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‘Outer Banks’ Review

Season 2 of Netflix’s teen soap adventure “Outer Banks” becomes even bigger. How do you start Season 2 of one of the year’s most surprising TV shows? “Here’s a fun fact: Everyone you know will die,” the main character of the show tells the audience.


Never let it be said that the “Outer Banks” is devoid of surprises. Those unexpected touches don’t always work well, but over the course of two seasons, this Netflix series about adventure-seeking teenagers has rarely chosen the boring option. It’s a show that’s sometimes as perplexing as it is enjoyable, owing to the fact that one often follows the other.

With no room for improvement after its first season ended with a centuries-long search for a massive cache of shipwreck gold, “Outer Banks” Season 2 immediately shifts its focus to the rest of the world. Its central star-crossed pair, John B (Chase Stokes) and Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline), have run away to the Caribbean, far from the comforts of home in coastal North Carolina.

The duo are on the run, partly because John B has been declared a fugitive for a crime he didn’t commit. Sarah has basically deserted her family to join with the group of “Pogues” that John B is the nominal head of.

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Back at home, the remainder of the couple’s close network of friends is working to clear John B’s name. The unconvinced cops refuse to collect any of their evidence. The public perception among the area’s country club type appears to be that someone from The Cut’s working-class neighbourhood is to blame for the murder that sparked the John B manhunt.

While accusations and emotions are flying high, Kie (Madison Bailey), Pope (Jonathan Daviss), and JJ’s (Rudy Pankow) proximity to an even bigger truth about the area’s riches makes them more of a target than previously.

The “Outer Banks” has a habit of painting itself into a corner at times. This continuous drama of riches and treasure and any number of atrocious misdemeanours has centred around a handful of characters, despite the huge overhead images of the North Carolina coastline and wide-open oceans.

The majority of this group can handle the various methods in which these characters must jump from location to location and fistfight to fistfight. Seeing how many times a half-dozen people can circle around each other’s destiny and survive so many perilous shootouts and life-or-death showdowns becomes tiring after a while.

In the world of the “Outer Banks,” conflict is plentiful, but it never seems to be enough. The number of times the show fabricates a difficulty for the Pogues or Sarah’s reeling family to encounter over the course of a season is evident, simply because getting from point A to point B would take too long to fill out an episode’s runtime.

A misplaced phone, car issues, and animal encounters: this show’s method of catastrophizing the silly would be more interesting if it had more variation. Instead, every new obstacle feels life-threatening, even if it’s really a minor annoyance at worst.

Two scenes from the programme perfectly highlight how “Outer Banks” manages to succeed despite itself at times. Ward Cameron (Charles Esten), Sarah’s father, has gone from disapproving, overprotective parent to vicious criminal genius in a blink of an eye.

Esten has able to match the show’s pitch at every step thanks to that hyperactive change, playing into the terrible desperation that this gold conspiracy has inflicted on him and his family. JJ, a member of the Pogues, is balancing out the other side, attempting to make the best of a life shadowed by an absent, abusive father.

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Pankow is the one who best offers a knowledge of the stakes and the correct level of funny attitude to offset any growing self-seriousness, while each member of this friend group does their best to contribute to any number of rescues and escapes.

The Pogues are still the show’s most valuable asset. When there’s a break in the action, their back-and-forth has a natural ease to it. When they have some breathing room to learn about and from each other, “Outer Banks” provides a sense of grounding and satisfaction. Season 2’s inclusion of some of the carefree high school kickback parties that punctuated prior episodes is both perplexing and welcome.

Trying to pretend the first never happened and the second isn’t inevitable is either the show expertly narrowing in on a kind of teen naiveté or the show trying its utmost to bring back everything that people may have appreciated about the first season.

Aside from those perplexing excursions, the “Outer Banks” has other stretches that aren’t merely pretexts for more sun-drenched peril. The show conspires to whip out even another round of cryptic clues and indirect indications to secret locations now that the gold is in a specific location.

The relative success of this show, pitched in a way that staves off its more destructive impulses, is a testament to how well everyone involved manages to play along. Maybe it’s a show that’s still trying too hard at points, but it’s easy to imagine that fans of “Outer Banks” watching Season 2 will find much of what they’re searching for.

This one is even more explicitly a quest than the first, continuing to scratch that itch that placed the first season in the CW-styled middle ground between “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” As this year’s “Panic” demonstrated, a show with that framework can quickly sour — there’s a deceptive degree of difficulty in staging a soapy adventure like this.

Grade: B-

“The second season of “Outer Banks” is now accessible on Netflix.”

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