Netflix's new teen drama Outer Banks shares plenty of DNA with the teen soaps that came before it — the coastal beauty of Dawson's Creek plus the class clashes of The O.C. mixed with some of the dramatic twists of One Tree Hill — but it turns out that the biggest element of the series, about a group of teens in North Carolina's coastal Outer Banks barrier islands (or OBX), is a Goonies-esque treasure hunt that puts them in some very real danger (but with a very major prize at the end).
While the series takes place on the OBX, Outer Banks was actually filmed in South Carolina due to the controversial North Carolina bill barring trans people from using bathrooms that match their gender identities in state-run buildings (it has since been repealed).
What do these clearly twentysomething "teens" with fantastic bone structure and plentiful daddy issues get into while wearing bathing suits, crop tops, and little else? Oh, just some drug deals, gun possession, destruction of property, breaking and entering, multiple arsons, grand theft auto, and more — all while maintaining several different love triangles. It's all the crazy drama of OTH, but with some major hunting-for-the-Declaration of Independence National Treasure intrigue. Let's explore it all.
Episode 1, "Pilot"
As in any respectable teen movie, our series begins by a charismatic narrator, in this case John B (Chase Stokes), giving the lay of the land via voiceover. Figure 8 is the rich side where all the wealthy people, aka the "Kooks," live. The south side is the Cut, the home of the working class "Pogues" — named after the throwaway fish — and where our main group lives.
JJ (Rudy Pankow) is a surfer, BFF of our hero, a "klepto, and a future tax cheat." Kiara (Madison Bailey), aka Ki , is an idealistic and socially progressive animal lover who is technically a Kook — her dad runs a big local restaurant — but she feels much more at home with the misfit Pogues. Pope (Jonathan Daviss) is the smartest one in the group — or so we're told — and a bit of a weirdo, but he has the most promising future. John B, our narrator, lives in an old fish shack on the water. His dad disappeared nine months ago and his mom split when he was a kid; his legal guardian uncle is somewhere in Mississippi building houses. Which means he's a 16-year-old boy on summer break living the absolute dream.
Important to know about John B: He is only referred to as "John B," not John (lot of other Johns in his high school class, perhaps?), he's clearly the kind of child who absolutely needs adult supervision, since he and Pope go surfing as a hurricane is about to hit the OBX, and he refuses to believe his dad is dead until someone finds the body.
The day after Hurricane Agatha makes landfall, the gang goes out to party (a cherished post-storm tradition) and runs into a boat that sank the night before. They salvage a motel key, but decide not to tell the coast guard about the wreck. As they're driving away, the camera pans to a DEAD BODY. Dun dun dun!
If there's one thing this show has, it's a lot of exposed torsos. If there's another thing, it's music cues that tell you exactly how to feel about something. Music cue or not, though, a dead body is Not Good.
Also in the post-storm cleanup: we see the clearly rich Deacon from Nashville, er, Ward Cameron (Charles Esten), talking to a woman (clearly a Pogue) about someone named "Scooter," whom she hasn't seen since before the storm. If you were wondering if Scooter was the body, you'd be on to something.
The gang decides to test out their new motel key, and John B and JJ find a code to the in-room safe written on a Post-it — kind of defeats the purpose of a safe if you leave the combination out in the open, but okay. Inside, they find a bunch of cash and a gun, so they take a stack of bills and the weapon and hide just in time for the cops to go inside. One of the cops pockets some cash too, so naturally the score then tells us exactly how we should feel about him: he's a bad guy. Later, he goes to a museum where very dramatic music plays as he looks at a diorama of a ship called the Royal Merchant. It was lost at sea in the 1800s with $400 million in British gold on board, and now it's a rotting pile, evidenced by the photo he holds up of what looks like a present-day photo of the decaying boat. It's not so lost after all!
Next, the gang heads to "the Boneyard," which John B describes as a three-layer burrito comprised of Pogue kids, Kook kids, and tourists. For some reason, Pogues don't hook up with each other, so they spend their time at the Boneyard macking on people (their parlance, not mine) from other groups — mainly tourists. Notable sighting: Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline), the most popular Kook girl and Kiara's former BFF — they had a mysterious falling out — girlfriend of an extremely WASP-y d-bag named Topper (Austin North), and the daughter of Ward, who owns the boat where John B works. JJ and Topper fight about who knows what — Topper is a douche — and John B tries to break it up. They somehow roll into the surf so they're wrestling each other in soaking wet clothes that stick to their skin. The camera lingers a little bit, because although this is not The CW, the creators of this series want us to know early on that it's okay to objectify these men. Then JJ darkens the mood by pressing the gun he found earlier to Topper's head. Seems like a cool, completely not-unhinged thing to do!
Oh, and before this episode ends, there's something else John B wants to tell us via voiceover: A week before his dad disappeared, Pops said he thought he found something and might have to vanish for a bit. That might have something to do with what the gang finds later when they go back to scavenge the wreck with scuba gear this time: a compass that John B recognises as belonging to his father.
Episode 2, "The Lucky Compass"
John B is convinced his father is still alive (yes, thank you for explicitly telling us in voiceover, John B, but that was extremely obvious). He decides that, after waiting nine full months, now is the best time to enter his father's office. His dad kept it locked at all times because he was afraid of other people stealing his research about where the Royal Merchant could be. You'd think that if your father vanished mysteriously at sea as he was hunting a famous shipwreck, then you'd definitely check out his OFFICE FULL OF CLUES before doing anything else. But not John B! John B waits nine months to discover that the compass has had a series of ill-fated owners, along with a secret compartment where his dad had carved a message for him: "Redfield." Smarty pants Pope says that although it is the most common name in the county, it could also be an anagram. Sure, why not.
Just as the gang makes this stunning discovery, a pair of bad guys drive up to the house. We can tell they're bad because of the music, but John B and co decide they're bad guys because they're unfamiliar and menacing. Good instinct! The kids escape (into the chicken coop, where JJ does another totally reasonable thing and kills the rooster that refuses to shut up), but the bad guys take basically all the evidence that John B's dad, Big John, had been keeping secret — blueprints to the ship, notebooks handily labelled "manifests," and "the Florida theory" (indie movie or emo band?).
John B decides "Redfield" is a clue that refers to the Redfield Lighthouse, where a weirdo lighthouse keeper says his view has been the same for 30 years — except it changed two days ago, with the storm. And while Royal Merchant experts believe the boat was pushed out to sea on the South end of the eye of a hurricane, he believes it was on the North end and was actually pushed closer to shore. "Ten miles thataway," he says, like a man in a western or something. Then the mood changes and he radios for the cops to come so the gang runs away again. Caught up in the moment, John B kisses Ki, but she pushes him away. She doesn't mind, she just can't, because of their weird rules. (Also, her dad really doesn't like him.)
A kind cop lady, Sheriff Peterkin (True Blood's Adina Porter), comes to visit John B to give him a stern talking-to. She knows he has the compass, she knows he took it from the wreck, and she needs it back as evidence or she's going to charge him. There's no bad guy music, so it feels like she's probably good, but we don't know for sure.
Early in the morning, Sarah catches John B sneaking onto her dad's boat to return the scuba equipment he "borrowed" (aka took without permission for the night). And while she promises to keep it a secret, d-bag boyfriend Topper finds out and tells Ward about it. Ward confronts John B, and fires him after he confesses. It's the violation of trust, you see. John B sees Sarah as he's leaving, and he tells her he got fired because of her. But he says it really close to her face so you know there's some chemistry happening there. Then he leaves by running down the street with one button on his shirt buttoned so his bare chest glistens in the wind. At it again with your CW-esque objectification of this "teen," Netflix!
The bad guys (remember them?) somehow find John B and chase him as he does his nearly shirtless sprint. Eventually, he runs into a fence (electrified, thanks to a live wire downed from the storm) and falls, giving one of the bad guys enough time to catch up and stand menacingly over him as he grunts, "Now you're going to give me what I want." It's almost… sexual? Or is that the remnants of the practically shirtless running talking? Sheriff Peterkin shows up and saves the day, and tells him it would be a whole lot safer to give her the compass than anybody else, so he does. She's probably right, but that also probably won't stop the bad guys from continuing to hunt him down.
Later, when cleaning out his dad's office (really he's just making a bonfire out of the trash, including his dad's murder board of shipwreck stuff) he has an epiphany, stamping out the fire on the shipwreck board just as it singes the name Olivia Routledge. John B takes the gang to the graveyard to dramatically tell them in front of a big-ass crypt that Redfield isn't a place, it's a person: his great, great, great, great grandmother Olivia. Redfield was her maiden name. And if nighttime in a deserted graveyard wasn't creepy enough, a snake pokes its head out of the crypt they're about to try to break into. JJ barks at it (cool and normal and totally hinged) because moccasins are notoriously afraid of dogs (…okay), and when they can't open the door, Ki says she can squeeze through the hole in the wall.
What does she see that elicits an "oh my god?" Smash that "next episode" button, baby!
Episode 3, "The Forbidden Zone"
The thing that was so awe-inspiring? A FedEx envelope. Well, a FedEx envelope that that said "For Bird" on the front, to be exact. But of course, before they can open it, the bad guys show up and the gang scatters. Pope's pants come off for some reason as they jump the fence, and it turns out the two dudes in the golf cart are the groundskeepers, not the bad guys, so it was completely unnecessary to ruin Pope's clothes like that, but oh well. Anyway, inside the envelope is a map with the coordinates of where Big John thought the boat was. Like, literally an "x" marks the spot. And also a mini-cassette recorder, because Big John apparently hadn't gone digital just yet. A flashback (this is new!) revisits Big John recording what he says on the cassette (just about where the wreck probably is) and loading the gun John B and JJ found in the safe.
Back in the present day, the gang all decides what they want to do with the millions they're about to get. Pope wants to pay for college and textbooks (think bigger, babe!). Ki wants to record a double album. JJ wants to buy a mansion, and John B wants to "go full Kook." They sneak into the rich beach club to use their internet (power is still out on most of the island, but not in Figure 8 where the rich folks live).
They discover that those coordinates from Big John are only 900 feet deep, which they can probably get to if they can get a hold of an underwater drone. Luckily, they know there's one in the impound lot, so they concoct a harebrained scheme that actually sort of works to break in and steal it. (Another chill thing that JJ does is be stoned all the damn time, to the point where Pope tells him to lay off.)
While Sarah and Topper are getting drunk at some sort of school-sanctioned beach cleanup, Ward is yelling at his son for being "almost 20" and not as responsible as the Pogue he just fired. Proving him right, the son goes to a drug dealer's house and asks for credit because he needs to make some cash quickly. At a Kook party later, Topper jumps off of a roof into the pool while holding Sarah in his arms, and for some reason despite the fact that she didn't want to do it, she smiles at him and tells him that she'll totally go all the way tonight. But she changes her mind, and Topper storms off to go do coke that her older brother, Rafe, is selling to the other rich kids. Sarah goes home and drunkenly tells her little sister that she didn't end up sleeping with Topper because it didn't feel right, but she's not sure why it didn't feel right. What, being forced into actual mortal peril against your will doesn't do it for you?
The group goes to Ki's dad's restaurant for some food, and John B and Ki dance while the others look on. Clearly there's a lot of chemistry there. But the next morning, Sarah visits John B to tell him she didn't rat him out to her dad and get him fired, and gives him some Skinny Pop because she knows it's his favourite. (A reminder: ~chemistry~ is happening.)
Good news: The aqua drone the gang stole works. Bad news: Bro besties Topper and Rafe jump Pope while he's delivering groceries on the golf course and steal the beer he was carrying. Enter: The casual racism subplot. Pope tells JJ about the incident, who convinces him to sink Topper's mega-expensive boat in retaliation. Pope, you are supposed to be the smart one. Do not take your cues from your 16-year-old juvenile delinquent friend!
Ki and John B are surfing, and discuss the fact that they almost kissed. But nothing else comes of it. The rest of the gang just shows up and they go surfing. There are a lot of cool shots of them surfing with absolutely zero close-ups of any of their faces because let's be real these are absolutely body doubles.
Then, the next day (or later? Who knows how time works on this show?) they go out and find the Royal Merchant. Listen, we are only three episodes in. If you thought that this would be the end… it feels like maybe you haven't ever watched a serialized television show before. There are seven more episodes! It can't be this easy, right? (Right.)
Episode 4, "Spy Games"
Sorry, gang, but there's nothing in the wreck. Either the gold was never actually there, or someone else beat them to it. When John B heads back home, Child Protective Services is there to take him to a foster home. Somehow, he tricks the bad cop into stopping the car, then runs away. He absolutely eats it in front of Sarah as he runs from the cop and the CPS lady, and Sarah promises to take him to the hospital. Instead, she takes him home and cleans the wound that is conveniently located on his ripped torso.
While they're in her dad's study, John B notices an old-timey painting of a black man on the wall. Sarah says he was the founder of Tanneyhill, the plantation on which she lives, and John B is confused as to how a slave could be the owner of a plantation. Uh, John B, who said the man was a slave? Sarah informs her assumptive pal that Denmark Tanney was a free man who showed up mysteriously and bought all the land on the island with gold.
John B recognizes that name, apparently because John B has a photographic memory, is very good at reading 1800s handwriting, and remembers that Denmark Tanney was on the Royal Merchant — a shipwreck that allegedly had no survivors. Slaves weren't on the official ship's manifest, so no one had connected the dots before, but Big John had a copy that included the names of the slaves on board and Denmark Tanney was one of them. Sarah's dad donated Denmark's diary, almanac, and other records to the archives at the University Of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill when they moved into the house, so Sarah and John B decide to go visit and find more clues.
Somehow they sneak onto a ferry, but they have to hide in an engine room or something so they're forced to take off as many articles of clothing as possible since it's so hot in there. (Are we still sure this isn't on The CW?) They arrive on the mainland extremely dishevelled, so they go on a shopping spree for seersucker at a local shop so they can look presentable at the archives. Cue the montage! They arrive on campus after dark on what appears to be a summer Friday, where someone is still working and lets them in to examine papers. What kind of public university staffs their archives until, like, midnight on Fridays in the summer? Anyway, while they're there, they flirt, John B confesses why he wanted to look at the papers, and they find a clue: a letter written in Gullah dated the day Denmark Tanney died. They don't speak or read the creole dialect Gullah, but it's definitely a break in the case.
While John B is on his adventure with Sarah, Topper's mom blames him for the boat sinking. Topper and Rafe know it was Pope, and Rafe threatens him via Ki. The bro gang jumps Pope again at an outdoor movie night, and Ki's first instinct to stop the fight is to light the movie screen on fire. That feels like it has wider-ranging consequences than if they all started screaming and making a big enough fuss that other people would see what was happening, but sure, arson works too.
Also, if you remember: Last episode, some fishermen found a couple of dead bodies who turned out to be the bad guys who were chasing John B. Today, the bad cop shows the Sheriff all the stuff he found in their car: a photo of the Royal Merchant wreck and a map. Also, the coroner rules their deaths as homicides, because they didn't drown. They were actually dead before they hit the water; killed with gaff hooks and rolled overboard.
The next morning — where did Sarah and John B stay overnight? Who knows! — John B asks if things will change between them when they get back. She says no, probably, but as they walk off the ferry, John B dramatically professes his love for her in the rain. It is an absolutely wild love speech for people who only really hung out together for the first time the day before, but she's into it and they make out. Sure!
The cops arrest Pope for sinking the boat, but JJ says it was him so Pope won't get in trouble.
Finally, a mysterious shot reveals someone putting stuff away, including the compass and a gaff hook.
Episode 5, "Midsummers"
JJ's dad bails him out of jail, then beats him, gets wasted, and yells at him some more. When his father passes out, JJ points the gun at his dad's head and cries, but doesn't pull the trigger. Instead, he gets on a dirt bike and drives dramatically into the woods. If you had to rank every character's daddy issues, JJ would absolutely land on top. Followed by John B (the unsolved disappearance really makes it hard to focus on anything else), then maybe Sarah (there's something going on with Deacon from Nashville, we just don't know what yet), followed by Pope and Ki (they clash with their fathers, who are well-meaning, but maybe just a bit over-protective).
Anyway, John B gets a teacher who can understand Gullah to read the letter — it's from Denmark Tanney, telling his son he's about to be lynched. In a postscript, he tells him to "harvest the wheat near the water in parcel nine forthwith." John B can tell that it's an important clue, but the teacher is clearly confused as to WTF is even happening. And that's the last we'll ever see of the teacher!
Back to the mysterious figure in the hood: the good cop, Sheriff Peterkin, tells them, "thank you for your help in the past, but we're even now." Wait…is Sheriff Peterkin bad? The music didn't tell us she is but maybe it's trying to fool us?
It's the day of the midsummer party at the Kook beach club, where Ward is winning an award. Sarah doesn't really want to go, because she wants to break up with Topper, and her dad says he'd love if she could suck it up for the evening and just dump the douche tomorrow. So she begrudgingly goes, but Topper can tell something is wrong. Instead of trying to fix the problem by not being a douche, he gives in to his douchiest tendencies by spying on her. He sees JJ pass her a note (from John B of course), and then watches Sarah go outside to meet someone. Topper confronts her about it, and she lies and says it was nothing. He knows it was John B, though, because he saw them kissing. Topper's bro gang chase JJ through the club, making a major scene, and the Pogues all run away to their hangout spot.
John B tells them what he's found with Sarah's help, and Ki warns him that Sarah is a shady bitch. He storms off to meet her anyway.
Sarah leaves the party and looks for the map of the plantation so they can figure out where parcel nine is, and her dad catches her. He sees right through her flimsy excuse, and when she leaves to meet John B, he opens a secret safe and takes out the compass. Ladies and gentlemen, the man in the hood is Ward Cameron. And guess what? He's a bad guy! In case you weren't positive, some scary music confirms it.
Topper sneaks into Sarah's bedroom to apologise to her, but realizes that Sarah isn't there (little sis is sleeping in her bed so dad doesn't know Sarah snuck out). John B and Sarah meet at a remote lookout on top of a tall stairwell. Drunk Topper follows her, calls her a "stupid lying whore," because nothing says privilege like casual misogyny, and then pushes John off the railing. John B wakes up in the hospital with a concussion and a broken arm, and Ward offers to be his legal guardian as a thank you for saving his daughter. Yes, the very same Ward we just found out is evil!
Episode 6, "Parcel 9"
After an ominous John B voiceover about animals and parasites (who doesn't love some semi Bong Joon-Ho-adjacent class commentary?), Ward tells Sarah and John B that it's fine if they hang out, but they can't go into each other's rooms. Because every parent of a teenager knows that if you tell your horny teenage children not to hook up, they for sure 100 percent listen to you.
The kids, Sarah included, figure out where parcel 9 is. It's the property of the island's resident creepy old lady; you know, the kind of person that kids skip when they're trick or treating, but who turns out to be misunderstood the whole time. Legend has it that this particular creepy old lady murdered her husband with an axe, so naturally, the group thinks it's a good idea to sneak into her basement, talk at full volume, and discover a well that could be where the gold (and the old lady's dead husband) is hidden.
There's one problem: Ki is extremely not okay with Sarah's presence. John B calls Ki his best friend and Sarah his girlfriend (dude, this is how you DTR?), but Ki gives him an ultimatum: he has to pick one of them. But since she got all harsh on him with that ultimatum, Ki finally explains their beef, sort of: She was the new kid freshman year at the Kook school and Sarah took her under her wing. They were besties — until Sarah mysteriously turned on her.
John B refuses to choose, so the boys force the girls to make up by leaving them on a boat overnight. They end up working out their issues which amount to this: Sarah didn't invite Ki to a party, so Ki called the cops to break it up and they became sworn enemies over a simple miscommunication and Ki calling the cops. But they work through it and now they're, cautiously, friends again.
Things aren't so good back in bro-ville: The drug dealer beats up Rafe, and Topper gets mad and calls Sarah a slut. Again — love all the casual misogyny here in the ol' OBX. It's just so fun to hear. Repeatedly.
Thankfully, Ward overhears and chokes Topper out (you'd think Topper would get the message, but of course he does not). Ward also finds Rafe looking for money, and confronts the drug dealer. Instead of paying him off, which feels like the normal rich parent response, he kicks the shit out of the dealer, and after Rafe sees, he kicks him out of the house.
Sheriff Peterkin interrogates Scooter's wife about why he was going to a tiny island 30 miles offshore on the day of the hurricane, then heads to the island where they find a distinct pair of glasses — one that belonged to John B's dad.
The next night, it's time for the treasure hunt at the axe murderer's house, which involves breaking and entering and is entirely ill-advised from start to finish. The group is speaking loudly and literally yelling at each other, so naturally, the old lady wakes up and chases the girls around her house with a fire poker and later a shotgun. John B rappels into the well, where he finds a human jawbone (oh cool, so she is a murderer). On his way up, he finds a secret tunnel. He crawls inside and suddenly just, whoops, FINDS THE LONG LOST GOLD.
"I did it, dad," he quietly whispers (in case you needed a reminder that is the correct volume at which everyone should be speaking as they break into an old lady's home). The old lady chases the girls into the basement and shoots at everyone, but they all escape — and John B manages to bring some gold with him.
Episode 7, "Dead Calm"
Ward eavesdrops on John B telling Sarah the gold was all there, but John and Sarah deny that they've found anything.
Instead, the gang melts down the gold so they can pawn it, but the boss at the pawnshop is the drug dealer (kudos to him for having such a diversified business strategy). They decide not to take the deal because the rate isn't good, and they get pulled over on the way home. But it's not actually the cops — it's the drug dealer hijacking them. But they're already in this deep, so they fight back, overpower him, and jack him instead. JJ takes his license so they can go to his house and rob him instead (listen, the "breaking into a suspected axe murderer's basement" plan was bad, but the "rob an actual drug dealer" plan is even worse. Like, even Rafe and Topper know that's bad news). Of course, it's JJ's idea, and he takes $25,000 cash to give to his dad for restitution for Topper's boat. His dad wants to buy something else with the money, though, so JJ beats the shit out of his dad, gets wasted, and buys a hot tub instead.
John B takes Sarah to his special spot in the bell tower of the old church, where they make out and she confesses that she gets scared with boys. He tells her about his first time. It's not explicitly spelled out, but they totally do it, right?
The next morning, John B and Ward wake up super early to go fishing. They head out on Ward's nice yacht, where Ward is drinking a lot of vodka. He tells John B to pour himself one, then says he is impressed that John actually found the fortune from the Royal Merchant. John denies it, and Ward's like, "Okay, lol, sure, but I know you did." Ward warns him that there's a lot of legal and other red tape involved after finding something like this, and that he can help deal with that, and cut the gang in on it.
John still denies that he found it, but Ward rattles off all the other things he knows — that they stole the submersible, the Redfield clue. That tips his hand, since the only way he'd know about the Redfield clue is if he has the compass. John B threatens to call the sheriff, and Ward looks incredibly menacing as he heads up the stairs with a grappling hook.
Episode 8, "The Runway"
Ward cuts off the radio and chases John B through the boat with the hook, while John B somehow finds a crossbow. They're in the middle of nowhere in the ocean, so it doesn't really seem like things are going to go well for John B (he has a broken arm from the fall, remember), but somehow John shoots Ward in the arm with an arrow and slows him down enough to lower the jet ski into the water and make his getaway. Later, closer to shore, the jet ski runs out of gas and John B hops off and swims to Scooter's house.
Somehow, he's found another patterned button-down shirt and Scooter's wife tells him the truth: The night his dad disappeared, Ward was crying to Scooter about it being an accident and not meaning to hurt him. Big John and Ward had begun working together to find the Royal Merchant, and Big John found it — but he didn't want to split the profits 50/50 since it was his life's work of 20 years and all Ward had done was join up recently and write a check. Ward wasn't very happy with his offer of 20 percent, and they got into a fight. John's head hit the side of the boat, and he began bleeding and passed out. Ward freaked out and went to call for help, but paused before actually doing it. Instead, he stole John's map, pushed his body overboard, and sunk the boat where nobody would ever find it.
The day of the hurricane, there was only one place where Ward and Scooter hadn't looked, and Ward wanted to check it out before the storm changed the geography of the island. When Scooter got there, he found the compass, where Big John had made it to shore — he wasn't dead when Ward dumped his body, and had actually survived for a while on the island (he even made a shelter).
John B is so angry that he storms into his house, ignores his friends, grabs the gun, and takes off on the dirt bike before yelling "Ward knows about the gold. He killed my dad." Succinct and to the point, but your friends deserve a little more than that, John B. (Side note: that cast must smell VILE.) He sneaks into Sarah's room to tell her that her dad killed his dad, but she repeats what her dad told the cops: John B stabbed him out of nowhere. Later, Ward tells her that John B was saying crazy things and accusing Ward of killing his father, so she should stay away from him.
John storms back into his house — no one is there this time, thankfully — and peels a photo of his father off the wall in his office. (Quick question: Why would this man have a photo of himself in his own office?) Anyway, he creates a makeshift funeral pyre out of sticks and lights the photo on fire as he sets it in the water. He goes back to the axe murderer's house the next day, where Cameron Construction signs have been posted. Stomach sinking, he goes down into the tunnel, but all the gold is gone.
Apparently, none of the gang had gone home since the treasure hunt night, so Pope's dad is pissed when he finally returns. At Pope's scholarship interview the next morning, he tells the committee about his "independent study" hunting the wreck of the Royal Merchant — then dramatically leaves mid-interview when he realizes something about what his dad had told him as he dropped him off: Dad had landed an odd job clearing the airport runway of palms because Ward Cameron had some heavy cargo in his plane and needed the extra length.
You know what is incredibly heavy? Hundreds of millions of dollars of British gold!
This plan is confirmed when Ward discusses it with his hot younger wife, who also apparently knew about his accidental murder. Just a little oopsie, sweetie, it's okay as long as we can still be rich!
Ward plans to take Sarah with him to the Bahamas, where they've got a house and some business interests, but she doesn't want to go with him. He manhandles her and shoves her on the plane, which John B sees and decides to stop. His very smart, well-thought-out plan: drive his VW bus on to the runway and block the takeoff. It works, and a cop car follows him on to the runway.
It's Sheriff Peterkin! She gets out her handcuffs to arrest someone, but it's not John B, it's Ward. She'd suspected him and confirmed the truth with Scooter's wife, but suddenly a gunshot rings out. It's not the Sheriff's — Rafe steps out with a gun.
"I saved you, Dad!"
Episode 9, "The Bell Tower"
We start right where we left off, as Sheriff Peterkin croaks to John B to call for help, but Ward takes her radio. She then implores John B to run, so he makes a break for it as Ward gets one of his guys to fly the plane of gold to the Bahamas. Rafe manhandles Sarah into his car and recklessly drives her home, swerving all over the place (dude is about as unhinged as JJ at this point, but also strung out on coke).
The gang sees the plane of gold fly over them and Pope absolutely loses it, snagging JJ's vape and getting stoned out of his mind (never mind that he doesn't really smoke). He ran out of his scholarship interview just for the gold to get stolen by an evil real estate developer.
The bad cop shows up to find Ward doing compressions on the sheriff, who is clearly dead.
The gang takes John B to the police station, where he walks in and literally utters the words "I know who shot the sheriff" (sorry to report the music supervisor did not spring for the Bob Marley musical cue), but a call over the radio announces him as the suspect so he freaks out and runs away.
Back at the Cameron house, Rafe is in a full Kendall Roy from Succession season 2 downward spiral. Sarah asks her dad what will happen to him, and Ward's like, "lol nothing." She should know that. He is a rich white man, Sarah! He can definitely get away with this! Ward locks her in her room and goes off to deal with his psycho son.
Pope, in the middle of his own spiral, confesses his love to Ki, who thanks him for the sentiment but is absolutely not interested in dating anyone from the island at all. It's not that she doesn't like him, she just wants something different for her life. Also, there's kind of a major crisis happening.
There's a full-on manhunt for John B, who's running through yards and ends up locked in the laundry room of a Kook bro's house, where Topper is conveniently hanging out. While they wait for the cops to come, Topper has a very serious conversation about true love that ends with John B saying that being in love with Sarah is fun and exciting and scary, "like getting struck by lightning and not getting burnt." But just when you're absolutely lost as to what this has to do with anything, John B escapes to find Sarah, and Topper follows.
Sarah, meanwhile, gets her little sister to help spring her from her own room, and heads to where she knows she'll find John B — the bell tower at the old church. Listen, kids — if you're trying to hide from the authorities, maybe try turning off your flashlight when you're in a tall tower that literally anyone can see? Topper follows them up to the tower, where he rings the bell to get everyone's attention.
Rafe and the other bro catch up to them and somehow decide to set the church on fire — why do people on this island turn to arson so quickly? — and Topper confronts the cops while wearing John B's hoodie, temporarily tricking them while John B and Sarah escape hand in hand. This seems to be some sort of penance for not believing in John B's love for Sarah, but why would he have rung the bell in the first place if he'd had a change of heart?
Episode 10, "The Phantom"
John B and Sarah hide inside one of her evil real estate agent stepmother's empty listings and cuddle in bed together as John B tries to mansplain the north star. The next morning, John B wakes up alone — but finds a note Sarah left him saying to stay put until she gets back. Of course, he then heads to look out the window as a cop boat drives past. John B! You are literally a wanted man! Listen to the people who are trying to help you!
Pope angrily drives away from Ki on the motorbike (an unexpected method of dramatic exit for this entire series, who knew?) as an "SBI" helicopter lands in a field. The island is under a shelter in place order — trendsetters! — and John B now has a full police command looking for him.
Sarah goes to the headquarters to try to talk to an officer, but her dad apparently got there first under the guise of a concerned father searching for his innocent daughter. A cop physically restrains her — why are people constantly manhandling this girl? — and she tells the cops that Rafe killed the Sheriff, officially betraying her family. Ward tells the agent that Sarah was diagnosed as bipolar and her evil boyfriend brainwashed her, so he just wants to take her home. The agent still wants to listen to what she has to say, but before she can talk, she knees the cop restraining her and runs away.
Rafe bursts into the drug dealer's house and tries to ransack it looking for coke as he cries about doing something "really bad" — this man is not well, in case you still had doubts — and the drug dealer casually drops that he did bad things in the Army, and also he wants his money back. Rafe says that John B took it, so he and the drug dealer set out to hunt down John B.
Pope drives his scooter to his dad's gas station, which has a sign that reads "closed due to damn martial law" (good one!), where they get into another fight. Kiara gets into a fight with her mom, who also warns that a storm is comin' in. JJ actually does not get into a fight with his father, who wakes up in a drunken stupor and tells JJ that he loves him, but JJ does steal the keys to his old boat so that John B and Sarah can use it to escape to Mexico.
Sarah and John B escape the empty house on paddleboards just as the cops enter, and John B tells her to meet the rest of the gang at the boat while he gets something from his house. The cops, meanwhile, find the gold in his house, and the bad cop realizes that "it's something bigger" and that John B might've actually finished what his dad started. While the cops are inside gathering more evidence, John B finds the melted gold in their car. He can't start the car without the keys, so he lures the cops close enough to start the engine and peels away.
The drug dealer and Rafe find Ki and JJ at the boat, and they all get into a huge fight. There's a lot of punching and choking but the gang manages to fight them off so they can leave with the boat. They get scared by the sound of a police siren, but John B jumps out of the car. Sarah got held up when she ran into family friends on her paddleboard, so she isn't there. The gang convince him to leave anyway — they'll meet in two months in Mexico — and as he's slowly driving out to sea he sees Sarah run down a dock to meet him. After John B leaves, Pope apologizes to Ki, who kisses him. Twist!
Suddenly it's nighttime (real question: how does time work here?) and the SBI agent is scanning the water with some infrared glasses as the storm rolls in. Sarah and John B are still determined to leave, despite the weather. Suddenly the island gains power again, the lighthouse powers up, and its spotlight catches them. The sea is too rough to actually reach them, so the cops try their last resort: They have Ward implore John B over the radio to think of Sarah and turn back. John B responds via radio to tell him "you killed my father and framed me for a murder I didn't commit."
Sarah asks him what he'd do if she weren't there, and he says "I'd rather die than go to jail." She tells him, "I'd rather die than be without you."
You know when you read Romeo and Juliet for the first time in school and it maybe seems kind of tragic and romantic, but then you revisit it a little bit later and you're like, "there's no way these two people could be this dumb?" Romeo and Juliet seem like actual geniuses compared to these two. John B, you literally have so much evidence in your favour. Sarah, you have been dating this kid for what, a couple of weeks at most? Everybody calm down.
Anyway, their boat capsizes and the cops lose track of them. In fact, the cops think they're dead, and tell their friends as much (which, while logical considering they drove an open boat into a tropical depression, seems irresponsible for law enforcement to do without any evidence). The gang's parents all show up (well, not JJ's), and they all cry together.
The next morning, Sarah and John B wake up clinging to their boat with life vests on. Sure! Why not. That's not the most ridiculous thing that's happened on this show! John B flashes his gold at the sun so it'll catch the eye of someone on a passing boat, and it somehow works. The crew of the boat rescue the kids, bundle them up, and give them warm mugs as "Dream a Little Dream of Me" plays. John B and Sarah tell them to drop 'em at the next port. By the way, where is that?
The captain informs them that he's headed to the Bahamas. Next stop Nassau! And fin.