(Editor’s Note: This article will contain spoilers. You’ve been warned.)
For once, actually close to the Christmas holiday, Top Gear aired their latest Christmas special. The Patagonia Special has received a lot of press regarding whether or not the boys intentionally used a number plate referring to the Falklands War or if it was unintentional. But there’s so much more to the episode than that. Let’s take a look at the latest episode of Top Gear and break it down.
Things start in Argentina where the three show up with classic V8 cars. The premise of the episode is to celebrate the 60th birthday of the small-block V8 and drive from the center of Argentina to the most southern port in all of the world; Ushuai. Ushuai is the capital of Tierra Del Fuego.
Jeremy Clarkson’s vehicle is a Porsche 928 GT. Richard Hammond is in a 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 with a horn that plays La Cucaracha. James May is driving a Lotus Esprit twin-turbo V8. James is immediately mocked for bringing a Lotus, which isn’t known for it’s reliability.
Their first stop on their journey is only 130 miles away. It’s the home of Butch Cassidy, where they spend the night. Richard immediately has problems with the Mustang; specifically, the power steering system. It appears at this point the Mustang might be the most unreliable vehicle for this journey.
Jeremy is made fun of for picking a boring car. But it’s not boring to him. He tells us a tearjerking story of how the 928 helped him say goodbye to his father before he passed away. It was his press loan that week, and he made it to the hospital 30 minutes before his father died. Despite all the cocking about these guys do, it was heartwarming to hear such a personal tale from Mr. Clarkson.
Of course, Butch Cassidy’s house was not the end of their journey, and they take off for the most southern point in all of the world; Tierra Del Fuego.
The problem is, the Argentinians really don’t care for the British all that much. Argentina still claims that the Falkland Islands are theirs, even though the British claim the same thing. The goal of the Top Gear team is to drive to Tierra Del Fuego and play an epic car football match against a team from Argentina and “do diplomacy.”
This episode definitely felt like a “greatest hits” album. A lot of the jokes they’ve used before are seen again here. The team also seems to reminisce a great deal about past journeys. But before you get all jacked up about it, it’s done in a really good way. It doesn’t feel like they’re reusing jokes to reuse joke, but rather make this journey a swan song to all their previous adventures.
As it turns out, the Lotus ends up being the most reliable vehicle as they drive through swamps, across empty lake beds, and through the mountains. Who would’ve thought?
I really enjoyed the episode, even though I thought it ran a little bit long. It was interesting and not boring, but I feel during the final edit some of the events could have been cut down a little bit. I also know that this makes me an 8 year old boy, but I did get a good giggle out of Jeremy talking about beavers!
As for the ending, I think it’s important to show what happened to the film crew as they attempted to leave the country after Top Gear was kicked out. Angry mobs can be dangerous, and this one definitely was. Was it life-threateningly dangerous? Who knows? Mobs do have a way of getting out of control. I would be concerned for my safety if that were to happen to me.
In all seriousness, I would like to thank the people and government of Chile for their help and support when everything went wrong.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) December 29, 2014
The episode followed the traditional special formula, and I think that’s okay. I also believe that the crew intended no ill will with the license plate on the 928. I’m going to give the cast and crew the benefit of the doubt this time.
Overall, I enjoyed the episode. I’m glad to see Top Gear back on the air. I’m looking forward to future episodes from the new season.