Every season, I sit down to watch the latest and greatest in all things drama, and this month we have been blessed wtih two super exciting shows, starting wtih MASTERPIECE’s newest offering: Around The World in 80 Days. Adventure! Travel! Hijinks! What more could you want? Miss an episode? Check in each week for a recap following the show on Sunday evenings.

Well, we’re back. Last week, our trio of adventurers made it out of Paris on a hot air balloon. Do they know how to pilot it? No! Do they have snacks for the road? No! Will they be able to land the thing? Time will tell.

A man says "This is going to be a disaster." and eats popcorn

Anyway, on a fancy train, a fancy man’s fancy plan for Italy’s future is interrupted when his small, unfancy son yells that there’s a hot air balloon outside.

Fancy Man: Uh, sorry, the kid’s got a big imagination. Where was I?
Unfancy Kid:

A woman says "I hate it here. Can't wait to graduate."

Now obviously we know that Unfancy Kid is indeed correct, but unfortunately, that balloon isn’t going to be airborne for too much longer. I think we all can guess why: despite a well labeled lever, a certain someone (Purple Haze) has managed to hit a tree and plow the balloon into a field.

M. Master Key: I don’t get it man, it was very clear!
Purple Haze: It’s really that inventor’s fault for labelling it in French! Who does that?
M. Master Key:

A man sarcastically asks "really?"

Purple Haze: Well don’t worry, according to my notes we won’t have to wait long.

WRONG. Three days later, the group is still waiting by the tracks. Ginge Nellie Bly isn’t idle, starting to draft her first dispatch, but is annoyed by Purple Haze’s bland interview answers. Sure, he’s passionate about technology, which is neat, but he isn’t interested in sharing his personal reasons for the trip. To be fair, I’m not sure I’d want to tell a near stranger about my anonymous hate mail either, but I get why our reporter friend is annoyed.

Ginge Nellie Bly: Seriously! Stop dodging!
Purple Haze: I’m not!
M. Master Key: Oh, you are, and if you don’t answer her she’ll never shut up!

Lucky for the reticent Purple Haze, his notes on the Italian rail schedule have finally proven themselves accurate: bending his ear to the tracks, he hears the sound of the next train approaching and scampers off to attempt to flag it down by running directly at the train. Despite being extremely annoyed, the conductor does finally stop to let them on, thankfully avoiding an accidental ethics class moment.

A man says "I made the trolley problem real" to two friends as they hurtle along a speeding track in a trolley.

While our adventurers board the train, back at The Reform Club, Rich Guys 1 & 2 (and all their Rich Guy pals) watch as a giant map is set up in the middle of the room so everyone can keep track of Purple Haze’s adventure.

Rich Guy 1: Seems like a waste of time and money — he’ll be home by the weekend!
Rich Guy 2: Well, you would say that: you bet him a whole heap of money he couldn’t do it! And TBH, since he now has my hard headed daughter there with him, I actually like his chances.
Me: Buddy, you don’t even know about M. Master Key, the actually useful member of the party!

Rich Guy 1 really doesn't like that news, but what can you do? And after all, it’s only *googles inflation calculator/currency converter* a PALTRY $3,267,137.86.

A well-coiffed woman laughs with the caption [chuckles in rich]

Anyway, back to the train, where Purple Haze and Ginge Nellie Bly are getting set up in fancy compartments, and M. Master Key is shuffled off to third class (but not before the porter can invite him to an illicit card game later that night). M. Master Key isn’t feeling it, even after the porter tries to goad him by playing on his French identity, and leaves just as his travel companions are taken to meet the other wealthy white people on the train. In third class, which is loud, crowded, and seems to contain at least one chicken, the less well-to-do Italians give our friend a suspicious look. He takes it in stride, and if anyone can charm these folks it’s him, but I think we can all agree it sucks that our MVP is stuck in steerage.

In the fancypants cabin, everyone is very excited to suck up to Purple Haze for his “valor and skill,” except of course Ginge Nellie Bly, who knows better, and isn’t eager to let the impressed Italians' feelings influence her reportage. She’s, frankly, much more interested in getting cleaned up, but instead the introductions continue, with Purple Haze meeting the excited Unfancy Kiddo from earlier, and his intimidating papa, Fancy Man.

In third class, as I predicted, M. Master Key is already charming his companions, who, seeing him attempting to gnaw some very stale bread, offer him bagna cauda, a paste made of olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and truffles that I want to eat, and possibly bathe in, immediately.

M. Master Key, charming: Well, look, I’m French, and we know food, so don’t be bummed if I’m not impressed.

But after taking a bite, he’s hooked, telling his new friends that he’d like to move to Piedmont and eat just bagna cauda for the rest of his days. Can’t argue with that! Meanwhile, in the first class dining car, the conversation is still firmly on Purple Haze, much to Fancy Man’s chagrin.

Fogg Fanatic 1: I’m so impressed by this whole thing: you know, that whole English adventuring spirit is a real gift to the world.
Me, watching in 2022 and aware of the ravages of colonialism: Uh… what?
Fancy Man, still mad: Nice to see you brought your full dinner dress… at least you’ll look cute when they murder you in Borneo!
Fogg Fanatic 2: Why’d you decide to do this trip, anyway?
Ginge Nellie Bly: I’ve been asking him this since we left London! Seriously dude, tell us!
Purple Haze: Well, I thought something like this *might* be possible…
Ginge Nellie Bly: And yet you never tried it until you read a certain article by a certain someone.
Purple Haze: Yes, yes, you did give me the nudge I needed.
Fogg Fanatic 1: So you’ve travelled a lot?
Purple Haze: Uh… obfuscation!
Fancy Man, seeing his opening: Where exactly HAVE you been? I’ve been around Europe, and to America, but I’m sure I’ve got nothing on you!
Purple Haze: Well… Scotland? And Paris.
Fancy Man: You literally only just came from Paris though?
Ginge Nellie Bly, rather overstating the situation: Well, he didn’t just GO to Paris — he foiled an assassination attempt on the French president!

Everyone is suitably impressed, except for Fancy Man, who is still intent on being an ass about Purple Haze’s lack of experience. But once everyone has chuckled at his mean jokes, and possibly because the meal has progressed enough that everyone’s gotten some wine in them, he simmers down, and the conversation turns to love. Purple Haze tells the Fogg Fanatics that he’s single; there was a woman, once, but it was a long time ago.

Ginge Nellie Bly: You used to come over to our house a lot, but you never mentioned ladies!
Fancy Man: And what about you, Ginge Nellie Bly: got a fiance?
Ginge Nellie Bly:

A smiling woman says "Ew, no."

Where’s your wife, Fancy Man?
Fancy Man: She’s dead.

Having put her foot in it pretty outrageously, both Ginge Nellie Bly and Purple Haze express their sympathies to Fancy Man, and to his son, who it transpires is being taken to live with his aunt (clearly against Unfancy Kid’s wishes). Said kiddo asks Purple Haze if he’s a fan of — meta alert! — Jules Verne (he is, naturally) and then if he thinks a man will eventually be able to travel to the moon. Fancy Man laughs, but Purple Haze gets serious.

Purple Haze: I have a friend. Well, had. Who said anyone of us can achieve anything.
Ginge Nellie Bly: Source?
Me: And you call yourself a reporter? Pal, I'm not sure you're going to like the answer, because I'm fairly certain he's been talking about your deceased mama this whole time!
Purple Haze, ignoring us both: So why NOT the moon?
Unfancy Kid, eyes shining: I’ve drawn up a model of a rocket that I really think could do it. Would you like to see it?
Purple Haze: I’d love it!
Fancy Man, determined to be kind of a jerk: He likes you! That’s weird, he usually likes women more. Anyway, what a waste of time!
Ginge Nellie Bly: Don’t you think even businessmen should dream?
Fancy Man: Dreams are for people who fail real life.

A woman says "That was way harsh, Tai."

Just then, Unfancy Kid comes running back with his model, and knocks into Purple Haze, spilling water, and prompting his dad to try and confiscate the rocket. In the ensuing scuffle, the model falls to the ground and breaks, sending a crying Unfancy Kid running, followed by Fancy Man (but not before he places the blame directly at Purple Haze’s feet).

Back in third class, things are just as tense, at least for M. Master Key, who’s sitting next to squabbling siblings. Of course, this reminds him of his brother, who was killed only a few days ago, and so he pulls the kids apart and tells them to fight the world, not each other, before fleeing to the platform at the back of the train to get some air. But rather than spend all night processing his feelings, our French pal evidently decides to join the train workers for their card game after all. As they chat, he tells them that this is his last job as a valet, and when it’s over, he’s going to build a house in the country with his brother, which is just heartbreaking. The porter from earlier enters, and tells M. Master Key that Purple Haze is annoying the crap out of Fancy Man.

M. Master Key: Yeah, he does that.
Train Worker 1: That lady you’re with is hot though. She single?
Train Worker 2: Does she like Italians?
M. Master Key: Probably not salt of the earth Italians like you at any rate. She likes newspapers.

Across the train, Fancy Man seems to be trying to have a real bonding moment with his son, but when the Unfancy Kiddo isn’t immediately on board, he snaps right back into his “I’m your dad, respect me” mein. And to make matters worse, at that precise moment, Purple Haze appears.

Purple Haze: You were right — it was my fault, no need to punish him.
Fancy Man: You’re trying to tell me how to raise my son?
Purple Haze: Uh… no?
Fancy Man: You spend your life screwing around and you’re going to lecture me? I’m not going to be told what to do by some ponce like you! Go away before I kick your ass in front of my kid!

Ginge Nellie Bly, hearing their raised voices, arrives just in time to see Purple Haze beat a hasty retreat and to be told in no uncertain terms by Fancy Man that her travelling companion is a fraud. Not a great night all around for our pals, except for maybe M. Master Key, who despite the smack talk of his Italian companions, claims he’s about to hustle them out of their money. Alas, before he can prove it, Ginge Nellie Bly arrives at the back of the train, explaining that she couldn’t sleep.

Train Worker 2, in Italian: Ugh, is it just me or is she getting hotter?
Train Worker 1, also in Italian: That’s the wine: even you are getting prettier.
M. Master Key: Welcome to the party, pal! You can sleep when you’re dead!
Ginge Nellie Bly: Are you drunk?
M. Master Key: Yeah dude, obviously.
Porter: Ok, ok, let’s play cards.
Ginge Nellie Bly: I really thought Purple Haze had a plan, but after tonight I’m not so sure!

And with that, she settles in for a night of drinking and complaining to these underpaid workers about how hard her life is.

A woman says "I hope you like feminist rants because that's kind of my thing."

Yes, the patriarchy did and does suck, but read the room, bud! As she drunkenly veers from first year college student on winter break and eager to talk about philosopy into a Girls style “I think I may be the voice of my generation” declaration of her writing chops, her travel companions get more and more annoyed at her. Perhaps inevitably, this eventually leads to M. Master Key starting a fight to defend her honor. It’s… very college. Later, as she tends to his head wound, they circle back to Purple Haze.

M. Master Key: Did you really think he could do this?
Ginge Nellie Bly: I guess I didn’t really think about it. I just thought about how good I would look when we succeeded and how I would get famous for my writing.
M. Master Key: I’m sorry.
Ginge Nellie Bly: Why would you care? You’re planning to leave us when we get to the next stop.
M. Master Key: What makes you say that?
Ginge Nellie Bly: I mean, not to be a jerk, but scoreboard? You left France when your dad died, something must have happened in London before we left, and now you think you’re better off alone.
M. Master Key: You know, sometimes simple is good. You think you’re smart, huh?
Ginge Nellie Bly: Smarter than you. Anyway, goodnight!
M. Master Key, keeping it light: Thank you for fixing me.
Ginge Nellie Bly, sincere: I know you’re grieving your brother, and I’m sorry. It might be better to talk about it instead of goading some random Italians into fighting you though.
M. Master Key: Hey, don’t worry about Purple Haze. I’ll talk to him in the morning.

Is it just me, or did I detect some “might consider kissing you” leaning happening in this scene? I’m for it: it would certainly liven the place up! Anyway, the next day, Purple Haze is moping around like a big baby when M. Master Key finds him and tries to get him inside for a shave.

M. Master Key: Ginge Nellie Bly is worried about you, get it together!
Purple Haze: I don’t care! Leave me alone!

Inside, the porter, sporting a lovely shiner, grumpily makes Ginge Nellie Bly a hangover cure featuring a raw egg. Disgusting, but she drinks it anyway, just in time for M. Master Key to tell her that Purple Haze is still deep in a sulk, and they’ve both pinned their hopes on the wrong guy. Across the train, Fancy Man has breakfast in his compartment where he’s attempting to put his son’s model back together (sweet!). And where is the child in question? On his way to talk to Purple Haze, of course!

Unfancy Kid: I’m sorry.
Purple Haze: Why?
Unfancy Kid: I made my dad mad at you.
Purple Haze: Oh, no, it’s my fault. I made him mad at you.
Unfancy Kid: I disappoint him. He thinks I’m weak and cowardly.
Purple Haze: Maybe he just hasn’t had a chance to see how brave you are yet.
Unfancy Kid: What was your dad like? Was he proud of you?
Purple Haze: He died a long time ago; I barely remember him. But the thing about Englishmen is that we just don’t emote.
Unfancy Kid: Well if you were my kid I’d be proud of you. When you get back to London on Christmas Eve will you send me a postcard?
Purple Haze: I’m not sure I’m up to it after all, sport. Maybe YOU will be the first one to do it; you can send ME a postcard.

Unfancy Kiddo, unamused by THAT, gets up to leave when the train suddenly jolts to a stop, sending everyone lurching about. Apparently, an earthquake has cracked the bridge, making it impassable: they’ll have to turn back.

Purple Haze: Well, maybe it’s a sign!
Ginge Nellie Bly: No way! Tell him, M. Master Key!
M. Master Key: Tell him what, that this was always a bad idea? He knows that.
Ginge Nellie Bly: You two are the WORST.

Actually the worst is about to happen: Fancy Man’s son was badly injured when the train stopped, and his leg is bleeding. A lot. M. Master Key applies a tourniquet but proper medical attention is needed, and quickly. The six hour trip back to Rome will take too long; if only they were on the other side of the bridge! While the train workers insist to a horrified Fancy Man that they just can’t risk the bridge without killing everyone, Purple Haze takes another look at the tracks, and insists that technically it’s possible to cross. Not without risk, but it could be done. They just have to uncouple all the cars except one.

Porter: The engine alone is 65 tons; you’ve lost the plot.
Purple Haze: See, it’s not about the steel providing strength, it’s about load and balance. It’s simple physics! We also need to jettison most of the coal and water.
Porter: Great, so we miraculously get over the bridge, and then we have no fuel?
Unfancy Kid: If Purple Haze says it can be done, I believe him!
Fancy Man: So, can you do it?
Purple Haze: Yes.

Reader, I believe him too. But before we can find out how his plan will work, we head back to London, where Rich Guy 1, henceforth Rich Meanie, is meeting with his financial advisor, a put-upon man who’s clearly enjoying telling his client “I told you so.” See, Rich Meanie’s made the mistake of putting all his investment eggs in the US Rail System basket, and is now the proud owner of just a bunch of empty shells.

Rich Meanie: So what do we do next?
Financial Advisor: What do you mean? You owe the bank 15,000 — it’s kind of a game over situation!
Rich Meanie: Can’t we restructure the loan?
Financial Advisor: LOL, no, I just take your money. And TBH since you’ve never worked a day in your life, I don’t like your chances after that. You have a month to get some cash together or find somewhere else to live.
Rich Meanie: You’ll bankrupt me!
Financial Advisor: Actually, you did that to yourself.
Rich Meanie: Look: I’m going to come into a LOT of money in just under 80 days, if not sooner. More than enough to pay everything back.
Financial Advisor: And I have your word? Fine. I won’t foreclose until Christmas day, but after that I won’t wait, and even 3 ghosts visiting me throughout the night won’t persuade me to change my mind!

Back in Italy, the majority of the passengers and crew watch as Purple Haze prepares to Evel Knievel it across the bridge. He sends M. Master Key to the front of the train to sprinkle sand on the railings to lend them more friction, and then tells everyone to stay perfectly still, because he’s calculated the balance very precisely and one wrong move will send them all plunging to their deaths. Slowly, so very slowly, they ease their way across the bridge. Of course, because we need SOME drama, half way across the bucket of sand tumbles away, leaving everyone to sit as still as possible, terrified. Everyone, that is, except Ginge Nellie Bly, who fills a bucket with coal dust and walks out to join M. Master Key in the front. As the two sprinkle powder on the tracks, the train resumes movement, until finally they clear the gap, safe and sound. Of course, they’re now very low on coal, but Purple Haze has a solution for that too: feeding all the available wood in the train car into the train’s engine. Ginge Nellie Bly and M. Master Key assiduously chop apart the walls, the chairs, and everything in between, which is working, but Fancy Man’s poor kiddo is looking worse by the moment. Again, M. Master Key saves the day, picking a fight with the Unfancy Kid about how a man could POSSIBLY go to the moon in Italian to keep him awake and fighting off shock.

Speeding through the countryside, they finally arrive just in time, with a doctor quickly bearing the young fellow off to be treated, but not before he can tell Purple Haze that he thinks Purple Haze is exactly the right man to go around the world in 80 days after all. And look: you can’t exactly be a part of this bonkers ride without sticking around to see where this whole thing ends up, so Ginge Nellie Bly and M. Master Key track down Purple Haze where he’s ruminating on all the ways his little experiment could have gone wrong, and get him moving. After all, they only have 10 minutes to make their connection if they’re to be on time through the Suez Canal! And so they head off, and lest you thought the normal challenges of late 1800s travel would be their only impediment, the episode ends in Egypt, where a questionably reputable fellow in a bowler hat gets a telegram from a certain Rich Meanie. It contains three words: Stop Purple Haze. But to find out how he’ll endeavor to do it, and how our friends will escape his machinations, we’ll just have to wait for the next episode.

Episode 1 recap: up, up and away