Outer Banks season 2 understood the assignment. Last time we checked on Netflix’s beachy teen drama, John B and Sarah were presumed dead, and Ward was getting away with a mountain of gold like some sorta murderous Scrooge McDuck. But all that has nothing on the adventure-packed second season Netflix just gifted upon us. Ready for a quick TL;DR spoiler dump? (In other words, if you haven’t binged it yet, go do that and come back when ya have.) (Also, wow, how do you have such self-control?!)
Okay, here goes: John B and Sarah casually get married, Ward admits to doing crimes and blows himself up, and a new treasure hunt begins. Plus, can’t forget to mention the two (!!) cliffhangers at the season’s end: John B’s dad, Big John, is secretly alive, and the Pogues are stranded on a desert island with no food. Of course, who needs food when you have simmering sexual tension and friendship?
The Pogues’ vibe on Outer Banks has always seemed authentic, but season 2 felt like watching a bunch of real friends hang out—which makes sense, because they legit were. The show filmed its second season last fall and winter, and the cast lived together in a bubble thanks to the pandemic. The result? Peak bonding and a sense of much-needed normalcy—all of which was tangible on-set during Cosmopolitan’s ’70s-inspired fashion shoot. At one point everyone broke out singing and then some impromptu sword fighting happened. We had FOMO and we were Quite. Literally. There.
“We were just holding on to each other for that sense of normal, carefree-ness, and fun that we usually have during filming,” Madelyn Cline says of her time in their bubble. “That was our lifeline: each other and how much fun we had in scenes where we’re improving or goofing around. Those moments were very dear to me and kept me sane, especially during the pandemic.”
Which brings us to a little secret we learned, ahem: All those drone shots you see on the show? Just footage of the cast hanging with each other IRL. “There’s no audio rolling, and we said whatever we wanted,” Rudy Pankow explained. “We just started saying the most random things and laughing our asses off.”
Filming Outer Banks wasn’t entirely chill though. Almost every character had a near-death experience and the cast’s BTS stories about how they went down are kind of wild. Wondering how John B fought off an alligator in a swamp? Chase Stokes told us he had to wade into “sickeningly cold” water with a giant fake gator spinning around on a stick like a rotisserie chicken. As he put it: “It was like holding on for your dear life with two massive dudes just spinning that thing.” Meanwhile, Sarah’s drowning scene involved Madelyn being held down in a water tank while she was essentially “waterboarded” and screaming. “I was burping all night,” she said. “Really not glamorous at all.”
Of course, these life-or-death situations were just one piece of the extremely-high-stakes drama. Please see also: a new hunk of gold entering the chat, and with it the Limbrey family—descendants of the enslavers who killed Denmark Tanny and who are determined to steal his treasure even though they have no claim to it. In other words, they’re the latest incarnation of colonizing white people who think they can walk through life taking what’s not theirs. Their arrival elevates Outer Banks from a frothy teen adventure show to a series that tackles racism and injustice in a surprisingly poignant way. This is especially salient for Pope, who finds out he’s Denmark’s direct descendant, and for Jonathan Daviss, who channeled his real life experiences into the character.
“It hits very close to home,” Jonathan said. “We were, in our country, going through some sensitive subjects as it comes to family, injustice, and doing right by history. Being able to put that into the show with my character, and just what I’ve been through in my life, it all came from a very real, genuine place this year.”
To make matters even more personal, one of Jonathan’s ancestors had a similar fate to Tanny’s. “Pope learns that Denmark Tanny is his great-grandfather and that he had something stolen from him and was killed because of it. And I found out, kind of recently in my life from my grandmother a couple of years back, that I had a great-grandfather who was also lynched. He was wrongly accused of something and was punished for it. It was a great-great-grandfather, this was a long, long, long time ago.”
Like Pope, Jonathan found out about his family’s history through his grandmother, something he talked about with an Outer Banks writer: “When I did that scene, I was able to go exactly back to that day, when my grandmother told me. I think every young Black kid has that point in their lives, and they may discover something not too savory about their past. And Pope finds that out there, and in that moment, it did resonate with me in a very real way, even continuing through the rest of filming.”
In addition to reconciling with his past, Pope enters into a brief relationship with Kiara in season 2. Except the show subverts our shipper expectations. As Jonathan explained, Pope’s “got a lot going on,” and Kiara decides the vibe is friendship only. Although he’s disappointed, Pope fully respects Kie’s decision, and they pivot back to friendship without the drawn-out drama you might find in other teen shows.
Which, ahem, brings us to JJ. This poor dude spent much of the season third-wheeling literally everyone—although Rudy doesn’t think JJ necessarily needs a relationship of his own, saying, “I think, if anything, that will maybe even make him more lost, like he’d be more questionable with what he’s trying to do if he’s in a relationship.”
How-e-ver, if you’re convinced there were vibes between JJ and Kiara in the finale, you’re not alone. Getting info about said vibes was like pulling teeth, BUT Madison Bailey told us, “We’re both feisty, we’re both always down for the crazy ideas. There’s just something these two characters have inherently in common that could work.” Oh, and Rudy added that yes, “everything is intentional” and we’re “absolutely” reading into things correctly. Good! To! Know!
And for everyone bummed that Kiara and Pope didn’t make it? A ’ship even more iconic than the Royal Merchant managed to stay afloat: John B + Sarah. Who, yes, are obviously dating in real life. But to be clear, Chase Stokes and Madelyn Cline, the people, couldn’t be more different from John B and Sarah, the characters.
“For Maddie and I as young actors trying to march our way through the industry, it was important for us to establish a difference in character versus personal relationship,” Chase said. Watching this season now, “I see a lot of John B and Sarah. I don’t see a lot of Maddie and Chase, which was really gratifying. You’re able to be outside of yourself and be in these characters and go into a world which is fictional vs. the reality of what life is.”
And Madelyn explained that her and Chase not dating in season 1 helped separate fiction from reality—although their real-life chemistry definitely helps the dynamic between John B and Sarah. “I think being in a relationship only makes the relationship moments stronger onscreen,” she said. “In the breakup scene, if it’s heart-wrenching for us, then we can only hope it’s heart-wrenching for the audience.”
Um. Yes, it is. Speaking of heart-wrenching, we’re still not over these two getting married this season. And apparently, neither is Chase: You know that adorable scene where John B and Sarah exchanged vows on a boat in the middle of the ocean? Chase let slip that he stole the part of John B’s sweaty bandana that was used as Sarah’s wedding ring. It sits on his living room table. It’s all very cute. I’ll give you a moment to melt and then reconstitute.
Okay…back! Right in time for my own personal semi-deranged fan theory: I am CONVINCED that we’re going to find out that Carla Limbrey is John B’s long-lost mom in season 3. And yes, I absolutely rambled about this theory to literally the entire cast. Chase’s thoughts? “I would be lying if [I said] I didn’t think something similar….That would be a twist. That’d really throw the fandom for a loop.”
So what else can we expect next season? More adventure, more chaos, and maybe an actual death. As Madison put it: “Somebody has to actually die in season 3. Somebody has to die for real for real.” Till then, we’ll be busy obsessing over fan theories while the cast of Outer Banks obsesses over each other.
Photographs by Eric Ray Davidson. Fashion by Cassie Anderson. Hair: Andre Gunn at Art Department. Groomer: Christine Nelli at The Wall Group. Makeup: Lilly Keys at A-Frame Agency. Manicure: Carla Kay at Cloutier Remix. Props: Cate Geiger Kalus. Tailor: Vita Gavrylyuk. Production: Crawford & Co Productions.
Madison solo image: Chloe dress and boots. Ariana Boussard-Reifel earrings. Jonathan, Madison, Rudy: On Jonathan: Bode shirt and pants. Converse sneakers. Gucci sunglasses. Established necklace. Legier ring. On Madison: Chloe dress and boots. New York Vintage belt. Ariana Boussard-Reifel earrings. On Rudy: Bode shirt and pants. Coach shoes. Title of Work necklaces. Peyote Bird Designs ring. Luis Morais ring. Group image: On Madison: 3.1 Phillip Lim shirt. Billabong x Wrangler pants. Jia Jia necklace. Mark Davis bracelet. On Madelyn: She Made Me bikini top. Gucci jeans. On Chase: Todd Snyder shirt. Coach pants. On Rudy: Bode shirt. Levi’s jeans. On Jonathan: Chaser shirt. Levi’s jeans. Group video: On Madison: R13 jacket. Pretties tank. Frame pants. Gas Bijoux earrings. Peyote Bird Designs ring. Ariana Boussard-Reifel bracelets. Alltribes belt. On Chase: Bode shirt. Coach pants. Foundrae necklace. On Jonathan: Todd Snyder shirt. Levi’s jeans. Clarks Originals shoes. Pamela Love necklace. Ariana Boussard-Reifel bracelet. On Rudy: What Goes Around Comes Around vintage shirt. Levi’s jeans. Clarks Originals shoes. Mejuri ring. On Madelyn: Dior shirt. Nili Lotan jeans. Pamela Love earrings. Madelyn and Chase: On Madelyn: Miu Miu dress. Cathy Waterman earrings. Suzanne Kalan ring. On Chase: Alanui cardigan. Foundrae necklace. Chase solo image: Alanui cardigan. Vintage belt. Lee Jeans jeans. Foundrae necklace. John Hardy ring. Jonathan solo image: Bode shirt. Legier ring. Rudy solo image: Alex Mill sweater. Bode pants. Coach shoes. Roxanne Assoulin and Title of Work bracelets. Madelyn solo image: She Made Me bikini top. Gucci jeans. Pamela Love earrings. Jonathan and Madison: On Jonathan: Bode shirt and pants. Established necklace. Legier ring. On Madison: Chloe dress. New York Vintage belt. Pamela Love ring. Ariana Boussard-Reifel earrings. Chase, Jonathan, Rudy: On Chase: MadeWorn t-shirt. Lee Jeans jeans. Lucchese Bootmaker boots. Mejuri necklace. Minnetonka hat. Celine sunglasses. On Jonathan: Gucci jacket, vest, tank, pants, and sunglasses. Title of Work ring. On Rudy: Billy Reid jacket. Bode shirt. Levi’s jeans. Luis Morais necklace. Fossil bracelet. Title of Work ring. Madison and Madelyn: On Madelyn: Sea New York sweater. Mother jeans. Clergerie shoes. Syna Jewels ring. On Madison: Gucci vest and shirt. Nili Lotan pants. Ugg x Eckhaus Latta shoes. Ben-Amun earrings. Mark Davis bracelet. Legier ring.