After a successful revival of The X-Files in 2016, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have returned for more alien-investigation adventures in season 11 of the Emmy-winning series. The new season premiered January 3, and it sounds like it could very well be the series’ last.
Created by Chris Carter, The X-Files stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, respectively, as they investigate unexplained cases that typically involve some sort of supernatural elements. One of the most iconic television series of the 1990s, the show initially ran for nine seasons — winning 16 Primetime Emmy Awards along the way — and was recently revived for a successful 10th season on Fox. Season 11 of the series brings back Duchovny and Anderson, as well as veteran cast members Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner and William B. Davis as the enigmatic Cigarette Smoking Man, and picks up where season 10 left off.
The truth … hurts
Not only is the truth out there, it sometimes hurt. Right now, it seems to point to Season 11 being the series’ last. In October, Anderson indicated to TV Insider that she planned to leave The X-Files behind, and then she reiterated that sentiment in December, confirming “this is it.” When Carter discussed her possible departure with Collider, he said the he wouldn’t do more X-Files without her, pointing out that she and Duchovny are key elements, if not the key elements.
“I wouldn’t,” he said. “For me, The X-Files is Mulder and Scully. I think if it were without Scully, I wouldn’t do it. That’s not my X-Files.”
When asked about both Anderson and Carter’s comments during a TCA event shortly thereafter, Fox Television Group Chairman and CEO Dana Walden also conceded that the series might have to end.
“It seems like if those are the circumstances, there won’t be more X-Files,” Walden said, according to SlashFilm.
As for whether or not there are more stories left to be told, though, Carter is confident that many remain. He told Collider that there could, in theory, be another season or even another movie. Still, that brings us back to the same issue: Anderson’s potential departure possibly precluding those plans.
Season 11 has a lot to address given that season 10 left the world roiling in crisis. Stars Duchovny and Anderson recapped the madness in a promo video, released November 29. Describing the finale’s cliffhanger ending, they reminded us that the world was in the midst of a pandemic, Mulder looked like he was on death’s door, and Scully was staring down a UFO. Carter also weighed in, describing it was “quite unlike anything we’d ever done before.”
With season 11 soon to premiere, we’re set to get some kind of resolution.
“I think we have a really interesting, dramatic solution,” Carter said.
When to watch
It took until mid-November 2017 for the new season to get an official premiere date, but Fox finally let fans know which day to circle on their calendars: Wednesday, January 3, 2018. Season 11 of The X-Files airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.
A preview with trust issues
Following the season’s trailer premiere during New York Comic Con, Fox released another preview of season 11 a few weeks later.
Titled “Help Without Trust,” the preview hints at the uncertainty surrounding Mulder and Scully’s relationship with their former boss, Skinner, as well as a few other tenuous relationships the lifelong skeptics have developed.
The first trailer
Carter and the stars of The X-Files introduced the first trailer for season 11 during a panel at New York Comic Con in October 2017.
Along with showing the world on the brink of human extinction due to a diabolical scheme set in motion by the Cigarette Smoking Man, the trailer also previewed Mulder and Scully’s hunt for their lost son, William. The sneak peek also teased an episode in which Scully faces off against her doppelgänger, as well as a few brief scenes depicting some creepy creatures the FBI agents will encounter.
Mythology vs. monster episodes
When Fox confirmed another season of The X-Files in April 2017, the network also indicated that season 11 would comprise 10 episodes — four more episodes than season 10 provided. The first question on many fans’ minds after hearing about the expanded 10th season revolved around the nature of those episodes: How many would be “mythology” episodes and how many would be stand-alone “monster of the week” episodes?
Just a few months later, fans had an answer.
“The first episode will be a mythology episode, though it will be a much simpler mythology episode than last season,” said Fox President of Entertainment David Madden (via IGN) during the TV Critics’ Association press tour in August 2017. “Then there will be eight stand-alone episodes, and [conclude with a mythology episode]. We’ll touch on the mythology a little bit in those intervening episodes — a little bit.”
Overdue origin stories
During the series’ panel at New York Comic Con, Carter indicated that the backstories of two characters would receive some additional attention in season 11.
“You’re getting more [Skinner] than you did [last season],” Carter told the audience at the panel. “We do an episode where we explore his backstory.”
Along with taking a deep dive into Pileggi’s character (pictured above), the season will also explore the origins of Cigarette Smoking Man, according to Carter. In fact, the first episode of the season will tackle his backstory after his appearance in the finale of season 10.
Some new faces, some familiar faces
Along with bringing back original series regulars Duchovny, Anderson, Pileggi, and Davis, the season also features a mix of returning characters, new cast members, and at least one early cast member playing a new character.
Among the original series cast members expected to return for season 11 are Annabeth Gish as former FBI agent Monica Reyes, Veronica Cartwright as Cassandra Spender (the ex-wife of the Cigarette Smoking Man), Chris Owens as Jeffrey Spender (the son of the Cigarette Smoking Man and former head of the FBI’s department of X-Files), and Dean Haglund as conspiracy theorist Langly (one of the trio of fan-favorite characters known as “The Lone Gunmen”).
Returning characters from season 10 include Lauren Ambrose as FBI agent Liz Einstein, a medical doctor and skeptic; and Robbie Amell as FBI agent Kyd Miller, a believer in the paranormal and Einstein’s partner (pictured above with Anderson). The pair were introduced in season 10 as young analogues to Scully and Mulder, offering the latter pair a glimpse at their own relationship in its early stages.
Also appearing in season 11 will be actress Karin Konoval, who portrayed one of the series’ most memorably nightmare-inducing roles during the fourth season of the show: Mrs. Peacock, the matriarch of the inbred family in the episode Home. Konoval will reportedly play multiple roles in what’s expected to be a scary stand-alone episode of the series.
The series also added some additional star power with the announcement that Academy Award nominee Barbara Hershey will play a role in season 11. Hershey’s character — which is confirmed to be a new character in the series — is identified as “Erika Price,” but no further details have been made public about the role.
Update: We added Chris Carter’s comments on Gillian Anderson’s possible departure.