Pogues and Kooks. Kooks and Pogues. It is the coastal North Carolinian class rivalry that has changed the very fabric of our society. Nay, universe. OK, obviously I'm kidding; the Pogues and Kooks and their undying hatred for one another are a fictional element from Netflix's teen drama adventure seriesOuter Banks, but it's an element that the series — whose 10-episode third season premieres on Feb. 23 — hammers home repeatedly, and never so much as it does in Season 3. It is ridiculous on so many levels, and that is why I love it. Outer Banks is a show that knows exactly what it is, and it commits. No one is coming into Season 3 wondering if it's suddenly become a prestige television series with a believable plot, OK? It is a soapy wild ride of a show full of characters who should've died like five times by now, and it remains exactly that in Season 3 — the new season of Outer Banks isn't going to suddenly win over new fans, but those who have been enjoying the insanity since Season 1 should come out of it mostly pleased with the whole thing.
Season 3 picks up several weeks after the events of Season 2: The Pogues — John B (Chase Stokes), Sarah (Madelyn Cline), Kiara (Madison Bailey), Pope (Jonathan Daviss), JJ (Rudy Pankow), and newbie to the core group Cleo (Carlacia Grant) — are stranded on an island in the Caribbean after their latest showdown with perfect soap opera villain, and Sarah's dad, Ward Cameron (Charles Esten), went awry once again. "Awry" here obviously means that on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars in gold that Ward and his son, everybody's favorite psycho Rafe (Drew Starkey), stole from them previously, the Camerons also took the 8-foot gold Cross of Santo Domingo, a priceless relic tied to Pope's ancestors. And that was after Ward almost strangled his daughter to death. So, yes, awry.
The Pogues are thriving alone on this island, which they have christened "Poguelandia" because of course they did, but it doesn't take long before the group is "rescued" and tossed right into the middle of another treasure-hunting adventure, this one putting them directly on the road to the lost city of El Dorado. But they are not alone! Obviously, Ward and Rafe are back for their own special brand of shenanigans (as well as their own father-and-son side angst), and we're also introduced to a new outside villain this season, Carlos Singh (Andy McQueen). Singh is super wealthy, has an army of mercenaries at his disposal, and is obsessed with finding El Dorado because of some sort of half-baked family vendetta. He makes life difficult for everyone else on the hunt for the El Dorado gold. Perhaps even more fanatical than Singh, John B's dad, Big John Routledge (Charles Halford) is back after his big surprise reveal at the end of Season 2 and eager for himself and his son to take El Dorado for themselves. Per usual, there's a lot going on.
I don't want to reveal too many plot details here since half the fun of Outer Banks is watching the big, confident swings the creative team takes in order to get from point A to point B. If there is one thing you know for sure going into a new season of Outer Banks, it's that you have absolutely no idea how they are going to land this ship — figuratively and sometimes literally! This new season follows the basic framework of the last two seasons, which is: It starts off with a bang, lags in the middle, and then goes truly hog wild in the end. No, seriously, the last two episodes of the season are great. The chemistry between the core characters is as fun and believable as ever, which is why it's a downer to see them split up so much throughout Season 3; John B, especially, is off with his father for big swaths of the story. While I understand the need for Big John to drive some of the treasure-hunting aspects of the storyline this season, Outer Banks is always better when the Pogues are creating and/or solving problems together.
There's a similar issue with the villains of the show this season. Bringing in new outside foes for the Pogues each season can work; in Season 2, Carla Limbrey (Elizabeth Mitchell), who makes a short and confusing appearance in Season 3, mostly worked because she felt formidable. She was intimidatingly creepy. Here, Singh really falls flat. He has no real personality, except for maybe "rich guy who is obsessed with treasure hunting but is also really bad at treasure hunting." He wields his gun and power a lot, sure, but there's never really a question of whether or not he's going to outsmart the Pogues, and honestly, they aren't even that smart, so that's saying something. It also doesn't help that he's being compared to Ward Cameron, who is just a great classic soap opera villain through and through, one whose personal relationship with our heroes makes their interactions all the more compelling. The show could always use more Ward. Outer Banks is just better with more Ward Cameron.
When Outer Banks first premiered, the similarities between it and other major teen dramas of years past were in your face, to the show's detriment. But with each passing season, Outer Banks has begun to set itself apart from other teen shows by leaning into the adventure. The teen angst is fun and necessary for the emotional high points to really hit, but each season's insane, not-in-any-way-plausible adventure plot is what makes Outer Banks so appealing. Let the youths break into museums to find clues to a 500-year-old treasure hunt and attempt to pull off train heists and definitely never go to school and also have to avoid poisonous blow darts in the middle of the Outer Banks, you know? Sometimes you just want a silly but exciting, addicting, and sometimes unhinged drama that you can simply let wash over you, and that is exactly what Outer Banks delivers. At the end of Season 3, we get a major hint as to where the already announced Season 4 is headed, and it seems like Outer Banks has fully embraced being an adventure drama. And that feels like exactly the right move.
Premieres: Thursday, Feb. 23 on Netflix
Who's in it: Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss, Rudy Pankow, Austin North, Drew Starkey, Carlacia Grant, Charles Esten
Who's behind it: Josh Pate, Jonas Pate, and Shannon Burke (creators)
For fans of: Treasure hunting, Ward Cameron
How many episodes we watched: 10 of 10