Oh, you thought you could get off the wild ride that is Netflix’s teen treasure-hunting drama Outer Banks after season one? That’s so cute. Once you’ve committed to Outer Banks, there’s no going back, and honestly, why would you want to? One of the best things about this show is that, especially in season two, it knows exactly what it is — a perfectly unhinged summer soap — and leans into it.
Season two picks up roughly where season one left off, which, as you may recall (how could you forget?), saw our Pogue (a person from the lower-class part of town) leader John B. and his Kook (rich, snobby) soulmate, Sarah Cameron, escaping to sea after John B. was almost murdered by Sarah’s dad, Ward, and then framed for murdering the local sheriff when it was really Sarah’s psycho brother, Rafe, who did it. They are presumed dead by everyone they’ve left behind, including John B.’s tight-knit group of Pogue friends, JJ, Pope, and Kiara. Lucky for us, we know they’ve been rescued at sea and are on their way to Nassau, which also happens to be where Ward is hiding almost half a billion in gold treasure that he stole from John B. and his friends. You know, typical teen-drama stuff.
While the season-one emotional roller coaster built up to its wild ending, season two starts at that level and only gets wilder. That’s why we thought it best to continue to emotionally guide you through the entirely different set of feelings you’ll experience as you embark on this new leg in the Outer Banks journey. Buckle up.
[Warning: Deep spoilers for Outer Banks season two lie ahead.]
Mama Mia, Here We Go Again
Is that an emotion I invented solely because of this teen soap that invades my every waking moment for one week each year? You betcha. But that’s what Outer Banks does: It pushes us past our creative and emotional boundaries, forcing us to think in new and bold ways about life, our truest selves, and the extracurricular activities of North Carolina youths. How else could I accurately describe that feeling of truly not being able to believe we are putting our minds, bodies, and souls through this insanity again but also just being so, so excited about it? Because that’s exactly how it feels the moment you press “play” on Outer Banks season two.
I mean, the first two episodes alone include: John B. and Sarah being chased through the streets of Nassau after the crew of the boat that rescued them at sea turns on them for a $50,000 reward; John B. and Sarah teaming up with that boat crew to plan a heist to steal back the gold treasure Ward stole from them last season; Ward continuing to murder in OBX; Kiara almost drowning in a sewer drain in order to get the gun Rafe used to kill the sheriff so they can clear John B.’s name; John B. proposing to Sarah by saying “You wanna be a Pogue for life?”; and yes, sure, Rafe shooting his own sister when that aforementioned heist goes wrong. So yeah, reader, I am feeling a little “Mama Mia, Here We Go Again” right now.
Concerned for the Youths
Between John B. taking a dying Sarah to a “doctor” whose medical degree is simply “I don’t do heads”; those two thinking they’re actually married via a wholly unsanctioned Bandanna Necklace Ceremony at sea; JJ, a 17-year-old, admitting that he can’t read cursive; and the complete lack of proper hygiene practices on this show, I really am worried for these kids. I know Kiara’s parents and Pope’s dad will get a lot of crap for constantly yelling at their children to get their heads out of their asses, but someone needs to!
Elizabeth Mitchell has entered the chat. Here, she plays Carla Limbrey, a rich southern lady on crutches who is obsessed with finding the key and the giant gold cross of Denmark Tanny (the freed slave who hid all that Royal Merchant gold from season one), which apparently houses a sacred miracle shroud that will cure her illness. She has a kind of dumb half brother–slash–minion whom she definitely hates, but also there’s this creepy incestuous vibe going on. She does super-weird shit like summoning a teen to her mansion and demanding he give her a key he knows nothing about, then telling him horrible stories about what her ancestors did to slaves, and then trying to kidnap that teen! Poor Pope! He does not have time for any of this!
By episode four this season, Outer Banks is giving us a pedicab chase scene through the streets of Charleston, the knowledge that during his downtime local drug dealer Barry is reading Infinite Jest, and another scene in the Hot Tub of Emotions. How are these all things I absolutely want from this show? And now I’m craving Natty Lights? Yeah, brainwashing is the only answer. I’m not mad about it!
If there’s one rule fellow travelers on the Outer Banks journey should follow, it’s don’t lie to one another. For instance, don’t lie if you teared up when John B. saw the memorial his friends carved in his tree when they thought he was dead and it moves him to tears and then JJ tells his best friend how much he misses him. Don’t lie, okay???
There is so much going on at this point — the 17-year-old protagonist has just been arrested and indicted for a murder he didn’t commit, and it’s only episode five! — but this gorgeous, generous show still finds the time to bless us all with a scene between Kiara and her mother that is full to the brim with truly insane dialogue. For instance: “You’re so worried that I’m gonna sleep with a Pogue like you did. Well guess what. I already did!” and “Look, I’m a Pogue, and I always will be!” and, finally, perfectly, “Baby, you wanna live like a Pogue? Let me show you what that’s like. [Dumps her daughter’s clothes on the front lawn.] GO LIVE LIKE A FREAKIN’ POGUE!!!” Honestly, the commitment this show has to trying to make “Pogue” a real thing is breathtaking, and I’m honored to be alive in this moment.
The end of episode five features a montage of three story lines playing out. They are: JJ almost getting caught stealing an ambulance in an attempt to break John B. out of jail, John B. getting strangled by another prisoner in his cell because Ward paid the guards to make it look as if John B. has killed himself, and RAFE TRYING TO DROWN HIS OWN SISTER. Okay, so the JJ thing is nothing to worry about, but the other two? Someone hold me!
We’re only halfway through the season and John B.’s charges have been dropped, and the authorities finally have real evidence against Rafe and Ward Cameron. You know those two psychos aren’t going to go quietly into the night, so things are about to get really interesting.
No one actually believes Ward blew himself up, right? RIGHT? This is Soap Opera Villain 101, people.
Concerned for the Youths, Again
Someone needs to sit the youths down and remind them that they’ve all recently almost been killed and/or kidnapped and just yesterday they watched a man supposedly blow himself up on his boat. None of them seems concerned about any of this! Instead, John B. is brooding because Sarah was embarrassed to tell her ex, Topper, that she and John B. got bandanna-married; Pope is brooding because Kiara has friend-zoned him after their terrible sex; Sarah is brooding because John B. wasn’t sad enough about her father’s death even though, hello, her father killed his father and has tried to murder him twice; and all of them head to the high-school bonfire? This is how they are spending their time? This isn’t a regular teen show, guys. This is a treasure hunt, murder-y, Pogues-are-a-thing show. These youths need to get their priorities straight!!
At this point in the season, the search for the gold cross picks up again, but it’s kind of like, Yeah yeah, another treasure hunt, yeah yeah ex-military guys with bows and arrows are hunting Pogues, yeah yeah finding a casket in the swamp. Let’s keep this train moving along, you know?
And then John B. wrestles an alligator. This show is the best.
JJ Maybank is the most precious, and we must protect our Third Wheel King at all costs. His abusive dad shows up in the middle of all of this and manipulates him and Kiara into helping him steal a boat and leave OBX for good, and man, has this dude really done a number on his son! JJ is constantly beating himself up when he fails, he never feels good enough, and he masks all of this pain with humor. He just loves his Pogue family so much, which is why he is so protective of Kiara around his father and gives them all that big “we have to take care of each other” speech post–alligator attack. Plus, he wears a thumb ring! I could write like 300 pages on this character. P4L, baby!
Just So, So Tired
We all know this show is exhausting, and the final third of the season doesn’t disappoint: From Pope finding the gold cross hidden in the beams of an old church only to get stung by wasps and lose it to the Limbreys and Rafe, to Miss Limbrey murdering her brother only to have Rafe steal the cross from her, to Rose drugging and kidnapping Sarah to get her on a shady shipping tanker, to, oh yeah, Ward being alive and taking his family and all the treasure to a secret island, um yeah, you’ll probably need a nap before the finale.
Like Your Soul Has Left Your Body
Listen, Outer Banks knows how to do wild finales. Here are a few times (but not all!) when it feels like your soul has left your body as the season wraps up: When the youths think it’s a great idea to hide in a shipping container to sneak onto the tanker; when you realize that Cleo, the girl from the Nassau heist, is also on this ship and is now joining the Pogues; when the youths keep saying “take the bridge” because their big plan is to “take the bridge” and then they do actually take the bridge; when there’s an eight-foot gold cross swinging wildly in the air; when you realize the youths thought they could all get in a lifeboat with the eight-foot gold cross and it would totally work; when you see the FEELINGS happening between JJ and Kiara and you feel so lucky because you never thought this day would come; when Ward tries to murder his daughter; when John B. almost kills Ward the way Ward killed his father but then lets him live (!!); when you learn that John B.’s father is alive and recovering in Barbados and agrees to help Limbrey find the shroud if she helps John B., who is currently hiding out on a deserted island with his friends and they have named it Poguelandia!! Season three should be a real doozy, huh?