Outer Banks: a treasure hunt with more than gold on the line

Madelyn Cline as Sarah Cameron and Chase Stokes as John B.
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Outer Banks returns for a thrilling second season with some very familiar faces. Ashley Bell reviews the latest instalment in the Netflix hit series.
Outer Banks: a treasure hunt with more than gold on the line

Warning: contains spoilers

With more gold and more at stake, the suspense has increased tenfold in the second season of Netflix’s treasure hunt hit, Outer Banks.

The familiar theme song of Alt-J’s Left Hand Free plays in the background as the new season follows four main plot points, seamlessly weaving in new characters and storylines.

The most important of these is the continuation of last season’s hunt for the gold where we followed a group of teenagers from the wrong side of the tracks on an extensive real-life treasure hunt to uncover hidden secrets, and a new mystery surrounding The Cross of Santo Domingo.

Outer Banks fans are reminded of the events of season one as we learn that the Pogues (the residents’ nicknames for working-class citizens living in Outer Banks) are coming to terms with the loss of John B (Chase Stokes) and Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline), who are presumed lost at sea in the season finale.

But in true Outer Banks fashion, neither John. B or Sarah perish at sea and are now on their way to steal back the gold taken by Sarah’s father, Ward (Charles Esten).

Outer Banks: a treasure hunt with more than gold on the line

It is the first of many, unfortunately predictable, fake deaths throughout the season that make it difficult to empathise with the Pogues’ grief struggles.

Sarah conveniently survives a gunshot within the first few episodes, adding to the growing list of times the main characters have “kinda died”.

This isn’t the first time one of these beloved characters has “died” and come back, and at this stage, it shouldn’t shock audiences that there’s no way the producers would kill off a pivotal character in episode two.

Knowing Sarah’s death won’t be permanent is quite annoying and probably the season’s biggest flaw.

These near misses fail to evoke any viewer sympathy because, of course, they’re going to survive, and the intended anticipation and concern is lost.

While season one had a habit of lengthy chase scenes dragging on for episodes on end, season two has mastered the art of pace, giving audiences engaging, edge-of-their-seat chases brimming with suspense.

Where season one felt like a cringey daytime soap opera, season two expertly utilises a balance of sound design and silence, as well as quick jump-cuts that contrast longer still moments.

This change in pace is visible between seasons by comparing season one’s final chase through the Outer Banks, which painfully dragged on for three episodes, to season two’s chase through the Bahamas that only went for 30 minutes.

The secondary treasure hunt for The Cross feels like a rehashed version of season one’s quest for gold from the Royal Merchant.

Just like before, the Pogues’ misadventures are ridiculously repetitive. They find the key only to lose it. They discover a clue, but it’s too late. They finally find The Cross, and then they lose it again. It’s maddening.

Outer Banks: a treasure hunt with more than gold on the line
The hunt for the gold continues in Outer Banks.

One notably bad scene is Ward “going down with his ship” in a blast of horrible CGI flames.

While the scene wasn’t intended to be funny, the CGI was so poorly done that many viewers were instead left laughing as Sarah and the rest of the characters broke down in a flood of grief.

It was also at this exact moment where Outer Banks fans suspected Ward’s “death” wouldn’t be permanent because it was hard to expect anything more from such lazy writing.

The finale is one of the only parts of season two that didn’t feel repetitive despite its obvious mirroring of the season’s opening sequence.

It felt well-considered, emotional, and brought things full circle. The director even utilised the same camera angles to emphasise the importance of the “lightbulb moment” when the audience ties the two sequences together.

However, the ending of the season still isn’t perfect. Strangely, it seems the Pogues have no desire or urgency to leave their new home, despite the evident lack of food, water, and unresolved threat to their safety. Seconds ago, their only aim was to rescue The Cross but, now they’ve suddenly decided to sit back, relax, and surf until the sun goes down.

While Outer Banks season two is often similar to every other television drama, it is also wildly unpredictable.

The lazy writing makes this season feel almost exactly like the first, with rehashed plots and a lack of character development. However, like most binge-worthy tv dramas, viewers just can’t turn it off! Outer Banks fans will definitely be back for season three.