[Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for Outer Banks Season 3.]
Against all odds, the Pogues keep kicking. In Outer Banks Season 3, John B (Chase Stokes), Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline), and their friends continue to flout the law in their quest to reach El Dorado, a lost city of gold that has been the subject of legend for centuries. Getting there is no easy feat — especially for these teens, who find themselves facing arrest or death on a near-constant basis. And yet, in the supersized finale, their search brings them deep into the jungle of South America, where they discover a cave filled with gold that has been untouched for over 500 years.
While the discovery allows the Pogues to even the playing field and go “full Kook,” their nickname for the OBX’s most privileged residents, it comes at a steep cost for Big John Routledge (Charles Halford), who dies after suffering a gunshot wound. Caribbean Don Carlos Singh (Andy McQueen), who has been searching for El Dorado for his entire life, and Sarah’s dastardly father Ward Cameron (Charles Esten) meet a similar fate — or do they? Certainly, more ludicrous things have happened on Outer Banks, a show that has revived its villains time and time again.
Whether Ward and Singh are really dead is one of many questions left unanswered in OBX3. But fear not: Netflix has already renewed the teen drama for a fourth season of treasure-hunting action. Here’s hoping these loose ends will be addressed in Outer Banks Season 4.
Outer Banks moves through plot faster than you can say, “Pogues for Life,” so it’s no surprise that Carla Limbrey’s (Elizabeth Mitchell) return is short-lived. Limbrey hired Big John to find the Shroud of Turin, a religious garment rumored to have healing powers, believing it will cure her of a mysterious disease. In Episode 5, “Heists,” Big John tells his son the shroud is “a known hoax,” but in order to get Limbrey off his back, he spins a yarn about a random piece of cloth found in his backpack, and she buys it. Inspired by Big John’s story, Limbrey tucks the shroud under her arm, drops her crutches, and walks unassisted for the first time in years, proclaiming through tears, “I’m healed.”
Limbrey isn’t mentioned again in Season 3, but she’s no fool; eventually, she’s bound to realize she’s been handed a dirty scarf and not a thousand-year-old relic. When she does, it’s John B who will have to answer for his father’s sins.
Sarah’s brother Rafe (Drew Starkey), who sets out to expand the Camerons’ evil empire against Ward’s wishes, plays a huge role in OBX3, but he’s nowhere to be found in the nearly feature-length finale. When we last see Rafe in Episode 9, “Welcome to Kitty Hawk,” he’s standing on the tarmac at the Kildare airport, having just saved his father from a hitman (whom he ordered in the first place). As a thank you, Ward tells Rafe what he so desperately wants to hear: He’s “proved” himself by coming back for his father, and now, he’s been granted control over the family’s assets.
As Rafe watches the South America-bound plane take off, Deputy Shoup (Cullen Moss) arrives, but the show doesn’t offer any resolution. Will Rafe face consequences for harboring his fugitive father — or for his attempted murder? Will Ward follow through on his promise and hand over the keys to the kingdom to his sociopathic son? Whatever’s next for Rafe, one thing seems likely: He won’t be letting Sarah off the hook for putting their father, and his potential inheritance, in danger.
While Rose Cameron (Caroline Arapoglou) appears early on in the season — her big moment comes in Episode 1, “Poguelandia,” when she and Rafe fight over what to do with the stolen Cross of Santo Domingo — Wheezie Cameron (Julia Antonelli), Sarah and Rafe’s sister, is largely absent. (Her voice is used to lure Sarah to a meeting with Ward, but she’s not physically present.) With Rafe causing trouble in the Outer Banks and Ward following in hopes of mending his relationship with Sarah, Rose and Wheezie are left to their own devices in Guadeloupe. How do they feel about Rafe and Ward’s scheming? Have they been communicating with them? And will Wheezie ever be reunited with Sarah, her one true ally?
As the trope goes, never count someone dead unless you see the body. This has proven to be the case repeatedly with Outer Banks, first with Ward, and later with Big John. The Netflix drama has given viewers every reason to suspect that Ward and Singh are still alive, though if only one will make it, things are looking a bit better for the latter. After sacrificing his life to save Sarah — he jumps in front of her and is shot multiple times, then charges at the gunman and tackles him off a cliff — Ward lays lifeless down below, but the camera keeps its distance, offering only a bird’s-eye view of his splayed-out body. This is likely a purposeful decision: It’s clear Ward is hurt, but without a close-up, we can’t determine the severity of his injuries, or whether he’s dead or just unconscious.
When it comes to Singh’s fate, Outer Banks is even more ambiguous. With Singh’s gun pointed at John B, Big John is faced with a decision: Save his son, or save the riches of El Dorado. Unsurprisingly (but also surprisingly, if you know the treasure-obsessed Big John), he chooses John B and throws a lit firework deep into the cave. Singh grabs the firework, but he’s one second too late, and the cave goes boom, sending the Routledges flying. It’s implied that Singh died in the blast (the henchman who shoots Ward says as much), but the show never confirms this with a body, or even a shot of the rubble. If there’s one thing we know about Outer Banks’ Big Bads, it’s that it takes more than an explosion to bring them down.
After the Pogues bury Big John, the Outer Banks Season 3 finale, “Secret of the Gnomon,” flashes forward 18 months to a ceremony honoring their exploratory efforts. Everyone in the crowd goes wild as a speaker praises their bravery and cunning — everyone with the exception of Topper (Austin North), who, over the course of the season, returns to his dirtbag ways and burns down John B’s house.
Topper’s act of arson comes in response to dual embarrassments: He’s beaten senseless by John B (who learns Topper and Sarah hooked up), and then left heartbroken by Sarah when she embraces the Pogue life, yet again. After setting fire to the Routledge home, Topper officially files assault charges, making John B a wanted man in the eyes of the law. Which is why it’s so strange that Topper is not only at the Pogues’ ceremony 18 months later, but that John B seems to have gotten off scot-free. Last we saw Topper, he was threatening John B and dropping hints about the fire, which aren’t exactly signs of an impending change of heart. But clearly, something happened in the year-and-a-half since the Pogues returned with their spoils that prompted Topper to drop the charges — either that, or John B’s cut went to restitution.
Unlike its two previous outings, Outer Banks Season 3 offers a bit of closure, as the Pogues finally find themselves embracing normalcy on Kildare Island. But that all changes in the final minutes of the finale, when a mysterious man approaches them with a job offer. He hands over a manuscript containing the captain’s log of a ship, explaining that it shows “the exact location where the ship sailed, and where it stopped.” The captain? Edward Teach, the legendary pirate known as Blackbeard.
On November 22, 1718, Edward Teach’s ship was captured by British naval Lieutenant Robert Maynard, and the infamous pirate was killed in the ensuing battle. The secret location of Blackbeard’s treasure, which is believed to be buried along the North Carolina coast, died with him, and though many explorers have tried to seek it out, the gold has never been found.
The Pogues are immediately interested in the man’s proposal, but if the past three seasons are any indication, they should take a beat before agreeing to partner with him. After all, he offers zero information about himself (not even a name!), his interest in Blackbeard, or how he acquired the manuscript, three huge red flags in the treasure-hunting game. Who is this man, and can he be trusted? Something tells us the answer is no.
The Pogues’ embrace of the Blackbeard mystery suggests that their days of beach bonfires and messy love triangles are over, which will likely come as a disappointment for fans who watch Outer Banks for the teenage shenanigans, and not the often-ridiculous adventuring. Have they learned nothing from Big John’s (and potentially Carlos Singh’s) demise? There may be glory in treasure hunting, but it just as easily becomes an obsession capable of destroying you and those you hold dear. As if these kids (and their parents) haven’t been through enough already.
Outer Banks Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.
TOPICS: Outer Banks, Netflix, Andy McQueen, Austin North, Charles Esten, Charles Halford, Chase Stokes, Drew Starkey, Jonathan Daviss, Madelyn Cline, Rudy Pankow