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Without Borders: Asgard

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BOURDAIN: Arthur C. Clarke once said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

A shot of flat Asgard. Her oceans spilling endlessly into the void of space. A rainbow bridge soaring over the dark waters under an endless night sky.

An immense scaly creature with towering antlers roars at the edge of a thick pine forest before leaping onto some invisible surface upon which it races across the blue sky. Eight giant flying cats pull a sleigh full of laughing blond teenagers in red leather and furs. They throw darts fletched with mistletoe at the creature. Laughing harder as the mistletoe falls as rain on the forest below.

BOURDAIN: I'm no physicist, but I've got to admit teen Santas and their eight giant flying cats had me questioning the magic is just advanced physics thing.

Bourdain looks up at a mural where the images of a one eyed bearded figure shifts and moves.

A regal looking woman smiles up from a loom and with a few shifts of her hand, ribbons of light spill out of the loom and thread across the night sky as a green and purple Borealis.

A middle aged blond woman in a blue and white tunic looks into the camera. There are unlit white candles in a carved twist of an old tree limb behind her on the wall. Small white words in the lower right of the screen identifies her as Ambassador Baldursdotor. She says, "In the Federation, we're relentlessly rationalist. When faced with anything fantastic, we look for the cause. The scientific explanation. But I couldn't help but think of my grandmother when I learned that there really is an Odin. A Frigga. And that in a very far off way," her expression is wry, "we're related. Which explains something I've never gotten a good explanation for from any scientist." She snaps her fingers and the candles flicker to life behind her. She says dryly, "Ta da!"

BOURDAIN: In Norse mythology, Asgard was one of the nine realms. The home of one of two tribes of gods, the Aesir, which defeated the other race, the Vanir of Vanaheim and came to rule the nine realms. Turns out it wasn't exactly a myth.

A shot of a bearded one eyed man sitting on a vast golden throne. He is flanked by a smaller silver throne where a crowned woman sits. Before him, men and women in armor holding swords and spears stand in rows. Ambassador Baldursdotor stands with two aides amid the sea of warriors before the throne.

White words identify the man on the throne as Odin, King of Asgard and the blond woman as Queen Frigga. Odin says, "We welcome the representatives of the Federation in peace. In particular, our subjects of Midgard. It pleases us to see our children taking their first trembling steps and though you have not yet mastered the Bifrost, you have done as well as could be expected. Welcome."

BOURDAIN: For those not up on their Norse not-exactly-mythology, Midgard is Earth. I'll let that sink in. The Federation council certainly has.

A tall dark haired woman in bright silvery armor says, "Asgardians are a peaceful people."

An equally tall dark haired man in a green and gold tunic tumbles knives that appear and disappear in his hands. "Of course. Just ask anyone we defeated back in the old days." He smiles a slippery smile that doesn't reach his eyes. "Or last week."

Shot of a forest ringed field in which warriors strike blows. The sounds of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" swells. A red streak strikes the ground causing the camera to shake. A blond bearded man stands up holding up a short handled hammer. The song declares, "We come from the land of ice and snow," as the man channels lightening through his hammer. Every warrior on the field is thrown back. The man shouts, "Brother, I win!"

"Of course," says the dark haired man from before, who appears out of thin air behind Thor.

BOURDAIN: This is a game the Aesir like to play on days ending in y, which yes, does include Freyasday, Tiwsday, Wodansday, and, of course, Thorsday. The bearded guy with the hammer is Thor, the god of thunder, and the man behind him is Loki, his brother, god of mischief and lies.

Welcome to Asgard.

Chapter Text

Opening Credits Roll.
I took a walk through this beautiful -verse
Scenes of Bourdain walking across a blue ice lake on Andoria while planet rise occurs in the background.
Felt the cool rain on my shoulders
A shot of the industrial facility that controls Risan weather.
I took a walk through this great big beautiful universe
The San Francisco Golden Gate wreathed in fog below a Starfleet transport vessel rising into the air.
A red and gold desert on Vulcan with a red spired city just visible beyond the dunes.
I felt the rain getting colder
Bourdain walks across camera in a classical music t-shirt, the Ramones, jeans and cowboy boots. Disappears from view leaving only the desert, which lingers in view for ten seconds before fading to black.
Sha-la-la-la-la
Sha-la-la-la-la-la

Chapter Text

BOURDAIN: One moment, we were in the Alpha quadrant. The next, the only known stable wormhole opened up.

A view of stars in the vastness of space. A pinprick of light becomes the wormhole spinning open, a whirlpool of light. Growing closer and more immense until it completely takes up the camera's view. All is white light.

BOURDAIN: I wish I could tell you the Wormhole Aliens, the Bajoran Prophets, had something to say to me. Then again, I'm just as glad we didn't get stuck entering the Gamma quadrant.

The white light fades. The camera displays a view of stars.

BOURDAIN: I know, it looks a lot like the place we just left, but trust me, it's a long way from home. Our first stop was dictated by the diplomatic mission already heading to Asgard to establish a few things with the Aesir. As you may have already heard a few months ago on the regular news, there was some question as to just who owns Earth.

Ambassador Baldursdotor sits in a starship Ready Room. Images of increasingly advanced Federation starships decorate the wall behind her. She says, "The Federation has made contact with any number of species in the Gamma quadrant. Some friendly." She holds her hands palm up and lifts the one on the right, "Some," she lowers her left hand, "not so friendly."

Bourdain sits across a desk from her, "And where do the Aesir fall?"

"When our representatives reached Asgard, the Aesir asked if the people of Midgard were ready to be freed from the Aesir's protectorate ship."

Bourdain stares at her. "They considered us their colony?"

"More of a sort of animal sanctuary. A faraway part of their empire they rarely visited and kept other life forms from interfering in. Like the planets we observe, but don't interfere in under the Prime Directive." Baldursdotor's smile is wry.

"So, they've left us alone."

"Oh, no. They visited. Drove off, to hear them tell it an invasion of Jotunn." She purses her lips and clarifies, "Frost Giants." A mural depicts a younger looking Odin on the back of a six legged horse battling immense blue giants. Monsters. Defeating them in a glow of golden light.

Baldursdotor is still holding both hands up. "They kicked out the Jotunn, went on some adventures, had relationships with some of the natives." She snaps the fingers of her right hand and cups a tiny flame above the palm of her hand. "Then Midgard fell out of fashion as a vacation spot."

The scene shifts to a golden hall decorated with brilliant standards. Every centimeter shimmers. Odin, king of Asgard, sits upon a vast golden throne that should overwhelm him in size, but it does not no more than an oyster shell overwhelms a pearl. His throne is flanked by a smaller silver throne where Queen Figga sits. Her throne is less ornate. Except for the delicate silver tree curled from the top of the throne. It shifts from pink blossomed spring to rich summer green, to bare autumn. Queen Frigga reaches up to pluck a piece of fruit. Then with an amused smile, she tosses it into the air to her left. A pale hand reaches out of nothingness to pluck the fruit and disappear again.

Odin frowns. "Enough time for tricks later." He pounds his spear upon the floor and the entire hall echoes.

BOURDAIN: What the camera cannot capture is just how serious a case of liquid bowels your body gets at the sound of that spear. Actually, it may help to back up slightly.

Shot of a city of spinning golden spires and shapes. The film fast forwards through a walk down an ornate golden street. Two ravens fly over head.

BOURDAIN: No, I don't know if those are Odin's ravens. There wasn't really an opportunity to ask.

The film speeds through entering a high arching hallway. Past murals that shift and move.

On a mural, Odin sits in the midst of the throne room with Frigga at his side. Two infants grow from bundled babies in their parent's laps to adults.Thor grows to stand by Odin, while the sun rises and sets over his right shoulder. Loki stands with his hand upon Frigga's shoulder, but his green eyed gaze flicks over to Odin, as a fickle moon shifts over his left shoulder.

On a mural, Odin negotiating with a pale blue race of giants, many of which appear to be vanquished by a blaze of light. As the light fades, he holds in his arms a pale blue child, who shifts into the dark haired pale bundle of the other mural.

On a mural, a dwarf hands Odin hand a spear fresh from a forge that appears to be a star. At Odin's side is a golden haired boy, who is given a short handled hammer. From the corner of the mural, a dark haired boy holds what looks like a skein of golden hair in one hand, a knife in the other, his mouth twisted in a mischievous smirk.

The view shifts back into the royal court from before. As men and women in armor with a variety of swords and spears standing in rows clap their swords on their shields. Pound their spears on the ground. It's a roar of noise.

Ambassador Baldursdotor stands with two aides amid the sea of warriors before the thrones.

BOURDAIN: I'm glad we were stuck in the nosebleed seats at the back of the room.

Odin says, "We welcome the representatives of the Federation in peace. In particular, our subjects of Midgard. It pleases us to see our children taking their first trembling steps and though you have not yet mastered the Bifrost, you have done as well as could be expected. Welcome."

Frigga stands up and snaps off a branch of the silver tree, which is covered in red berries. She walks down to where Baldursdotor stands. "Our weavers have seen that you carry some mark of our son, Baldur, who has gone down to his sister. Do you claim yourself as a daughter of Baldur?"

"I do have that name, your Majesty," says Baldursdotor.

"Then take this in his name as our personal gift to you. Fear not, it is no mistletoe. It has many properties that may be of use to you in this life and the next." Baldursdotor takes the branch, which shifts to spring flowers in her hands.

Odin tilts his spear and men and women come forward with ornately decorated trunks. "As we have learned that the people of Midgard wish to leave our protection, know you go with our good will. These gifts are for Midgard." Baldursdotor looks awkwardly at her aides, who scramble to open the boxes. Inside are pieces of fabric that flutter weightless in the air. A hand loom that shimmers and sparks as the startled assistant almost drops it. A complicated musical instrument that opens a mouth and sings.

BOURDAIN: Sometimes you get a gift and you know the person giving it cares about you. Your child draws you a picture of the two of you. You mom knits you a warm sturdy sweater. Maybe I'm misreading this. By now you've all had a chance to hear from all the pundits. But for me this was the silk shirt hand made in a Ferengi sweatshop that the aunt you see once a year at Christmas gives you, even though she knows you live in an apartment with five other bachelor chefs while working six days a week in twelve hour shifts. She knows that, but gives you the gift anyway.

Shimmering brocade, small knives, and bells are pulled out of the boxes.

BOURDAIN: Now if we're under their protection, you may be wondering where they were during the Borg invasion. I asked the same thing.

Cuts to Thor sitting in a dark smoky hall. The walls are ornately carved and decorated. He's backlit by a fire where several massive logs roar. "The Borg are a pestilential race. Smash one infestation and they appear somewhere else. But have no fears, had they set foot on earth, we would have come to your aid, there's no need. You showed yourselves more than capable." He slaps Bourdain on the back. "No more of such concerns. Now that you are ready for a higher form of war, my friend Volstagg has arranged a small meal in Midgard's honor. I hope you like roast boar?"

The camera cuts to a heavy oaken table. An enormous roasted boar sits in a place of honor with a golden apple shining in its mouth. It is surrounded by gleaming mounds of bread and bowls full of a variety of steaming food.

BOURDAIN: If you're a little worried about line about the higher form of war, you're not the only one. On the plus side, Volstagg does an amazing roast pork, and I finally understand how pickled shark should actually taste.

Bourdain sits next to Thor, who downs a tankard of beer. Bourdain looks at his tankard, which is the side of his head and takes a healthy swallow.

A broad bearded man, who is identified as Volstagg, one of the warrior's three, appears with a golden horn. He hands it to Thor, who downs his beer and smashes the glass into the fireplace.

The camera catches the glass sliding out of the fire and melting into the stones.

"This horn is not for you," said Volstagg. "It is full of a drink made of wave maiden's tears aged for a thousand years in the broken hulls of a long dead Dark Elf fleet."

BOURDAIN: Knowing I was probably going to regret this, I still said…

"Try me," says Bourdain with a smile.

BOURDAIN: And fade to black. But I will say, it was delicious. If slightly disturbing to be drinking old tears. We all have enough of those.

Chapter Text

Commercial
An old fashioned Constitution Starfleet ship flies through a meteor belt. "Space. The final frontier." It flies past a nebula. "Feel what it was like for the early explorers. When every new nebula held a lost civilization." Shots of a well populated Roman colosseum. First Nations longhouses in front of a monolith. Vikings in a mead hall. "Journey on our refitted Constitution class starships just like our ancestors did. Feel what it was like to seek out new life and new civilizations." The vessel skims through a glistening energy field. "Boldly Going offers tours along three major historical routes every two weeks." A map displays showing several starship routes. "Go boldly with us."

Chapter Text

BOURDAIN: Ordinarily when there's any sort of sporting event my producers try to have me run around and humiliate myself.

Camera pans across a battlefield teaming with warriors.

BOURDAIN: But after the Aesir explained that this game has no teams, no rules, is a free for all carried out for fun to see who can be the last person standing, they decided that our insurance couldn't cover this particular sport.

The warriors hack and slash at each other. It's almost impossible for the camera to catch what is going on. The sounds of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" swells.

"Ah-ah, ah! Ah-ah, ah!"

Thor strides through the crowd, his red cape rippling in the air as he strikes those around him.

The song declares, "We come from the land of the ice and snow, From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow."

Thor swings his hammer to strike several warriors down in one blow. Finally, once he clears a space, he swings it in a circle and flings it up. Flying into the air after it.

"The hammer of the gods, We'll drive our ships to new lands."

The warriors battle on.

BOURDAIN: Wait for it.

The song declares, "To fight the horde, and sing and cry."

A red streak strikes the ground causing the camera to shake. A crater appears in the dirt and in the center crouches Thor in a three point landing. He stands holding up his hammer.

"Valhalla, I am coming!" cries the song.

Lightning stabs the ground, which Thor channels through his hammer into the mass of people.

"On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore. Ah-ah, ah!
Ah-ah, ah!"

Lightning arcs down again and again. Warriors fall before the blows. The churned dirt grows black with fire. Turns silver with glints of molten glass.

"We come from the land of the ice and snow. From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow. How soft your fields so green. Can whisper tales of gore."

Thor holds his hammer still upraised and shouts, "Brother, I win!"

BOURDAIN: And yet...

"Of how we calmed the tides of war. We are your overlords."

"Of course," says Loki, who appears out of thin air behind Thor. There's a quick movement as he stabs Thor in the back. "Will you never stop falling for that."

Thor stumbles to one knee, which for some reason has Thor bursting into laughter, just before his hammer hits Loki sideways into a tree. Thor says, "I learn eventually. Now it's time for mead. And then we'll go hunting Bilge snipe." He bounds to his feet, catches his hammer, and strides across the field.

As the camera turns, the viewer sees that there's a set of pavilions filled with figures in rich robes. Beyond that are tables covered in food and drink. Queen Frigga greets both her sons with a kiss on their cheeks and a tankard of mead. Does something with one hand, which turns out to be stopping Loki from stabbing his brother again in the back.

BOURDAIN: And you thought you had sibling issues.

Chapter Text

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An Andorian, a Human, and a Bollian clink hideous Tiki mugs and laugh.

"When you need to have it perfect, pick Infinite Wine and Liquor. Please, drink responsibly and don't cause any international incidents."

Chapter Text

Bourdain sits with a cup of mead talking to a dark haired woman, identified by a white label as the Lady Sif.

BOURDAIN: Let's get this out of the way. No, I did not ask if Loki cut off her hair. I did not ask about her relationship with Thor given they are married in mythology. I also did not attempt to outdrink her.

Sif says with utter earnestness and no irony. "Asgardians are a peaceful people." She throws her mead cup into a fire basin burning merrily near the table. The ceramic shatters and disappears in the fire.

Loki tumbles knives that appear and disappear in his hands. "Of course. Just ask anyone we defeated back in the old days." He smiles a slippery smile that doesn't reach his eyes.

Sif says hotly. "Do not listen to this silver tongued liar. Asgard has no enemies. We keep the peace throughout the nine realms by Odin's wisdom."

Loki continues to spin knives. "Of course. Grandfather defeated the Svartalfheim by convincing them to part with their infinity stone controlling reality. In the same way, we gained the power stone. Pretty talk makes the Vanir to make our pretty things. Father defeated the Jottun with conversational skills.

"He wasn't your grandfather," says Sif standing up. "Odin is not your father. You're not one of us."

"As you all never fail to remind me," says Loki, who keeps sitting, sprawled in his seat through all of this. Knives appearing and disappearing as he talks.

Sif stalks off.

BOURDAIN: I think you may be able to tell that I didn't go anywhere. Admittedly, not the smartest decision, but then again, I went into another galaxy because the wormhole was there.

"Still here," Loki says conversationally. "You are insect beneath my boot."

Bourdain sips his mead, which steams in the chill air.

"All of Midgard could be mine to destroy if I willed it. You are no longer under Odin's protection." Loki's skin turns blue. His cheeks are engraved with runic symbols. His eyes are red. "Are you not afraid human?" Even the tone of his voice has changed. Has grown icicles on every syllable.

Bourdain sips his drink. "On a much, much smaller scale, I've been there." He looks out at the tents full of warriors apparently not the worse for being struck by lightning consuming massive quantities of food and drink. "This is all utterly terrifying and utterly ridiculous."

This sparks a laugh from Loki, who with a shift of his hand is holding the same horn that Volstagg had the night before.

Bourdain gives it a side look. "Maybe not."

Loki shrugs and disappears.

BOURDAIN: Then because after a lunch of heavy drinking and eating, the Aesir weren't tired from bashing each other for hours, we went hunting bilge snipe.

A sylvan forest scene.

BOURDAIN: Not sure what a bilge snipe is. This is a bilge snipe.

An enormous scaly creature with great antlers thrashes its way through the woods. Knocking over enormous centuries old trees. Scattering boulders.

BOURDAIN: Fortunately, I no longer have the hunting gear from several seasons ago.

The creature roars before leaping onto some invisible surface that carries it into the air. It runs across the blue sky followed by eight giant cats pulling a sleigh full of laughing blond teenagers in red leather and furs. They throw darts fletched with mistletoe at the creature. Missing. Laughing harder as the mistletoe falls as rain on the forest below.

BOURDAIN: Unfortunately, my producers decided that it would be fun to ride a flying sleigh.

Another sleigh flies past the camera. Bourdain sits in it next to Baldursdotor. Both of them appear to be holding on for dear life as the sleigh twists and lurches in the air.

Chapter Text

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A voice quickly says, "For adult scenarios, players must be the defined adult age for their species. This includes, but is not exclusive to the following." A stream of species names and numbers stream across the screen.

Chapter Text

BOURDAIN: Hogun the Grim, yes, that's his name, one of Thor's warrior's three obtained permission for us to take us on a side trip to his home world, Vanaheim. Possibly home dimension. You'll see why I was a little unclear.

A man looks at the camera with folded arms. His expression is, in a word, grim. Out of place with the raucous yelling and feasting around him. "Queen Frigga has asked that I show you my home and keep you out of harm's way."

The camera pans over a glowing rainbow bridge. Water surges below the bridge to a glowing golden building at what appears to be the edge of the world.

Bourdain yells, "What happens if we fall off?"

"You fall for all eternity through the void. So don't."

The camera visibly moves to the center of the bridge.

As they reach the glowing building, a golden eyed man moves to the center of the room. He glances behind Bourdain, "You should strap that device to your body." With that, he shoves a massive sword into a device. Behind him, a rainbow colored vortex opens.

Hogun walks calmly to it and steps through.

Bourdain says, "*Bleep* it," and steps through.

The camera shows a whirlwind of color. Roaring sound. There are flashes of stars. Worlds. The camera is sideways on the ground. As it's picked up, it shows Bourdain pushing himself to his feet. "I've never seen anything like that."

Hogun shrugs. Unimpressed. "It is but one way between the worlds. Follow me."

He takes Bourdain down a dirt path to a village that looks like something on one the ethnographers shows. Interdicted worlds where the Prime Directive forbids first contact and remote cameras film natives.

BOURDAIN: I know what you're thinking, but ask yourself, what exactly is burning in the firepits.

The camera pans. There are fire pits here and there, but there is no wood. No fuel of any kind. The fire simply floats above the ground in a variety of colors. Pots hang over them sparkle and bubble with light.

"What are they cooking?" asks Bourdain. Hogun grunts looks in a pot. "Sunrise." He walks away.

Bourdain looks in the pot.

BOURDAIN: And before you write in, no one offered some sunrise to me, so I didn't eat any.

The scene changes to a wooden building with one side open to a stunning vista of a valley. Trees cling to delicate rock outcroppings. Small green and brown buildings with high narrow roofs dot cliff sides.

BOURDAIN: Looks as if someone hand crafted the view to be particularly impressive doesn't it? There's a reason for that.

"You have a lovely home," says Bourdain sprawled somewhat awkwardly on a reed mat. His feet are bare. His boots sit slightly to one side of the veranda.

"It is dull. Nothing occurs here," said Hogun, sitting cross legged on a matching reed mat. He sips from a delicate china cup.

"Is that what made you want to join the warriors three?" Bourdain shifts on the wood floor, which creaks like the sound of birds.

"Nothing made me," Hogun lifts his chin. "I made me. I won my place among the Aesir."

"Was that something you had to fight for?"

"You are sitting in Vanaheim," said Hogun. He looks out at the beautiful vista. "I am Vanir. We are the artisans for the Aesir. Musicians Actors. Performers. So it has been since the Aesir defeated the Dark Elves. Since they wrested light from the dark. Since they defeated our king as well." He looks Bourdain in the eye. "I am not a performer."

BOURDAIN: The mountains are the work of giant dwarves, which don't ask me how that works, who forge planets and weapons such as Thor's hammer using a dying neutron star.

Another shot of the vista with the camera changing angles. At each shift in perspective, some new aspect comes into view. Here an ancient mossy tree under which a Vanir sits writing with a brilliant red feather. There trees braided together full of contrasting blossoms in red and gold. A waterfall that turns golden in the shifting light. A geyser that parts the waterfall to reveal a crystalline cavern where two Vanir are sitting holding hands.

BOURDAIN: The Vanir arrange the flora and fauna. They are also responsible for a good deal of the architecture we saw back on Asgard. The Bifrost, that's Odin's doing.

Chapter Text

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"Hello," begins a dignified looking Human, "This is Bel Ambrose. You mostly know me from comedies, but this is no laughing matter." He steps forward. He's surrounded by tents and lean tos. A Human child of around ten stands next to him. "I'm here in the Tireas camp with Jenny. She's one of the many refugees displaced from the Federation and Cardassian disputed space." Jenny looks at the camera. "I'm asking you to reach into your hearts to donate your social credits to send replicators and energy units to this camp to help Jenny and other children like Jenny, who have been displaced. Remember, their parents may have renounced their Federation citizenship, but they haven't renounced sentience. Give whatever you can."

Chapter Text

BOURDAIN: Coming from the Federation, there's something comfortable knowing that our technology would look like magic if we visited another world. One of those planets forbidden by the Prime Directive. There's something comforting about knowing we can replicate any meal we want to eat. Any clothes we want to wear.

A woman at a loom moves her hands and a shimmering ribbon of light dances into the starry sky above, while the Queen Frigga leads the crowd in polite clapping.

BOURDAIN: Flying in our starships across the galaxy.

A shot of the rainbow bridge from a golden garden full of crystalline trees. The Bifrost pierces out into the dark starry night.

BOURDAIN: I've been to many worlds where colonizers came and destroyed the natural beauty.

An image of a strip mine on Bajor with the barren hills above. An image of industrial facilities on Praxis, the Klingon energy moon. A desolate settlement on Teva III that won Bourdain his eighth Emmy.

BOURDAIN: I've been to many worlds that are the center of vast empires.

A towering government building on Cardassia Prime throws its shadow over marching soldiers. The austere beauty of the Romulan Imperial palace. A shot of the Federation council chambers.

BOURDAIN: Yes, that does include us. But having been to Asgard...

A shot of Asgard floating in space, endless spilling liquid water into a void.

BOURDAIN: The Federation may be ready to declare that we're all grown up. Ready to stop being the equivalent of a nature preserve, where the natives are free to kill each other or create a utopia.

A shot of San Francisco. Waters of the bay sparkling beneath starships flying serenely over the glittering glass buildings.

BOURDAIN: But I'm not sure I'm quite ready to declare us ready for a higher form of war. Or art.

A red streak. Thor lands upon the ground in a three point landing. Raises his hammer to summon lightning, which transitions to a stunningly beautiful sunrise of burnt orange, shadowed blue clouds, salmon pink, pale gold to brilliant fire as a sun rises up over the edge of Asgard's sea. It's ever falling into the ether sea.

BOURDAIN: Yes, I asked. This is the sunrise I didn't eat.

The screen fades to black.

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Next week on Parts Unknown…