If you’re still reeling from the bizarre and unexpected season 10 finale of “The X-Files,” all of your questions some of your most immediate questions will be answered in the opening moments of season 11, which premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
“The human race still exists. Mulder and Scully are still alive. They’re still working on the X-Files. I’m still immortal,” star Gillian Anderson explained at New York Comic Con last October. “How we get there is the question mark I can’t answer.”
When “The X-Files” launched a pseudo-reboot in 2016, the truncated six-episode 10th season received mixed to poor reviews from critics—some of whom called the stunt an uninspired cash-grab—and fans who were dissatisfied with the ratios of catch-up exposition, show mythology and popular “Monster of the Week” content.
But according to star David Duchovny, the forthcoming 10-episode season gives this installment’s story, characters and complicated relationships room to breathe.
"We do have some exposition to take care of to get us out of the mess that we got ourselves into at the end [of season 10]," the actor explained to press at NYCC. "But that's dispensed with rather quickly so that we can get into doing the show that we always did, which was less kind of self-consciously about the show itself."
To catch you up: When last we left Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson), the duo was reinstated to the FBI following the events of 2008’s “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” movie and reopened their investigations into all things paranormal and extraterrestrial as members of the Bureau’s resurrected X-Files unit.
As usual, Mulder and Scully slipped back into their fiery partnership like a comfortable pair of shoes, but the reunion raised new concerns and questions about their estranged son William, who Anderson said will appear in the flesh this upcoming season. “It was nice to meet our son,” she joked.
While Duchovny and Anderson’s resilient chemistry makes their work on “The X-Files” look easy, both stars revealed the difficulties of evolving a character over the course of nearly three decades.
"One of the things that has been interesting to figure out is how a person ages," Gillian, now 49, explained. "It's one thing to do that in a condensed scenario … like a biopic, and you're suddenly going through hair and makeup and you're 20 years older. I don't look a lot like I looked back then. My facial features are different. My face is much narrower, and obviously I've aged. Figuring out what elements of her personality are appropriate in a mature woman has been an interesting question to answer."
Duchovny, on the other hand, considered the effects of the current political climate on his typically open-minded Agent Mulder.
"I'd hate to think of him as anti-science, but he might be," the 57-year-old actor said. "He might be, a little bit, a guy that says 'fake news' too. Which is … unsettling to me. I think it's interesting to think about him in this climate, and I think it's interesting to think about the show in this climate. However, in terms of how a character evolves over the years, it's an interesting question for an actor to approach."
And with age comes wisdom. Now that Mulder and Scully are nearly 25 years older and wiser than they were on that first alien abduction investigation in September 1993, Duchovny and Anderson have accumulated valuable advice for their season one counterparts.
"Lighten up," Gillian deadpanned. "Relax, chickie. Nothing is that important to get your knickers in a twist about."
"Get comfortable shoes," David joked. "It's hard to run in dress shoes!"
Upon further reflection, the actor offered, “You know, maybe Mulder has changed. I was thinking about what drew me to him in the beginning … which is there’s a certain kind of fearlessness to the guy. I’ve always said that we have, like, 212 episodes that we’ve done, and he’s solved this many cases: zero. So, he’s the worst FBI agent of all time. If he was on ‘Law and Order,’ there’d be no order. And so I feel like his resilience is great. I feel like the fact that he can still believe what he believes, even though he’s never – never – gotten the truth, is kind of phenomenal when you think about it.”
“Or sad. One or the other.”
“The X-Files” returns to FOX tonight at 8 p.m. ET.