The year is finally coming to an end and Top Gear had released their first episode from their latest season. 16 great seasons so far, and this latest episode was their best yet! The three boys will now pretend to be the Three Wise Men and shall go to the birthplace of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem…..starting from Iraq.
According to the Bible, when Jesus was born in a barn in Bethlehem, shepherds came to see the baby, and later on three foreigners came to visit the baby and each gave a present of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (pronounced as mur). The three person were known as the Three Wise Men and the producers wanted the three boys to use the route the wise men took and must have the three important presents ready before they reach Bethlehem.
Their vehicle budget will be not more than 3500 pounds, and must be a two-door convertible sports car. Even so, they have a problem. In order for them to reach Bethlehem, they must drive through Israel. And for political reasons, the Israelis are not happy with people from their neighboring country (Syria, Iraq, Iran) to come into their borders. They must then start from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia which is even further away, their cars will then be sent to the start point by a Russian military plane. None of them knew where the starting point was.
Meanwhile inside the plane, Richard Hammond showed off his new ride, a Fiat Barchetta. While Hammond was complimenting on his choice of car, Jeremy Clarkson interrupted him and said that his Mazda MX-5 is much more better and reliable. At the back of the plane stood James May telling them both that his BMW Z3 is the best. Jeremy wondered how May could find a BMW Z3 for under 3500 pounds, May said that he had rounded off the price and spent a total of 3966 pounds, with the extra 466 pounds paid by himself. Jeremy then denied that they are the The Three Wise Men, but instead a wise man (Jeremy), an idiot (Hammond), and a cheat (May).
Three of them kept guessing where their starting point was. But then they no longer have to, because it is now time to land….or is it? While still in mid-air, the pilot opened up the ramp of the plane, freaking everybody out especially Hammond who is at the front. While we can see the plane descending, the plane did not land, instead the plane went for another U-turn. And finally landed.
Before any of them drove out from the plane, the three boys were given a flak jacket and a helmet each and also a challenge letter. This is exactly what the letter says: “You have landed in Iraq. Bethlehem is 1200 miles away. But between here and there, there are a few wars. Best of luck and don’t forget to pick up some gold, frankincense, and myrrh on the way.” After swallowing up the fact that they are now in Iraq, they must now drive out from the plane and begin their journey.
Hammond decided that they shall leave the plane at the count of three at the same time. Hammond counted to three and left the plane, but both Jeremy and May broke their promise and stayed behind, leaving Hammond to draw enemies’ fire. Of course no one was firing at Hammond, but he was still nervous and quickly drove under a big shed. Jeremy and May later joined Hammond in the shed when they found out it is safe. Three of them are now discussing the new route that they are going to use so that they will avoid dangerous areas.
To be more specific, they are right now in Arbil. Jeremy planned to avoid the direct route which will lead them to dangerous places like Mosul and Baghdad, and instead leave Iraq as soon as possible and go into Iran, then into Turkey and go around Iraq to reach Bethlehem. The map you see above clearly shows the route the boys are going to take in case you are confused.
Three of them are now driving in the streets of Iraq. And trust me, it looks exactly like in the movies and the news, and if you have watched The Hurt Locker, you will know what I mean. Three of them are getting a bit paranoid. May kept saying about car bombs and IEDs and how to spot them. Jeremy however said to the camera that if he was to be kidnapped, he hopes that the producers will just pay them and said that:” I don’t want to be beheaded on the internet.” Richard kept quite and drove with his head low down.
Soon enough, all of them realized that being the first in the convoy or the last is a bad idea. Along the journey, three of them kept fighting for the middle place. They were all so busy fighting for the first place that they finally got lost and are now in a spooky and slightly abandoned housing area full of high walls. Jeremy even said that this is the perfect place for an ambush. Fortunately, no one was shot or kidnapped and they soon reach a busy street full of traffic.
Things are not looking good for May because his Z3 is making some loud noise under the hood. Three of them stop at a side and open the hood of the BMW, steam can be seen but no one knows what is causing this. Even the underside of the car is leaking water like a running tap. May were then told by Jeremy that there will be a backup car if the BMW won’t start. The backup car supplied by the producers will surely put everybody off because it is an old 1.6 liter Opel Astra convertible. Jeremy called it the worst convertible in the world and went on to describe it as “a spongecake with no flavour”.
Following Top Gear tradition, Jeremy and Hammond left May behind and continue on with their journey. May seriously do not want to drive that spongecake and managed to fix it in the end. Even so, the Z3 lasted for another 11 miles before breaking down once again. Fortunately for May, he found a workshop and found out that his car’s cylinders were full of water. Not sure why.
The next morning, May is now back in the gang and are now leaving Arbil and so far so safe. Even so, when they are at the countryside, they were many military checkpoints guarded by soldiers which they have to pass through. Well nothing to worry about as they did not do anything wrong. Soon, it started to rain, this made the road so slippery that Jeremy’s MX-5 kept sliding around. But that is the least of their worries.
The road they are now in is narrow and is full of sharp corners which prevents them from seeing what is far ahead. Jeremy even wondered what shall they do if they encounter a road block and it is not the police. The rain is still drizzling and they all put their roofs up and continued their journey, with Jeremy leading the way at a slow pace. While driving along the dangerous looking road, Jeremy had a brainwave and wanted to share his idea with them. The boys then stop by an underground market which uniquely has a waterfall and river in it.
Jeremy told Hammond and May that he had an idea to bulletproof his car. By removing the trims from the doors and fill it with sand and sandbags. Hammond thought that Jeremy’s idea was clever but May strongly believes that the door cannot fill sand thick enough to make it bulletproof. Before Jeremy could prove May wrong, Jeremy bought Hammond a souvenir from a shop. The gift was a cigarette lighter disguised as a 50 caliber bullet.
Jeremy now shows May that he can bulletproof his car with just sand. Jeremy first filled the doors with some sand and then squeezed in some plastic bags filled with sand. Jeremy then boast that it can even withstand an RPG round. To prove him right, he called one of their armed security guy to shoot the door with his 9mm pistol. The result. Not only did the bullet pierced through the first door, but it splits the bullet into three pieces which continues to go through the second door as well. Fail.
Three of them continue to drive through the night and soon reached the final city before reaching the border, Jeremy went in to the office building to do some paperwork before they could cross the border. Jeremy came out from the building very soon and got some bad news. For political reasons, the BBC is not allow into Iran. Jeremy thought they meant just BBC News but it is not. No one from BBC is allowed at all.
Looking back to the map, going east to Iran is now out. Baghdad was to the south, and what Jeremy call it as the Al-Qaeda stronghold of Mosul was to the west. Their only option now is to head back to the mountain roads and find a safe way up north, into Turkey. It is too dangerous to be driving those mountain roads during the night, and they decided to find a safe place to stay.
The next morning, we can see that they had spent the night in an amusement park, which was weird. Anyway, the three boys are now driving back to the mountain roads in a sunny day instead of a gloomy, rainy day. They can now actually throw away their worries and for the first time, talk about their cars.
Hammond’s Fiat Barchetta was a great little car, it was pretty quick as well. Jeremy loves his Mazda MX-5 too. May however, admitted that he had made the wrong choice of car. The engine is too small, suspension too soft, and the gap between each gear ratio is just too big.
After some long driving, they soon reach the Turkish border, still heading away from Bethlehem. The Turkish customs are very very strict. All of their cars are thoroughly search by dogs and one of the worker there found Hammond’s souvenir, the 50 caliber bullet cigarette lighter. Hammond was a bit panic but he managed to show them that it is just a harmless lighter. The lighter was not working by the time Hammond showed them, but the boys eventually crossed the border into Turkey.
They were then given their next challenge letter. The letter wrote: “You idiots. You have escaped from a region where there is no war, to a region where there is. The Kurds are fighting the Turks for independence, so if you really are wise men, you will get to your hotel in the safe zone by nightfall.” The three boys shall have to drive 220 miles (363km) in under four and a half hours.
While on their way, Hammond was boasting about his car and Jeremy and May decided to prank him in the hotel. Jeremy and May completely disconnected his stereo, and connect another one hidden under the ignition. Jeremy then insert a music CD from a band Hammond hates the most.
The next morning, Jeremy and May realized that it was not a good idea to prank Hammond, because Hammond had a bad stomach ache. When Hammond fired up his engine, the music plays and Hammond have no idea how to stop it. Hammond later knew it was a prank and continue driving with the loud music. Hammond got plenty of attention along the way, mostly unwanted ones.
Now passing the Syrian border, they stop by to discuss their next route. The problem they have now is that the Israelis will not allow them to cross their border if they know you have been to Syria. May strongly believes that no one will ever recognize them in Syria so do not have to worry. May was wrong. Almost everyone knew the three boys from Top Gear and kept taking pictures with them. Jeremy was concerned about this and and an emergency meeting at a coffee shop.
While smoking sheesha with hookahs, Jeremy planned to sneak through Syria without anyone knowing. This means taking the dessert route instead of the main roads. Their cars would also need some modifications to camouflage themselves among the dessert sand.
Hammond covered his Fiat with sand and attached a tent behind it. Jeremy went bold and made his car more colorful and installed extra rear wheels. May however, made his Z3 to look like an army car equipped with spotlights. They are now driving through the Syrian dessert!
Things were going well until something really bad happened. While trying to pull one of their cars out from the thick sand, May who is holding the rope attached fell down on his back and banged his head hard on the rocks. May was bleeding heavily and was sent to the hospital. Leaving Jeremy and Hammond alone to continue their journey.
May had got better the next day when the two boys went to pick him up. The hospital was in the busy city, and the three boys must therefore disguised themselves as women to get to their hotel. During the night, Three of them went to the market to buy the three essential items, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
They soon met up at a restaurant which specialized on lamb and ate lamb head, brain, testes, and feet for dinner. Hammond showed Jeremy and May what he had bought, a gold necklace in the shape of Jesus’s face. May said he couldn’t find frankincense anywhere and got something close, a small bottle of hotel shampoo with the brand frankincense. Myrrh is nowhere to be found as well and Jeremy randomly bought a Nintendo DS instead.
The next day, they left Damascus and went towards Bethlehem. Annoyingly, they found a sandy circuit surrounded by ruins and was tempted to go for a race. In the end, everyone was covered with sand. And they moved on. The next day, they stopped by the Mountains of Olives to decide which had the best car. The BMW Z3 was obviously out, and in the end the Fiat got everyones’ vote. Jeremy loved his reliable MX-5 but he said after all this driving, it is still a machine but the Fiat Barchetta is like your best pal.
Ok now we know which car is best. The boys will now drive to Bethlehem and find Jesus’s birthplace by following the Light. Yes we can actually see the Holy Light (special effects) right above the barn Jesus was born in. When the three boys went in, we can see actors acting as the parents and the three shepherds who came to visit the baby.
Jeremy, May , and Hammond all presented their gifts and went to see the baby. Richard opened the towel covering the baby and to their surprise, it is a baby Stig! Well it totally made sense because the current Stig is now gone and they need a new one to replace it. Showing us the new Stig born as a baby means there will be a new Stig next year.
Thank you so much for reading my second review for Top Gear and I apologize for making it so long. This is an one hour and fifth-teen minutes Christmas special and I already tried my best to shortened it. The future episodes airing next year will be back to normal fifty minutes Top Gear, and the review for that will be much shorter. Its the beginning of a new year now and life will start getting busy as well. I will not be able to update my site as much as I usually do now, but I will try my best to update at least once a week. Thanks again and have a Happy New Year!!!