This week on Around the World in 80 Days, our intrepid explorers have entered the second half of their eighty-day trek! You probably recall that last time the trio were honored guests at an Indian wedding. Nothing goes smoothly on this trip, so the groom was arrested by the army for desertion and Passepartout almost killed Fogg with a sleeping herb. All the details about this (and Phileas’s secret love) can be perused here.
It’s Day 41 as our adventurers arrive in Hong Kong, looking forward to a bit of home comfort in this British colony. Immediately there’s a complication when Fogg is told by a clerk that the transfer paperwork from his London bank has not arrived yet.
Turns out Bellamy’s accomplice, Thomas Kneedling (Anthony Flanagan) got to the bank just ahead of Phileas and his friends. Posing as a British police inspector, he’s convinced the manager to withhold Fogg’s funds to keep him from fleeing arrest for fraud.
As the fake copper leaves the manager’s office, Passepartout catches sight of him. He gives Kneedling shoves the bribe money and the rest of the sleeping seeds back into his hands, still angry that they nearly killed Phileas. Thomas shrugs him off by saying he wanted it done so he decided to do it himself.
Confused and temporarily penniless, Fogg and his cohorts leave the bank to make alternative arrangements until the money is available. No surprise really that Passepartout has acquaintances in the city who he says will give them a place to stay.
As the trio leaves the bank, they are recognized by a smartly dressed woman. She introduces herself as Lady Clemency Rowbotham (Victoria Smurfit), the wife of Hong Kong’s governor. She’s been reading Miss Fix’s account of their expedition and is clearly a fangirl. After fawning all over Phileas in front of her husband, Sir Henry (Patrick Kennedy) she announces they are hosting a garden party in Fogg’s honor. Even “Passport” is invited.
Phileas and friends still need a place to stay until the festivities, so Passepartout leads them into a neighborhood called Tai Ping Shan, a crowded and disreputable area where Chinese residents were relocated by British troops. Their room(s) are less than luxurious, but beggars can’t be choosers.
The gang split up at this point- Fogg decides to pester the bank staff again (no luck there) and Passepartout needs to go see an old friend. Abigail refuses to stay put as ordered, so she starts tailing Passepartout, eager to learn about his history with Hong Kong. Miss Fix is delighted to see her latest article in syndication at a newsstand. Passepartout praises her writing but suggests she keep Mr. Fogg away from newspapers as he is a very private gentleman.
Miss Fix’s elation turns to worry as her friend sits her before a bowl of noodles and a set of chopsticks. In the meantime, Passepartout pays a visit to his old friend, Jiang Lei (Thomas Chaanhing), a businessman of questionable repute. He requests a loan to get them out of Hong Kong, promising to repay in a few days. Jiang stipulates that he will loan the money if Passepartout retrieves a family heirloom for him - the White Dragon necklace, currently in the possession of the governor’s wife. Passepartout’s thieving days are in his past, so he refuses Jiang’s request and is dismissed just as Abigail barges into their meeting.
Once at the garden party, Phileas is eager to make the required appearance with the governor and quickly depart. Abigail is intent on keeping the content of the Estella article away from Fogg. Passepartout, upon learning the governor is willing to loan Fogg the much-needed funds, works extremely hard to get Sir Henry’s signature on the money order.
However, when Lady Clemency and her entourage arrive to spirit Phileas away from her romantically-challenged husband, the cat is soon out of the bag. Clemency compares Fogg’s fidelity to Estella to the long-dead couple found holding the White Dragon pendant she’s wearing.
The men have tracked down Abagail’s article and are reading it aloud for humiliation value, apparently. Phileas is crushed by Miss Fix’s betrayal and is also distrustful of Passepartout when he finally realizes his valet was a waiter at the Reform Club. (That, of course, is nothing compared to “the deadly seeds in his tea” debacle). A humiliated Fogg and a contrite Abigail beat a hasty retreat from the party sans the money order from Sir Henry.
Meanwhile, Passepartout is nowhere to be found. He has concealed himself under the bed of Sir Henry and his wife. Once they are sound asleep, he slips out, realizes the necklace is around Clemency’s neck, and stealthily removes it without waking the couple. (You've got to admire those nerves of steel!) After evading the soldiers guarding the estate, the light-fingered Frenchman hands over the heirloom to Jiang in exchange for cash and a warning that he should leave Hong Kong immediately.
In the morning, the necklace is missing, and Fogg is arrested on suspicion of stealing it after the bank manager tells what he knows about the explorer’s “true identity”. Phileas swears he’s innocent, but the money Passepartout got from Jiang is found secreted under a mattress. The police parade Fogg through the streets to jail.
Passepartout admits to Abigail that he stole the White Dragon for the money to leave Hong Kong. Together they rush to plead Fogg’s case to the governor. In a last-ditch effort to prevent his boss from being flogged at noon, Passepartout confesses to his crime.
The governor is furious that the one thing he had been able to give his wife to express his deep love and respect for her was stolen. Clemency is touched by his admission of affection and asks Henry to let Phileas go. She never felt comfortable wearing the necklace anyway since it wasn’t her love story.
Abigail and Passepartout rush back to the jail with Sir Henry’s order to release Fogg. As they stand, desperately yelling for them to stop, Phileas receives the first brutal lash. The police chief reads the order and stops the flogging. Passepartout runs up to cover and comfort his injured employer. But we all know it will take more than Fogg’s physical healing for things to be set right between the three of them.
Once the trio are leaving Hong Kong behind on board the Carnatic, Fogg tells the others he wants to be left alone until further notice. Passepartout and Abigail feel guilty for not being honest with him but honor his wishes.
In a very private bar, Fogg is approached by a stranger who asks to join him. When he suggests the two men go for a walk, Phileas refuses. That is until Kneedling draws a pistol from his jacket and, in a flash, Fogg is peril once more.
How will Fogg extricate himself from this dire predicament? I wager his recently estranged friends will be involved in his rescue. Did you feel for Phileas when he was kept in the dark by those he relied on most? Abagail’s father continues to publish her stories in a bid to win back her love, but is he also nurturing a new genre of reporting? Let’s discuss this episode in the comments!