El Mundo Gira
|"El Mundo Gira"|
|The X-Files episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Tucker Gates|
|Written by||John Shiban|
|Original air date||January 12, 1997|
|Running time||44 minutes|
"El Mundo Gira" is the eleventh episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network in the United States on January 12, 1997. It was written by John Shiban and directed by Tucker Gates. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-Week" story, unconnected to the series' wider mythology. "El Mundo Gira" received a Nielsen rating of 13.3 and was viewed by 22.37 million people in its initial broadcast, and received mixed to negative reviews from television critics.
The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder is a believer in the paranormal, and the skeptical Scully has been assigned to debunk his work. In this episode, strange and deadly rain in a migrant workers camp sends Mulder and Scully on the trail of a mythical beast—El Chupacabra. What they discover is a bizarre fungal growth affecting illegal immigrants.
Shiban was inspired to write "El Mundo Gira" after noticing the long lines of migrant workers he would often see at his job when working as a computer programmer in the Los Angeles area. He combined it with an idea he had about a contagious fungus. Series creator Chris Carter was attracted to the soap opera-like aspects of the episode, and the title of the episode means "The World Turns" in Spanish. The migrant camp used in the episode was built from scratch in a waste ground near Boundary Bay Airport in Vancouver. This site was later used again in the episode "Tempus Fugit".
Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate the death of Maria Dorantes, an illegal immigrant from Mexico living in the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno, California who was found dead, with her face partially eaten away, after yellow rain fell from the sky. Maria was the object of the love of two brothers, Eladio (Raymond Cruz) and Soledad Buente; Soledad blames his brother for her death. The migrants believe that the so-called "Chupacabra" was responsible for her death, despite the fact that none of the circumstances of the death resemble anything close to reports of the Chupacabra. Mulder, assisted on the case by Mexican-American INS agent Conrad Lozano, is able to track down and interrogate Eladio, who frightens the other migrants. Meanwhile, Scully discovers that Maria was killed by a fungal growth known as Aspergillus.
Eladio escapes as he is being deported, killing a truck driver in the process. A clinical exam on the driver shows his death was caused by a rapid growth of Trichophyton — the Athlete's foot fungus. Scully brings samples of the fatal fungi to a mycologist who discovers that their abnormally rapid growth was caused by an unidentifiable enzyme. This revelation leads Scully to suspect Eladio of being an unwitting carrier of the enzyme, necessitating his immediate capture. Eladio, seeking to return to Mexico, meets with his cousin Gabrielle to ask for money. He works with a construction foreman for the day to make the money. Soledad comes after him, seeking to kill him, but finds the foreman dead. Eladio escapes in the foreman's truck and heads to the grocery store where Gabrielle works, spreading the fungal growth. The agents later confront Soledad at the supermarket, discovering another dead victim of the fungus.
Eladio returns to see Gabrielle, but by now has grown deformed from the fungus. Gabrielle, afraid of him, gives him her money and lies to the agents about his location when they come to see her. In actuality, Eladio has returned to the camp where Maria died, where Lozano tries to spur Soledad on in killing his brother. Soledad finds he can't do it, and Lozano struggles with him, being accidentally killed when the gun goes off. Soledad becomes a carrier of the fungal growth himself and flees with Eladio towards Mexico.
Writer John Shiban was inspired to write the episode after noticing the long lines of migrant workers he would often see at his job when working as a computer programmer in the Los Angeles area. He combined it with an idea he had about a contagious fungus. Shiban originally intended to have the fungal infection spread by a schoolkid, but later changed it to a trucker in the second draft. In the finalized script, it was changed to Eladio once the storylines were combined. Executive producer and series creator Chris Carter was attracted to the soap opera-like aspects of the episode, and the title of the episode means "The World Turns" in Spanish, a reference to the popular American television soap opera As the World Turns. The Chupacabra is a Latin American folk myth that Shiban originally heard about in an article in The Los Angeles Times about a year prior. To research the episode, Shiban spent time observing the processing of illegal aliens at an INS facility in San Pedro, California. The usage of fake names by the detained immigrants in the episode was inspired by his experiences at the facility. Lozano was portrayed by popular Panamanian salsa singer and actor Ruben Blades. Chris Carter had been looking to use him in an episode for a while. The actors who portrayed Eladio and Gabrielle were a couple at the time.
The migrant camp used in the episode was built from scratch in a waste ground near Boundary Bay Airport in Vancouver. This site was later used again in the episode "Tempus Fugit". It snowed the night before filming occurred, requiring the production crew to use hot water and blow dryers to melt it. Originally, composer Mark Snow created a score that was deemed too "serious" by Carter; thus, Snow was forced to replace his entire score with a new one.
"El Mundo Gira" was originally broadcast in the United States on the Fox network on January 12, 1997 , and was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on November 19, 1997. This episode earned a Nielsen rating of 13.3, with a 19 share, meaning that roughly 13.3 percent of all television-equipped households, and 19 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 22.37 million viewers.
The episode received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club reviewed the episode positively, rating it a B. He considered the episode "entertaining to watch" with "nifty direction from Tucker Gates", despite being formulaic and with the same problems he found in the previous episode penned by John Shiban, season three's "Teso Dos Bichos". Handlen had much praise for the second half, which he noted was filled with dark humor, and featured a "bizarre ending". John Keegan from Critical Myth gave the episode a largely negative review and awarded it a 2 out of 10. He wrote, "Overall, this episode is a disastrous combination of political commentary and stereotypical “Mexican soap opera” caricatures. Mulder and Scully have nothing to do with the resolution of the episode, and in fact, the writers fail to provide that resolution. There are some good character moments, but they are too far and few between." Author Keith Topping criticized the episode in his book X-Treme Possibilities, calling it an "awful episode with a heavy-handed, clod-hopping attempt at social comment that hardly sits well with the themes on display in the rest of the episode." He called it the worst episode of the fourth season. Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated the episode one star out of five and wrote that it was "trying very hard to be clever". Despite this the two explained that "if cleverness were only about intent, then we could all be geniuses". Shearman and Pearson derided the episode's use of social criticism, referring to it as "rubbish [because it] only works if it isn't underlined each time it's made." Furthermore, the two criticized the story's "Mexican soap opera" style, noting that it drowned out the themes in "unengaging melodrama". Paula Vitaris from Cinefantastique gave the episode a largely negative review and awarded it one star out of four. She wrote that "'El Mundo Gira' is so overloaded with ideas that it falls over and can't get up".
- Meisler, pp. 115–22
- Meisler, pp. 122–3
- The X-Files: The Complete Fourth Season (Media notes). R. W. Goodwin, et al. Fox. 1996–97.
- Meisler, p. 298
- Handlen, Zack (December 4, 2010). ""El Mundo Gira"/"Weeds" | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
- Keegan, John. "El Mundo Gira". Critical Myth. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- Cornell et al, pp. 322–3
- Shearman and Pearson, pp. 91–92
- Vitaris, Paula (October 1997). "Episode Guide". Cinefantastique. 29 (4/5): 35–62.
- Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1998). X-Treme Possibilities. Virgin Publications, Ltd. ISBN 0-7535-0228-3.
- Hurwitz, Matt; Knowles, Chris (2008). The Complete X-Files. Insight Editions. ISBN 1933784806.
- Meisler, Andy (1998). I Want to Believe: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 3. Harper Prism. ISBN 0061053864.
- Shearman, Robert; Pearson, Lars (2009). Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen. Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 097594469X.
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