The Wild Ending to ‘Outer Banks’ Season 3, Explained

outer banks l to r madelyn cline as sarah cameron, chase stokes as john b in episode 301 of outer banks cr jackson lee davisnetflix © 2023
The Wild Ending to Outer Banks Season 3, ExplainedNetflix

NETFLIX LOVES everyone’s favorite wannabe Goonies so much, that they renewed Outer Banks for a fourth season before even launching season three on February, 23. But with the big mysteries of the whereabouts of the Merchant gold, the secrets of Cross of Santo Domingo, and the location of El Dorado all solved, where can things possibly go for John B (Chase Stokes), Sarah (Madelyn Cline), and the rest of the Pogues? Well, the third season finale doesn’t just sketch out a treasure map for where next season is headed, it pretty much gives us an X that marks the spot.

As our six heroes—John B, Sarah, JJ (Rudy Pankow), Kiara (Madison Bailey), Pope (Jonathan Daviss), and newcomer Cleo (Carlacia Grant)—are being toasted for finding the lost city of gold in the Mexican jungle, they’re approached by a serious and well-appointed older gentleman. He’s wearing a tie with a giant knot, so you know he has to be rich. He tells them that, since they’re such skilled treasure hunters, he needs their help with something because he’s too old for another adventure. He presents them with a ship’s log from 1718, that shows the exact location where the ship sailed and where it stopped. The captain? Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard.

But before we get to how the quest for Blackbeard is going to play out, let’s have a look at what happened in the Season 3 finale, shall we?

What actually happened in the Outer Banks Season 3 finale?

outer banks chase stokes as john b in episode 301 of outer banks cr jackson lee davisnetflix © 2023

At the start of the episode, everyone is converging on Tres Rochas, Mexico, the biggest town near the Orinoco Valley (nothing to do with the Enya song) where everyone has decided El Dorado, the lost city of gold, is located. John B and Sarah are on a private jet with Sarah’s evil father, Ward (Charles Esten), with Pope and Cleo. Sarah sends Ward away because she doesn’t want him interfering with the group getting their fortune once again, like he did at the end of season one…and season two and, spoiler alert, season three.

John B’s father, Big John (Charles Halford), is being held captive by evil rich dude Carlos Singh (Andy McQueen) and his goons so that he can translate a gnomon that will show them the treasure. Meanwhile, JJ and Kiara hitched a ride south of the border on a drug-running plane after JJ broke her out of a wilderness camp. (Yes, this season had it all!) They are dropped off with the vague warning that JJ owes narco Barracuda Mike (Justin Matthew Smith) big time when they get back to the OBX.

As the crew searches for Big John they find him by, well, just hanging out on the street and hearing him get in a kerfuffle with Singh’s guards. Pope and Cleo are off looking for Big John and find JJ and Kiara instead. How? Just by hanging out on the street. Why needs detective work when there is right place right time?

When John B and company get to their boat to go upriver to find El Dorado, they find Ward waiting there for him. Even though he has tried to kill every single person on the dock, they still take him on the boat because Singh is hot on their trail and they need to leave immediately. However, when they get to their destination, Ward is too injured to make the long trek into the jungle. He says he’ll wait behind and send up a flare in case if Singh arrives.

outer banks madison bailey as kiara in episode 301 of outer banks cr jackson lee davisnetflix © 2023

After a long hike into the mountains, they put the gnomon (which is a fancy name for a statue) into the correct place. Since it’s a full moon, a light shines into the shrine they found and when it hits the gnomon it spells out the direction to El Dorado like some kind of ancient Google Maps. As they’re about to head out, Singh arrives with his men and demands to know how to find the treasure. Ward, not nearly as injured as he let on, arrives and saves them, but Sarah gets a gun and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t leave them alone. They all think they escaped unscathed, but Big John has a gunshot wound to the gut that’s holding him back.

John B, Big John, and Sarah end up in a series of caves, but it’s a deadend. That is until Sarah notices fish in the water at the bottom of the cave. There must be more water somewhere! She also sees a hand, one of the symbols the gnomon pointed out, with a hole underneath. Big John is too hurt to go on, so he sends Sarah and John B down into the hole to find out what is on the other side. I hope they’re good at holding their breaths.

When they emerge on the other side, with only three flares to last them for the journey, they start to answer the riddles of the gnomon. It told them to look for something that always speaks but has no tongue. They find a rock opening that moans as the wind blows through it. When they think they reach another dead end, they consider the last clue, that the patient seeker can see in darkness. They put out their flare and find a phosphorescent handprint glowing on the cave wall. One had on the handprint and the whole thing opens.

Yes, they find the city of gold, except it’s not a city, it’s a glowing gold mine with nuggets the size of footballs. They stuff as much as they possibly can in John B’s backpack and head back to tell everyone that they solved the mystery. When they emerge from the water, Singh is there holding the two of them at gunpoint. A hiding Big John then emerges with a stick of dynamite. He tells Singh to let the kids go or he’ll blow the whole cave to bits. Singh thinks he’s bluffing, that Big John would rather see what he’s searched his whole life for than save his son, but he’s wrong. Big John throws the TNT, they run out of the cave, and the whole thing comes crashing down.

When they get out of the cave, Ward is there holding them at gunpoint telling them he’s taking all of the gold. That’s when the rest of the Pogues arrive, with machetes, and tell Ward to drop his gun. As if there weren’t enough threats, Singh’s guard Ryan (Lou Ferrigno, Jr.) decides that since his boss is dead, he deserves the money. Ward risks his life to save his daughter, getting shot three times by Ryan before charging him and sending them both careening over a cliff.

Everyone who’s still alive, gets on the boat to head back to town, but Big John lost too much blood and dies in John B’s arms on the way home from El Dorado.

Who survived and who died in Outer Banks Season 3?

outer banks l to r madelyn cline as sarah cameron, chase stokes as john b, carlacia grant as cleo, jonathan daviss as pope in episode 301 of outer banks cr jackson lee davisnetflix © 2023

Right now, all of our biggest villains are off the chess board. Ward and Big John are definitely dead this time, so no more fakesies for either of these hard-to-kill dudes. Sarah’s evil brother Rafe (Drew Starkey) is in jail for, you know, killing people and stealing a bunch of shit, including the Cross of Santo Domingo. Weirdo heiress Carla Limbrey (Elizabeth Mitchell) was given a fake shroud that should cure her ailments by Big John and seems happy to be off of everyone’s cases at the moment. As for Singh, well, we never saw the body and on that show that means he’s destined for a comeback. The only villain left is Sarah’s ineffectual ex Topper (Austin North) and what’s he gonna do? Beat them with a boat shoe.

There are still a lot of questions about how season three ended: Did Mexico just let them take all of that gold? Now that everyone knows the found El Dorado will someone else excavate it? Will everyone’s parents just forgive them for skipping town and ditch school and otherwise being all around jerks? But we don’t care about that anymore.

John B gives us some hints to what all of the Pogues are up to. Pope goes off to school (even though he hasn’t graduated yet), Kiara is saving the turtles, JJ bought a charter boat (which he is no doubt using to run drugs for Barracuda Mike), and Sarah and John B opened up a surf shop, the dream of every 18-year-old who comes into an enormous amount of money in swindled Mexican gold.

Looks like they’re going to give it all up to search for Blackbeard. It might seem a little hokey, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The famed pirate was often attack ships all up and down the Carolina coast. This is a perfect way to give our crew a whole new quest while keeping them in their hometown where they can continue to fall in love, fight the Kooks, and even find them selves a big more treasure.

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