X Marks the Spot

The newest season of “Outer Banks” does not live up to the beloved energy of past seasons and delivers a mediocre plot, sparking uncertainty towards the future of the show.


Promotional image via Netflix.

Netflix’s favorite teen series, “Outer Banks,” has finally returned for another season after almost two years. Before these new episodes even aired, the show was renewed for a fourth season, truly unheard of for the streaming service. 

The bad news is that the show is just awful now. Not that “Outer Banks” was ever peak television, but it was a fun escape from reality during the pandemic when it first premiered. With an undeniably attractive cast and adventurous storyline (at least for season 1), the Pogues story was exciting. As we reach season 3, however, that fun has mostly washed away. 

Set in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the series follows teen resident John B. Rutledge (Chase Stokes) and his best pals Kiara (Madison Bailey), JJ (Rudy Pankow) and Pope (Jonathan Daviss), known as the Pogues. After discovering a possible lead to a sunken ship with treasure, the four embark on a hunt for gold and John B’s missing father. 

The Pogues—the poor teens on the island—are in constant war with the Kooks, the rich preppies. Their unserious rivalry fought over beach bonfires and country club events (where the Pogues work at) quickly turns into intense car chases, escapes to the Caribbean, grave-digging and too many shootouts as the show progresses. Of course, the show wouldn’t be a Netflix teen original without love triangles, which is where John B’s affair with “Kook princess” Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline) comes in. 

Season 2 ends with Sarah’s greedy father, Ward (Charles Esten), yet again, stealing the gold and priceless Cross of Santo Domingo from the Pogues, leaving them bruised and empty-handed. The group slips out of enemy hands with the help of newcomer Cleo (Carlacia Grant), but gets stranded on a deserted island, later nicknamed “Poguelandia.”

While season 3 begins with the Pogues happily adjusting and enjoying their tropical paradise, it does a complete 180 as the teens get off the island (not even 10 minutes into the first episode), in hopes of recovering the treasure(s) once and for all.

The show’s original charm is ultimately sacrificed as season 3 keeps the already-unbelievable treasure hunt theme going, just for a little longer. The new hunt: El Dorado (as if the gold and Pope’s family’s cross wasn’t enough).

Relying heavily on flashbacks, multiple storylines and narrations, it didn’t feel like I was watching the “Outer Banks” I fell in love with. In the previous seasons, the Pogues, even divided, fought against everything to come together again and had equal amounts of screen time but in this season, it was just gullible John B and SPOILER: his annoying, selfish dad who is magically alive. 

Let’s face it: people were never watching “Outer Banks” for the plot. They watched it for a summer, island-y feel and found intriguing scenes of parentless kids squaring off against a mob of privileged, entitled snobs. And, of course, shots of hot, unrealistic teens glimmering in the North Carolina sun. But, even that couldn’t save this season from its outlandish plot.

With the Pogues not even in Outer Banks for half of the series, the whole idea of their non-stop treasure hunt in the Caribbean became tedious. From Sarah getting her Urban Outfitters’ shorts more and more bloody as the episodes went on, John B trying way too hard to be the hero and Rafe just being a psychopath, the plot got old real fast.

“Outer Banks’” season 3 was a sad echo of the captivating energy of the series’ first season. It fails to find a captivating reason for the Pogues story to continue and leaves the impression that the fourth season may be an impossible task for them all.