Season 4, Episode 11
Director: Tucker Gates
Writer: John Shiban
Despite killing dozens (if not hundreds) of people every season, The X-Files isn’t completely without heart. There is an undercurrent of sensitivity and good intentions inherent within several episodes, even if it’s often buried beneath a veneer of gore and blood. However, “El Mundo Gira” kind of proves that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That may be a little strongly worded, but this episode ain’t good folks. In fact, it feels very insulting to the Mexican people.
The prologue starts in a small make-shift village where a brilliant flash of light is followed by a bizarre yellow rain. After the meteorological oddity ends, a young woman is found dead with a mold-like fungus eating away at her nose and face. The investigation eventually leads to Eladio Buente who held unrequited love for the dead girl, Maria. His brother, Soledad, was in a relationship with her and blames his brother for her death. Eventually, after Eladio begins to deteriorate and other people being to die, the local population brand him a “Chupacabra,” but Mulder and Scully eventually determine that Eladio has some sort of agent within him that causes every day mold and fungi to rapidly grow, killing people who come in contact with him. Mulder of course believes the quickening agent to come from an alien influence. By the end of the episode, several people have died, and the two brothers go on the run with Eladio’s countenance bizarrely shifted into something resembling an actual monster.
The problem with “El Mundo Gira” isn’t the story, per se. It’s a fairly typical X-Files outing if a little underwhelming in the detail and execution. The real harm here comes in the broad strokes used to paint the Mexican immigrants. The episode tries, through the concept of the lethal substance, to illustrate the everyday experience of the illegal Mexican – actual aliens (their words, folks, not mine). But each Mexican character is a blatant, telenovela-level stereotype. The hardened cop. The hysterical attractive woman. The elderly woman who looks at you askew and mutters Spanish curses under her breath. The workers trying to get any job they can. It’s all just too much, and it’s capped off by Scully making the most insultingly stupid remark of all (poor Gillian Anderson for having to say it) when she refers to Mexican immigrants as the invisible people, alluding to Eladio’s ease of escape.
Overall, “El Mundo Gira” isn’t very well written or directed. The actors do a decent job with the material that they’re given, but suffocating this shaky material with good-intended but poorly executed social commentary isn’t the way to go on The X-Files. At best, the episode is completely forgettable, and, at its worst, it’s horribly racist and insulting.