This review contains spoilers for the third season of “Outer Banks.”
The long-awaited third season of “Outer Banks” is finally here, and it's just as action-packed and scenic as the last two. With the Pogues after a new fortune, season three cements what was once a juvenile hunt for treasure as a perilous game of survival.
The Netflix series returned Thursday with 10 new episodes, most of which have a run time of roughly fifty minutes. With many characters and storylines happening simultaneously, these 10 episodes are packed with content — most of which rely on the audience's suspension of disbelief more than previous seasons.
As anticipated, this third installment of the show is filled with edge-of-your-seat adventure. The main ensemble, the Pogues, put themselves in many risky situations to reclaim the gold that they lost in season two, and to uncover the city of El Dorado — the legendary empire made of gold. The gang cheats death an unbelievable amount of times, facing off with old and new antagonizing forces.
Unlike past seasons, Ward Cameron, played by Charles Esten, is no longer the main villain. Filled with guilt for his actions, he takes a back seat for most of the season to his son Rafe Cameron, played by Drew Starkey, and new character Carlos Singh, played by Andy McQueen.
Known for being violent and erratic, Rafe takes his father’s pursuit of redemption as an opportunity to “take what’s his.” Rafe’s threatening presence and unnerving demeanor — a product of Starkey’s enthralling performance — makes every scene he’s in this season a suspenseful watch.
Introduced in the first episode, Caribbean kingpin Carlos Singh has immeasurable power and influence, and not knowing the limits of his capabilities makes him a truly menacing character. Believing that the Pogues are the key to finding El Dorado, Singh and his henchmen hunt and terrorize the Pogues throughout the season, adding a new kind of intensity.
While the action and adventure are what drive the show’s plot, it's the characters and their dynamics that anchor the series. The friendship between the Pogues has been a constant in the show, and that is no different this season with new and pre-existing relationships developing in fulfilling ways.
The romance between John B. Routledge and Sarah Cameron, played by Chase Stokes and Madelyn Cline, is not the most compelling relationship of season three. Instead, the show spends significantly more time exploring its new pairings of Kiara Carrera and JJ Maybank, played by Madison Bailey and Rudy Pankow, and Pope Heyward and Cleo, played by Jonathan Daviss and Carlacia Grant.
Kiera and JJ’s hesitancy to admit that they love each other creates riveting tension, ultimately making the moment when their true feelings are revealed extremely satisfying. Pope and Cleo’s relationship starts off purely platonic, but grows throughout the season into one that is romantic and endearing.
Outside of the group dynamic, the Pogues individually partake in moments of self-reflection unlike in previous seasons.
For John B specifically, this means grappling with the lengths he’s gone to in the hope of striking gold. This introspection is intensified when John B. and his father, played by Charles Harlford, reunite. Following their heartwarming reunion in episode three, the time John B. spends with his father allows him to see how a lifetime of chasing after treasure compromises a person’s morality. This not only sets the tone for their relationship but adds a deeper dimension to John B.’s character.
Despite the newest season of “Outer Banks” being undeniably entertaining, it struggles to feel grounded because it prioritizes spectacle over substance. In order to not exhaust the treasure hunt trope that has been the central focus since the pilot episode, the season is convoluted with ridiculous storylines that complicate the plot.
Taking place in Barbados, North Carolina and South America — with the Pogues getting split up at least once in each location — the gang encounter many flash in the pan obstacles that are resolved with relative quickness. These escapades not only add nothing to the greater story, but also they waste screen time that would have been better used ironing out plot inconsistencies.
Season three of “Outer Banks” is an exciting watch fans will enjoy, delivering on the action, adventure and romance fronts. With the season finale alluding that the treasure hunting will continue in a fourth season, it’s unclear what the continuation of the series will look like without the sense of direction that was present in earlier seasons.