Welcome back for the second installment in a series I like to call “Dustin sacrifices his Netflix recommendations for your personal entertainment.” Seriously, after this the only suggestions I get will be a sexy CW reboot of The Babysitters Club and Logan Paul workout videos.
If you need a brief explainer of Outer Banks, the show follows the surviving members of S Club 7 as they become entangled in the high-stakes world of creek-adjacent crime. Also, the show divides the residents of Outer Banks into the haves and the have-nots, but avoids anything unsexy or lame about poverty. Instead, being poor just means you never tuck in your shirt and you can stay up as late as you want on a school night.
Jumping into episode two, we find main character John B explaining the significance of his missing father’s antique compass. John refuses to concede that his dad died at sea, but does so with all the emotional turmoil of a pool boy who got into the medicine cabinet. John B misses his dad just as much as he misses nacho fries from Taco Bell.
Anyway, the first portion of episode 2 establishes two main points: The legendary compass is somehow tied to a criminal conspiracy, and bad-boy, orphan plunderer John B’s romantic foil for the season will be Sarah, a wealthy heiress who longs for more excitement and risk-taking in her life. Yes, if you’ve been waiting for that white remake of Aladdin, this is it.
The best part of this romantic subplot is that Sarah’s boyfriend, Topper, behaves as if he knows exactly how this storyline ends. Topper rules.
In an effort to uncover why his family compass is being sought by smugglers, John B explains to his friends that each of his ancestors who possessed the compass was met with a sudden, grisly death. This, of course, raises claims that the compass is cursed. Oddly, this idea of a multi-generational curse on camping equipment is first raised by Pope, the character who has already been framed as the most scientific and objective. Now he believes in curses.
As the crew races to find an anagram for “REDFIELD” — the word that John B’s father carved into the compass — the aforementioned smugglers arrive at his home demanding the compass. Our main characters escape and hide in the chicken coop. Afraid that the crowing will give away their position, JJ pulls a MASH finale and snaps a rooster’s neck. Seriously. It’s, ummm, something.
Skipping ahead, John B suddenly remembers that “REDFIELD” may refer to the Redfield Lighthouse, which he describes as his father’s favorite place. Yeah, probably. What’s more likely: that in a moment of near-death panic your father concocted an elaborate anagram and carved it into a family heirloom or that he inscribed the name of a place he liked?
At the lighthouse, John B and Kiara interact with a very informative, yet zanny, lighthouse keeper. This actor chews scenery like a Langolier on a cheat day while he describes the location of the Royal Merchant, a sunken ship that John B’s dad was studying.
When he’s done with this exposition dump, the lighthouse keeper flies into a frenzy upon seeing the ill-fated compass, and John B and Kiara flee.
In the midst of all these Scooby Doo shenanigans, John B kisses Kiara. Sadly, she rebukes his romantic advances, citing the unwritten agreement that Pogues don’t intermingle. This doesn’t really make sense. We know that the wealthy people date each other. Why would the Pogues, who have been very outspoken about their class consciousness, not date each other? Also, didn’t they say Kiara’s family was actually well-off? Please explain the internal romantic politics of this teen soap opera, Netflix.
Suddenly, the police arrive, demanding that John B hand over the compass. Kiara pockets the MacGuffin, and John is taken into police custody for… frightening a lighthouse operator?
Returning to his ransacked home after a shaky-cam chase scene and giving the sheriff the compass, John B does that thing that people in movies and shows do where they dramatically burn stuff. As he stares into the flames, John B learns that “REDFIELD” refers to his long-lost female ancestor.
He and his friends road-trip out to her tomb, which Kiara enters to discover something that the show’s creators decide can wait until the next episode. Which we will get into right now. Because I need to get through all this.
Inside the very old tomb, Kiara discovers a FedEx envelope that John B immediately understands to have been left by his father. But wait — the groundskeepers have arrived. Jinkies!
Returning to the Casa de Hollister, JJ eats a rotten sandwich, while everyone else examines the contents of the mystery package — a treasure map and a tape recorder.
We then cut to John B’s dad, who looks like someone going as Steve Earle for Halloween. Reporting from way back on Copperhead Road, Dad loads a gun while explaining that the map shows the true location of the sunken Royal Merchant and her gold.
It’s incredible that John B’s dad knew that his son would come across a sunken ship containing his compass, which would identify a previously unknown relative whose grave he would visit to retrieve this package. The dude could have just scheduled an email.
So after discovering the location of the wreckage, the gang decide to steal some sort of deep-sea drone from the place where JJ’s dad used to work. With a guard bearing down on them, John B manages to beat open a padlock using a steel pipe and gain entry into the building containing the drone.
I always like how the structural integrity of locks is wildly subject to what is happening in a story. Like, JJ brought what he believed to be the combination to the lock, but that failed, so John B just punched it apart. It’s like in Star Wars where shooting a door panel will open, close, or disable whatever access points need to be utilized.
Over at a rich kids’ party, Topper — a total legend — jumps off the roof into a pool while holding Sarah. If Topper were real right now, he’d have a custom face mask with Jared Leto’s Joker printed on it that he only removes to yell at DoorDash drivers for bending his straws.
Also at the party is Sarah’s brother, the inexplicably named Rafe, who needs to unload a lot of cocaine in order to regain the funds he needs to buy generators for his dad because he spent all his money on a motorcycle. These characters all feel like Bret Easton Ellis summered in Hilton Head, and I am all for it.
Topper uses a $20 bill to snort some cocaine before we cut to an unnecessary montage of John B and the gang eating free food from Kiara’s family’s restaurant. This is a world without repercussions.
Realizing that the show needs to explain how a group of teenagers are going to reclaim $400 million in sunken gold, John B and his posse quickly explain maritime salvage laws. Their plan is to use the stolen underwater drone to get footage of the sunken Royal Merchant, which they will then provide to attorneys who will secure their claim on the long-forgotten loot. Surely all the missing persons and theft surrounding the drone footage will in no way dissuade a lawyer from signing on.
Later, Pope and JJ are delivering groceries to the country club. Topper and Rafe — ughhh — attack Pope with a golf club, which spurs Pope to sabotage Topper’s super fancy boat. I don’t know anything about boats, but Pope pulls what appears to be a drum tuner from the guts of an expensive vessel. I assume this is bad and the boat’s snare is going to sound like it did on Metallica’s St. Anger.
Anyway, the episode concludes with John B and his crew locating the sunken remains of the Royal Merchant, but let’s end on that St. Anger reference. Go give that 17-year-old curiosity a listen. Some lyrics I remember are: “My lifestyle determines my death style” and “I’m madly in anger with you,” which are close to being something, but are really just nonsense. Kind of like this show.
(This article republished by permission of the Charleston City Paper, where it first appeared)