Barry's Time Travel Review Score
Triangle is one of those movies that went without notice. I don’t remember any noise about the film in 2009 when it released. It’s not rated very well on IMDB, not sure why. The film has well executed time-loops and solid reasoning behind the nature of the loops. A lady takes a boat trip with her friends, they get hit by a storm, and everything goes nuts from there. If you liked films like Source Code, ARQ, Edge Of Tomorrow, and also movies like Stay and The Endless, you’d love this one. Lots of people I talked with about the movie were lost and confused. Here’s the detailed plot analysis and ending of the 2009 film Triangle explained, spoilers ahead.
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Triangle Plot Explanation: The Time-Loops
The Triangle movie opens with Jess comforting her autistic son Tommy who’s suffering from a nightmare. She’s dressed up and prepping to go someplace. She cleans paint off the floor, messes her dress up. She hears a doorbell, and no one is there. She packs a bag, hops into her car, and drives out to the harbour.
Here’s what I’m going to do to help explain the Triangle movie’s convoluted plot:
Numbering The Groups
The group of people who go sailing is – Jess (main focus person), Victor (single chap), Downey and Sally (married couple), Greg (boat owner), Heather (she’s not essential to the plot). I’m going to separate them into groups to help understand what in the blazes is going on.
I will number them group-3. Jess-3, Victor-3, Downey-3, Sally-3, and Greg-3 … okay, sure, Heather-3. They go sailing and get hit by a storm. Greg-3 receives a distress signal from a woman in panic. He loses the signal, the boat upturns, and they are stranded. Heather-3 gets flushed into the ocean and leaves the plot after that (see I told you, she’s dead and gone and ain’t coming back poor thing). There is a reason why I’m starting with number 3, and we’ll get to that in some time.
Triangle Movie: The Liner
On the upturned boat, group-3 sits helplessly waiting for someone to come rescue them. And out comes a massive liner to their rescue. They see someone on the deck, and they board the ship. On the liner, there seems to be nobody, and the group starts searching for anyone on-board. Jess-3 feels like she is having a déjà vu and that she already been on this liner. Jess-3 finds her own keys lying around, but no one knows how it got there. They suspect Heather is already on the ship (nope, she’s still dead).
Death of Victor in Triangle
Unable to find anyone on-board, everyone meets in the dining area. Jess-3 sees someone running away and informs the group. Victor-3 runs after this unknown person. Greg-3 and Jess-3 go around further looking for someone from the ship. They ask Downey-3 and Sally-3 to wait in the dining area. Greg-3 and Jess-3 find a room with “Go To Theatre” written on a mirror in blood. Jess-3 freaks out about the blood and wants off the liner, but Greg-3 intends to head to the theatre, and they separate. Jess-3 goes to the dining area and no one is there, Victor-3 comes all bloodied. Victor-3 attacks Jess-3, but in the process, Jess-3 locates a wound to the back of Victor-3’s head and aggravates it, and kills him.
Everyone Dies But Jess, End Of Loop
Jess-3 hears a gunshot, she follows it to the theatre. Greg-3 is lying dead. Downey-3 and Sally-3 are blaming Jess-3 for this. Greg-3, before he dies, tells them that Jess-? shot him (we’ll get to who this Jess is later on). From above, a masked person shoots both Downey-3 and Sally-3 and kills them. Jess-3 escapes and is chased by the masked person. Jess-3 overpowers the masked person who mumbles something before falling off the liner. Jess-3 is the lone survivor. She then hears a group shouting from overboard. Jess-3 sees her entire group waving from an upturned boat, even herself. Jess-3 is the ‘someone’ group-4 now witnesses on the liner. Which also means group-3 saw Jess-2 as the ‘someone’ on the ship.
So the number 3 for the group that started off, is only to help count clearly. But there have been numerous such groups that have been on the ship and dying. We don’t know how many, but perhaps a couple of dozen.
Triangle: A New Loop
I will now refer to this as group-4 (Jess-4, Victor-4, Downey-4, Sally-4, and Greg-4). Jess-3 runs around in disbelief following group-4. In the process, Jess-3 drops her keys. Jess-4 picks up the keys saying it was hers (in the same way Jess-3 did). Jess-3 gets spotted by Jess-4 and makes a run for it. Now, Jess-4 informs group-4 about the ‘someone’ running away. Victor-4 runs after Jess-3.
How Victor Actually Gets His Wound In Triangle
Victor-4 catches up to Jess-3. Jess-3 tries to explain what has just happened. Obviously, Victor-4 doesn’t understand and thinks she is crazy. By mistake, Jess-3 pushes Victor-4 back on to a sharp protrusion impaling him on the head. Jess-3 freaks out and runs for it. She finds a room with shotguns and notes on the floor, saying, “kill everyone who boards”. The letters are all written by previous versions of Jess. Jess-3’s locket gets pulled off her neck only to fall onto a bunch of replicas, lockets that belonged to the earlier versions of Jess. She picks up a gun and heads to save the people from group-4. First, Jess-3 intercepts Jess-4 and Victor-4’s meeting. This helps stop Jess-4 from aggravating Victor-4’s wound and killing him. Jess-3 doesn’t kill Jess-4, Jess-4 runs away.
Jess Is Revealed To Be The Mysterious Masked Shooter
Jess-3 runs to the theatre and saves Downey-4 and Sally-4. Greg-4 is dead, however. The Jess-3 shoots the masked shooter on top and causes a flesh wound on the head. Downey-4, Sally-4, and Jess-3 make a run for it, but Jess-3 momentarily separates from the two of them.
At this time they reveal that the masked shooter with the flesh wound is Jess, this is Jess-2. Who is Jess-1 then? Jess-1 is the masked attacker who guns down Downey-3 and Sally-3. Notice that Jess-1 does not have a flesh wound on her head and never takes the mask off. Jess-3 makes Jess-1 fall off the liner. So in this tale of loops, at any given time, there would three Jess(s).
Jess Kills Everyone Again
Jess-2 tricks Downey-4 and Sally-4 to follow her into the room with the bloody mirror. Jess-2 kills Downey-4 with a knife and fatally wounds Sally-4, and she makes a run for it. Jess-3 spots Sally-4 and runs behind her to help. Sally-4 finds a control room and tries to send out a distress signal. This signal is the same as what Greg-3 is shown to receive at the start of the Triangle movie. Sally-4’s signal is now being received by Greg-5, off-screen, who’s not yet hit the storm. Sally-4 runs to the upper levels to a location that has a whole bunch of dead Sally’s. Just like the many lockets and notes, many Sallys have already died. After this, Jess-3 sees Jess-2 being hacked to death by Jess-4. Recap – Jess-2 is the shooter with a flesh wound to the head, and Jess-4 is the one who Jess-3 spares while trying to save Victor-4. The fight between Jess-2 and Jess-4 (the even ones) is different from the fight between Jess-1 and Jess-3 (the odd ones). This is the nature of the loops. The even-Jess behaves in one way and odd-Jess in another.
Jess Understands The Nature Of The Endless Loops
Sally-4 dies from bleeding, Jess-3 and Jess-4 are alive, watching a new group of themselves come to the liner. This is group-5. Group-5 sees Jess-4 as the ‘someone’ on-board. Jess-3 realizes that this is going to keep happening until everyone – including herself is killed and no one enters the liner. She is desperate to go back to her son. Jess-3 now goes ahead and cleans up all the bodies. These are all the actions Jess-1 would have done. Jess-3 removes Downey-4’s body and writes “Go To Theatre” with his blood on the mirror. Jess-3 sees Jess-4 wounding Victor-5 to the head. The conversation that Victor-5 and Jess-4 have is also very different from the conversation Victor-4 has with Jess-3. Again, the events of the even-Jess differ from the odd-Jess.
Jess Falls Off The Liner
Jess-3 goes to the dining hall and tells Downey-5 and Sally-5 to go to the theatre. Jess-3 gets a gun, puts on a mask, and follows Greg-5 into the theatre and shoots him. Greg-5 recognizes that the shooter is Jess. Down below, we can see Downey-5 and Sally-5 blaming Jess-5 for the death of Greg-5. Jess-3 shoots and kills Downey-5 and Sally-5 (precisely in the way Jess-1 kills Downey-3 and Sally-3). Jess-5 escapes, and Jess-3 (the masked person) chases. The same fight ensues between Jess-3 and Jess-5 (that we earlier see between Jess-1 and Jess-3). Jess-5 gets the upper hand, Jess-3 mumbles “kill everyone” and falls off the liner.
Summary: Even and Odd Jess(s)
This marks the end of the liner episode. What I would like to point out here is that there are two loops of events:
- ODDs: Where Jess never sees the face of a past Jess. Odd-Jess always ends up seeing a future Jess’ face. The past Jess she meets and fights has a mask on. Odd-Jess never gets to see the past Jess’ face. Also, odd-Jess never gets intercepted by a past Jess and hence ends up fighting a Victor in the dining area, and kills him. Finally, odd-Jess never gets hacked to death; she simply falls off the liner.
- EVENs: Where Jess sees the face of a past Jess. Even-Jess always gets intercepted by her past self in the dining area. Even-Jess sees the past Jess’ face. However, even-Jess goes on to get a flesh wound to her head when she’s trying to shoot. Finally, Even-Jess always gets hacked to death and thrown overboard.
After The Liner: Triangle Movie Beginning Explained
The story continues following Jess-3, who falls off the liner alive. She gets washed on to the shore and heads back home. From outside, she sees the events of the morning in her house. This means that she has returned at an earlier point in time. Jess-3 sees her morning-self shout and abuse her son. Tommy sees Jess-3 outside the window and causes the paint to spill. The morning-Jess yells at Tommy and starts cleaning up the colour and soils her dress (exactly like in the first scene). Jess-3 rings the doorbell and hides. Morning-Jess hears the doorbell, but no one is there (now you know who ran that bell). Jess-3 sneaks up behind morning-Jess and bludgeons her with a hammer.
Tommy sees this. Jess-3 holds Tommy and tells him that he just had a nightmare (so that’s the nightmare in the first scene). She puts the dead Jess into a bag and packs it with other clothes (so there was a dead body in the bag in the first scene). She loads the car and drives off. On the way, she hits a seagull. She stops to dispose of the dead seagull and notices a whole bunch of dead seagulls. This only means that other Jess(s) (the odd ones who survive on the liner) have been around doing the same actions. The nightmare loop is still progressing. The seagulls are shown to somehow be connected to the liner. Hence, like everything on the ship, they keep accumulating (e.g., multiple lockets, multiple notes, multiple dead Sallys).
Jess-3 gets back in the car and starts driving. Distracted by Tommy, she hits a truck, and the car tumbles. This kills Tommy. The body of the dead morning-Jess is lying out. However, Jess-3 is uninjured and standing around watching the accident. A taxi guy offers a ride, and she heads to the harbour. When she enters the harbour, she meets a Victor, a Greg, a Downey, a Sally, and a Heather. They are just preparing for the sail. The loop has started all over, and they head out.
This explains why Jess-3 has a déjà vu in the liner. The shock of her son dying makes her imagine that her son is in school, and she’s come for a sailing trip without him. Her guilt is not that she’s left him in school but that she resulted in his death.
Triangle Movie Ending Explained: Reason Behind The Loops
What Is Going On In The Movie Triangle?
Try and recollect the conversation about Aeolus, the name of the liner. Sisyphus, the son of Aeolus, breaks a promise he makes to death. As a result, he is punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever. Ring a bell?
The analogy to this is Jess making a promise to the cab driver that she would return. She says, “I promise”. Like Aeolus, Jess breaks her promise too. She goes to the harbour but decides to go on the sailing trip. This analogy also means that Jess is dead, and her soul is refusing to cross over in the ferry (taxi).
When in the movie does she really die then? My theory is that the original version of the accident is never shown in the movie Triangle. Jess, as a character, is shown to be annoyed and irritated with her autistic son. She perhaps drove her car rashly and, in her distraction, crashed the car. The accident scene shows a dead Jess and a dead Tommy. This is something that possibly happened. Jess wearing shorts, stands by and watches the accident, is actually dead, and is taken away by the Taxi driver who is calm and composed even after seeing the accident and the two Jess(s). No one else notices two Jess’. Additionally, the time on her watch matches the clock on the ship, perhaps it’s the time of her death, 8:17AM.
The events of the loop are all analogous to the act of “rolling an immense boulder up a hill“. So, we can safely assume that events of the loop are all post-death. What we need to locate is the start point of the loop. The harbour seems the logical point where the loop starts as that is right after her breaking her promise to the taxi man (death). Each time she breaks her promise, a new loop of punishment begins. This will only end if Jess accepts her death and that her son was killed because of her annoyance.
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Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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