Photos via Netflix screenshot

Before I get into the episodes leading up to the season finale, I wanted to share something that I discovered recently that shook me to my core.

I was on Etsy ordering a new collar from Russia, and noticed some trending items. After clicking through a few things, I stumbled upon a cottage industry of unlicensed Outer Banks merchandise that says things like “Pogue Life” and “In a world full of Kooks, be a Pogue.”

I hate this for us. 

Who is this for? Is the show’s fanbase really hungry for bracelets bearing the names of all the characters? And to make it even better, they spell Kiara’s name as “Jiara.” You know, everybody’s favorite character: Jiara. She hangs out with Jimothy and Bort.

EPISODE 8

Having learned the location of the mythical Island Room that contains information about the massive golden cross everyone is after, Sarah reunites with her adopted Pogue family to share the news. We learn that the cross allegedly contains the “Garment of the Savior,” which can cure any illness. This is why Limbrey is so desperate to locate the treasure. She needs it to cure her.

I can understand Limbrey’s frustration. She’s competing with a gang of unkillable, able-bodied teens for Jesus’ old clothes. This show’s willingness to up the stakes continues to amaze me. Season three is going to end with John B fighting ninjas on a helicarrier while Sarah works to retrieve the Bridle of Constantine.

Back at Sarah’s house, they examine the Island Room. Etched across the newly exposed interior walls is a map of the island. Conveniently, Sarah’s little sister arrives to deliver some important exposition about how Limbrey and Rafe discovered the Island Room’s hidden map.

“This is the best clue so far. Will the next clue outdo it?!”

The cross is supposed to be hidden “at the foot of the angel,” which JJ realizes is in reference to the Angel Oak. And we’re off!

The gang arrives at the tree only to find Limbrey, Rafe, and a crew of henchmen working to excavate the legendary cross containing the magical garment. Instead, they dig up a casket with some human remains inside. Our villains rush back to the Island Room, believing they missed a vital clue. It seems like they would try digging more than one hole. Get Stanley Yelnats and Zero out here.

With the villains gone, Pope is allowed some time to mourn the fate of his ancestors at the graveside of this distant relative. He and his friends solemnly and respectfully rebury Pope’s ancestor. This is one of the show’s rare slower moments that’s actually been built up enough throughout the season to have a meaningful resonance.

Tool has a song about this. 

This moment also allows the gang to take a beat and notice the large opening in the tree. With a bit of hesitance, JJ reaches into the deep opening in the trunk, and we briefly reenact the Wood Beast scene from Flash Gordon. (Flash! Ayy-ayyyy, he’ll save every one of us!)

Side note: One time I came home from school and found my VHS of Flash Gordon hidden under my pillow. Apparently, my grandmother had seen it lying around and thought it was a “dirty movie.” I never thought to ask why her response was to put it under my pillow like the Pornfairy was going to visit and leave me a dollar.

Anyway, JJ finds a captain’s spyglass in the tree. Inscribed on it a poem directing them to the “Freedman’s altar.” They rush to the Freedman’s Church, but John B’s van gets stuck in the rising floodwater. This triggers a side quest to steal Kiara’s dad’s truck and a winch from JJ’s house. John B, Sarah, and Pope wait behind with the van while Kiara and JJ go on their collection missions.

But wait, JJ’s dad appears out of nowhere and needs help after escaping from prison like this is the opening of Great Expectations or something. Now JJ and Kiara take another side quest to steal a boat to ferry JJ Sr. away. This is like watching someone trying to 100 percent Skyrim.

Other than wanting to unnecessarily overcomplicate the episode to reach a preferred runtime, I can’t think of a reason why Pope and the gang don’t just use the stolen truck to get the cross? Why do we also need John B’s busted van? Time is kind of a factor here during our race for religious relics.

Anyway, John B gets attacked by an alligator. He starts punching it. And it leaves. John B has avenged Chubbs.

Back at Sarah’s house, her stepmom receives a mysterious letter. She leaves town to go meet with some lawyers. I think we all know where this is headed.

Meanwhile, Topper runs into Rafe while looking for Sarah. This is right up until the exact moment that Topper remembers he has Sarah’s location sharing on his phone. Rafe cleverly uses this to learn Sarah and the gang’s whereabouts to find the treasure.

Speaking of, Kiara and JJ finally return to the sunken van, having each experienced brief character moments involving their parents. Family: the true treasure that results in us being stranded in a swamp.

Finally, the gang frees the van and arrives at the church to search for the cross. They find some boards shaped like a 7-foot golden cross situated up in the rafters. Pope climbs the church ruins and busts open the boards. He has located the cross.

But what of the clues?

But Pope’s footing gives way and he is swarmed by wasps. Pope falls to the ground. He’s uninjured. But then we get a POV shot as the giant gold cross crashes down from the ceiling. Ahhhhhh!

EPISODE 9

Episode nine begins with our entire cast of main characters crushed under the giant metal cross. Their deaths are symbolic of man’s greed and hubris.

We slowly switch from close-up shots of all our characters’ lifeless eyes and blood-splattered faces. “Fond Affections” by This Mortal Coil begins playing in the background.

Outer Banks, for all of its focus on economic classes and interpersonal drama, is really an examination of our own insignificance in relation to the universe, à la the work of Werner Herzog.

Not really. They all just move out of the way of the cross. It’s fine.

The gang attempts to carry the cross out, but it is too heavy. At this moment, Pope has an allergic reaction to the wasp stings. They rush him to get medical attention, while Rafe sneaks into the church.

Pope gets an injection to counter his allergic reaction, but it also gets him geeked. I mean, he is tweaking hard. Also, since Pope is in a state of post-deathbed mania, the gang lets him drive them all back to the church. They crash. Because of course they do.

Luckily, these kids are unkillable. They can take gunshots and alligators and car crashes and prison hitmen. But don’t we all remember what it was like to be a teenager?

The gang crawls from the wreckage just in time to see Rafe and the boys drive by with the cross. JJ’s natural reaction is to suggest they blow up Limbrey’s home, but his friends suggest that they don’t commit an act of domestic terrorism.

With the cross finally at her feet, Limbrey uses the special key to open the cross. Suddenly, a bright light fills the screen and all their faces melt.

Haaa!

No, even better. A single moth flutters out of the cross’s compartment like when a poor cartoon character opens up their empty wallet. It appears bugs ate Jesus’ T-shirt. Limbrey’s brother knocks her to the ground and says he’s stealing the cross. Limbrey responds by whipping out the burner on him and shooting him multiple times in the chest.

Rafe goes to help Limbrey to her feet. Then he realizes that she sat the gun on the ground, so Rafe just picks it up and leaves in the truck carrying the cross. Also, Limbrey’s brother’s dead body is in the back of the truck, as well. Rafe doesn’t seem to really be troubled by this. There are actually few moments in this show when he isn’t carting around a corpse.

Rafe drives home with the cross because the best place to be after you steal someone’s treasure is the one place where everyone knows you live. As should be expected, John B and the gang see Rafe return home.

I realize now why they had to get John B’s van out of the mud when they already had another truck. It’s because after Pope wrecks the truck, the writers don’t have a logical way to get the characters from point A to point B. That’s an interesting consideration regarding the logistics of making a show like this.

Anyway, Kiara is no longer with the gang. She had to go home to have an emotional argument with her parents where they forbid her from doing any more treasure hunts. Seriously.

Back at Sarah’s house, John B decides that the moment they are about to steal a giant cross from a murderer is the best time to DTR with Sarah. They kiss.

Sarah sneaks into the house to steal the keys to Rafe’s truck. She enlists her little sister to distract Rafe while she grabs the keys. Part of this involves Sarah easily picking the lock on a door. For reasons I will never understand, Sarah pauses to check the back of the truck and sees the dead body. This allows Rafe to seize her.

Meanwhile, an elderly neighbor rolls up in his golf cart and points his shotgun at John B, JJ, and Pope. “I am the Spirit of the Carolinas,” he moans. “I grow stronger every time we remind someone from Georgia that we produce more peaches.”

Cleverly, the boys claim to be yardworkers, and the old man leaves to go inspire people to make more and more increasingly ornate bow ties. Inside the house, Sarah’s stepmom drugs her into unconsciousness. They are leaving town tonight. Stepmom has been making some big money moves.

Rafe eases his stepmom’s concerns about the dead body in the truck. As one does, I guess. By this point, Rafe is probably great at disposing of corpses. He drives off with the cross, but Pope manages to hop aboard the back of the truck. Meanwhile John B and JJ race after Sarah’s stepmom, who loaded her unconscious body into her car. It’s bodies everywhere with this family.

Reaching the body disposal site, Pope and Rafe battle in the swamp. Rafe attempts to shoot Pope, but Pope manages to escape. He calls Kiara to come get him. She again runs away from home, even though she is grounded.

Pope retrieves the gun that JJ left in the swamp a few episodes back. This is a pretty accurate portrayal of America. There’s a good chance that there’s about seven or eight loose guns absentmindedly scattered around your block. You can’t pour a bowl of cereal without a gun falling out. Anyway, the important thing now is that Pope’s got the dog on him.

Yeah!

John B and JJ manage to track Sarah to the ports. Pope and Kiara follow soon after. Pope shoots some exploding barrels to create a distraction, and they hide inside a shipping container being loaded onto the ship with Sarah.

Sarah awakes on the boat. She immediately grabs a butter knife and begins trying to pick the lock on her door. She is the master of unlocking.

Suddenly, someone approaches her cabin. Who could it be?

It’s her dad! Ward’s alive. I don’t understand. The show showed him on the exploding boat. The characters even said he died. It was the whole reason John B and Sarah broke up. Honestly, I’m a bit rattled by this shocking development. I don’t know who or what to believe anymore. I started this recap in a state of disarray and that’s how I leave it.

I hope I can get myself back together before the season finale. See you next episode.

Originally published on The Gist.