Season 4, Episode 11: “El Mundo Gira”
“El Mundo Gira” is another episode with a monster from a particular culture. This time, it’s the chupacabra, or the goatsucker, which, if you’re clueless as to what this thing does/looks like before this episode begins, you’ll find you’re pretty much in the same boat when it’s finished. If you grew up hearing stories about the chupacabra, well, this episode is probably really funny.
“El Mundo Gira’s” closest relative, at least in my mind, is Season 3’s “Hell Money.” Both episodes feature immigrants from another country having to go to extremes to survive in the US. Both focus on familial drama to up the tension and the stakes. And both, at least for me, aren’t that bad.
However, like “Hell Money” (and plenty of other X-Files episodes, for that matter), “El Mundo Gira” doesn’t exactly portray the culture featured very accurately. It’s meant to play out like a Mexican soap opera, which is exactly what John Shiban, the writer, was going for. I can see what they were trying to do, but the execution just doesn’t work that well because The X-Files and soap operas just don’t go together that well, and John Shiban clearly has never written a Mexican soap opera before.
Here’s the problem with culturally themed episodes: we live in a different world than we did in the 90’s. Had “El Mundo Gira” been made today, you can bet your bags of sunflower seeds it would have been picked apart endlessly by Twitter, Tumblr, and critics galore. Probably not without reason. After all, this episode was not written by someone who has firsthand knowledge of the experiences of Mexican immigrants. If I were a Mexican immigrant – and I’m definitely not – I might even find myself insulted by how this episode uses stereotypes and folk legends to mask real-world problems.
But does it really? I remembered “El Mundo Gira” before this rewatch, and it wasn’t because of the chupacabra or Scully muttering lyrics from West Side Story, it was because of this whole idea Shiban tries to drive home about nobody caring. This comes as an exchange of dialogue several times throughout the episode, and it serves as the episode’s closing line, the last thought Shiban wants to leave us with and what I can only assume was the major idea he wanted to get across. And, truth be told, I kind of like that. Even with the ridiculous plot and the crazier-than-I remembered ending, this episode, while it may not know what it’s talking about, does care what it’s talking about. “El Mundo Gira” is cheesy, over-the-top and inaccurate, but I truly feel it has its little misinformed heart in the right place. And, like “Hell Money,” I’d much rather defend this one than not.
Final score for “El Mundo Gira” is 7/10. I’m starting to realize that scores are tricky things. Because I’ve been participating in the #XFRewatch hosted by X-Files News, I’ve been reposting a lot of my old reviews and cringing at some of the scores I gave. There are many instances in which I almost beat myself on the head for giving certain episodes a low score, like “Deep Throat” and “Little Green Men,” two episodes that deserve way more than what they got. I think it’s partially because I was new to reviewing, and partially because I wasn’t quite solid on what “6/10” means. At the time, I may have felt like the episode was a “6/10,” which as far as I’m concerned means good – not great, but not terrible. Others, though, might interpret “6/10” to be poor, or mediocre. So, giving “El Mundo Gira” a 7/10 might be more than it deserves, but it feels right. That’s the best way I know how to explain it.
Notable Nuggets, and News!
- More Scully murmuring West Side Story lyrics, please.
- The ending of this episode is waaaaaaay more insane than I remembered. I think it might have tipped the boat for me, actually. If it wasn’t for that last line which ties everything up so nicely, this episode might have sunk to a “Teliko” level.
- Speaking of which, this episode is much, much better than “Teliko.”
And now – some exciting news!
If you follow me on Twitter, you might notice that I tweet about The X-Files a lot. In fact, that’s pretty much all I tweet about. But I don’t do it alone. Because of wonderful sites like X-Files News, many an X-Phile has been brought together to participate in the X-Files Global Rewatch, a truly noble undertaking by X-Files fans around the globe to watch every episode of the series, plus the two movies, before the revival in January.
Every day, X-Files News has livetweet sessions scheduled at certain times. These sessions are hosted by the X-Files News Twitter account or often by guest hosts, such as the ever-awesome TV Mouse and the host of #XFScienceSundays, @JossaDosBichos (PS – follow them!).
I am super beyond excited to announce that I will be hosting two upcoming livetweet sessions, for the Season 2 and 3 episodes “Duane Barry” and “The Walk.” You can either follow both my Twitter account and X-Files News, as well as enjoy some other tweets from all the beautiful and brilliant X-Philes that participate in all of these rewatches. The times, hashtags, and other important info are all on the X-Files News website, so please don’t hesitate to check it out!
Hope to see your awesome tweets! And really, how cool is it that this revival is bringing us even closer together as a fandom? Even if it turns out to be less-than-stellar, this whole thing will be worth it just because of that.
Let’s get ready for the #XFilesRevival!