm.

This is why I say it feels like fanfic because it’s usually fanfic that fans have to resort to in order to see their favorite characters loosen up or imagine how they’d behave outside of their usual context. Now, this way of consciously acknowledging the audience and of lovingly nudging itself in the ribs can be a trap for any show, especially for one with such a serious and dramatic premise as The X-Files. But “Triangle” is so well done that I think we can ignore those fears for now and just enjoy the gift.

I can’t get over how gorgeous this episode is, it is absolutely lush. The colors saturate the screen. When I think of how far The X-Files’ production quality… and budget… has evolved from Season 1, I shake my head in amazement.

“Triangle” was shot in a series of especially long takes, which gives it a very fluid, very urgent feel. It forced the Carter & Crew to use some creative staging in order to avoid revealing production details that are normally disguised by cuts, and also to disguise the cuts themselves with creative editing. Visually, I adore this method as I love those moments where the camera conveniently looks away to avoid revealing trade secrets and I particularly I love the smoothness of the camera movement throughout.

But my favorite aspect of this episode has nothing to do with technique. My favorite part of this episode is Scully. In fact, this is my favorite episode of all for Scully’s character. Why? Because she’s so much fun! And how often does Scully get to be fun? You know I love her, but our girl is generally a stick-in-the-mud. Every so often she’s allowed to crack a joke or suppress a smirk and if we’re really lucky, she’ll tell off a madman or two in that impressively authoritative voice of hers.

What a joy it must have been for Gillian Anderson to play a different sort of Scully. Not that she’s out of character here, but how often does Scully get to show us such a huge range of facial expressions in one episode? How often is she flustered? Or angry? On top of that, 1939 Scully is Rosie the Riveter rather than a medical doctor which means she’s allowed to be even more feisty. My favorite part is the entire second act where we follow Scully up and down the halls of the F.B.I. as she tries, yet again, to save her incurably foolish partner.

And, of course, she’s ultimately successful both in the past and present. Scully saves Mulder, literally, in the past and in the present she saves him metaphorically because of the same reason: she believes him. Scully has to believe Mulder; the woman can’t help herself, it’s a compulsion. Whether in an alternate universe, alternate dimension or alternate time stream, it’s in her job description and on her business card: Mulder Believer.

That’s the ultimate beauty of this episode and the reward that I think Chris Carter was trying to give fans, validation of their belief in the Mulder/Scully partnership that at this point beats as the heart of the series. There’s a certain amount of destiny involved in all of Mulder’s relationships as presented because Mulder can’t avoid the people in his life, good or bad but they follow him even in unconsciousness. But when it comes to Scully in particular, her belief in him is instinctive rather than rational which again lends itself to the idea that these are two people with a God-given understanding of each other that was foreordained. This mystery of the unexplained is probably unsolvable, but it’s also worth more than all the other truth Mulder so stubbornly seeks and it’s nice to know he finally realizes that too.

And the Verdict is…

It would have been too much to expect that Chris Carter would allow his characters to kiss at this stage of the game, and I can’t blame him for refusing to indulge his needy audience (of which I was one) quite that far. But I’ll take a kiss between Mulder and “Scully” in shadow any day. The truth is that I’m glad the kiss happens mostly in the dark because I love that romantic air of mystery and I’m even gladder that Mulder and Scully didn’t become a television couple yet. Else what would I have had to look forward to? Besides, Mulder kissed her like a man who had thought long and hard about doing this before. That’s more than enough for me. And with a love confession on top of it? I remember nearly collapsing in shock and joy – I do believe there was screaming.

So does any of what we see on the 1939 version of the Queen Anne actually happen? The split screen moment between the two Scullys and Mulder’s ginger touch to his cheek would certainly have us believe so. Though the references to The Wizard of Oz sprinkled all through the episode and the fact that we see our hero conked out at the beginning would indicate that this is all a very realistic fantasy inside Mulder’s head, or maybe a world that is real but is only real because he created it.

I don’t care, really. I just want this episode to come out in HD so that my life can be complete.


P.S. You know she punched him because she enjoyed that kiss a little too much, right?

Puddin Tame:

Mark Snow’s score is like another character in this episode.

For that matter, so is the camera.

I hadn’t noticed before that the guy who plays Thor’s Hammer in 1939 is the same Agent who overhears part of Scully’s conversation with the Lone Gunmen in 1998.

I can’t figure out how Kersh’s character winds up in the bowels of the ship in 1939. How does that represent his position in Mulder’s life? Well, I suppose no one would have believed he was a Nazi…

I have ransacked my brain and I can only think of two episodes where Scully ever wears a dress, this one and “En Ami” (7×15).

Agent Fowley is absent from this whole play. Interesting. Perhaps that brewing love triangle would have distracted too much from the action. I tend to think so.

I had hoped that Chris Carter’s experimental episodes, you know, the ones he helmed from beginning to end, would be a once-a-year occurrence, but alas. We get a similarly experimental if not quite as ambitious episode later in the season in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6×8) but the next time Chris Carter gives us a distinctly “Chris Carteresque” episode will be Season 9’s “Improbable” (9×14), so you might want to unbuckle your seatbelt for that wait.

No Germans were harmed in the making of this episode.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Well, you… you can relax. There’s no war going on. The world is at peace. There’s a little trouble over at our White House, but that’ll blow over… so to speak.


Scully: I want you to do me a favor. It’s not negotiable. Either you do it or I kill you, you understand?
Spender: You okay, Agent Scully?
Scully: No. I’m not. I’m a gun ready to go off so don’t test me, Spender. Don’t even think about trying to weasel me.


Kersh’s Secretary: I was sent to come get you.
Scully: Yeah, I was waiting for Agent Spender, he was, uh… I’m supposed to pick up a delivery from him.
Kersh’s Secretary: Agent Spender is with Assistant Director Kersh.
Scully: That rat bastard!

Mulder: Hey, Scully.
Scully: Yes?
Mulder: I love you.
Scully: Oh, brother.

61 responses to “Triangle 6×3: I would’ve never seen you again, but you believed me.

  1. I know I’ve grumbled a bit about the British sailors’ wierd accents before, but that minor point aside I really do have a lot of affection for this episode- oh brother. ! 😉 I really envy you watching this with no foreknowledge of what was going to happen and screaming over the bedside confession(That would’ve been me!!). As it is, I watched this well after it had entered X Files TV legend but although I had an idea of what to expect I still found it to be a glorious romp and fantasy journey of the XFiles through the looking-glass. Time to put aside your preconceptions and enjoy it from CSM’s awful attempt at a German
    accent to me squealing over recognising a young Michael Buble as one of the sailors and spotting someone else who looked a bit like Colin Farrell ( but maybe not?) then on to Scully running around corridors (ship and FBI) to that kiss! What’s not to love? Only gripe is that Mulder’s reference to the Spice Girls dates it a little bit, but it’s a minor quibble!

  2. Such a classic episode. Scully at the FBI is absolutely fantastic, and obviously the kiss and the I love you are squee-worthy.

    And it’s been a long time since I saw this episode, but isn’t Skinner a Nazi who secretly helps our heroes? I love Skin-man and I’ve always liked that characterization of him: because of his position at the FBI he is forced to antagonize Mulder and Scully from time to time, but deep down he’s a really good guy and will help them if he can.

    • I remember wondering at the time why CC went back to the “Can we trust Skinner?” theme and turned him into a Nazi, but I apparently had let all thoughts of The Beginning and his selling out Mulder fly my mind. As of Season 6, Skinner’s back in the closet as an ally.

  3. I don’t have a favourite episode of The X Files. For me it’s too tough a question, but I do have a list of episodes that would definitely be considered favourites. Triangle is definitely on that list. I have nothing much to say (until I review it myself) but for now all I will say are the four words below.

    I Love This Episode.

    • I haven’t been able to settle on a favorite either, and I’m notoriously incapable of making decisions like that, but I suppose that if you put a gun to my head, and a large, double barreled one at that, I might choose Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. Then again, I might not. Depends on the day.

      Anywho, I look forward to your review. Maybe by then I’ll have chosen a rank for Triangle.

  4. This episode rocks my socks. HARD. Made a lot of the previous angst worth it. Combining X-Files and Wizard of Oz equals an epic win in my book. I could go on and on about what I love and what I love even more, but that’d make quite the post.

    However; I love the split screen moment of the two Scullys crossing paths, and their confusion after–so righteous. It’s fun seeing 1998 Mulder trying to interact 1939 Scully and all the Nazis. I don’t care about the bad accents and such; actors are only human, and having maybe a week to learn to either speak it or sound like you’re a native German speaking English would be TOUGH. I had to learn Hungarian for Chicago and it took me weeks and weeks to get it all straight, so I don’t fault any of the actors at all for not being perfect on that end. And who cares, anyway? The accents were never my focus.

    I’m going to ignore for a moment the “I love you” (squeeeeeeeeeeee!) and just focus on, “In case we never meet again.” I think you’re absolutely right when you say he’d thought about it long and hard. But what he said spoke freaking volumes. I took it to mean that kissing Scully is something that he wants to do with his life, and that not being able to kiss her would haunt him forever. That’s HUGE. Though it’ll be a while before we see them in a romantic context, it does show that it’s something he wants, and if the world is about to end, then damn it, he’s gonna kiss him some Scully. Hot dog!

    And, just for the record…SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    • Though it’ll be a while before we see them in a romantic context, it does show that it’s something he wants, and if the world is about to end, then damn it, he’s gonna kiss him some Scully.


      That is all.

      Wait, not quite…

      Hot dog! – Thanks for this.

  5. “Whether in an alternate universe, alternate dimension or alternate time stream, it’s in her job description and on her business card: Mulder Believer.” <– Hilarious. And so true.

    This episode is awesomesauce. I love that it's a little bit out of the show's comfort zone, and the whole presentation of it is just brilliant. The scene where Scully's running around the FBI blows my mind every time — I just can't believe that's all one shot! I never really considered the possibility that the whole thing might have been in Mulder's head until this rewatch . . . . probably because I usually just take for granted that what we see Mulder seeing is what's actually happening. I think the episode gives some hints that it was all in his head and some hints that it actually happened, so I love that we can interpret it either way.

    And, finally. Finally. The last 5 minutes of this episode . . . how can you not love it? I seem to remember that back when it first aired, the promo had shown that they might kiss — although I'm sure I thought the boat would explode or something just as it was about to happen — but the "I love you" was totally unexpected. I definitely screamed. And every time I watch that scene again, I grin like an idiot and squee to myself like the 13-year-old girl I still am inside. I've always wondered about Scully's response, though. If you watch her when he says it, she doesn't react at all. You'd think there might be a split second of surprise, followed by a quick recovery and then her "oh, brother." But no. It's like he said something completely inconsequential, like, "I'm having a bit of indigestion." So, was she just not ready to hear it? (Then why did she try to recreate The Moment twice, at the end of the movie and in The Beginning?) Did she really think he was just doped out of his mind? Mulder frequently says crazy things, but he's almost always serious about them. I mean, she must have known — on some level — that he felt that way, right? RIGHT? What happened to "Mulder Believer"??

    • You bring up an interesting point… I admit I have been disappointed in Scully’s reaction to his admission, also. I have always chalked it up to her being put out by him (as a Mulder Believer or no) after he compared her to Fowley not too long before he said it. If I were her, I’d probably roll my eyes and think “is that what you say to all of the girls who chase aliens with you?” But, like Scully, I would also shortly thereafter climb in the car with him to go meet a source at Area 51 (as she is about to do next.)

      • I never really considered the possibility that the whole thing might have been in Mulder’s head until this rewatch . . . . probably because I usually just take for granted that what we see Mulder seeing is what’s actually happening. Same here. Exactly.

        I don’t think I ever begrudged Scully her reaction, mainly because I’ve always taken it at face value that she thought he was drugged out of his gourd. Now, how she might have reacted if he had started off that conversation by talking sense…

        Yes, but that 13-year-old self will out, won’t she?

    • P.S. That’s it, I remember kind of expecting a kiss but being absolutely floored that the MSR miserly Chris Carter threw in a love confession as well. Maybe he’d been sipping the Happy Juice post-movie.

      • I think I may be one of the few who wasn’t floored when Mulder confessed his love; this is because some of the local radio stations ran ads for the ep, and said something like, “With the moment you’ve been waiting for,” then going into “I love you.” Where they got a hold of this nugget I’ll never know. Not that I was disappointed; I still squeed super hard. But, in retrospect, having that come as an out-of-the-blue shock would’ve been pretty awesome.

  6. I had never considered this episode as a tribute to fan-fic, but seeing your review caused me to stop and think about it. Really, I think you’re onto something here!

    Having Mulder, Scully, and many of the other characters transported onto a 1939 British ship courtesy of the Bermuda Triangle seems like it walked right off the pages of a fan-fic! Using this idea, the writers seemed to “get away” with many things they wouldn’t normally. Mulder and Scully kissing…yeah, against the rules. However, for the 1939 version of Scully, it might be okay to bend the rules since in the end, Mulder will wake up in his present day reality anyway.

    Great observation, once again!!!

  7. I love this episode, I love Gillian in this episode, and god if I didn’t just simultaneously squee and swoon just now at the end when he said “I love you.” OMG. I knew it was coming, I’ve seen it several times, and still I have the same damn reaction.

    I have nothing else intelligent to add. *skips away merrily*

  8. RE: “For that matter, so is the camera.”

    The reason that the camera may seem a little out of whack is because this episode is an homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Rope; in it, the camera never cuts and is one continuous shot. The actors said it was really hard, because when a mistake was made, they had to go all of the way back to the beginning of the scene, which could be almost fifteen to twenty minutes long! The special effects and makeup crew said it was tough during the ending fight scene because they had to put makeup on actors, on the fly, shielded from the cameras and QUICKLY.

    Hope that clears it up a little. 🙂

  9. oh yeah this episode is one of my favs. Loved the kiss. Only wish Scully had thought about what Mulder said when he told he he loved her.

  10. Ah, Triangle…You’re so right. It was an XF fanfic writer’s DREAM. And I will confess to NOT having seen or heard or read of ANY spoilers for it beforehand; so I was COMPLETELY and UTTERLY surprised at those last two minutes when he told her he loved her. I squeed and squealed like the 15 year old I was. What an incredible, amazingly cut, lush episode. Top 10 easy. Up there w/ Dreamland (1&2), Pusher, Momento Mori, the Hollywood episode (title escapes me!) and a number I can’t think of right now since it’s 12:47am and my eyes are burning. lol

    • “Lush!” That’s exactly the word. The colors are so saturated and then when you throw in those dreamy retro costumes and the staging – gorgeous.

      This show still makes me squeal like a 15-year-old but I refuse to be ashamed.

  11. 2ShyToUseAnActualName

    I thought that Kersh’s position in 1939 represented his position in Mulder’s life pretty well, actually. He serves as a hindrance to the ship’s course (and, in real life, Mulder’s search for the truth), but is not a part of the Nazis (in real life, the conspiracy/the Syndicate).

  12. NostalgicPhile

    Nice reviews – great to see your perspective, as I was an avid fan back in the day. Personally, my favourite moment in the end is the way Mulder keeps poking Scully as he relates his story – so subtle, but so hilarious. And Scully’s flirtatious delivery of, “There’s no place like home.” Also, fyi, Scully also wore a dress in “All Souls” (to church).

  13. Great observation. I love Scully also. Sheis my fav. Looking forward to your obs of season 7! Yeah..we know she lliked that kiss, I only wish she listened to Mulder or there was some kind of after thought on him telling her he loved her.

  14. If Diana Fowley had been in this episode she would have been Eva Brown no doubt!!!!! a Nazi!

      • well don’t you think so! counterpart to cancer man’ s no1 in charge for Adolf? Why not send his girlfriend to keep an eye on things who most likely would fool around.Wanting Mulder, fiercely jealous of Scully! and as stiff as starch and dumb as a doornail!

  15. Fanfic-esque is right. Bang on as usual. With the I love you… Mulder was always miles ahead of understanding their love/affection/bond than Scully. She was always much more hesitant and guarded. Even in season one he was very tactile. Remember… Scully ‘doesn’t want to believe’?

  16. That’s what they show us. CC said Scully was in love with Mulder from the beginning. albeit was sub conscience.

  17. Of course one of the best, if not THE best episode in the entire show.

    I absolutely love the long sequence of Scully in the FBI building, running from office to office, with all the references of the show… Brilliant.

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  20. I am going to watch this one tonight while waiting for the new Sherlock to come on.

    You talk about a show going all fan-fic…did you watch Hannibal?

    • Yeeess… I’m biding my time till Sherlock as well.

      I watched Season 1 but that’s it. I was waiting till Season 2 was free on Amazon which it now conveniently is. Now I’m thinking I’ll watch from the beginning and maybe by then Season 3 will be free too.

      • You can watch all of Sherlock in a weekend.
        So, I rewatched Triangle and it wasn’t as good as I remembered. I still really appreciated the tricky camera work, though. So I am going through these 2 lists in prep for the end of this month:

        What do you think is missing? (looking for only 5-10 additional episodes)

        • I’m honored!

          To start with, I’m sure I’d trade out several of the episodes on the Huffington Post list. Chris Carter’s list is, as to be expected, solid. I’d watch all of those.

          The Beginning – Adds nothing to the mythology. It was basically filler after the high that was the 1998 movie.

          Vienen – Also a mythology episode that tells us nothing. If anything, skip to the very end if you really want to watch Mulder pass the basement office off to Doggett. Pretty mediocre.

          Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man – This is more debatable as it has artistic merit even though there’s no real info here. If you want a character study on TXF’s greatest villain before his revival return, then keep it in. For me personally, “En Ami” is a better choice in that regard.

          The Gift – It’s a decent episode, but it centers around Doggett and Mulder’s brain disease. Two things completely irrelevant to the revival.

          Improbable – Absolutely not. Who came up with this ridiculous list???

          So without those 5 (and with “The End” also being questionable) I would include…


          1. Irresistible
          2. Humbug
          3. Leonard Betts
          4. Squeeze
          5. Tooms
          6. Pusher!


          1. Paper Clip – The new teaser shows a set that looks awfully like this ep.
          2. Redux II
          3. Two Fathers
          4. One Son – Not heavy on action, but these last two completely explain the mythology through Season 6.

  21. wow

    I was smiling and thoroughly entertained the entire episode. I think this is my favorite right now. (I have another four seasons to go so…who knows.)

    The long take, trailing shots were well done and immediately reminded me of the famous “Goodfellas” shot into the nightclub.

    Costumes and sets were well done. The score was awesome,especially when the Brits are let into the dance floor to take on the Nazis…just great.

    I agree 100% with your take on Scully. This is the most animated and just plain fun I’ve seen her played by Anderson so far. Was a real treat. The kiss and love you confession made me all warm and fuzzy. (plus the genuine guffaw when she replies “oh, brother” with the roll eyes…lol.)

    I also agree with you that an episode like this will reinvest, invigorate the fan base to keep watching. I know I wanted to jump right into the next episode as soon as it was finished. Thanks for the review. Like you’re reading my mind.

    • Yes! Not only Goodfellas, but one of my other all-time favorites: Casino.

      I know it’s not the deepest episode, but it’s shiny and pretty and a heck of a lot of fun.

  22. I just finished watching this episode for the first time ever and O.M.G.

    The last scene between Scully and Mulder in the hospital? I have no words. Only lovely, lovely shipper feels.

    • You just watched this for the first time?? How I ENVY you.

      • Yeah I mean I watched the series pretty consistently with my mom when I was a kid during its first run (I’m on a rewatching binge) but we must have been slacking when season 6 first rolled out because I have absolutely no memory of episodes 1-3. But honestly I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed Triangle so thoroughly back then anyway seeing as I was not as keenly aware of the chemistry that Mulder and Scully share and really just viewed them as platonic best friends if and when I considered their relationship at all. Watching it again in my late 20’s as a self confessed romantic with a completely new perspective has been really amazing and this episode was an awesome treat.

        This series truly encompasses all of my favorite movie/TV genres: Sci-fi, drama, romance, and comedy. It’s basically a perfect show.

  23. “don’t care, really. I just want this episode to come out in HD so that my life can be complete.”

    Just finished watching in in HD.
    I can confirm that it makes the episode even greater.

  24. This episode is one of my favorites. I think your review and all the comments have thoroughly discussed how amazing the shipper moments in this are (that ending: I DIE), and the gorgeous cinematography, so instead I’d like to draw attention to is this gem:

    [In the hospital; Skinner walks in]
    Mulder: He was there too.
    Skinner: Right, me and my dog Toto. *Unceremoniously tosses a bunch of flowers at the table*

    I can’t get over how funny this moment is, mainly just Skinner’s attitude. The way he throws the flowers! I love it. XD

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