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.

I’m going to say this up top: given that our trio is heading straight for the Suez Canal, I am not going to be able to restrain myself from repeatedly mentioning that boat getting stuck there last year.

A woman shrugs and says "hi, that's me."

Lucky for our adventurers, they seem to be making good time as they approach the canal, possibly because they’re not on one of the longest container ships in service.

Purple Haze: This is amazing: we can just scoot through a canal instead of going all the way around the continent! Who knew?
Ginge Nellie Bly: Me. I knew. I wrote the article you’re quoting.
Purple Haze: Fair enough! Anyway, I feel great about this, nothing can stop us now!

Now, obviously Purple Haze has called down the age-old narrative jinx upon their heads, and so shortly thereafter their shipping route is beset by pirates. Literally.

Purple Haze: Seriously? In the late 1800s?
M. Master Key: Well, yeah. But it’s not like you’re picturing: we aren’t gonna get jumped by Orlando Bloom and a bunch of dudes with pigeons on their shoulders.
Ginge Nellie Bly: Parrots. But look, these guys are legit; they kidnap rich people and send back fingers until a ransom is paid.
Purple Haze: What if you don’t pay?
Ginge Nellie Bly:

Two men simultaneously say "Come on, son."

Anyway, the shipping company told the captain to hang tight here until a British warship arrives to escort us. We’re basically stuck here like a giant boat that took the turn too hard and shut down global trade!
Purple Haze: We can’t wait for a warship! We’ll miss our connection!
Ginge Nellie Bly: I know. So we’re going to have to figure out something else!

And I’m sure they will, because our squad’s not Ever Given’ up on their goal (last one, I promise). But first, Ginge Nellie Bly hunts down a copy of her dad’s paper so she can look for her first article on their journey.

Ginge Nellie Bly: Look, look: he printed it! That must mean it’s good!
Purple Haze: Woah, I sound DASHING.
M. Master Key: And I sound annoyingly absent from the story.
Purple Haze, quoting the article: “Could Purple Haze be the next great English explorer?”
M. Master Key:

A man looks confused and then says "no"

Purple Haze, ignoring that: Well, let’s celebrate! Beers all around!

After some brief confusion where Purple Haze keeps exclaiming “beer” increasingly loudly and to no avail at their server, Ginge Nellie Bly orders them all coffee and then notices a white lady down the street buying camels. Why do we care? Because our journalist friend is pretty sure the lady is Jane Digby, a real person who was known for her extremely baller and scandalous life choices. Ginge Nellie Bly describes her as “the most immoral and despised Englishwoman in the world” which, goals. Whilst she lays out the story of Digby’s sordid love life (to M. Master Key’s growing interest), Purple Haze looks over the shipping schedule in despair: they’re going to end up at least 3 days behind if they can’t make their planned boat.

A man says "That is a bummer."

Before Purple Haze can descend too much into panic, Digby and her husband approach, and in an extremely cool move, drop their copy of Ginge Nellie Bly’s story on the table and leave with a “good luck; you’re going to need it.” TBH, I think what they need is to throw themselves at Digby’s feet and ask for her help (she’s got connections and speaks even more languages than M. Master Key), but that’s just me. Instead, that night, Purple Haze is micromanaging M. Master Key’s bed making skills when they’re interrupted by a man who overheard them earlier.

Eavesdropping Stranger: You guys need to get to Aden, right? You could go through The Empty Quarter. I’ll even take you… for a small fee.
M. Master Key, asking the important questions: Uh, why does this route have such an ominous name?
Eavesdropping Stranger: Well, because it’s empty… because everyone who goes there dies.
M. Master Key: Cool, well that answers all my questions. Bye!
Purple Haze: Wait a second, hold up: how long will it take?
Eavesdropping Stranger: Two days.
Purple Haze: That would put us back on schedule!
M. Master Key: Oh come on, this is a classic bad idea!
Purple Haze: I’ll tell you what, Eavesdropping Stranger: I’ll pay you when we get to Aden. When do we leave?
Eavesdropping Stranger: Ugh, fine. We leave an hour before dawn. I’m gonna go prepare.
M. Master Key, seeing their guest out: Ok, so let’s recap: we know nothing about the desert, or this stranger. This is a bad idea! And didn’t you promise your buddy NewsPapa you’d keep an eye on his daughter?
Purple Haze: Good point: the desert is no place for a woman.
M. Master Key: Great, I’ll go tell that guy we won’t be going with him.
Purple Haze: Oh, no: we’re still going; we’re just gonna leave Ginge Nellie Bly here.
M. Master Key: Uh, she’s gonna be SO upset. I hate everything about this plan, but I guess you’re technically in charge, so. Ok.

Splitting up the party: always a classically good idea!

A man says "You know this story is not going to end well."

Anyway, later that night, M. Master Key is doing a little shirtless face washing when there’s a knock at the door.

M. Master Key: Come on in!
Ginge Nellie Bly, flustered AF by her very toned travelling companion: Oh, uh. Hi. Look, I know you think I’m being ridiculous for being so excited about my article. Here’s the thing: when my mum died, dad raised me alone. Sometimes it was sad, but we also spent a lot of time looking at a world map, and he’d tell me stories. I want to repay him by telling him a story of my own.

M. Master Key is very obviously touched by this story, especially given Purple Haze’s plan to abandon her in the morning, and so he bids her goodnight with a kiss on each cheek, because that’s how they say goodnight in France, and for no other reason, certainly NOT romance, no sir.

Marcia Brady sarcastically says "Sure, Jan."

The next morning, the two men saddle up camels and head toward the desert, not without some guilt at leaving their friend behind. Clearly, Ginge Nellie Bly knows her companions well: almost immediately upon waking up, she jumps out of bed in alarm and runs to the door, where at least they’ve had the good grace to leave a ticket home. Panicked and pissed off, she runs through the hotel in her nightclothes to confirm what she’s already deduced: the gentlemen have left. Whilst they traipse through the desert in the hot sun, she runs out to try and find a guide, but to no avail: nobody wants to take her. Well, at least until she starts throwing money around, and then the crowd swarms in, overwhelming her with competing offers. Suddenly cutting through the noise, a couple on a horse appears. You guessed it: it’s Digby and her husband, Sheik Medjuel el Mezrab.

Digby: Uh, where are your buddies?
Ginge Nellie Bly: They left me behind by accident — I’m trying to get one of these guys to take me to Aden so I can catch up.
Digby: Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to talk to strange men?
Ginge Nellie Bly: Didn’t yours?
Me: Ok, RUDE, but fair hit.
Ginge Nellie Bly: Please, will you help me? I have money.
Digby, emptying the purse onto the ground for the local kids to take: Go home.

And it seems like that will be that, but Ginge Nellie Bly is nothing if not stubborn, and Digby’s husband correctly points out that our journalist pal is not completely unlike his wife in that way.

Medjuel: Look, we should at least go find her friends, or they’re gonna die.
Digby: We should let them; they deserve it for abandoning her.
Medjuel, calling some guys with camels over: Yeah, yeah, sure babe.

Whilst Ginge Nellie Bly rejoices in getting help, the guys dismount their camels for a quick bathroom break. Now obviously, this jaunt was never going to go completely smoothly, and the expected hiccup has arrived: while they pee, Eavesdropping Stranger makes off with the camels and Purple Haze’s father’s watch.

Purple Haze: Well at least he didn’t get the cash.
M. Master Key: Great. That will be so much help IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT.

Fair point. While they try and figure out what to do next, we go to London. At the Reform Club, an unfortunate butler has been given the odious task of collecting Rich Meanie’s bar tab, which hasn’t been paid since the summer.

Rich Meanie: Oh, goodness me. I seem to have left my wallet at home, I’ll have to pay tomorrow.
Unfortunate Butler: Uh, but I think you said that last time, so…
Rich Meanie, loud: What are you trying to say?
NewsPapa, overhearing the nascent altercation: He’s just doing his job, let me cover you!
Rich Meanie: I couldn’t possibly, but if you’re insisting, I will pay you back tomorrow.

Unlikely! Anyway, back in the desert, M. Master Key, annoyed, asks Purple Haze what we’ve all been wondering: why risk his life for a dumb bet?

M. Master Key: I mean, it’s not like you need money. And who cares what those guys think of you? Where are we going, anyway?
Purple Haze: Towards the oasis that guy told us about.
M. Master Key: The guy who stole our stuff and left us here to die?
Purple Haze: Well do you have a better idea? We won’t make it back without water, this is our only chance.
M. Master Key: I hate this: risking your life is one thing, but this isn’t what I signed up for!
Purple Haze: Have faith: I will get us through this.

For some reason, M. Master Key decides to believe him, and since we soon find out that Ginge Nellie Bly is right behind them with reinforcements, it’s probably not such a bad idea.

Ginge Nellie Bly, persisting in being annoying: So, what do you miss about home, Lady Ellenborough?
Digby: Nothing. And don’t call me that.
Ginge Nellie Bly: Seriously, don’t you miss anything? Not even your kids?

At that, Digby pulls out a gun and levels it at Ginge Nellie Bly. But of course, she’s not about to shoot our friend just for being a nosy nellie: there’s a snake about to attack. Snake despatched, they reach a tentative peace, just in time for Medjuel to locate the other group’s camel tracks and conclude that Ginge Nellie Bly’s pals have been left to die. His suggestion? That they head right back to town: in this heat, there’s no way the guys will survive.

Before we can see Ginge Nellie Bly’s response to that (though let’s be real, I think we all know what it will be), we return to said fellas, who continue their trek forward until night falls, bringing with it cold.

Purple Haze: Man, I almost miss Ginge Nellie Bly. But we did the right thing to leave her; this is no place for a woman.
M. Master Key: It’s not super fun for a man either. She is fun to be around, anyway.

On that, they can both agree, and they continue to list her positive attributes until M. Master Key adds “pretty” which is apparently a bridge too far for Purple Haze. Regardless, at least she’s safe and not out in the desert, they decide, like total fools. The next day, they continue plodding through the desert until Purple Haze collapses.

M. Master Key: Come on, don’t quit. We can do it.
Purple Haze: Look, I’m sorry. Whatever happens, I should tell you you’re the best valet I’ve ever had.
M. Master Key: That’s hilarious. I should tell you: I’m not actually a valet.
Purple Haze: Then what are you?
M. Master Key: Anything you want me to be.

Before we can explore THAT avenue of inquiry, they spot what they think is a group of men approaching. They jump around, celebrating, before realizing they really should be doing the opposite: it’s actually a sandstorm, coming in fast. M. Master Key quickly rips off a piece of his shirt to cover Purple Haze’s face, and then grabs his hand so they can try to ride it out together. Honestly this is an actual nightmare but if anything was going to get these two to respect each other it might be clinging together during a dangerous weather event, so… fingers crossed for that at least? Try as they might, the strong winds soon separate them, leaving Purple Haze alone with, poetically, nothing but his “coward” postcard.

Back in London, NewsPapa and Rich Meanie are mid-billiards when the former receives a telegram from his daughter. Since she clearly sent it right before they headed into the desert, NewsPapa gets to be worried about both the danger of the trip AND Ginge Nellie Bly’s new travel buddy, Digby, whom Rich Meanie doesn’t hesitate to mock. NewsPapa also looks vaguely guilty, for reasons I’m sure we’ll find out later.

Whilst they continue their game, back in the desert, someone hefts Purple Haze onto a horse and brings him to the promised oasis, where he’s reunited with M. Master Key. But who is this mystery person? Obviously, it’s Digby, and she’s really really not impressed with our pal’s choices.

Digby: You’re a doofus. I was going to leave you: she saved your life.

Beyoncé? No, it’s Ginge Nellie Bly of course, and yes, she’s appropriately furious at Purple Haze. The argument proceeds exactly as you’d imagine: she’s reckless and in need of protecting, he’s *actually* the one in need of rescuing, and so on.

M. Master Key: Can you both cool it? Remember yesterday when we were all celebrating how good of a team we are?
Ginge Nellie Bly: Don’t think I forgot to be mad at you, mister “this is how we say goodnight in France!”
Purple Haze:

A woman sidles up to a counter and makes a face that says "wait, what?"

Ginge Nellie Bly: Look, abandoning me isn’t protecting me, and if you’d asked me, I wouldn’t have let you go off with a crook!
Purple Haze: M. Master Key said it: this is no place for a woman.
M. Master Key:

A man says "I'm sorry, what?"

Purple Haze: When we get to Aden I’m sending you home, whether you like it or not.
Medjuel: Uh, nobody’s going to Aden. When it gets dark we’re taking you back the way we came.
Purple Haze: Nooooo — we have a boat to catch, and it’s just a little piece of desert left!
Digby: Guess again, pal: that area is inhabited by the Subayhi tribe, and I’m not risking crossing them.

Ignoring her pretty firm refusal, Purple Haze and Ginge Nellie Bly continue bickering, with occasional breaks to yell at M. Master Key.

Ginge Nellie Bly: Seriously, my dad will pay you. A lot.
Digby: Ugh, who is your dad, anyway?
Ginge Nellie Bly: NewsPapa.
Digby: Huh. Did you know he lived in Damascus for a while?
Ginge Nellie Bly: Duh! He talked about it a lot; that’s where he made his bones as a journalist.
Digby: If you call stealing other people’s work making his bones, then sure. I’ve led an unconventional life, as you all know, and I have never met a worse person than your dad. For instance: did he ever mention he asked me to run off with him?

Ginge Nellie Bly thinks she’s lying, but it’s pretty obvious that Digby is telling the truth. Medjuel also backs his wife’s story, telling the group that when she turned down NewsPapa for good, he printed a hit piece about her in his paper. Gross, NewsPapa. Gross.

Medjuel: Incidentally, he also completely failed to fact check my profession or status, not that that should matter. We’re going to be together until one of us dies.
Me, read the wikipedia article and a big fan of this couple:

A man whispers "It's true."

Mejuel: Anyway, we’re not going to Aden. Get ready to leave when it gets dark.
Purple Haze, ignoring Ginge Nellie Bly running off to have an existential crisis: Aw man, the bet!
M. Master Key: Screw the bet!

Can’t really argue with that right now, M. Master Key! Later, after some time to stew, Ginge Nellie Bly corners Purple Haze: does he believe what they’ve just learned about NewsPapa?

Purple Haze: Uh. Well, look: a week ago? No way. But now I understand that the world isn’t black and white; it’s shades of grey. We’ve stopped an assasination, lived through a terrifying practical application of a physics test, and today I was saved by two people with identities I’ve been taught to mistrust and fear. So thinking that my best friend isn’t a hero, but a human being who makes mistakes? I can do that.
Ginge Nellie Bly: I’m sorry about the bet.
Purple Haze: I’m sorry I underestimated you. I hope you can forgive me. And not just me.
Ginge Nellie Bly: He’s supposed to write the truth, and he did the opposite. I can’t forgive that.

Fair enough. While they wait for dark, Ginge Nellie Bly heads over to talk to Digby, who asks what our young friend will do now.

Ginge Nellie Bly: Oh, go home, scream at my dad, and then get back to writing about puppies and flowers.
Digby: BORING.
Ginge Nellie Bly: It’s what I’m supposed to do. I was silly to think different.
Digby: Look, I was 18 when I married that lord. He just wanted to hang out with his horses and mistresses; I was miserable. My mother told me I couldn’t do anything about it, but as you know I wasn’t about to take that lying down. Is this important to you?
Ginge Nellie Bly: It was.
Digby: Well maybe you were doing it for the wrong person. Make a choice: I can take you back, or I can take you to Aden.

I think we all know what she’s going to say to THAT. Even Mejuel is on board, albeit reluctantly, and they set off.

M. Master Key: Look, I didn’t want to leave you behind.
Ginge Nellie Bly: Sure, and I bet you fought tooth and nail for me to stay.
M. Master Key: I’m just a valet; nobody listens to me!
Ginge Nellie Bly: You only care about yourself.
Mejuel, either for safety or because he’s sick of the bickering: If you want to survive the night, stick together and be quiet. M. Master Key, here is a gun.
M. Master Key: Oh hell no. I’m not killing anyone so this rich guy can win a bet.
Mejuel: And I’m not losing my wife because you don’t care about anything.
Me, at both of them:

Kermit says "that's a very good point."

Anyway, as the night goes on, they find themselves in the metaphorical crosshairs of the Subayhi, the tribe who live in the area they’re crossing. Dismounting, they wait, peering into the darkness. In seconds, they’re surrounded by circling riders on horseback, one of whom attempts to carry off Ginge Nellie Bly before he’s shot by M. Master Key. All hope appears to be lost when Purple Haze, who’s on the ground, notices a wet patch of petroleum, which he clocked earlier in the episode. As everyone else steels themselves for a last stand, he drops a match on the petroleum, which blazes into a giant fire. The light scares off the tribesmen just long enough for our friends to make their escape, but not before M. Master Key stares into the face of the man he’s had to kill.

The next day, as they arrive in Aden, and Purple Haze begins ruminating once again on the possibility of a beer (unlikely; just like Port Said, where they landed at the start of the episode, Aden is an Islamic city, so alcohol is prohibited), M. Master Key has finally had enough.

M. Master Key: I killed someone, dude!
Purple Haze: Yes, you did. I guess I underestimated how intense this trip would be.
M. Master Key: That’s all you care about? This bet? That’s the only reason you’re here?
Purple Haze: Look, I know you’re bummed; it would be bad if you weren’t. But think about it: we’re going to India next! Exciting! I’ll go get our tickets and meet you and Ginge Nellie Bly back here in a bit.

And where is Ginge Nellie Bly anyway? Well, she’s bidding Digby and Mejuel goodbye, but not before apologizing on behalf of NewsPapa and promising to look in on Digby’s kids when she returns to England. She also sends a telegram to her dad which essentially reads “Got here safe. Digby is magnificent. Dad’s a liar. Bye!” Short, sweet, and accurate. Love it! As Purple Haze bustles off to deal with the ship bookings, someone calls out to M. Master Key from the shadows. You guessed it: it’s Rich Meanie’s correspondent from the end of last week’s episode, Disreputable Bowler Hat Guy.

Disreputable Bowler Hat Guy: Well your pals are full of themselves, huh? Look, here’s the deal: I have a friend who really really wants Purple Haze to fail. All you have to do is stop him from getting on the boat to Hong Kong, and I will pay you. I’m also going to play on your well deserved anger at the way the rich are behaving in this story so far, and how it has endangered you. Wouldn’t it be nice if they got a little bit of perspective?
M. Master Key: Yeah, but I don’t betray my friends.
Disreputable Bowler Hat Guy: Are they your friends though? Or do they think they’re better than you? Money is freedom. Do this little thing for me and you’ll have a whole LOT of freedom.
M. Master Key, remembering the man he had to kill just last night: What do I have to do?

Now look: I hope M. Master Key doesn’t betray his friends, but I also really can’t blame him for considering it after the last couple of episodes. Also, knowing this plan doesn’t guarantee he carries it out. I believe in him! Anyway, I expect we’ll see a lot more of our friend wrestling with this moral dilemma next week, when we all journey to our next location: India.

Episode 1 recap: up, up and away
Episode 2 recap: crazy train