“Outer Banks” Season 3 Review

Story posted March 14, 2023 in Arts & Entertainment by Kaitlyn Murphy.

In the second season of “Outer Banks,” JJ delivered the iconic line, “stupid things have good outcomes all the time.”

Unfortunately, all of the stupid things that occur in “Outer Banks” season three don’t really have any good outcomes. Or outcomes in general.

Season three of Netflix's hit teen treasure-hunting show dropped on Friday, Feb. 23 and shot to the number one spot on Netflix within one day. That’s understandable, there was major marketing for this season with Netflix’s big “Poguelandia” event (named after the island the Pogues got stranded on at the end of season two).

An island that was in the new season for not even half an episode.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Outer Banks” Season 3*

Season three opens up with the Pogues scrappily surviving on the deserted island they deemed “Poguelandia,” hunting for fish and constantly searching the sea and sky for any hope of rescue. Lucky for them, a plane is spotted a mere 11 minutes into the first episode, and they are saved.

So much for that.

However, after the Pogues become suspicious their rescuer could be working for Ward Cameron (Charles Esten), they crash land the plane into the waters of Barbados. Kiara (Madison Bailey) is taken captive by big gun-wielding men, but the rest of the Pogues escape scot-free.

The first two episodes of season three aren’t anything new for the series, a lot of running, swimming, and of course, narrowly escaping imminent danger. However, viewers do get a glimpse into the mysterious and tension-filled relationship between Rafe Cameron (Drew Starkey) and Kiara, who were brought together by Kiara’s capture, Carlos Singh (Andy McQueen).

Singh ends up being the main antagonist of season three and is just an all-around flat character that adds nothing to the series. At least there was always drama and threats with Ward since he was Sarah’s father and still chose to mercilessly hunt down her friends and almost kill them on multiple occasions.

Singh mostly sent his goons to do his dirty work throughout the season, which made sense but also presented himself as less of a threat. His end goal was to discover El Dorado, a location overflowing with even more ancient gold than the Royal Merchant had.

Now, where are those gold bars from the Merchant that were so highly coveted in seasons one and two? Are they still in the Cameron vault? Just one of the many plot holes that go unanswered this season.

Needless to say, a lot is thrown at the viewers in the first couple of episodes.

Side plots work in shows of this genre when they all come together in the end and lead somewhere, but so many were unnecessary in “Outer Banks” season three.

For example, Big John Routledge (Charles Halford) comes back from the dead and reunites with his son, John B (Chase Stokes). Big John is the opposite of the “vibes” viewers crave while watching “Outer Banks”- he’s gruff, selfish, and pulls John B away from the Pogues for his side quest to find El Dorado before Singh.

This leads to cracks of division across the friend group, with Sarah (Madelyn Cline) rejoining Topper (Austin North) and the Kooks to feel a sense of normalcy, JJ (Rudy Pankow) separating himself from Kiara after an almost-kiss leads to him bailing, and Cleo (Carlacia Grant) and Pope (Jonathan Daviss) kind of on their own.

The entire foundation of “Outer Banks” is the bond shared by the Pogues. It’s natural that every friend group has rough patches, but every good moment they had this season was quickly taken away or replaced by treasure-hunting scenes with Big John and John B.

It became extremely frustrating since no real character development could be had, and the relationship between JJ and Kiara felt forced despite their having chemistry in previous seasons.

On top of all that, barely any of “Outer Banks” season three took place in…the Outer Banks. The characters traveled everywhere from Barbados to Guadalupe to Venezuela, which took away from the summer, beachy aesthetic of the first two seasons.

Part of the success of the show was the escapism it provides, but it’s doubtful that viewers want to spend time chasing Big John and Singh in a hot, humid jungle on their hunt for treasure that may or may not exist.

Not that “Outer Banks” was realistic to begin with, but the end of season three was almost comically far-fetched.

Between John B, Sarah, and Big John using the moonlight and an ancient idol to translate the way to El Dorado, and Ward Cameron climbing an entire mountain with a near-fatal stab wound, the final two episodes of “Outer Banks” were just too unbelievable to be enjoyed.

They end up finding El Dorado (FINALLY, a win) but have to blow it up minutes later to avoid Singh getting his hands on the gold. The cycle continues.

The finale ends on an 18-month time jump, with a ceremony where the Pogues are praised for finding treasure that countless explorers before them could not. A million questions could be asked about what happened in the year and a half between El Dorado and this ceremony, and hopefully, they will be addressed in the already confirmed fourth season.

So while the third season of “Outer Banks” may still have provided escapism and adventure to a degree, it is definitely the weakest installment in the series so far.

Rating: 2.5/5

Kaitlyn Murphy is a first-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email kvm6255@psu.edu.