December 31, 2016
The X-Files 4.11, El Mundo Gira: No One Cares About Undocumented Migrant Workers (Except This Show)
Summary: It’s story time! A woman named Flakita wants to tell a bunch of people a story that takes place in a migrant workers’ camp in San Joaquin Valley, California. She watches as a young couple kisses goodbye before one of them heads off to work. Then another man approaches the woman to tell her he enjoyed the time they spent together the night before. He’s the other guy’s brother, so we have a tricky love triangle going on here.
Flakita stops the woman, Maria, from flirting by pointing out that her goats have escaped. She and Eladio, the brother she’s not with, run after them. Suddenly there’s a loud noise and a bright flash of light. Rain pours down, and Flakita notices that it’s yellow. It stops as quickly as it started, and the goats start coming back to the camp. Flakita runs out to find Maria, who’s dead, her eyes seemingly burned out.
Three days later, Mulder practices his Spanish as Scully checks out one of Maria’s dead goats. He tells Scully about the “transient,” the flash storm that took place just before Maria’s death. They’ve been linked to alien encounters and cattle mutilations in the past. However, no one’s examined Maria’s body yet because no one cares how she died. The camp is full of undocumented workers, and Mulder wants to talk to them before they leave for jobs elsewhere.
When the agents check out a house to talk to people, someone yells that they’re the immigration police, which sends everyone running. The agents promise that they just want to talk about what happened to Maria. Flakita announces that the chupacabra killed her. No one saw it, but everyone at the camp believes that’s what happened. Everyone, that is, except Soledad, Maria’s boyfriend – he thinks Eladio killed Maria out of jealousy.
Mulder asks about the yellow rain and dead goat. Soledad calls them tricks, “for fools who believe in fool superstitions.” Scully likes Soledad’s explanation makes sense, and the case is nothing more than a “Mexican soap opera” the local cops can take care of. Mulder points out that the local cops don’t care about migrant workers. He wants to talk to Eladio.
Unable to find Eladio in police custody, Mulder checks with an INS agent named Conrad Lozano to see if he’s picked up Eladio. The problem is that the people the agency has rounded up gave fake names (they currently have Jose Feliciano, Juan Valdez, Cesar Chavez, and Placido Domingo in custody). Lozano has heard the Maria/chupacabra story and tells Mulder that migrant workers often turn to their folklore because they can’t go to the law with their problems.
Scully goes to a morgue in Fresno to examine Maria’s body, which is covered in some sort of green plant. Meanwhile, Lozano and Mulder find Eladio in custody, using the name Erik Estrada. Eladio insists that he’s innocent and gives the version of events that Flakita gave. Maria said his name and then died in his arms. “This guy is better than Erik Estrada,” Lozano says of Eladio’s passionate monologue.
No one else in custody wants to be near Eladio, who will be taken before a judge as a formality before being sent back to Mexico. Mulder wants to delay his deportation in case he can help with the case. Lozano doesn’t think it’s worth Mulder’s time, but he might as well file his paperwork. Eladio will probably be back in the country before it’s processed anyway.
Scully reunites with Mulder and tells him that Eladio didn’t kill Maria – a fungal infection did. Aspergillus is usually harmless, but since Maria had a buildup of a toxic pesticide in her system, the fungus may have compromised her immune system. Mulder still wants to know how the light, rain, and story of the chupacabra fit in. Scully makes the first “get it? Illegal aliens? On a show about aliens?” reference by saying that in this story, the aliens are the victims.
On their way back to the camp, the agents see the INS bus on the side of the road, and all its passengers running for freedom. Inside, the driver is dead, his body swollen. Scully thinks he suffered a fungal infection as well; this one sent his body into systemic shock. Lozano joins the agents and tells them that Eladio is missing. The other passengers ran from him, still thinking he’s the chupacabra. Mulder thinks that Eladio is still important to the investigation, as he’s tied to two deaths.
Scully wants to figure out the pathogen they’re dealing with first. Mulder sends her to do that while he and Lozano look into the chupacabra. Meanwhile, Eladio goes to a barbershop to get help returning to Mexico from the man who brought him to the U.S. The coyote won’t help without money. Also, the coyote is a racist jerk, and if the chupacabra were to kill him next, I wouldn’t be sad.
In the morning, Eladio goes to the pickup spot and gets in the truck of a foreman trying to hire day laborers. The other workers don’t want to get in the truck with him. Scully learns that the fungus that killed the bus driver is the same as that in athlete’s foot. A pathologist thinks an enzyme found in the yellow rain acted as a catalyst and accelerated the growth rate of the fungus. He demonstrates with another fungus common in the area, showing how the enzyme makes it ooze out of its petri dish.
While Lozano talks with some workers, Mulder waits patiently by a wall covered in graffiti that reads “el chupacabra vive!” An illustration of the chupacabra makes it look like an alien. Lozano confirms that Eladio got into a foreman’s truck, and that people still think he’s the chupacabra. Lozano thinks Eladio has bigger problems, like what Soledad will do when he finds him. He thinks they should back off of this family feud, since anyone who stands between brothers will be cursed. Mulder disagrees.
Eladio works all day, barely able to stand by the end of his work. He’s also sweating something yellow. Soledad tracks him down, not noticing that the water cooler Eladio just touched has now started growing a fungus. Soledad thinks his brother’s hiding in a port-a-potty, but instead he finds the foreman, dead and covered in fungus. Eladio steals the foreman’s truck and almost runs over Soledad as he drives away.
Eladio winds up at a house where a woman named Gabrielle is working. She’s heard the stories about him and isn’t about to run off with him. However, she’s willing to give him some money if he can wait until she gets paid at her job at a market that night. He tells her he doesn’t have time and runs off, ditching the truck.
Scully calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”) and tells him she thinks Eladio is responsible for the deaths after all, accidentally passing on a super-strain of fungus to people. She warns Mulder not to come into contact with it, or even breathe it in. Mulder and Lozano are at Eladio’s work site and have found the dead foreman. Mulder thinks that the transient might have been caused by something falling from the sky, a bolide created by space debris. So…aliens.
Scully points out that that’s not really important right now – Mulder and Lozano need to find Eladio and keep him from accidentally killing anyone else. Lozano comments that Mulder, like the migrants, has his own stories to explain the unexplainable. The coyote drives by just then and offers to give them information on Eladio’s whereabouts, for a price.
Mulder and Lozano find Eladio as he’s about to get on a truck bound for Mexico. A bunch of other migrants run from Eladio, which they don’t realize is the best thing to do. Unfortunately, the agents lose track of him. Later, they’re called to the scene of a bunch of dead goats in a truck. Lozano explains to Mulder and Scully that migrant workers are basically invisible; they do tons of work but people don’t pay attention to them. “To most people, they’re aliens in the true sense of the word.” Yeah, we get it.
Flakita arrives and tells the agents that Eladio went to see Gabrielle (his cousin). Soledad went there later, looking for his brother. The agents are the next to visit, but no one believes her claims that neither brother is there. Scully warns her not to let Eladio in if he comes back. The agents leave the apartment, but Mulder thinks they should hang around outside for a little while.
Eladio goes to a convenience store, showing signs of infection. He steals some nuts, which quickly start growing fuzz. Rest in peace, clerk who touches one of them. The agents spy Soledad leaving Gabrielle’s building as Gabrielle calls Eladio at a pay phone at the market, where she’s supposed to be working. She lets him know that Soledad is after him. Soledad arrives at the market moments later, followed by the agents. Everyone draws a gun, so insert your own “Mexican stand-off” joke here.
Soledad says he just wanted to avenge Maria’s death. The agents subdue him as Scully sees the dead clerk and massive amounts of fungus in the store. Eladio goes to Gabrielle’s apartment, and she quickly sees that his face is deformed. She says he killed Maria and really is the chupacabra. Eladio screams dramatically.
By the time the agents arrive, Eladio’s gone, along with the money Gabrielle gave him to go back to Mexico. Lozano peaces out, saying he’s going to take Soledad in while the agents deal with the rest of the case. Scully worries that Eladio will take his fungus somewhere with a high population and inadvertently kill a bunch of people. Mulder thinks Gabrielle lied about Eladio going back to Mexico, since everyone thinks he’s a killer and would never welcome him back there. He’s going to face Soledad instead.
The agents assemble a hazmat team as Lozano goes to the migrant camp and demands that Eladio come out and face his brother. Flakita watches as the brothers fight and a gun goes off. Unfortunately, it’s Lozano who ends up dead. There’s a light in the sky, and creatures that look like aliens come toward the camp.
Flakita finishes her story, telling her audience that other chupacabras were coming to save Eladio. She closed her door and prayed, but she’s sure that Soledad was taken away and punished by being forced to suck blood from goats. Another woman says that Gabrielle admitted that she lied to the FBI. The night of the confrontation, Lozano stops Eladio and orders him to face Soledad. Soledad grabs Lozano’s gun and threatens to shoot Eladio. Eladio turns around and announces that he’s the chupacabra.
In Gabrielle’s version of story, which she tells some workers, Lozano urges Soledad to shoot Eladio, but Soledad can’t hurt his brother. She thinks he also knew that she would never forgive him. Lozano called Soledad a coward and tried to take the gun from him, which is when it went off, killing Lozano. Gabrielle thinks Lozano wanted Soledad to kill Eladio so Lozano wouldn’t be cursed for standing between them. Instead, Soledad was cursed by God and turned into a chupacabra. Now the brothers are back in Mexico, killing goats together.
The agents present the case to Skinner back in D.C. Thanks for showing up for four seconds, Skinner. Flakita was the only eyewitness, but her version of events is questionable. The hazmat team was able to contain the fungus in the camp, but the brothers escaped. They paid the coyote and headed to Mexico, though the coyote died from the fungus. (Aww, how sad.)
Mulder still thinks the enzyme from the rain came from outer space. Skinner is somehow able to ignore that, since he’s more concerned with why the brothers haven’t been found. Scully explains that they’re basically invisible. Mulder says that, really, no one cares. Okay, seriously, we get it.
Thoughts: Lozano is played by Rubén Blades, who’s now on Fear the Walking Dead. Flakita is played by Lillian Hurst, who’s been in a ton of stuff.
“El mundo gira” is Spanish for “the world turns,” as in As the World Turns, because this episode is supposed to be like a soap opera, or whatever.
Scully’s worked with Mulder for four years and has never heard of the chupacabra? Doubtful.
How did no one notice the dead clerk and fungus all over the market? The Health Department is going to be so ticked.