Outer Banks season 3 ending explained

chase stokes in outer banks
Outer Banks season 3 ending explainedNetflix

Outer Banks season 3 spoilers follow

Outer Banks' third season can only be described as wild, capped off with a feature-length finale packed with drama.

The search for John B's father Big John finally comes to an end, as does the Pogues' hunt for El Dorado, the Venezuelan city of gold. Of course, nothing runs smoothly and not everyone makes it out alive.

There are double deaths, shootings and new beginnings to wrap your head around, so let's get cracking and find out what happened at the end of Outer Banks season three.

Outer Banks season three ending explained

chase stokes, carlacia grant, jonathan daviss, madelyn cline, rudy pankow, outer banks, season 3

It feels unfair to jump straight to the conclusion without a little context, because boy, was there a lot going on in that last episode. We couldn't possibly throw you in the deep end without a float. So, here it goes.

John B (Chase Stokes) and co finally make it to the Orinoco basin thanks to Ward (Charles Esten) and his private jet, but don't think for a minute that means that John B has begun to trust him.

Out of Ward's earshot, John lays out his plan of action — including his intention to seek out a man called Jose in Tres Rocas before going to Solana, an archaeological site.

Despite John's best efforts, the untrustworthy Ward is indeed listening in on everything he's saying, which doesn't bode well.

Meanwhile, Kie (Madison Bailey) and JJ (Rudy Pankow) also arrive in South America with the help of the drug smuggler Barracuda Mike. They, too, head to Tres Rocas and eventually catch up with the gang.

Sarah (Madelyn Cline) and John B have managed to help Big John escape from captivity. but this has put them directly in Carlos Singh's firing line. Carlos sets his men on them to search the village for Big John.

Once safe, Big John admits to them that he can't translate the Gnomon. However, he reveals the Denmark Tanny letter with a bonus translation key, which is literally a game-changer.

madelyn cline, chase stokes, outer banks, season 3

With this new information to hand, they find the tour guide Jose at the river. Unfortunately, Ward also had the same idea of seeking out Jose. And, with Singh's men close behind, they are forced to let him tag along so as not to waste time.

At El Tesoro Ward is too weak to join them in the hike and so suggests he waits behind to warn them of Singh's arrival.

Deep in the jungle, John B and co. locate the Gnomon idol. Through the moonlight, the idol clicks into place, revealing the rare clues — clues that lead to riddles they must now solve.

Teamwork, however, is not their strong point, as Big John doesn't trust his daughter-in-law Sarah, who also happens to be Ward's daughter. Big John doesn't share the answers but does help them find El Dorado.

However, Singh appears just in time to scupper their plans when he receives the next clue. It is revealed Ward has been working with Singh and has sold Sarah and John B out by disclosing their location.

Big John remains steadfast in his decision to not translate the secrets of the Gnomon even when John B's life is threatened, which results in a shootout. Big John is shot, but they manage to escape.

chase stokes, madelyn cline, carlacia grant, outer banks, season 3
Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix - Netflix

Ward tries heavy-handedly to persuade Sarah to join him on the dark side, but she makes her loyalties starkly clear by firing a bullet in his direction.

Big John finally shares what he's learned from the Gnomon clues as they arrive at the cave. Too injured to go ahead, John B and Sarah go on without him.

After some false starts, they eventually make it to El Dorado — except, it's not as they imagined.

The city of gold is more like hunks of gold studded throughout. It'll do, though, as Sarah and John collect the gold and head on out.

Unsurprisingly, Singh has tracked them down by following Big John's bloody trail.

They hand the gold over to him (being held at gunpoint can be very persuasive) and he orders Big John to come out of hiding. He does – but he's not unarmed. A stick of dynamite in hand, Big John threatens to set it off unless Singh lets his son go.

Singh refuses and Big John follows through on his words by tossing the lit dynamite.

madelyn cline, outer banks 3

In the kerfuffle, both Johns and Sarah escape with their gold. Singh tries and fails to extinguish the dynamite and an explosion ricochets through the jungle.

There's no time to celebrate their massive win, though, as Ward turns up with a gun, intent on taking their loot. His attack, however, is interrupted by JJ and the others, who are wielding machetes.

Ward is at the end of a losing battle when Sarah takes her father's gun to prevent anyone from being shot.

Outer Banks, being Outer Banks, throws in yet another twist when Singh's second-in-command Ryan (Lou Ferrigno Jr) also shows up to pinch the gold.

John B is about to surrender, but it's not enough for Ryan, who wants payback for those who he has lost in the struggle with the Pogues.

He attempts to shoot Sarah first but Ward intervenes. He jumps in front of his daughter, taking an onslaught of bullets in her place before pushing Ryan off a cliff.

She isn't the only one to lose a parent on this quest, as Big John sadly bleeds out from his earlier wounds. The two are buried side by side in the rainforest.

Ward's death had a major impact on Madelyn Cline, who plays Sarah.

"It was a really heartbreaking send-off," Cline said (via Netflix). "The scene itself broke my heart for Sarah because the one time he showed up for her without any ill intentions or underlying motives is the time that ended him."

"She always had hope that maybe he would be a good person, and the one time he actually did what she was hoping he could do, it was the last. It was such a long ride back to the hotel [after shooting the scene]. It was so sad."

How Outer Banks' season 3 ending sets up season 4

outer banks

The final moments of the episode are an eighteen-month flash-forward.

Initially, it seems that the teens' lives have settled down. Sarah and John B have bought their surf shop, Kie is busy saving turtles, Pope is studying and JJ bought the charter boat.

It's all blissfully calm until a stranger arrives, ready to shake up their lives.

The older man hands them the promise of a new quest in the form of a manuscript: the captain's log of Blackbeard, the pirate. John B's smirk says it all. There are new adventures to be had, and he is well up for it.

Will he ever learn?

What happened to Rafe?

Rafe was a no-show in the season finale, which means we really don't know what's happened to him between his last appearance and the 18-month time jump. That doesn't mean we can't hazard some guesses as to what's going on in his head since the loss of his dad.

When we last saw Rafe, in the penultimate episode, he was helping Ward escape with the Pogues. This was not long after Sheriff Shoupe showed up, which suggests he's going to need to tell a pretty outlandish story to explain himself and the reports of Ward's sighting.

Fast forward 18 months, and it's possible his tentative alliance with the Pogues has been shattered by Ward's death. The Pogues were under strict instructions to keep his father safe and… well… we know what happened there. Could Rafe's season-four arc involve revenge?

Outer Banks season three is available to stream on Netflix now.

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