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"bardo Thodol"...

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Guest ___ L@the_of_Heaven___

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"Thinking man's television" I like that. That is precisely why I like "Bardo Thodol" so much because very little of what you need to make the story coherent is spelled out to you. It's not even alluded to in an 'x marks the spot' sort of way, you really have to dig deep to get the answers. The only times "Millennium" was as bold as this way was in "Anamnesis" and "Seven and One" which also rank very highly on my list of favourites. You can't have show that is permeated with episodes as impenetrable as this all of the time or you alienate your audience but I am glad they are there amongst the more literal episodes.

To my mind this was the moment that season three took the legacy of the second season an built upon it in a satisfying way rather than trying to ignore it.

A mighty episode.

Eth

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This is one of the more thought provoking threads for me. Thanks for the insight!

I was only able to listen to the episode again last night, not watch it. I enjoy listening to most of my favorite show while driving to work (long drive!). I understand, though that good and intense television is made for visual viewing, so it was difficult to pick up all the newly-found ideas here. I'm still unsure of how the red laquer bowls fit into the scheme. I think it was previously posted that the alchemical formula was somehow put into the bowls, but that it was edited from the episode? I guess to fully understand the purpose of the red laquer bowls, I would have to understand their place in Tibetian Buddhism? I was reading up on the comments about the "nector of God."

I guess in my lack of Buddhism and alchemic knowledge, I was viewing the hands as being more of a cloning experiment, but I see now that this is not the case, especially with the reason being made for their metallic look at the end of the episode. NOT the Hands of St Sebastian !!!

Now more than ever, at least for me, this episode is so much season 2! The second half (for the most part) of season 3 is as much a throwback to season 2 as the first half of the season was a throwback to season one.

Depending on one's perspective, or even mood, the seasons can either seem totally different or they can "piggy-back" and feed off of each other quite nicely!

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OK.

I have rewatched Bardo Tholdol with a sharp focus on red laquer bowls and alchemic hands, and these are the questions I have come up with to further my enlightenment as a Millennium Group Candidate:

1. Based on bowl chipping, this seems unlikely, but was Frank able to switch bowls so that the Group would not have access, being that there is some un-filmed connection between the bowl and the hands? There is one point where Frank tells Takahashi to forget about the bowl, and it almost seems like some dialogue was edited out when they were in the monestary.

2. Is Steven Takahashi's discolored skin more metallic than necrotic, ala the changing of the hands back to a base metal? I always thought he was decaying, but now, with my "alchemic enlightenment," believe it to be otherwise. Though if Takahashi, turned into lead, he wouldn't burn too well on a funeral pyre, no?

3. Whose face reflection did we see in the end who was putting the bowl in the glass cabinet? My first (new) thought was that it was the Old Man putting it away, like with the piece of the crucifixion cross, but I didn't see the cross in the scene, nor did any of the other cabinet item trigger anything for me. Did anyone else recognize other items in the cabinet? The way it was filmed made it seem like it was referencing something else.

4. This is probably one for the post-production crew, but wouldn't have been better to edit something else out of the episode instead of the "bowl theory," so hard working Millennium Group Candidates like myself would not be so deceived and led astray for the past 10 years? I would like to think that Chip Johanessen would have stepped in and said "Hey! You can't cut that part out," but I realize that the television world probably does not work that way. But then again, he was the Executive producer at the time, so maybe he could have yelled! It also would have been really nice to see the scene, too, where Peter Watts was being questioned by the Group, because stuff like that would have helped to better link season 2 with season 3. In Millennium, Watts makes a better hero than a villan!

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OK.

I have rewatched Bardo Tholdol with a sharp focus on red laquer bowls and alchemic hands, and these are the questions I have come up with to further my enlightenment as a Millennium Group Candidate:

1. Based on bowl chipping, this seems unlikely, but was Frank able to switch bowls so that the Group would not have access, being that there is some un-filmed connection between the bowl and the hands? There is one point where Frank tells Takahashi to forget about the bowl, and it almost seems like some dialogue was edited out when they were in the monestary.

There's a scene that was written but didn't make it to the screen in which Mabius returns to Watts with a red lacquer bowl which Watts realised does not have a chip in it and chides Mabius for bring him the wrong one. I seem to think he throws and shatters the bowl. So yes, I concluded as you have that Frank switches the bowls somehow.

2. Is Steven Takahashi's discolored skin more metallic than necrotic, ala the changing of the hands back to a base metal? I always thought he was decaying, but now, with my "alchemic enlightenment," believe it to be otherwise. Though if Takahashi, turned into lead, he wouldn't burn too well on a funeral pyre, no?

My belief is somewhat similar to this. Whatever alchemical research he is undertaking he is using himself as a guinea pig. Whatever is happening to him seems to be his physiologies rejection of whatever he has done causing his immune system to wage war against the metallic compounds he has placed in his body. So rather than becoming metallic his body is fighting against that as an outcome. That's my take on it for what it's worth.

3. Whose face reflection did we see in the end who was putting the bowl in the glass cabinet? My first (new) thought was that it was the Old Man putting it away, like with the piece of the crucifixion cross, but I didn't see the cross in the scene, nor did any of the other cabinet item trigger anything for me. Did anyone else recognize other items in the cabinet? The way it was filmed made it seem like it was referencing something else.

In the original script I believe it was Watts.

4. This is probably one for the post-production crew, but wouldn't have been better to edit something else out of the episode instead of the "bowl theory," so hard working Millennium Group Candidates like myself would not be so deceived and led astray for the past 10 years? I would like to think that Chip Johanessen would have stepped in and said "Hey! You can't cut that part out," but I realize that the television world probably does not work that way. But then again, he was the Executive producer at the time, so maybe he could have yelled! It also would have been really nice to see the scene, too, where Peter Watts was being questioned by the Group, because stuff like that would have helped to better link season 2 with season 3. In Millennium, Watts makes a better hero than a villan!

My take on the episode is that it is all there in the script. It does appear that cuts were made and scenes that would have been clues to as to what was going on removed but there still remains enough information to put it together. That said, it's easy for me to say that as I am familiar with alchemical concepts to when the hints and nods appear on screen I got them. That isn't true of a large portion of people who are not.

It is, without a doubt, one of the most ambiguous episodes of the show and one which requires a lot of afterthought and a few visits to google but that is a strength for me not a weakness though I do agree with the maxim that if your audience cannot grasp your point without additional research then your mandate for the episode has failed.

Who knows what was cut and why. In "A Single Blade Of Grass" the cuts came from Fox, not from the production team, and no amount of defiance from Glen Morgan would change their minds. Maybe Bardo Thodol was made a little more impenetrable by outside influences.

Eth

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Thank you for the continued insight! I know this is probably a hair-splitting question, but plot-wise, why would they go from Peter Smashing the wrong bowl, to Peter putting the (correct?) bowl in the glass cabinet? In a story where one needs to be so aware of the details, those two "endings" seem to be somewhat opposed to each other. I like the idea of Frank doing the bowl-switching, but I just did not see that in the actual episode. There was implication, but it just wan't spelled out at all.

Is there a site where the actual scripts can be read?

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Thank you for the continued insight! I know this is probably a hair-splitting question, but plot-wise, why would they go from Peter Smashing the wrong bowl, to Peter putting the (correct?) bowl in the glass cabinet? In a story where one needs to be so aware of the details, those two "endings" seem to be somewhat opposed to each other.

Fair point. My details of what was in the original script are, at best, hazy. Excerpts from it were shared here in the past and discussed but I can't recall by whom. I will see if I can track down the relevant thread for you later.

The only way that scene could be woven into the larger tapestry is if it was Frank we see placing the bowl in a cabinet oh his own safe in the knowledge that he has prevented it from reaching the hands of the Millennium Group.

I like the idea of Frank doing the bowl-switching, but I just did not see that in the actual episode. There was implication, but it just wan't spelled out at all.

Here's my thing. I think it's pretty much there but then I have become so sure of the events of what happened after discussing them so many times I have no idea of how much I am seeing the things I want to see.

Had the scene in which Peter rebuked Mabius for bringing him the wrong bowl been included then it would definitely have made the events more transparent as the sequence of events would have been....

* Watts despatches Mabius to locate a specific bowl we believe is in the possession of Dr. Steven Takahashi.

* Frank traces Dr. Steven Takahashi and gets to him before Mabius does.

* Mabius arrives to claim the bowl which is taken from Takahashi although Frank reassures him previously not to worry about the bowl.

* Mabius gives the bowl to Watts who chides him on bringing him the wrong bowl.

* Frank is present at Takahashi's funeral dispensing grain from a red lacquer bowl.

I think points to Frank having switched it at some point in a much more obvious way.

Eth

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I like that synopsis and think it makes perfect sense, moreso than my own plot constructions I have tried to put together over the past 10 years.

All of this discussion has pushed this episode up a few notches on my season 3 favorites list.

Thanks again for the insight!

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  • 3 years later...

what an extremely informative thread on this fantastic episode, thanks to everyone contributing!

what i would like to add after watching this episode recently, having read this thread and the original FOX synopsis is that I find it likely that the scene where Peter Watts smashes the red bowl was not deleted because of time restraints but bc of a change in the story.. wouldn't it be possible that the writers decided to change the story line last minute so that the Millennium Group now actually have the real bowl in their possession?

notice that in the place where the deleted scene was supposed to go there have been another another one inserted, one that is not mentioned in the original synopsis.. that is the one which sees (most probably) Watts or someone else from the group place the bowl on a shelf behind glass doors. i imagine this was changed to revisit this storyline in a later episode if there ever was a fourth season... i haven't read everything in the thread yet so sorry if this has already been mentioned but i find it very interesting.

last but not least, i must say that as good as this episode is, i find the last scene with Frank and Emma at the funeral very unconvincing.. it's a stretch to find Frank there IMO, but that also Emma would be there? and where were that final scene supposed to take place? it's easy to get the impression that they are in Tibet which really leaves a sour taste in my mouth haha

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What an awesome catch claaa7, I never knew about this. Thank you. I agree with the last scene. I have always had the feeling that something was missing.

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"Time is too slow for those who wait; too swift for those who fear;

too long for  those who grieve; too short for those who rejoice.

But for those who love, time is eternity."

(Jane Fellowes)

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I have to admit I'd forgotten this episode until the question was asked. I must watch it before I read what I know is an awesome of all awesome explanation or two~~~!! I vaguely remember it and I didn't think much about the hidden meanings, I'm not prone to do that. ( I'm so dense!) LOL! One thing about these forums, this site: It really stirs up the desire to expand the thought process! I swear I never really looked at hidden things in shows. I understood characters, pretty much figured out SK's motives, even knowing what Frank would say at times before he said it. But meanings? I never thought to look! I am very humbled by the uber-intelligent, introspective and thoughtful posts I see when I come here!smile.gif

"I smell blood and an era of prominent madmen"

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