The Grand Tour Season 2 streams on Amazon Video
Episode Rating: 5 Stars
The Grand Tour Season 2 Episode 1: “Past Present or Future”
The first episode of this second season opens with a familiar sight: Jeremy Clarckson, James May and Richard Hammond walking triumphantly into the tent. The hosts explain that, unlike season 1, the studio/tent is now permanently in England. The new permanent setting was chosen for its location directly between Hammond and May’s house, or at least, that’s Jeremy’s story. The other two aren’t so sure because they say that they can literally see Clarkson’s house from the studio.
An extended trailer shows us what to expect from the upcoming season, including driving through a mall, down a ski slope and at the historic high speed banked oval at Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
With our interest piqued, they dive right into the main event.
Past, Present or Future
The feature film for the episode will examine what is the best between the past (Represented by Jeremy in the gasoline powered Lamborghini Aventador), the present (James in the hybrid Acura NSX) or the future (Richard in the all-electric Rimac Concept One).
When introducing the film, and the car Richard Hammond will be driving, Clarkson quips, “We all know how that ends,” referencing the terrifying accident Hammond had in the Rimac.
The trio heads to Switzerland where they argue about their respective cars in classic Grand Tour fashion. Just as Hammond is extolling the silent thrust of his 1241hp electric car, the cars go through a tunnel where the Lamborghini blasts through with the amazing sound of its v-12.
Their hotel for the night is a “wellness retreat,” meaning no alcohol and only healthy foods, much to the dismay of Jeremy and James.
At this point, the show cuts back to the studio.
The show revives an old segment where they discuss various subjects such as Jame May getting his identity stolen, much to the amusement of the others who can’t believe someone would CHOOSE to be May.
They address the delays in filming due to the various hospitalizations of all three cast members before comparing the annoying noises of styrofoam and mating foxes.
Meanwhile, in Switzerland
Back with the feature film, the three wake up and head into town, frustratingly driving on rough and narrow streets at slow speeds into the city center to visit a museum.
The museum is pretty cool, like a vending machine mixed with an exhibition of historic cars, but after heading to the same town three days in a row, May and Clarkson have had enough.
They reveal that the hotel decision and terrible streets were chosen by Hammond because they were the only locations that provided fast charging stations for his all electric car.
They eventually find an airstrip to drag race where the Rimac blew away the Aventador which in turn edged the NSX. Then, Jeremy does what he does and rips a tire off the Lamborghini when he ignores the TPMS light while drifting.
After realizing that racing was banned in Switzerland after a 1955 accident at Le Mans in France, they cut back to the studio. Back in the studio, the Swiss racing ban reminds Clarkson of 9/11. Let’s just say he hasn’t forgotten how to be controversial.
Celebrity Face Off
Replacing the axed Celebrity Brain Crash, Celebrity Face Off pits two celebrities from the same field to a competition over a half paved, half gravel track. This episode’s celebrities are former talent show judges from America’s Got Talent and The Voice UK: David Hasselhoff and Ricky Wilson.
Brief interviews with both give way to the laps, where the Hoff is bested by four seconds exactly by Wilson. The segment is much more entertaining than the tired joke that was ‘Celebrity Brain Crash,’ and adds an element of direct competition to the regular lap time segments we’ve seen in the past.
Back in Switzerland, the three presenters brainstorm about how to test their cars in light of the racing ban and decide on a hill climb. They find one 200 miles away, and Hammond had to tow his car because of its limited range.
The course is tight and narrow and hard to remember for May. Knowing what is about to happen makes each second of Hammond saying “it could go so wrong” and marveling at the drops that much more nerve-wracking.
Since Jeremy can’t fit into his Lambo with a helmet, he got a lambo test driver to do his run.
After Captain slow and “Jeremy” did their runs, they egged Hammond on to try to break the hill climb record before the run. Hammond notes his nerves before setting off, and then, just after the the finish line, disaster strikes as he leaves the road off one of the drops he was worried about in his practice run.
We see four skid marks veering off into the grass then the Rimac engulfed in flames while paramedics strap Hammond to a board to be airlifted.
The show moves back to the studio where May gets straight to revealing the times as Hammond looks on in shock. The NSX and captain slow got beat by ‘Jeremy’ in the Lambo by a full ten seconds, with the Rimac time slotting between the two.
Finally adressing the crash, Clarkson and May teasing Hammond for crashing all the time and note that the Rimac burned for five days because of the chain reaction of each damaged battery cell damaging the one next to it in a phenomenon known as thermal runaway.
Clarkson ends the show with a succinct summary of their experiences testing the past, present and future:
The future is fast and quiet, but a bit burn-ey.
Overall, the first episode of this first season gave us exactly what we expected: Beautiful visuals, amazing locales, awesome cars and great arguments. Clarkson had the quote of the episode, saying:
“It’s so good to be back doing what we do: Driving around corners a bit too quickly while shouting and bickering”