In Season 2 of Outer Banks, the show officially made the transition from being a teen drama about jerky rich kids (the Kooks) and poor kids who look like Abercrombie models (the Pogues) to being a full-on action series about searching for treasures worth millions of dollars. Those teens completely stopped living their normal teen lives in favor of digging for clues, deciphering riddles, and fighting off bad guys. By the end of the season, things had ratcheted up to an unreal level: Our villain, Ward Cameron, was trying to kill his own daughter Sarah, and the Pogues were left stranded on a deserted island. We learned that, against all odds, the father of our main Pogue, John B, was actually alive after being presumed dead in Season 1—and all signs pointed to a treasure that was even larger than the ones the Pogues chased in the first two seasons. Then, the trailer for Season 3 of Outer Banks dropped in early February, and the words “El Dorado” were uttered.
Outer Banks is the most gloriously ridiculous show on streaming TV. It is a way of life. It is a religion. It is an alternate reality in which humanlike figures speak in a language that sounds like English but must be something else, teenagers get married, dead people come back to life, and no one ever thinks about going to college. It is constantly one-upping itself, and in Season 3, it certainly does that, sending the Pogues on a journey toward a lost city of gold and into the crosshairs of no fewer than three archvillains. And in between all that, there’s still time for some CW-style love triangles.
The best—nay, the only—way to capture this increasingly bizarre and absurd world is to do what we did after Seasons 1 and 2: to document and rank every shred of this woogity-woogity world where it is always dusk, no one ever showers, and 16-year-olds look and behave like full-grown adults. The tide’s coming in, and the sun’s hitting that perfect spot in the sky, so let’s begin.
44. Big John Routledge
Big John Routledge, WHO IS ALIVE—don’t worry, he didn’t die on the shoals off the coast of the Outer Banks (?); he sustained himself on “seaweed, sweat, and rainwater” and was picked up by supervillain and treasure hunter Carlos Singh’s people, and the skeleton the police found actually belonged to one of Singh’s henchmen—is such a bad father that it made me briefly ponder who the worst dads in the history of television are. (On the short list: Logan Roy, Don Draper, John Dutton, and that dad from One Tree Hill who watched a dog eat his replacement heart before transplant surgery.) Ward Cameron spent two seasons of this show turning his son into a killing machine and literally trying to choke his daughter to death, but Big John showed up in Season 3 and said, “Hold my Busch Light.”
Before, it seemed like John B had been rendered an orphan because his dad was killed by Ward. Now that we know Big John didn’t die, that means John B—who is a teenager, even if you often forget that because Chase Stokes is 30 years old, and John B has seen enough death to last a lifetime—was abandoned by choice, left to believe that his dad rotted on a desert island because said dad didn’t feel like picking up the phone to be like, “Hey, my only son, just wanted to let you know I’m still breathing.” Here are just a couple things in John B’s life that Big John missed:
- Ward firing a harpoon at John B
- John B being accused of and hunted for the killing of a high-ranking police officer
- John B driving a boat straight into the eye of a hurricane
- John B nearly being killed by shady fishermen in the Caribbean
- John B’s wedding
- John B briefly standing trial for the murder of a high-ranking police officer
- John B trying to break out of prison by faking appendicitis
- John B nearly getting eaten by an alligator
- John B and his best friends being stranded on a desert island for a month
Meanwhile, when the father and son miraculously reunite, here’s what Big John says:
Oh, I’m sure it is, you dick. In fact, it better be. You better have a long-ass story for why I spent the last year under the impression that my last shred of family had left this earthly plane.
But none of this stuff even compares to how much shittier Big John is alive. Not only is he constantly putting his son in harm’s way in the name of a treasure that might not even exist—committing hard-core felonies because “That’s the price you gotta pay” or whatever—he is an absolute asshole about it at every turn! I could almost forgive the homicide; it’s a dangerous game, tracking down a city of gold. What I can’t get past is Big John glowering at John B’s girlfriend and/or wife, Sarah Cameron, as if he’s not the sketchiest human in North Carolina; blaming John B for not rolling up the window on the Twinkie (John B’s van, duh) despite knowing that his son was a little distracted by the whole BEING STRANDED ON AN ISLAND FOR OVER A MONTH thing; trying to cut the other Pogues out of the score even though they’re the only reason he’s even close to the treasure; and putting a gun in his son’s hand and being like, “Now, if you love me, you’ll go mug that old lady.” Honestly, it’s not at all surprising that when John B and the Pogues make a tombstone for Big John after he dies in the South American jungle (RIP), they write “explorer” before “father”:
He also just calls John B “boy” way too much. And I’m sorry to keep harping on this—and I mean no offense to the actor who plays him, Charles Halford—but Big John is not nearly hot enough to be John B’s dad. This objective fact hangs over every scene between them.
Rest in peace, Big John. This sounds really mean to say, but I know that, without a doubt, your son is better off without you.
WHEN DID WE START DOING THIS?! I promise you, we do not need to shorten JJ’s name. It is already a very short name: almost as short as a name can be.
42. Jimmy Portis
Jimmy Portis is the Eric Stoltz–looking guy who rescues the Pogues from Cast Away fantasy camp. We only learn a few things about him: He collects photos of women who definitely didn’t have sex with him, he is a frequent attendee at Burning Man, and he is a liar. Soon after he brings Kiara to Carlos Singh, he is executed off-screen. No more GTs in the Nevada desert for that guy.
41. The North Carolina Education System
We’ve long known that Kildare County High School has a truancy problem—I’m not sure they keep stats on this sort of thing, but I have to imagine that it has the highest percentage of “absences caused by intercontinental treasure-hunting expeditions” in the country. But it also seems like the school, and the system propping it up, has a major curriculum issue. The Pogues are 17 years old. I think. Sixteen at the youngest. Pope was applying for scholarships in Season 1, which means that before all of the deaths and heists and gold crosses that might contain an article of clothing with the same healing properties as the Shroud of Turin halted the Pogues’ educational development, they were at least juniors in high school. Yet the one class that they’re most aware of having missed is … geometry. Like, for real, they’ve got Pope in a class learning about triangles.
We gotta do better, North Carolina. If you haven’t taught your junior-to-senior-aged kids what the word “isosceles” means, you’re actually the problem—not the kid who’s taken a Nicolas Cage–like interest in historical treasures.
For a much better and more thorough examination of the daily hygiene routines of the Pogues, allow me to direct you to my colleague Jodi Walker’s evocative and disgusting assessment: “If you scraped your fingernail down any one of these Pogues’ arms during this Season 3 quest, their outer layer of grime would unfurl like candle wax.”
There is just so much dirt on these teens, so many untreated wounds, and such a lack of fresh garments. But I do, somehow, think that the state of affairs has improved from Season 2. At least no one spends any time in a sewer this season, and there are at least a couple of times where a character seems to yearn for clean running water—even Kiara, an erstwhile sewer rat, attests to wanting a “fat shower.”
Only someone who never showers would describe a shower as “fat,” but hey, at least it’s on her mind.
39. The Legal Drinking Age
Look, I’m not a narc, OK? I think it’s fine that teenagers drink, especially fictional ones I’m not in charge of. I celebrated that brief slice of time in Season 2 when all the Pogues wanted to do was shotgun PBRs. I criticized Topper’s affinity for canned mai tais not because of any legal implications, but out of principle. It does not shock or dismay me that cheap beer cans seem to be spilling out of JJ’s house at all times.
I just wanna know: Are there any establishments on the Outer Banks that ID? Are there even liquor laws on this godforsaken island? Because every time Rafe is in a public place, he is straight ripping whiskey neats. At one point, he and Topper are at a crowded yacht club comparing psychotic tendencies over heavy pours of brown liquor, and no one is like, “Hey, did we card those teenagers?” Maybe the Kildare County Sheriff’s Department is too busy dredging the bodies of Big John’s victims out of the ocean, but I think they oughta look into this.
Every Kook’s only Black friend saw his role reduced even further this year: One of his only lines is paying Topper a compliment after he “shreds it” windsurfing. Personally, I’m still waiting for the subplot where he has a profound identity crisis because he realizes that he’s been hanging out with the descendants of people who literally killed a freed slave before stealing his land.
37. Wheezie Cameron
Sarah’s little sister also had a reduced role in Season 3, and in her lone moment of relevance, she still resorted to being a dirty traitor. In Episode 7, Wheezie is convinced by her dad—a.k.a. the guy who tried to strangle her sister—to record a voice text so that he can trick Sarah into meeting up with him. Grow up, Wheezie! Get a life!
36. Carla Limbrey
Limbrey was the main villain in Season 2, a creepy woman from a wealthy family that you just know owned slaves. We don’t know much about the allegedly debilitating disease from which she suffers, only that it forces her to use old-timey crutches and that it’s the reason why she wants the supernatural shroud inside the Cross of Santo Domingo so bad. She made a deal with Big John that if she helped him find John B, he’d get the shroud for her. Neither of them really hold up their end of that bargain: Big John basically finds John B because the latter just so happened to turn up on the same island the former was hiding on, and apparently, the shroud is a “known hoax.”
What I really want to mention here is just another example of how huge an asshole Big John is. After Limbrey steals the Twinkie as collateral, Johns Big and B roll up to her house to make a trade. They don’t actually have the shroud, obviously, so Big John takes a random scarf and makes up this whole big story about it being the real thing. Like, my guy is fully monologuing to this sick woman who just wants her joints to work properly or whatever. And after dramatically presenting her with this very normal scarf, Limbrey rubs it all over her face, stands up, and briefly walks around, believing herself to be cured.
AND THEN THEY JUST LEAVE.
Now, sure, Carla Limbrey was technically a villain, and she was holding the Twinkie hostage. But still, tricking a sick person into thinking they’re healed is some extremely dark shit. We don’t see Limbrey again after this; I’m just gonna assume she’s lying on that same porch yelling for help.
Based on Outer Banks Season 3, Barbados is a lawless land whose government is just a puppet for Singh. All of this island’s resources have been funneled to this tiny man, who has his own military and a massive property guarded by feral dogs. “It’s Barbados—Carlos Singh does what he wants there,” Ward says at one point, as if it should be obvious that one man is in control of an entire island nation.
I just wanna know: WHY HASN’T RIHANNA TOLD US ABOUT ANY OF THIS?!
34. Elena Reedy
We don’t ever get to meet Topper’s new girlfriend—he keeps her hidden while repeatedly trying to have sex with his ex-girlfriend. I just want to say that we’ve all been that unfortunate person in a relationship, and I hope Elena Reedy punches Topper harder than John B did.
I only know three things about Sofia, a random girl who pops up in the middle of the season:
- She is a bartender at the Pelican Yacht Club. “I could’ve had a degree,” she tells Rafe, but she never goes into more detail. “But instead, I am a bartender, and that’s all I’ll ever be.” (Aim higher, Sofia!)
- She slept with Rafe at least twice. (Aim higher, Sofia!)
- She is potentially the worst judge of character on this entire show. Like, yeah, not only does she bang Rafe, the most obviously erratic and dangerous human to ever exist, but she also tells him that he’s a good person—all while he’s vaguely asking for advice because he put a hit out on his own dad.
Poguelandia is a deserted island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean between North Carolina and the Caribbean. Its population was six for a short time but is now zero. The name was chosen via executive decision by a former inhabitant and member of the Pogue tribe native to the barrier islands of the Carolinas: JJ Maybank. Sarah Cameron wanted the citizens to vote on it but was overruled. Its national symbol is a chicken in a coconut bra smoking a joint. It is a locale completely devoid of “fat” showers. Humans subsisted on the small island by randomly thrusting makeshift spears into shallow water until they hit something edible, and one resident, Kiara Carrera, “knows all about leaves and herbs and plants and shit.” No information exists on when or where on the island any of its inhabitants went to the bathroom, because that would just be a little too gross to mention and would probably kill the intended paradisiacal vibes.
31. Marriage as an Institution
What is this country coming to? It’s as if no one even believes in the sanctity of marital rings fashioned out of a dirty, bloody bandanna anymore.
But seriously, where is everyone at when it comes to John B and Sarah’s “marriage”? It is very hard to tell from scene to scene in this season of Outer Banks. On one hand, you’ve got John B telling his dad that he, a 17-year-old CHILD, has already made an eternal commitment to another teenager. (And yeah, Big John, I get your reaction to that news, but maybe you wouldn’t be so shocked IF YOU HADN’T FAKED YOUR DEATH AND HAD CALLED YOUR SON ONE TIME.) And then, on the other hand, you’ve got Sarah Cameron, John B’s wife, straight up committing adultery with Topper after a day of drinking directly out of multiple kegs. It’s like she didn’t even listen when the wedding officiant, who was also John B, because they were alone on a boat in the middle of the ocean, read the vows. (Honestly, she may have forgotten about the ceremony. After all, she had just come back to life after briefly dying from a gunshot wound.)
Here’s a thought for John B though, since he seems like the only one who’s really taking that “wedding” seriously: Go get a frickin’ marriage certificate, you weirdo. You can’t just slip a sweaty piece of cloth on your girlfriend’s finger and be like, “Cool, so I now have power of attorney in your life affairs.” This is a society with LAWS, and you have to FOLLOW THEM if you want to reap the benefits. Otherwise, you really have no legal recourse if your “wife” has six or seven Trulys and decides to make out with her ex-boyfriend. If you like it, put a ring on it—a real one this time, not something that smells like cheese and is definitely gonna disintegrate soon.
30. Kiara’s Parents
For the first two seasons of Outer Banks, this was every exchange between Kiara and her parents:
Kiara: SORRY I’M A POGUE, MOM. DEAL WITH IT!
[Kiara’s parents sob.]
Thankfully, there’s some evolution in Season 3, as Kiara comes to the realization that her parents are just (very reasonably) worried that she’s engaging in matters that result in her being stranded on an island for about a month, and Kiara’s parents come to the realization that everything they’d been doing previously was … very wrong. They still say ridiculous things to each other, and, for a couple of actual grown-ups, Kie’s parents are way too bogged down by the Pogue-versus-Kook thing:
Like, bro, do you know how you sound? You have a mortgage, dude. Have some self-respect.
But! I do appreciate that Kie’s parents are actually being parents this season. Sending their daughter to a glorified prison camp for teens might seem harsh, but take a second and ask yourself how your parents would’ve reacted if one of your best friends was accused of murdering a respected member of the community; you spent extensive time talking about buried treasure; you stopped going to school entirely; and you disappeared for a whole month, and everyone in your life had to assume you were dead. It’s too bad Dr. Phil is ending, because the Kiara episode would be bonkers.
29. Armando Bacot
In Season 1, the Outer Banks creators shoehorned UNC into the show by inventing a ferry that didn’t have to follow the rules of space and time. This season, they got UNC’s star center Armando Bacot to cameo as the muscle for Barracuda Mike, the island’s foremost weed dealer whom everyone just knows by name.
UNC’s probably gonna miss the tournament after being ranked no. 1 in the preseason, but it’s OK because Armando Bacot got to deliver this one-word line on Season 3 of Netflix’s hit show Outer Banks.
28. Even Numbers
I’m sure there’s not a huge overlap in the Venn diagram of people who watched Outer Banks and people who were alive when The Real World was at its peak, so let me give you a little lesson: The Real World was a revolutionary reality show in which seven strangers would live in a house together and … just fight all the time. It was awesome. But the key word in that description is “seven.” It was always seven strangers, and you know why? Because a group with odd numbers is way more dramatic; it guarantees factions, and even if people couple up, there will always be one person left out.
This is what Outer Banks lost when Cleo was welcomed into the Pogues at the end of Season 2. There are six of them now—three boys and three girls—and that’s just way too easy. Previously, if Sarah and John B were married, and Kiara and “Jayj” had gotten together, it would’ve meant Pope was on his own, left to either wallow or lash out. But with Cleo around, Pope naturally gravitates toward her, and by the season’s end, we’ve got three very cleanly delineated couples. I don’t want clean! I don’t want easy! I want people to stop being polite and start getting real!
27. Kitty Hawk Adventure Therapy
First of all, this is how Kiara’s mom pitches her on this camp for troubled teens: “It’s similar to what you’ve been doing. It’s not having to sit at a desk every day. … All wilderness activity stuff. This is what you’ve been doing.” Ma’am, what do you think your child has been doing? She hasn’t been going on hikes and picking up trash on the shore—she’s been ducking gunfire, skirting sure death, and evading the police and archvillains all in the hope of discovering the lost city of El Dorado.
Second of all, did Kiara’s parents do any research into this place? Because it is not an adventure camp—it is a juvenile detention center out of Scared Straight!, with solitary confinement and everything. No one is frolicking or even doing therapy—they’re all marching in single file like a chain gang. The girls at this camp are scary. If Kiara hadn’t been rescued by JJ on the first night, she definitely would’ve been beaten in her sleep with a sock full of nickels.
Third of all, this is Season 3’s best example of a classic Outer Banks trope: warping real Outer Banks facts to an absurd degree. Kitty Hawk is a real place in the Outer Banks. It’s actually where the Wright brothers made their first flight; they’ve got a museum there and everything. It has not, as far as I know, been converted for the sole purpose of torturing teen girls who got into shoplifting or whatever. Like, there’s an Applebee’s in Kitty Hawk. But it’s cool—part of why we love Outer Banks is that it exists in an alternate reality of the Outer Banks.
26. Carlos Singh
The main bad guy in Season 3, you know. Has a real hankering for some treasure, you know, because [checks notes] his ancestors were [checks notes again] part of the original crew that discovered El Dorado, you know, and they were screwed out of the gold, you know. Controls all of Barbados, you know, and maybe even the entire Caribbean region. (“All I know is we deliver this, and we got no problems with customs in the West Indies anymore,” a smuggler says at one point, and it’s like, OK, WHAT?) It’s also briefly mentioned, you know, that he has some light beef with Theodore Roosevelt, you know. He dies for the same reason most villains die: hubris and greed, you know. (He also says “you know” all the time.)
25. “Full Pogue”
This term means doing something quintessentially Pogue-ish. Honestly, it sort of creeps me out anytime anyone uses it. It just kinda has sex cult vibes.
Before John B and his not-dead dad reunite, they both just happen to end up in Barbados at the same time. And Big John needs to figure out a clever way to signal to his son that he’s alive and ready to get together for a season full of felonies, because apparently just showing up where John B is at is out of the question. So, Big John gets Limbrey to give him control of a church so that he can ring its bell, like, all day. Because get this: When John B was little, they had a different kind of bell at their house, and Big John would ring it and yell, “BRING IT ON HOME, JOHN B,” whenever it was time for dinner.
I don’t feel like I’m being insensitive by saying that this plan is stupid as hell and would never work. First of all, ringing a bell when it’s time for dinner IS NOT A TRADITION SPECIFIC TO THE ROUTLEDGE FAMILY! It is something so extremely commonplace that there is an entire “dinner bells” section on Walmart.com. Only an absurd or deeply narcissistic human could hear a bell ringing and think, That must be my dad, who, as far as I know, is dead. (When John B explains all of this bell nonsense to Sarah, she reacts like, Oh, great, my husband has lost his mind.) And John B tries to act like he and his dad had a secret ring, but after rewatching these scenes several times—I now hear “BRING IT ON HOME, JOHN B” in my nightmares—I can promise you that there is no discernible pattern. It’s just regular bell ringing, and god damn it, it works.
This is a show where a father shoots two people in the face and later forces his son to attempt armed robbery. It is a show where one man faked his own death and then reemerged to nearly strangle his own daughter to death. It is a show where one particularly troubled teen once uttered these words: “Killing is nature.” And yet, the biggest psychopath on Outer Banks might be Topper Thornton. This walking boat shoe seems like a typical surfer bro who sucks up to parents and calls beach hangouts “a little fellowship down by the break,” but don’t forget how many times he has tried to actually kill people. In Season 1, he almost drowned John B—something that he didn’t really apologize for until this season—and in Season 3, when Sarah ultimately rejects him for, I don’t know, the 80th time, he decides that his best course of action is to BURN DOWN THE HOUSE SHE AND HER FIVE FRIENDS ARE IN.
This guy flees the scene, with John B’s house fully engulfed in flames, under the assumption that he just successfully burned six teenagers to death. Who does that?! If anyone should be going to Kitty Hawk Adventure Therapy, it’s him—or, I don’t know, a state prison?
Also, don’t think that I forgot that he straight up cheated on Elena Reedy! ELENA DESERVES BETTER, TOP!
22. Singh’s Henchman Ryan
We don’t need to spend too much time on this guy. There’s not a lot of interiority to his character. That said, I have never seen someone fail to execute people as many times as this guy did in Season 3.
21. Sarah Cameron
We’ve already given Sarah plenty of grief for her lapse in judgment in hooking up with a known arsonist. (There’s a roughly episode-long stretch where Sarah turns into Marissa Cooper during the alcoholism episodes of The O.C., and I like to think that Madelyn Cline was fully channeling Mischa Barton.) And even though she super encouraged Topper’s come-ons, you do have to cut her some slack considering everything happening in her personal life.
Plus, she’s the one who figures out the (easiest) riddle that ultimately leads the crew to El Dorado. Then again, she also has to watch her dad die at the end of Season 3—for the second time. All the girls in Kildare might be jealous of her, and, yeah, sure, she and her “husband” were able to open up a boss surf shop with their El Dorado money, but this girl’s got a lot of trauma that’s gonna take decades to work through.
20. Boy John B
BRING IT ON HOME, JOHN B!
Kiara definitely yells, “WELL GUESS WHAT? I’M A POGUE!” less this season, and for that, I am thankful. She also seems to finally understand why her parents might have been worried about her when she was skipping school, swimming in sewers, and altogether disappearing. She’s ranked this low because of the “Jayj” thing though. It’s such a bad nickname; there’s no getting past it.
18. Ward Cameron
Having bashed his noggin real hard at the end of Season 2, Ward emerges from a coma in Season 3 a changed man. I guess trying to choke your daughter to death makes you reconsider your life choices. He turns vaguely religious—he’s always saying “blessings” and stuff—and decides to donate the Cross of Santo Domingo (an act of philanthropy his conditioned-to-kill son thwarts) and stop hunting his daughter’s “husband.” And when he surreptitiously returns to the Outer Banks, he doesn’t spend his time plotting and scheming—instead, he’s just, like, hanging out in a shed and fishing. He even ultimately sheds his ego and gives Rafe control of the family business—though it is hilarious that Ward’s only criterion for Rafe being ready for this responsibility is “realizing that putting a hit out on your own father would be a bad thing to do.”
But as Season 3 winds down and the plot demands another twist in the Orinoco Basin, Bad Ward resurfaces. He makes a deal with Singh to share Big John, John B, and Sarah’s location and then justifies the betrayal by saying, “I just wanted to protect my daughter!” And it’s like, hey, guy. You know what might protect your daughter? Not leading the villain directly to her.
Ultimately, Ward redeems all of his sins by taking multiple bullets for Sarah and tackling Ryan the henchman before they both plummet to their deaths. He’s definitely dead this time. Well, maybe he is. Anything can happen in this universe. But if he is gone, I will miss him. Charles Esten was perfect in this role, and he’s a huge reason why Outer Banks is successful. To remember him, I’m gonna go put on one of his suit jackets while the xx’s “Intro” plays.
17. Ward Cameron’s Cane
16. Ward Cameron’s Safari Hat
Say what you will about Ward, but these are just dope looks.
15. The Chateau
While we’re handing out RIPs, rest in peace to John B’s house. Thing was all wood. Went up like a tinderbox. Mostly because a maniacal spurned ex-boyfriend dumped a ton of gasoline on it and lit it on fire.
I really hope they get a forensics team over there because it will be extremely easy to suss out the actual cause of that fire, and then Topper will go to jail, and the world will be just a little safer. Although, knowing what I know about the State Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina, I’m not gonna get my hopes up.
14. El Dorado
In Season 1, the Pogues were looking for the treasure from the sunken Royal Merchant. In Season 2, it turned out that was just starter treasure, and the real loot was the Cross of Santo Domingo, worth about half a billion dollars. In Season 3, we find out that all of that was some amateur shit and really a fraction of the loot whence it came: the lost city of El Dorado.
Now, I’m fine with the stakes rising—it’s a classic move in the “Our show is absurd, and our main characters are superheroes who will never die” playbook. I do sort of wish they had come up with something other than El Dorado though, you know? It’s kinda played out, right? A good rule of thumb is that if there’s a DreamWorks animated film about it, it’s not cool enough to be featured in your treasure-hunting action-drama. (The whole season, I was begging JJ to compare himself to Tulio.)
Also, I have some questions. Was there really that much gold there? How did they get it all out? Wouldn’t the Venezuelan government have some serious qualms about a bunch of undocumented North Carolinians coming to the country and claiming ownership of billions of dollars’ worth of gold? How long did it take to convert all that gold into actual American dollars? Why am I asking logical questions about Outer Banks?
Pope lost his scholarship, but I guess once you discover a lost city of gold, you can pretty much buy your way into any university. So good for him! It’s kind of sad though: I thought he had a real future as a guy who sits on coolers while trying to assassinate someone from afar.
12. Pope’s Parents
If you made it this far (thank you), you know that the bar for parents in Outer Banks is buried even deeper than El Dorado. To say that Pope’s parents are the best ones on the show is not a huge compliment. But they are! They’re the only ones who have created an open and honest dialogue with their treasure-hungry child, they mix strictness with compassion, and they also basically adopt Cleo, no questions asked. Heyward’s a good dude, and so is his wife, whom I’m pretty sure we met for the first time this season.
I just think it’s funny that Cleo is still doing that knife-twirling thing. Even when she introduces herself to Pope’s parents, she’s practically holding them at knifepoint!
You’re part of civilized society now, girl. You can’t just be waving a deadly weapon around.
10. Barracuda Mike
Barracuda Mike is one of Season 3’s greatest inventions. He’s a drug dealer whom everybody knows by name. Seems like bad business on his part, but who am I to judge? Anyway, he’s obviously so well known because he is the nicest, most helpful drug dealer to ever exist. JJ strikes a deal with Barracuda to transport a marijuana shipment in exchange for a ride to South America, and JJ immediately botches it. Within seconds of getting on the road, JJ and John B make themselves known to the police, drive off the road, and abandon the truck. And this is no small shipment—JJ and JB were transporting all of the weed in North Carolina:
There are bags the size of sofa cushions in there!
But instead of being a total drug dealer about it and, you know, chopping JJ into a thousand pieces, Barracuda Mike is super chill. JJ offers to cut him in on the gold from El Dorado, and Mike’s like, “Sure, that doesn’t sound made up at all. I will forgive you for losing a literal U-Haul’s worth of drugs.” And not only that, he then helps JJ break Kiara out of Kitty Hawk, flies them to South America, and then finds them again to give them extremely helpful directions on how to get to the very secret location they’ve been trying to reach. What a gem! Every Barracuda Mike scene made me think of the pizza guy in 30 Rock who tells Liz and Kenneth, “I’ll be in the back trying to think of other ways to help you.”
JJ “Don’t Call Me ‘Jayj’” Maybank is still the best. When he returns to his now-condemned house after being gone for over a month, he picks up an open can of Busch Light and drinks it. When Kiara’s parents send her to that camp, he looks her dad in the eyes and says, “You gooned your own daughter,” which is awesome. Also, his hair. Holy hell, this guy’s got volume.
Have you ever seen hair that makes you question the laws of physics?
8. Traveling by Boat
The early episodes of Season 3 mostly consist of the Pogues commandeering different boats and schooners in the Caribbean and then just nonchalantly sailing them back to the Outer Banks. This is not a short trip.
In fact, per Boatbookings.com, it’s a 1,646 nautical mile–long trip that would take almost three and a half days to complete. We see only one of these boats stop for gas, and there is zero indication that any of them contain any food, let alone enough food for multiple people over several days. But of course, when they all roll into the OBX, there’s no mention of how lucky they are to have survived half a week out on the open ocean.
Then, when the Pogues hear that Ward is transporting the cross to Wilmington, North Carolina, what do they decide to do? Hop on a fucking ferry. Don’t worry about the fact that there is no IRL ferry from the Outer Banks to Wilmington, and that if there were, the trip would take about six hours. Don’t even worry about the fact that it would somehow be faster to drive from the Outer Banks to Wilmington. Because if you haven’t learned it by now, you haven’t been paying attention: Boat travel in Outer Banks does not adhere to the rules of our mortal earth. That’s why Topper’s on this ferry just hanging out and specifically not acting like he just tanked his entire day by committing to a 14-hour round-trip ferry ride.
Mase is the place Topper takes Sarah on her hall pass for the aforementioned “fellowship by the break.” From what I can tell, it’s a spit of land in the ocean that is completely unmonitored by parents or police and where teenagers can get absolutely shit-faced and bang each other. Personally, I think Mase is one of the most realistic parts of Outer Banks Season 3—teens are notoriously great at finding weird places to drink.
6. Barry the Drug Dealer
HE’S BACK, BABY!
(Putting him in a retro Tyler Hansbrough jersey is, by the way, absolutely genius. Psycho T is definitely the UNC player of choice for all North Carolina–based youth drug dealers.)
I still struggle to express how great of a character Barry is and how captivatingly Nicholas Cirillo plays him. He’s all manic energy and dangerous vibes, he speaks with a totally unplaceable accent, and you never want any scene he’s in to end. This year, he goes full Lady Macbeth and convinces Rafe to kill his dad, which is impressive—but far more impressive is how enterprising he seems to be. When he and Rafe melt down the Cross of Santo Domingo (incredible move, guys) to sell it for parts, Barry locates a host of buyers with zero effort. These dudes live in a sleepy and conservative vacation town, and yet Barry’s like, “Why yes, I do know several people who would be willing to buy stolen gold bullions.”
There should be an Outer Banks spin-off show starring Barry and Barracuda Mike—Barry and the Barracuda has a nice ring to it—in which they just solve problems for people. I would watch nine seasons of that.
5. John B
Although it sucks that John B is separated from the Pogues and forced to spend time with his horrible dad for most of Season 3, I still think he had a pretty good run. He’s appropriately skeptical about his dad when his dad murders people, he’s incapable of harassing nice old ladies, he’s a faithful husband, he finds the gold and opens a “killer” surf shop, and he does it all in an assortment of barely buttoned shirts.
But by far his coolest moment in Season 3 is when he punches Topper (who totally deserved it) and, before punching him again, says this:
“You ready for this?” is badass, buddy. It immediately joins Ryan Atwood’s “You know what I like about rich kids? Nothing.” as one of the best pre-punch lines ever uttered on TV.
4. Bikini Tops as Real Clothes
I would imagine that girls who get shot at as much as they do would want a little more skin coverage, but hey, I’m not a world-renowned treasure hunter, so what do I know?
3. Shaved-Head Rafe
It is a fact of TV that the shorter a villain’s hair gets, the more dangerous he becomes—and let me tell ya, Rafe’s hair is short in Season 3. This guy had a real “Deb in Empire Records” moment in between Season 2 and Season 3, and now he’s ready to become the head of the Cameron family. That mostly involves getting kidnapped, making the bold decision to melt down a priceless artifact of antiquity, throwing parties where he only serves Pappy Van Winkle whiskey, putting a hit out on his own dad, and killing a hit man because he decided too late that he shouldn’t have put a hit out on his own dad.
And once again, Drew Starkey kills it as Rafe. Every choice he makes as an actor is hilarious and compelling; his fidgety, on-the-brink-of-collapse movements make him endlessly watchable. You can never predict what he’ll do scene to scene. There’s a moment early on when Singh is explaining El Dorado to Rafe and Kie, and Starkey keeps rolling his eyes and making faces that seem to say, “Can we speed this up?” It doesn’t make any sense! It’s sublime!
I don’t really know where Rafe goes from here. After Ward finally gives him the blessing to run the family business—a decision that, again, was made solely because Rafe came to the realization that sons shouldn’t put hits out on their dads—Rafe is left out of the climax in El Dorado, and we don’t see him again. I suppose he’s still philosophically aligned against the Pogues, and he might be angry that his dad sacrificed himself to save his sister, but there are no longer such obvious reasons for beef. Maybe in Season 4 he’ll be trying to find forgiveness, much in the way Ward was this season … nah, what am I saying? He’s definitely gonna try to kill all the Pogues.
2. The Pogue-Kook Binary
Kooks and Pogues. Two tribes, one island. I thought it was obvious. When I kissed John B, I gave up my Kook card. The deal was done. It was Poguelandia forever. But when we got back to Kildare, it was all reversed. Suddenly, he had a father. He had a home. And me, I had nothing left. No family. No place to stay. No money. Nothing. But I did still have my old friends, the Kooks, waiting to take me back. Born a Kook. Became a Pogue. So which am I really? Kook or Pogue? Honestly, at this point, I don’t even know myself. —Sarah Cameron
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE PEOPLE ON THIS ISLAND?!?! WHY CAN’T THEY STOP TALKING LIKE THIS?! THEY SOUND RIDICULOUS!!!
1. The Outer Banks
This might sound obvious, but the Outer Banks are the most important part of Outer Banks. This thing has rapidly morphed into much more than a show about teens from different sides of the tracks, and we’ve frequently left the OBX shores to visit everywhere from Charleston to the Bahamas to Barbados. But the show always manages to find its way back to the Outer Banks, and when it does, it is so extremely clear that it hits a different level. Because while the lost city of El Dorado is exciting stuff, it’s the way that Outer Banks combines treasure hunting with teen drama—how it’s National Treasure by way of The O.C.—that makes it unique. You need John B beating the piss out of Topper at Kiara’s parents’ anniversary party to balance out all the talk of treasure-unlocking gnomons. You need the love triangles—and the triangles you apparently learn about in senior-level math—to mix with the deciphering of a mysterious diary.
The Pogues seem destined to leave the OBX once again in Season 4; there’s a guy who looks like the Monopoly Man who shows up and commissions them to find Blackbeard’s treasure, because of course. And I’m totally fine if Outer Banks goes full Fast & Furious, escalating the stakes and danger of the adventures with every installment. I just hope that the people who make this show understand that every once in a while, they’ll need to go back home.