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The Grand Tour – Season Three Episode 13 [Mongolia Special] – Review


It is with great sadness that we arrive at the final episode of the third season of “The Grand Tour” – but what an episode it was.

The 13th and final episode of the season was alternately dubbed the Mongolia Special or “Survival of the Fattest” but whatever it was called, it was a delight – a return to the best parts of the glory days of the former, much beloved “Top Gear”.

The episode began with the boys – Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May – plopped on a plateau in the “Middle of Nowhere” [aka Mongolia]. They were soon visited – albeit briefly – by a helicopter which flung out three boxes containing parts to build an off-road vehicle, enough military food rations to last a week and directions to travel from their “Middle of Nowhere” location to a town called Moron. Most notably, the military rations did not include alcohol of any kind.

Richard and James were tasked with assembling the vehicle while Jeremy anointed himself as the “food and beverage manager”. On Day 1, Richard and James partially assemble the as-yet unnamed vehicle while Jeremy assembles the food rations and the results are – predictably – nobody is happy.

Day 2 begins with Richard and James completing the assembly of the vehicle – with a minor technicality of a steering issue – while Jeremy builds the “body” of the vehicle out of the discarded wood from their delivery boxes. The second day also signals the beginning of a trip-long display of Mongolian trivia from Jeremy, who hosted the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” game show during breaks in filming between seasons. Their Winnie-the-Pooh style map has them traveling to the Sandy Pit [aka a bit of the Gobi Desert] where they must continually dig themselves out only to discover, due to a navigational error, that they have actually made a semi-circle and almost emerged from the Sandy Pit at the same location from where they entered – so they elect to drive around the Sandy Pit.

Day 3 starts by christening the vehicle with a name – “John” – and travel begins through the Watery Part until they reach the Twin Lakes. From there John displays his unique off-roading skill set of hopping up hills on his front tires. They cross the Bumpy Meadow [with much bellowing and whinging] and eventually arrive at the Creepy Tee-Pee, but due to time constraints, elect not to spend the night and move on to another camping site for the night.

On Day 4, Richard invents a windshield wiper which does not work and has to be abandoned as they travel past the Very Big Crack [a former earthquake fault] on their way to the Wooden House – which turns out to be both empty and boarded up. After John rescues the Toyota SUV carrying the camera equipment from being mired in muck, they move on past the Wibbly Wobbly Bridge and into the Rather Boggy and Sad area where they get stuck repeatedly before finally emerging to find CafĂ© 24 – another boarded up, empty wooden house.

They can see the light at the end of the Moron tunnel by Day 5 as they travel through Lots of Trees but as James succinctly puts it – “We are not interested in pretty, we are not interested in despair, we are interested in wine.”

Day 6 finds the trio getting temporarily stuck while crossing a river and being forced to jettison the doors of John, however, once they successfully cross the river, they are faced with a hill strewn with large boulders that John eventually hops through and over and they finally arrive in Moron – where the pub is predictably [and somewhat anti-climactically, closed].

Overall, ASN considers this to easily be the best episode of the season and on par with what we consider to be the best Specials of the past [Bolivia and Botswana] – the only thing keeping it from a perfect 100 rating are the somewhat predictable bits along the way and the anti-climactic ending – but ASN still feels it is worthy of a 95 out of 100 rating.

About Alex Bean

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