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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.