Train To Brindisi
Episode 2 of Around The World In 80 Days begins with Phileas, Abigail and Passepartout traveling by hot air balloon. Happy with their progress, the trio find their journey come to a crashing halt when Fogg accidently crash-lands and leaves them in the middle of nowhere.
Phileas’s self-confidence is shattered, evading Abigail’s questions about what makes him fit to circumnavigate the world and trying to find a solution.
Phileas is standoffish, difficult to warm to and generally not very charismatic. Thankfully Fogg does make up for some of this by managing to stop a train on the tracks and getting them all a ride. A beautiful bit of editing shifts this back to London briefly as Bernard Fortescue is convinced that Abigail will be the deciding factor on whether Phileas will make it around the world or not.
On the train, the trio are welcomed aboard as they learn this is bound straight for the Suez Canel. Abigail and Phileas settle in first class, meeting the other passengers, while Passepartout slums it back in third class. He immediately gains the plaudits of the other passengers though, who enjoy his company and his charisma.
That night, Passepartout is haunted by the memory of his deceased brother, especially when he sees two brothers fighting with one another in the carriage. After a stern word of wisdom to them both, he heads outside to get some air and clear his head.
The same charisma sadly doesn’t emanate with Phileas Fogg, who’s quiet as he’s constantly mocked and laughed at by all those around him in first class. In fact, when they find out he’s never actually traveled before, it falls to Abigail to bail him out, pointing to the assassination he managed to help stop.
A lot of the drama here stems from a brash Italian named Niccolo Moretti and his imaginative son, Alberto. After breaking his model spaceship, Niccolo tries to talk to his son and apologize but Phileas winds up getting involved. Phileas sees a bit of himself in the boy and clearly wants to try and make amends. Unfortunately, the night ends with nothing resolved and Niccolo angry, close to beating his son.
The thing is, this Italian has not only questioned Phileas’s integrity but also shattered his self-confidence. What thin shreds were remaining after crash-landing the hot air balloon have now almost certainly disappeared. Can he really go around the world in 80 days?
However, it’s the young Moretti boy who manages to inject some confidence back. He admits how proud he is of Phileas’s attempts to travel around the world and is confidence that if Phileas’ father was still alive, he too would feel the same way.
Just then, the train hits an unexpected obstacle and the brakes are suddenly slammed on as the train screams to a halt. There’s a precarious part of the bridge ahead, with nothing but the rail to navigate across.
Phileas believes that if they uncouple the other carriages and jettison some of the coal and water, it could well be enough to lighten the load and get the train moving again.
Alberto sobs, as it’s revealed he hurt himself during this sudden pause on their journey. This serves as an incentive for Niccolo to relinquish control and let Phileas work with Abigail and Passepartout as they slowly cross the bridge.
Time is of the essence, especially as Alberto is badly injured and needs medical attention. Abigail gives Phileas some words of encouragement, allowing them all to work together, prying off chunks of the wooden carriage to use as fuel for the engine.
Eventually the train makes it to Brindisi in one piece… pretty much anyway. The tattered remains of this carriage roll into the station behind the steam engine. Alberto is taken to the hospital but just before he does, he tells Phileas Fogg that he’s the right man for the job. Niccolo even warmly embraces the man too; a heartwarming moment to instill some confidence into this bumbling adventurer.
As the episode closes out, our trio make their connection and find themselves bound for Egypt. However, trouble brews in the shadows, waiting to strike them as news from London reaches an unknown businessman, offering up £500 in exchange for stopping Fogg.
The Episode Review
The second chapter to this series is certainly an improvement over the first, allowing for a more character-driven dive into Phileas Fogg’s psyche and giving him a courageous adventure to instill that self-confidence back and allow him to press forward.
This episode also allows Abigail and Passepartout to grow closer and give them a reason to continue traveling alongside this man. There is a reliance on Abigail making all the bold decisions and the talking, which does take away from Fogg’s charisma a little, but there’s at least an attempt to inject some adventure into this follow-up chapter.
The tone still flits wildly between dark and dreary and light adventure, and it’s clear the writing hasn’t quite settled down yet. There’s still plenty of time for that to change but this serial adaptation is leaning much more into a darker and grittier tone, one not really suited for family viewing. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but it does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity for a family-friendly adventure.
With the heat of Egypt on the horizon, we’ll have to wait and see what the next episode has in store for us.