This was Top Gear on History’s final episode of Season 3, Volume 2 as it’s called on iTunes. They usually aim to finish off the seasons with a bang, but this time they opted to go volcanic in Iceland. Having watched this show since its premiere, it’s cool to see that they’re venturing beyond the US border. It means that more dollars are going into the production, and that wouldn’t happen if the show wasn’t bankable. We’re so happy that it’s bankable. They started out in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, where they introduced us to the challenge and their chariots. The mission was to re-establish American dominance of off-roading in the tundra, as Japan’s Toyota Hi-Lux and its like are now the vehicles of choice for the nation’s inhabitants.
“Adam is going to take out a street sign and we just got out on the road.” – Rutledge Wood
Outside the Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran cathedral, the three hosts-turned-explorers arrived together to meet their vehicles. All of them were as American as apple pie and purchased online. May God have mercy on their souls. Tanner Foust aimed to do the Ford Motor Company proud with a 1979 Bronco. Rutledge Wood dug up a 1973 International Scout II, a brand that I’ve never, ever heard of. On a fashion note, Rut’s truck matched his jacket…or vice versa. It was cute and I particularly liked the decorative cubes that were hanging from, where the rear view mirror probably used to be. Stay classy, Papa Bear. Adam Ferrara went the military route with a 1984 Chevy K30 diesel, that looked like Keith Richards on steroids. Not Keith Richards the rock star, but the truck that Adam killed in Alaska for the episode, America’s Toughest Trucks. Rutledge and Tanner’s trucks were on 44” tyres, but Adam’s were 49” tall. I guess he was hoping that bigger would be better, but that would remain to be seen. It’s interesting that all the vehicles were vintage models. I’m pretty sure that a truck from the 1990’s would have had more technology in it, to help them than what they chose.
After insulting each other’s vehicles, they embarked on their first voyage, which was a frosty drive to the Viking Parliament, Thingvellir, just thirty miles away from the city. As usual, Tanner took the lead and this once again, their trust in him was misplaced. Not because he has a poor sense of direction, but because he takes the opportunity to mess with them. He really shouldn’t because when he’s destroyed a car and a barn all on his own…and he’s the professional driver! God doesn’t like ugly, dude. On a positive note: somebody in Reykjavik got a brand-new bicycle, courtesy of BBC Worldwide. Huzzah! The route wasn’t just scenic but presented a unique location for a quarter-mile drag race: a black sand beach. As an island girl, I found this incredibly fascinating. The race was fun, but I would love to visit that beach with its rolling waves of blackened water. It was so desolate and a crashed US Navy plane looked to be a potentially dark omen. The foreboding continued as they finally learned of the challenge. Their ultimate mission was to drive to the summit of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano that famously erupted in 2010; and disrupted air traffic in Europe for a week because of the thick ash clouding the atmosphere. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this on a Top Gear episode, but still…this is nuts.
“Listen to these two old women.” – Adam Ferrara
In the past, these guys have driven further distances and up higher mountains, but this is Iceland. After travelling the highway for thirty miles, they headed off-road into an immense, unforgiving, frozen wasteland, with so much endless nothingness that could make anyone question their sanity. I know they’re all okay because of Twitter and Facebook posts, but still can’t help feeling nervous. They were also driving towards the camera, so we know the production team were on point. Tanner had the GPS and led the cast, with Rut close behind him. The USA cubes were bouncing around wildly. Adam took his time, especially since he was hauling the extra fuel they all would need for the journey. Remember they’re surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. Despite all the earlier bravado, Rut and Tanner were having an incredibly hard time climbing a hill. So much so, that Tanner did something they should have put up probably have put up a disclaimer for; but Rutledge passed him anyway, and then they both had to wait for Adam to save them. Naturally, Adam mocked them and then made them work for rescue. The cold, frustration and possible hunger made them lash out at each other verbally. However, one of them may have to buy something very lovely and very expensive, to apologise to his significant other for some of the comments made.
“Bitter, party of one.” – Tanner Foust
The darkness of night, fell in what we would call, the afternoon. They continued on in the dark until coming across a rushing river. Although the crew made it across first, this was still a sketchy task for the cast to complete. Anything could happen, and the theme music only elevated the tension. Rutledge did quite well, but Adam scared me. My fluffy blanket was up to my nose at this point. They spent the night at a remote lodge and in the morning set out to cross the Valley of Doom. It’s actually one of those places that’s aptly named because no matter how they tried, the valley was too much for them…and that’s when the snowball fight broke out. Adam should probably be renamed the Host Wrangler because he consistently acted as the voice of reason. They went back the way they came, in order to take an alternate route to get to the volcano, by driving across another, more active volcano (Katla?). I suspect that the high camera angles were from a cameraman who hiked up the hill. As the night wore one, exhaustion became a real problem so they stopped for the night in their vehicles. That’s always better than driving in the pitch black with unmarked cliffs.
Driving on the highway must have been most welcome. On the glacier, helicopter shots showed not only how exceptionally beautiful it was, but also how incredibly dangerous. Their primary goal was to find a rescue cabin to stay overnight. Although they were moving along more efficiently than the previous day, being on a more perilous route had them thinking and talking about their potential demise on this expedition. At the cabin, which was snowed-in, they found smelly shelter but shelter all the same as the Northern Lights illuminated the night sky. That time lapse video was absolutely gorgeous and should be made available for fans’ enjoyment via the show’s website, Vimeo or YouTube. They emerged from the hut and embarked on the last leg of their journey in a whiteout. They were close but even more risky than any other part of the journey. It was very scary, and the going was slow. They moved along slowly and suddenly, Adam had a patriotic moment. He went into what I call Patton-mode, which includes a stirring speech. Despite low visibility, the crater’s warm glow indicated that they had indeed made it to the summit of Eyjafjallajökull.
In all, it was a good third season. We’ve seen these three guys bravely and joyfully dive into one adventure after another. Along the way, they laughed, fought, drove, jumped and destroyed a bunch of cars. It was a wild ride that was enhanced by the hosts’ interaction with fans (and detractors) via social media. They answered our questions, endured our teasing and shared great behind-the-scenes photos, a number of which you’ll see featured on this blog. Even though they’re on a television show with millions of viewers, the hosts remain humble, grateful and incredibly kind. Cheers to them and the production team for some of their best work yet; and here’s to season four!