'Top Gear' (USA) Recap: 'Doomsday Drive'
In the great tradition of Top Gear Apocalypse comes Top Gear's "Doomsday Drive." Having been on location while this end-of-the-world challenge was coming together, this is a Top Gear to remember.
Considering there's a whole TV show about people preparing for the apocalypse, this is a perfect challenge for these guys, who haven't met a situation they can't handle (or somehow unintentionally complicate before handling). Cue Tanner rolling up in a massive military vehicle that he is clearly in love with. Unfortunately, it costs a cool $750,000. That's way out of the price range. Time for the guys to build their own, much cheaper solution.
Each of them choose an aspect of the vehicle to be responsible for. Adam takes weaponry (of course), Tanner handles performance and Rutledge works on defense. Race Boy wants something faster than a rolling bomb shelter and Adam just wants to shoot stuff - even if his aim needs some work. Being the sensible dude he is, Rut decides to do some actual research and chats with a doomsday prepper named Josh, who advises him to always carry lipstick and vinegar. This weirds him out a bit, and he bails out on the interview before reuniting with his colleagues in the California desert.
They're all mortified when they find out the vehicle they have to work with is a garden-variety Toyota Camry. (Adam has now perfected the "you've got to be kidding me" look.) After some construction time, the little road car resembles a giant monster of a vehicle that you wouldn't want to stand anywhere near. Mission accomplished.
With the build complete, it's time for a series of armageddon-themed challenges to test their creation's fitness. Adam thinks he sees Nancy Pelosi (or maybe Barbara Bush) in Rut's attempt at camouflage. Tanner has provided some lift. There's also an exoskeleton, an electric fence, some buzz saws and a catapult. That might seem like a lot, but aside from Tanner repeatedly shocking himself, the guys realize that their super-vehicle is fairly easy to break into. It also doesn't really blend in when they take the "Apoca-Camry" out on the open road.
But Adam looks to redeem their creation when he gets to test out his catapult on a firing range. Can he connect with six targets in two minutes? No, but he can hit the camera and almost Rutledge. At least Tanner seems to have improved performance, as he completes an off-road course with only minimal damage.
Things only get worse after that: can they drive with the windows blacked out, to simulate total darkness? Cue awesome night-vision camera that makes Tanner look possessed. "I can't see, so who cares if I can't watch," an understandably nervous Rutledge remarks. Thus begins the running over curbs, driving in circles, and taking out part of a chain-link fence. This test ends in failure (and the middle of an intersection).
The next day, our guys regroup in Eagle Mountain, an abandoned former mining community and one-time prison. They're tasked with making it to the local water tower, while rescuing hostages and avoiding threats along the way. Almost immediately, trouble happens. As they're stopped at the gas station, the Stig roars into the picture, sending them fleeing with a vending machine attached to the back of the Camry. They narrowly manage to escape.
But their attempt to free "survivors" (read: mannequins) from the local prison doesn't go as well. After Adam's saw doesn't work, Tanner rams the front gate. Rut tries to pick up the mannequins, but Adam's catapult keeps getting in the way. Their rescue efforts are soon truncated by the return of the Stig, who rams the Camry and sets off one of their smoke mines. With a mannequin hanging precariously from the back, it's up to Tanner to get the vehicle to the finish line before the Stig triggers the second mine. He decides to crash through a pair of buildings - which does nothing but looks really cool - and somehow manages to beat their pursuer by mere seconds. Of course, he has to showboat. It wouldn't be Top Gear without a Tanner Foust victory moment.
The guys get together for a post-game analysis, and declare themselves adequately ready for the end of the world...but do they really want to be stuck with each other when that happens? That's another story.