A new agent is joining "The X-Files" during February sweeps to challenge the opinions of believer Dana Scully and skeptic John Doggett.
Annabeth Gish guest-stars in a three-episode role as Agent Monica Reyes.
Reyes joins the series in the Feb. 25 episode. And Agent Fox Mulder will return in the episode when - no, the aliens will abduct me if I spoil it. (David Duchovny, who plays Mulder, will be in three episodes during February and the rest of the season's new episodes.)
"It will be a cliffhanger," executive producercreator Chris Carter said on the spaceship set where Mulder was tortured earlier this season. The set at Twentieth Century Studios is a small platform with a small ceiling and a little bit of alien technology, along with some nearby spotlights to cast that glow on Mulder as he screams.
"We'll find out what happened with Mulder," Carter said about the rest of the season. Mulder (David Duchovny) will appear in all of the series' new episodes beginning Feb. 25.
"You'll see more of what the aliens are up to," added executive producer Frank Spotnitz, sitting next to Carter and stars Gillian Anderson (Agent Scully) and Robert Patrick (Agent Doggett). They were addressing members of the Television Critics Association during its winter conference.
The Feb. 25 episode will be a cliffhanger. "The X-Files" will go off the air during March while its lighter spinoff, "The Lone Gunmen," airs in its 9 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific) Sunday time slot (March 4, 11 and 18) on Fox.
"The Lone Gunmen" will move March 16 to its regular 9 p.m. Friday time slot.
"The X-Files" will return to its usual time slot on April 1.
Gish's character won't be an absolute skeptic or believer, but will challenge both Scully and Doggett, Carter said.
"She (Gish) is charming and engaging," Spotnitz said. "She's the type of person you'd want to sit next to at a dinner party."
Even while this season's "X-Files" episodes have focused on other stories, Doggett never has stopped looking for Mulder, Spotnitz said after the press conference. The biggest question, though, is whether Mulder will be around next season.
"David Duchonvy has no contract (for next season). We don't know whether he'll be back next year," Carter said.
"There are a lot of questions about what next year will look like," Spotnitz said. If the Fox network follows its usual custom, it won't announce the series' fate until it unveils its fall schedule in May. But it's very unlikely Fox would drop one of its strongest series. Carter said ratings are good.
Regardless of whether there's another season or not, Spotnitz said he sees this season as the end of an eight-year story arc, the culmination of storylines involving Mulder and Scully. Even if Mulder returns, Spotnitz sees next season as the start of a new story arc.
This season Duchovny is only appearing in half of the season's 22 episodes, and some fans are upset about that, Spotnitz said. "But it was his (Duchovny's) choice."
Anderson said she can't tell reporters who's the father of Scully's baby. "I think I know."
During February sweeps, Scully will run into a case that will force her to wonder whether she should tell Doggett about her pregnancy. Other stories this month include a flesh-eating life form terrorizing the Boston subway system and the discovery of a case that Mulder had kept secret from Scully.
That case might have clues about his disappearance.
This season has marked a return to scary storytelling and a departure from last season's comic stories, Carter said.
"We try to show as little as possible," Spotnitz said as he explained the series' storytelling approach. "It's scarier if you imagine it than see it. That's always been Chris' philosophy. Imagination is more powerful than anything you'll see."
And the series remains mysterious as every new answer leads to a new question. The truth is out there, but not where you can easily find it. "There are always ambiguities," Spotnitiz said with a wicked grin.
Here are the plots for "The X-Files" (9 p.m., Eastern and Pacific, Sundays on Fox) during Feburary sweeps.
THIS WEEK (Feb. 4): John Doggett learns about a case Fox Mulder kept secret from Dana Scully.
FEB. 11: Scully and Doggett race to investigate a string of bizarre deaths in Boston's subway tunnels.
FEB. 18: Scully and Doggett are called to investigate reports of alien impregnations. Clues might point to the possible identity of the father of Scully's baby.
FEB. 25: Mulder returns, and a new agent joins Scully and Doggett. This is a cliffhanger.
COMING UP MARCH 4: The spinoff "The Lone Gunmen" premieres in "The X-Files" time slot.