It isn’t The X-Files until Mulder and Scully are running through a cemetery.
X-Files creator Chris Carter joined stars David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Mitch Pileggi on the main stage at New York Comic Con on Sunday to tease the sci-fi series’ upcoming return — and debut a new trailer, which promises plenty more drama for the partners (and a longer wig!). As EW revealed in our exclusive season 11 first look, Scully has taken a turn for the worse since that season 10 cliffhanger found her rushing to save a sick Mulder on a gridlocked bridge. Although she obviously recovers enough to run through headstones and dive behind a table — “because that’s what women do,” Anderson declared — she seems to come out of her near-death experience with a new drive.
“You have to find him and you have to stop him before he releases hell on Earth,” Scully begs her partner from her hospital bed. Is she talking about William B. Davis’ Cigarette Smoking Man? Or could she be talking about their missing son, William, whom she gave up for adoption 15 years ago?
“I have to find our son!” she insists.
The hunt for William promises to play a major role in the season. During the panel, Carter said this season will “explore that relationship: father, son, mother …. You’ll see more of William than you’ve seen in a long time.” The cast and creator threw out a number of playful teases: Anderson suggested that William has got “David’s height,” while Carter joked that Scully and Mulder’s son is with Langly (Dean Haglund), the presumed-dead member of the Lone Gunmen trio who also appears in the trailer — not that the spoiler-averse showrunner is elaborating on what role he plays.
Here’s what else fans learned at the panel.
Mulder and Scully are more in sync
The X-Files agents, whose relationship hit a few bumps in the road before 2016’s revival, are “on the same page” this year, Anderson said. Carter even went so far as to say “they get kissin’ close” — though the cheers that followed that statement turned to boos when he was pressed on how the partners’ dynamic in the episodes of season 11 they’ve shot so far compares to what fans saw in season 10. “Mulder and Scully are still professional partners; they’re not romantic partners,” Carter said. “But we do explore that relationship in interesting ways, so hang in there.”
Season 11 might end on a question mark
Carter indicated that fans should expect season 11 to end on — yes — another cliffhanger. Duchovny needled the showrunner: “Knowing the way Chris likes to name characters, I’m surprised he hasn’t had a character named Cliff Hanger.”
One episode will explore Skinner’s backstory
Assistant Director Skinner is getting his turn in the spotlight. An episode in the latter half of the season — which Pileggi said he’s read twice already — focuses on Mulder and Scully’s gruff boss (who, if the trailer is any indication, doesn’t seem to be in the partners’ good graces anymore; Carter previously told EW that “familiar alliances are rattled” this year). The hour will be directed by Carol Baker, and the script was penned by Gabe Rotter, a onetime X-Files writers’ assistant. “He did a great job with it,” Pileggi said. “I’m very happy. You’re all going to be finding out more about Wally.”
And it seems Rotter and Pileggi were already on the same page: “It’s funny, a lot of the stuff that he wrote, I’d built in my own mind as his backstory.”
Carter even promised that young Skinner will make an appearance. Joked Anderson, “He’s still bald.”
Darin Morgan is still the show’s most anarchic writer
Fan-favorite writer and director Darin Morgan, whose 1995 episode “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, returns to upend the show again in season 11. Carter promised, “As you come to expect with a Darin Morgan episode, it’s original, idiosyncratic, very, very funny — it’s a thumb in the eye of the show itself.”
Duchovny elaborated on what a Darin Morgan script means for his performance: “Darin seems to have a special hatred of Mulder,” he said. “He’s exorcising some personal demons by attacking the character of Mulder. I love the scripts and I find it very interesting to try to play the same character while deconstructing and self-destructing the character at the same time.”
Pileggi, who hadn’t worked with Morgan before his season 11 episode, added that Morgan kept telling him to deliver a line “bigger,” despite Skinner’s usual deadpan reserve. “I like to think of those as ‘Dagoo’ moments,” Carter joked — referring to Duchovny’s over-the-top exclamation in Morgan’s hilarious season 10 episode.
The show hasn’t forgotten its history
Asked if this season will include any Easter-egg references to The X-Files‘ past, Carter promised, “There’s little things. There’s things on Mulder’s bulletin board.” And some of those callbacks have a family connection: Anderson’s daughter Piper, who works in the art department, is responsible for a few. “[She] has her own special take on the show,” Carter said.
“She’s good at Easter eggs,” Anderson agreed, prompting Duchovny to request that they start giving the term “Hanukkah gelt” equal time. “You can also think of it as little chocolate gold coins hidden under the pillows of your couch.”
Scully’s still not getting her own desk
But Anderson says her character has taken the matter into her own hands: “I think she’s taking over Mulder’s desk.”
The X-Files returns in early 2018 on Fox. Check out the new trailer above.