At this point in The Gymkhana Files, one begins to wonder if there’s even going to be a Gymkhana 10 for us to watch when the eight-part Amazon Prime docuseries wraps up.
So frustrating has been the experience for Ken Block and company through the first half of the series, from essentially pulling the plug on his factory-backed FIA World Rallycross Championship program to the disastrous Los Angeles shoot profiled in “It All Falls Apart,” that it’s becoming difficult to guess when the narrative arc will finally turn the corner. When “At The Peak” wrapped up, we saw the Hoonigan squad riding a high after the conclusion of Climbkhana, but all three episodes since then have ended on lows.
The episode lives up to its name as Block and company deal with an avalanche of problems in a three-day shoot at an abandoned tire factory. Without any pre-shoot testing, the team has to try and find the sparks (both physically and metaphorically) that it did in the Utah rim test with the Ford Escort Cosworth on a much slicker interior surface. Of course, they’re not able to match the output, and with zero grip on the slick floors, the shoot gets off to a bad start, and only gets worse from there.
The car’s WRC-spec engine blows during the intro shoot, forcing the team to fly a stock one in from Seattle. (Ironically, director Brian Scotto quips, “There is a worse scenario… the car could’ve burned to the ground,” which happened earlier this year after a bad wreck at New England Forest Rally.) The planned installation and noon restart the following day turns into a post-sunset start after multiple setbacks.
At this point, Block has already rewritten the script once, and more adjustments are coming on the fly. In a callback to Gymkhana 2.1, Rob Dyrdek flies in to reprise his role in a miniaturized version of Block’s car, but the crew can’t get it started, forcing Dyrdek to sit stationary while Block does donuts around him.
And then, one of the wheels blows out, throwing shrapnel everywhere.
“It just wasn’t in our destiny for you to kill me,” Dyrdek had joked about Gymkhana 2.1, when he lost control of his go-kart during a stunt and Block slid around him.
“We could do that today,” Block laughed. And so, once again, they almost did.
From what we see of the team’s three days in Los Angeles, it almost seems like nothing is usable. In preparation for a 10-foot jump on the rims, Block is unable to stop the car quickly enough to avoid a collision and destroys a bumper. The team tries to do some more interior rim donuts while waiting for more rubber mats to help with traction, but Block clips a pillar at low speed and destroys a taillight.
We never see anyone talking about “the one that got away” the way they did with the Detroit highway stunt, and we see clips of what appear to be successful executions of some of what’s been planned, but that doesn’t quell the tension. Brand director Matt Tuccillo sums it up succinctly: Block feels like Scotto hadn’t put in enough planning, and Scotto feels like Block isn’t 100% mentally invested in the project. The group wraps up three days of shooting in Los Angeles, but yet again, the mood is anything but pleasant.
“I’ve always said that, when this becomes too much like a job, I’ll quit,” Block says at the very beginning of the episode. At this point in the series, the “job” portion of Gymkhana 10 is very much apparent. The question is, when will we see a return to the highs of “At The Peak”?
The Gymkhana Files can be seen on Amazon Prime.