Tony Black takes a look at the second story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas, ‘Perithecia’…
Written by Andy Mangels.
Edited by Jonathan Maberry.
The second story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas sees Andy Mangels having his cake and eating it a touch, as ‘Perithecia’ manages to fuse together a traditional weird science with elements of monster story with layers and hints of the greater, overarching conspiracy mytharc which underpins the show. It presents a fairly traditional prism of a mystery for Mulder and Scully, set here within the show’s third season, to investigate and Mangels weaves his tale from an equally traditional third-person viewpoint, as both agents venture down the investigative rabbit hole.
Where ‘Perithecia’ stands out is in the finer details. You can tell Mangels knows his XF. His story is littered with nods and winks, some on the nose (a ten-thirteen reference), some more oblique (a delightful moment where Mulder says the words ‘inveigle’ and ‘obfuscate’ in the same conversation); indeed his only glaring error is the references between Mulder & Mr X, who Mangels delights in including here, as to how X got Mulder off the train in ‘731’ – unless I’m mistaken (and I could be) Mulder never knew it was X who saved his life, and was never told on screen. It’s a nitpick, but it took me out of the story briefly.
Mangels on the whole, nonetheless, crafts an enjoyable tale here which blends Mulder’s obsessive search for truth alongside Scully’s measure of science; there’s a great scene you could have lifted from any episode where Scully uses wonderful medical language to describe the strangeness at the heart of the victim they’re investigating, as Mulder prepares to infiltrate a secret base where secrets are held. It encapsulates their relationship at the peak of their investigative prowess and that balance really comes off the page – as indeed do the incidental characters in the middle-American community, such as the recalcitrant Sheriff or the slippery, bed-hopping Dewey. Mangels fills out the tale with these memorable little bit players.
‘Perithecia’ feels a little nostalgic as the kind of X-Files story we may have seen back in the mid-90’s, and while a few details don’t scan and it deserved perhaps more pages to breathe, the piece is a well-written fusion of classic X-Files styles.
Check back in tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Andy Mangels discussing his story!