Hey, everybody. Welcome back. Going into episode four of Outer Banks, I realized that I had watched 148 minutes of this show. That means in the same runtime, I could have completed 2001: A Space Odyssey or watched the music video for “Return of the Mack” 39 times. I don’t really know how to feel about this, but it was important to me that you all had that information.
When last we left John B and crew, they were all expertly utilizing advanced, deep-sea exploration equipment like a bunch of little James Camerons. I know we can handwave away this bit by saying “But they grew up on the coast,” but I don’t think that includes an extensive understanding of nautical drones and maritime law.
Despite locating the wreckage of the Royal Merchant, our gang fails to uncover any hidden treasure, and John B pouts his way home. There, he finds his childcare caseworker and a deputy waiting to place him into a foster home.
In a futile escape attempt, John B throws dry cereal into the officer’s face and attempts to outmaneuver him. (I’m really proud of this next sentence.) This fruitless, Froot Loops juke dooms John to juvie, but soon he finds hope that he’ll escape the deputy’s blue SUV and solve this mess at sea.
After the last-remaining photo John has of his father slips through his fingers and falls into the road, John B talks the deputy into retrieving the picture. John B uses this opportunity to flee. Stealing a bike, he conveniently comes across a full-sized skate ramp just hanging out in someone’s backyard. This allows John B to grab some mad air and collect all the letters in SKATE and this level’s hidden tape before colliding with a chain. He just so happens to crash in front of Sarah, who provides a clean getaway.
Back at Sarah’s estate, John B learns that hundreds of years ago, a freedman aboard the Royal Merchant when it crashed originally purchased their entire plantation grounds using gold. The racial and historical implications of this plot twist are so bold and dumbfounding that I can’t even allow them to set upon my mind. It’s like watching someone try to drink the sea.
What I will say is that it’s never good to include a subplot in your show that is far more interesting and relevant than the premise of your show.
Series producers: “Yeah, a formerly enslaved person escaped a shipwreck with enough gold to buy a cotton plantation in a pre-Civil War South. But don’t you want to hear more about how John B spent his summer?”
Sneaking their way into the steamy bowels of a tugboat to visit the archives containing the plantation’s original records, Sarah and John B play trust games, while steaming up their quarters. They both sweat like they are in a Diet Coke commercial from the mid-90s. All this scene is missing is “Wicked Games” playing in the background.
Anyway, the goal is to access the state archive records of the freedman who once owned Sarah’s family estate. Sarah and John B make it to the mainland and are concerned about being well-dressed enough to enter the state archives. Having shambled my way into many research facilities, I can say that this isn’t a thing. I have a research pass to the Library of Congress, and their only demand was that I throw away the wine-opener I kept in my backpack.
Sarah decides to purchase John B a pricey Lowcountry wardrobe. He is shocked to learn that a single shirt can cost $180. Fun story, when I recently visited the Tiffany’s store in New York City with my dad, out of curiosity he asked a sales attendant how much a small, leather jewelry case cost. When she said $400, he replied “There better be $399 inside,” and that was the funniest shit I ever heard.
So Sarah buys John B a seersucker suit and takes him to her father’s alma mater. She explains that she is a fourth-generation legacy despite previously saying that her dad was a Pogue who came from nothing. This show is trying to have it both ways with every character.
For example, John B’s dad was some nautical researcher and expert cartographer, yet John resides in some lower caste and is completely unfamiliar with what college is. Again, this show wants to tackle heavy issues, but it has the same understanding of class as the Boxcar Children.
Arriving at the somehow open-all-night library archives in their new formal attire, Sarah and John B examine the records of Denmark Tanny — who prior to the Civil War was hanged for, oh no, inciting a revolt.
OH SHIT THEY ARE DOING DENMARK VESEY. This young-adult Netflix melodrama is using the true-life story of Denmark Vesey as a narrative foundation for a white teen’s rags-to-riches story. Oh no.
John B and Sarah make it back home and kiss in the rain, but *Pulls phantom ripcord on my ejector seat, but I am unable to escape my writing desk.*
Throughout recent episodes, we’ve followed along as Pope deals with the repercussions of sinking Topper’s boat. This storyline includes a fistfight at a free screening of Plan 9 from Outer Space, a 60-year-old cult classic that none of these characters would ever be interested in seeing.
While I happen to enjoy the charms of Plan 9, it wasn’t released four decades before I was born. These kids going to see Plan 9 are like my friends and I in high school loading up to go catch a screening of Dick Tracey’s Dilemma or The Fabulous Dorseys.
JJ’s father arrives to bail out his son and immediately proceeds to beat the hell out of JJ in front of the police station. It’s questionable as to why Outer Banks‘ rigourous child protective services haven’t come to JJ’s aid. They are chasing John B through the streets to protect him from sleeping too late, while JJ is getting assaulted in the town square.
Speaking of John B, he visits his high school history teacher, Mr. Sunn, in hopes that he can translate Denmark (sigh) Tanny’s letter. Reading from the original Gullah, Mr. Sunn recounts Tanny’s final heartbreaking message to his son. In addition to providing a clue as to where the gold is hidden, Tanny shares his feelings of calm, love, and peace of mind on the eve of his execution. John B reacts with the appropriate solemnity.
Over at Sarah’s mansion, we find her pining over pictures of John B. Her parents are aghast because Sarah doesn’t want to attend the “Misummers” ceremony where her father is being “coronated as Guardian of Knights of the Rhododendron.” I don’t know what any of that means, so I’m going to withhold judgement and hope that it’s not Klan-ish in any way. Fingers crossed.
John B concocts a plan to have JJ infiltrate the country club coronation, where (A) he is 100-percent likely to be recognized, and (B) definitely going to get beaten more.
The purpose of this mission is to deliver a note to Sarah, asking her to secretly rendezvous with John B. Why he couldn’t have just texted her is the show’s greatest mystery.
John B tells Sarah that the gold is located on her family’s plantation and asks her to retrieve the original plat map for the property. As John B and his hooligan friends flee the country club, Sarah gazes longingly, hoping that one day she can help him carry a watermelon.
As the episode winds down, we learn that Sarah’s dad is the undercover kingpin who has been searching for the treasure. He even opens a wall-safe hidden behind a portrait (the most sinister of hiding places) to reveal John B’s family compass.
Under the protest of his friends, John B meets with Sarah to retrieve the map, but wait, a drunken Topper is on the scene. Enraged, he catches the new couple in flagrante delicto and pushes John B over a railing, which sends him crashing below.
John B awakes in a hospital with Sarah by his side. Her father — in appreciation of John B protecting his daughter and definitely not to get those treasure clues — offers to become John B’s legal guardian.
Oh hell, y’all. I don’t know what to do with all this. This show has really outrun its coverage. Although, Topper seems primed to go full-Patrick Bateman, so I am fully onboard for that. See you next time.
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