The grim reaper may pay a visit to one of the residents of Dawson's Creek during the show's fourth season, kicking off tonight on The WB (8 pm/ET). "There are going to be a few surprises and a few unpredictable things that occur," executive producer Paul Stupin tells TV Guide Online. "And I think that people who think they know what's happening are going to be surprised, too."

Might Stupin be referring to rampant rumors that castmember Meredith Monroe (Andie) will exit after a handful of episodes? Could she be the intended victim? "That's something I don't want to talk about," he says. "I don't want to let too much out of the bag. What I will say is that within the first month of the series, some of our main characters are going to find themselves in mortal jeopardy."

Well, that'll happen when you steer your boat into the middle of a tempest, as Pacey (Joshua Jackson) does in the show's Oct. 18 episode, inspired by The Perfect Storm. Naturally, Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes) race to his and Jen's(Michelle Williams)rescue and also find themselves, um, up a creek. "It is certainly our biggest episode ever, production-wise," Stupin marvels. "We shot for two additional days, utilizing special-effects technology and computer-generated graphics. It's spectacular."

Back on land, several new faces will make their way to town this season, including Pacey's older sis, Gretchen (Wasteland's Sascha Alexander), and Drue (Mark Matkevich), a "troublemaker" from Jen's past. "He remembers Jen when she was a completely different person," says Stupin. "He's really going to shake things up."

And as far as the Pacey/Joey/Dawson triangle, Stupin admits it could go either way. "This is only the beginning of the story," he says before adding with a wink, "but Pacey and Joey spent a great summer together."

In other words, Dawson may want to rethink that rescue missio