At this point, it’s a rite of passage for every generation to have their own show filled with sexy teenage girls running down a beach. Everyone knows External banks is no different – everyone, that is, except the show itself.
One of Netflix’s most successful young adult series, External banks premiered in April 2020 to high ratings – an escape from the content wastelands that had less to do with show quality and more to do with the amount of airtime than the early days of the COVID pandemic- 19 gave to people. Set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the series follows Kildare Island resident John B. Rutledge (Chase Stokes) and his friends Kiara (Madison Bailey), Pope (Jonathan Daviss) and JJ (Rudy Pankow) , known as Pogues (a play on “pogies”, a type of small fish). After the chance discovery of a sunken ship, the four set out to find long-lost treasure and the missing father of John B.
The Pogues, the island’s poor kids, are constantly at odds with the Kooks, the rich posers. It’s not serious class warfare waged around beach bonfires and country club events (which the Pogues work, of course) that quickly escalates into car chases, grave digging, s escaping to the Caribbean and so many shootings. Plus, you can’t spell Netflix’s teen original without free love triangles, which is where John B’s cursed love affair with Princess Kook Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline) comes in.
At the end of Season 2, an attempt to obtain the prized Santo Domingo Cross left the Pogues and Sarah empty-handed and bruised. By sheer luck and the intervention of Jamaican newcomer Cleo (Carlacia Grant), the friends escape enemy hands and are stranded on a desert island nicknamed Poguelandia. As season three – which premieres February 23 – opens with the group happily enjoying their tropical paradise, it quickly leaves the island, sending the fearless group on the run (once again) in one last attempt to find fortune and maybe stay alive in the process.
Beyond its fortuitous start date, External banks was carried by the undeniable charm that its group of attractive newcomers gave to sepia paradise. As a group of friends, the mediocre songwriting was often kept afloat by the chemistry that Stokes, Bailey, Daviss and Pankow brought to the Pogues, making poor parental supervision and seemingly unlimited access to the shorts of swag from Urban Outfitters somehow looks captivating. Although the series continued to erect artificial roadblocks to maintain its sparse plot, the expansion of Kiara’s role in season two and the Pope family’s ties to the treasure continued. External banks to completely relegate its colored characters to the sidelines. It’s a shame, then, that Season 3 sacrifices nearly all of the show’s original charm to keep its already incredible treasure hunt theme going a bit longer.
Season three of External banks relies heavily on storytelling and flashbacks to maintain its momentum, a party trick that doesn’t hide its thin plot. And even when actors like Pankow sell their limited material, any emotional stakes are immediately overwhelmed by another confrontation at gunpoint. Somehow, the presence of a thousand hands for hire, constant street chases, and gunfights aren’t enough to speed up the hour-long episodes. And if Avatar: The Way of the Water proven anything is that people get tired when all your characters do is get shot, taken captive, released, and then taken captive again. If I’m not going to take this shit from award-winning director James Cameron, I certainly won’t let it slip from a Netflix Original onto a bunch of kids who always make the dumbest choices possible.
People never looked External banks for the story. They’ve come for island respite from the early months of the pandemic and found intriguing scenes of fearless teenagers going up against a coterie of wealthy and extraordinarily authoritative white assholes. And they stayed for photos of sexy teenage girls shimmering in the North Carolina sun. However, by continually leaving the Outer Banks for bigger and bigger treasure hunts, the show’s sense of scale shattered viewers’ already suspended disbelief, sending the whole thing crashing in on itself. Season three fails to find a compelling reason to External banks’ history to continue, and leaves little doubt that maintaining a fourth season may be mission impossible for the Pogues.