Every time we come across the phrase “based on true events,” the mind of the viewer gets shrouded in an extra layer of excitement, and when it comes to fictionalizing true events for a film or a series, Netflix is an experienced creator. It was only last year that Netflix had all of us hooked on the true story of the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. “Triptych” is loosely based on a story that surfaced in the 1980s when a set of identical triplets who were separated at birth discovered each other.
The story of the triplets Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman received a documentary in 2018; it was titled “Three Identical Strangers.” It was discovered that they were separated at birth as a part of a social experiment and placed in households of different economic backgrounds in order to conduct an ethically questionable incident to bear evidence for the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture. All three boys were monitored throughout their childhood to see how they reacted to a similar situation. It was also found that numerous twins and triplets were unethically bound to this experiment and treated like lab rats. Obviously, the dubious grounds of the experiments did not allow the results to be ever published.
The Mexican drama “Triptych” is also the story of three identical sisters, Rebecca, Aleida, and Tamara, who were separated at birth for the sake of scientific progress. Admixed with action sequences and structured like a police investigation, “Triptych” has all the ingredients that are formulaically required to make a series successful. The series was released on Netflix on February 22 and had a total of eight episodes. Apart from being a true crime story, it also possesses the right amount of room in the narrative that can prompt a psychoanalytic approach. It simultaneously tries to question our generation’s blind trust in the mechanics of psychoanalysis, which in turn makes us believe that only a shrink can pull us out of the muck that our life has turned into.
“Triptych” is not a word that we regularly use in our everyday vocabulary. In fact, if you are a novice (just like me) when it comes to art and painting, you are surely going to be intrigued enough to dig a little deeper. A quick search on the internet shows the word “triptych” has Greek roots. It is derived from the word “triptychos,” which means “having three folds.” Though the original meaning referred to a hinged tablet used for writing (very much like the modern-day hinged photo frames that are found on our bedside tables), a triptych is often referred to as a painting that has three sections or three panels. Taking cues from that, the series also has a narrative that focuses on the three streamlined panels of three women—Rebecca, Aleida, and Tamara.
The series has a disturbing opening where 33-year-old Aleida Trujano is shot down by the police after she tries to abduct her therapist and hold on to her as a hostage. She was presumed to be dead. When Rebecca Fuentes, a forensic expert with the police department, arrives at the scene of the murder, she receives the shock of her life. The striking resemblance between her and the victim sparks off an investigation that leads her to the other identical triplet, Tamara Sanchez. All three sisters are contrasting but complementary parts of the same frame that the program’s creator, Leticia Lopez Margalli, wanted to create. The performance by the cast is noteworthy. Here is a list of the characters, along with the details of who plays what:
Maite Perroni As Aleida, Rebecca, And Tamara
The series begins with an elaborate sequence where Aleida Trujano is seen gunning down people in her therapist’s office. She takes her therapist hostage, and they make a trip up to the roof of the building. There she demands a news crew, but unfortunately, before the crew arrives, she is shot down by a policeman. She did not die but suffers life-endangering wounds. In the course of the series, it is revealed that she was an adopted child of her parents, who adopted her from the State of New York in the USA. Aleida is a business empress who has built a talent company on the foundation of her own hard work.
Aleida was married to a man named Eugenio. She had a son named Alex, who died due to drowning in their swimming pool when he was very young. Aleida began to have hallucinations, and she started seeing herself in places where she had never been and doing things she had never done. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and later institutionalized in a mental facility. Her husband discharged her from the program to celebrate her 33rd birthday, but unfortunately, it triggered unhinged behavior in Aleida. She had investigated that she was, in fact, a part of the triplets. It is her mental breakdown that allows the entire narrative to unravel.
Rebecca, in her forensic overalls, sees Aleida for the first time at the top of that building, where she is lying stained in her blood. She receives the shock of her life when the victim, who looks exactly like her, calls her by her name. This sparks an investigation in Rebecca’s mind. Rebecca, now desperate to know if Aleida was her sister, sent both of their DNA samples to a laboratory, and as expected, they matched, so much so that it seemed to be samples from one individual or from identical twins. She asks her mother if she is adopted. Her mother, Dolores, reveals that she was indeed adopted, but her adoption was never legally finalized.
Rebecca’s colleague and boyfriend, Humberto, who seems truly concerned with her well-being, helps her through the investigations. Earlier, Rebecca also had a psychotic episode around the same time that Aleida’s hallucinations escalated. Rebecca had torched Humberto’s SUV when he decided to break up with her. Rebecca’s investigation opens avenues to Aleida’s past and leads to the discovery of the third sister, Tamara.
Tamara is a free spirit with colored dreadlocks and a daredevil attitude. She is a performance artist—a euphemism for a stripper. In the course of the series, Tamara is hired by Aleida’s husband Eugenio to pose as Aleida. Tamara had also discovered Aleida’s presence and started to look for the connecting thread between them. Around the time that Aleida and Rebecca had their psychotic meltdowns, Tamara, too, had burned down an illegal meth lab. She was a fugitive trying to run away from the underground drug lords. Tamara is brave, kind, and caring in the most unexpected ways. Out of all the three sisters, it is her action that saves the day in the end.
Maite Perroni’s IMDb page is a testimonial to the fact that she is probably one of the biggest stars in the Latin American world. Pulling off three characters in the span of a single show requires a lot of skill and experience. She nails her performance as each of the three sisters. Perroni is known for roles in TV series like “Burden of Guilt,” “Rebelde,” “RBD: La Familia,” and “Triumph of Love.”
David Chocorra As Humberto
Humberto is a detective with the Mexico City police department. He is stuck in a loveless marriage, but he is in love with his colleague, Rebecca Fuentes. We learn later in the series that though Humberto seems to be very concerned about Rebecca’s well-being, he is also responsible for her alcoholism. We learn that under the garb of being a responsible boyfriend and a police officer, Humberto was a secret worker for Julia Batiz, the shrink, who was conducting unethical social experiments on the triplets.
David Choccora is a popular face for TV series and telenovelas in the Latin American world. He is known for his roles in TV series like “Alguien Te Mira,” “Behind Closed Doors,” and “El Rostro de la Venganza.”
Nuria Bages As Dr. Julia Batiz
Dr. Julia Batiz, in the principal portion of the series, is presented in a positive light. She has a deep love for epiphytes. Someone who loves plants can’t be half bad! She becomes the closest confidante to both Aleida and Rebecca. She fumes at Rebecca’s suspicions about Aleida’s husband, Eugenio, and tries to prove that the sisters are not identical triplets but clones created for a Nazi experiment. But the viewers’ expectations are abolished the moment that she reveals that she was the biological mother of the three women and that they were created by in vitro fertilization in a Petri dish and birthed via a surrogate. Then, as part of her unethical experiment, they were separated and placed in varied socioeconomic environments. When Rebecca insists that Julia must be working for Eugenio, Julia laughs it off, questioning the outlook of the society that somehow always portrays women as victims of the circumstances but fails to see them as the fabricator of criminal blunder.
Nuria Bages is a veteran Mexican actress who is known for roles in television series like “The Spring,” “El privilegio de amar,” “Querida enemiga,” and “Heridas de amor.”
“Triptych” is a trippy experience and is now streaming on Netflix.