Somewhere in Vancouver right now, The X-Files is in the middle of filming its highly-anticipated new season. When the series returned last year, it may not have been the best X-Files ever produced, but the audience was very enthusiastic about the return of Mulder and Scully to their TV screens. So what are the dynamic duo up to now? What new monsters and aliens will they face in season 11? Is the Smoking Man still smoking? And is there anything for “Sculder” fans to look forward to? Series creator Chris Carter is offering some hints.

The new images and details were revealed in the new edition of Entertainment Weekly, and they suggest an unexpected resolution to the season 10 cliffhanger. In one photo, we see Scully in a hospital bed, with Mulder watching over her. That’s peculiar considering that the last season ended with Scully immune from an alien plague, and Mulder being on the brink of death. Not to worry, said series creator and executive producer Chris Carter. It’s all part of the plan.

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“Obviously something unexpected has happened,” Carter said. “Everything is by design.”

 

Speaking of design, the second photo revealed in EW shows some impressive art direction. No faces are visible, but it seems like there’s some kind of close encounter happening, a meeting with one of the notorious little greys. Yes, the alien conspiracy mythology will be playing a big part of the new season. Also, look for season 11 to deal with dangling story threads from X-Files past

After episode one delves into the Cigarette Smoking Man’s (William B. Davis) backstory and apparent family ties to Mulder, the second hour opens with a time jump to put distance between Mulder and Scully and the events of the premiere. And episode three is a darkly comedic hour, penned by Carter, focusing on doubles and doppelgängers. But beyond the humor, the larger mythology of The X-Files— like the fallout from Scully’s abduction and the chip that was implanted in her neck — continues to shape Mulder and Scully’s world.

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Mulder and Scully will also have to navigate shifting alliances, according to EW. Agent Reyes, played by Annabeth Gish, will be back, and her alliance with the Smoking Man will be further explored. Also, Mitch Pileggi will get the spotlight this season as Assistant Director Skinner becomes the subject of a new development. “Familiar alliances are rattled,” Carter added.

Finally, it’s not really The X-Files without the great romantic chemistry between its lead agents. For those that thought this was missing from season 10, as Mulder and Scully focused more on the professional, there’s good news for you. Shippers “have something to look forward to,” said Carter, and that may be connected to Mulder and Scully’s lost child. “William has been an absent center,” Carter said of the boy Scully gave up for adoption at the end of season 9 in 2002. “He will come to the fore.”

The X-Files, starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, is expected to return early next year.