'Outer Banks' Season 1 cast on a boat.

Here's The Outer Banks Recap You Need Before Watching Season 2

John B. and his fellow Pogues went through it.


When most of the world was hunkering down in 2020, Netflix was there to provide some much-needed escapism with Season 1 of Outer Banks. The series follows John B. and his fellow Pogues as the teenagers go on one wild ride: hunting down a $400 million historical treasure. This requires the crew to do a lot of illegal and reckless things, which means they’re constantly evading bad guys and the police. Now, Netflix is finally dropping Season 2 on July 30. But considering the series is jam-packed with twists and turns, you may need a recap of what exactly happened on Outer Banks Season 1. Say no more, fam:

Set in the fringes of North Carolina, also known as the Outer Banks, the show revolves around John B. (Chase Stokes) and his three best friends, JJ (Rudy Pankow), Pope (Jonathan Daviss), and Kiara (Madison Bailey). John B. lives on the Pogue side of the island. also known as “The Cut,” where the working- and middle-class reside. Opposite them is “Figure Eight,” or the “Kook” side, where the ultra-rich live with all their luxuries. The divide between the two neighborhoods runs deep, as shown when a big hurricane leaves the Pogues without any electricity or internet while the Kooks have generators and are barely impacted by the storm.

But the heart of the story lies in John B. figuring out what happened to his father, Big John (Charles Halford), who has vanished at sea for nine months. Despite everyone thinking his father is dead, John B. believes he’s still out there searching for The Royal Merchant, a historical missing ship that Big John devoted years of research to. John B. believes finding the gold could help him find his father, leading him and his friends on one wild adventure.

What Happened With The Royal Merchant Treasure In Outer Banks Season 1?


Pretty much everyone on the island knows about The Royal Merchant, a ship that was lost at sea in the 1800s and apparently had no surviving passengers. The story is that the ship sunk with $400 million worth of British gold on it, and many people have tried to discover its whereabouts for years. At the end of the pilot episode, viewers learn that just a week before he went missing, Big John told John B. that he may need to vanish for a while, leading his son to assume his disappearance is connected to the gold.

One day while cruising on their boat post-hurricane, the Pogues run into a wrecked boat. Viewers later learn it belongs to Scooter (David Ury), a man who sailed into the hurricane and died as a result. While searching the boat, John B. finds a compass etched with the word “Redfield” in Big John’s handwriting and is convinced it has something to do with The Royal Merchant. Some sleazy bad guys and the police are also after the same compass, making the discovery even more meaningful. John B. ultimately realizes “Redfield” stands for his great, great, great, great grandmother Olivia Redfield, who is buried at a nearby cemetery. So, the Pogues head to Redfield’s crypt and find documents that Big John left behind, which aid their search for the treasure. By the end of Episode 3, John B. and the Pogues actually uncover The Royal Merchant — which should be a big deal, but unfortunately for the Pogues, the gold isn’t there.

This means either someone already took the gold, or it was a hoax all along. Or… perhaps it was hidden somewhere else. Using his father’s research and conducting his own — with the help of his Kook nemesis, Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline) — John B. discovers there was a survivor of The Royal Merchant shipwreck: Denmark Tanney, a formerly enslaved Black man who bought his freedom with the Merchant gold and then proceeded to buy a ton of land on the island, including Sarah’s home, Tanneyhill.

After digging in the archives at a nearby university with Sarah, John B. uncovers a letter Tanney wrote to his son on the day of his death. With the help of his history teacher, John B. translates the message and realizes it’s a coded message telling Tanney’s son the whereabouts of the gold. In true Outer Banks fashion, it ends up being buried underneath the house of a creepy woman. After a near-fatal encounter with the woman, John B. and his crew miraculously find the gold hidden in an underground well.

But their victory is fleeting. Ward (Charles Esten), Sarah’s dad, finds out about the gold after he eavesdrops on a conversation between Sarah and John B. Then, Ward corners John B. by taking him out on a secluded fishing trip. At first, Ward puts on a good-guy act and tries to convince John B. to split the gold with him. But then things escalate and quickly get violent, and Ward lets it slip that he knew about Big John’s compass. John B. realizes he must’ve had something to do with his father’s disappearance. The teen manages to escape before Ward could do anything to harm him.

Unfortunately, Ward gets to the gold before the Pogues can and has it all loaded onto a cargo plane, ready to jet away with it the Bahamas. But just as the plane is about to take off, John B. drives his car into the runway, blocking it. It’s a risky but successful move; at this point, the police also show up, and Sheriff Peterkin (Adina Porter) attempts to arrest Ward for his involvement in Big John’s disappearance. But before she can arrest him, Ward’s son, Rafe (Drew Starkey), kills the sheriff. Ward then orders his pilot to fly the plane to the Bahamas while he stays behind to deal with covering up Rafe’s crime. And just like that, the gold slips away from the Pogues.

What Happened To John B.’s Dad in Outer Banks Season 1?

After escaping from Ward in Episode 8, John B. visits Scooter’s widow, Lana (CC Castillo), and learns the full story of what happened to his dad. Lana tells him Ward had joined Big John’s search for The Royal Merchant and provided some equipment to help Big John look for the gold. Once Big John had made a breakthrough in the case, however, he told Ward he didn’t think their 50/50 partnership was fair, since he’d spent the last several years piecing together what happened to the ship while Ward had only provided some money. Big John told Ward he’d only give him 20% of the gold, and the men proceeded to get into an argument.

During their fight, Big John accidentally fell and hit his head, but instead of calling for any help, Ward dumped his body into the ocean, leaving him for dead. Then, Ward convinced Scooter to go out looking for the treasure during the storm, which ultimately led to Scooter’s death as well. But Lana also revealed that Scooter had found Big John’s body earlier on a nearby island, where he was living before he died, meaning when Ward dumped his body, Big John was still alive. It looks like he tried to survive and get back to John B., but seemingly didn’t make it.

What Happened To John B. & Sarah At The End Of Outer Banks Season 1?


Things quickly heated up between John B. and Sarah on Outer Banks. The two started off as frenemies, only crossing each other’s paths because John B. worked for Sarah’s family. Despite not being on the best of terms, Sarah helps John B. escape from Child Protective Services in Episode 4. She then takes him back to her place where John B. sees the portrait of Denmark Tanney in Ward’s office and remembers Tanney’s name being on The Royal Merchant passenger list. This leads Sarah and John B. to the university archives, where they find crucial information regarding Tanney and the gold. But that’s not all the couple does on their little escapade. They also go shopping and give each other code names — Vlad and Val — and speak in Russian accents, pretending they’re on a secret mission (which is technically true). It’s all a little random, but also super cute, too. They end up having an award-winning kiss scene in the pouring rain, even though Sarah is still with her Kook boyfriend, Topper (Austin North), at the time.

Sarah quickly breaks up with Topper to be with John B. at the annual Midsummers party. But Topper, who isn’t happy that he’s being replaced by a Pogue, proceeds to push John B. off a bell tower, breaking his arm. John B. wakes up at the hospital, where Ward tells him he’s decided to be his guardian. At this point, however, it’s been relieved to viewers that Ward is not the good guy John B. thinks he is.

John B. immediately brings Sarah into his inner circle, and after Kiara and Sarah resolve some issues from their past, the former Kook seamlessly becomes one of the Pogues. But Ward has other plans for his daughter. He tries to force Sarah to go to the Bahamas with the rest of the family, but after Rafe kills the sheriff, Sarah escapes and is reunited with John B. Ward then tells everyone that it was John B., not Rafe, who killed the sheriff, so the couple become fugitives and make a plan to get off the island.

Their attempt to evade the police doesn’t pan out — at first. As they’re escaping on their boat, not only are they being chased by police, but a storm rolls in, making their getaway extremely dangerous. Out of desperation, John B. steers the boat directly into the storm, knowing that the police won’t follow them there. Their boat capsizes and everyone — including the police, Ward, and the rest of the Pogues — assumes John B. and Sarah are dead because there’s just no way they’d be able to ride out that storm...

But, hello? Of course they survive. Cut to the next morning: John B. and Sarah wake up floating in the water. They reflect their one piece of gold off the sun to get the attention of a nearby ship that rescues them. And catching yet another lucky break, the couple learns the ship is headed toward the Bahamas, where the gold is.

What Happened To The Rest Of The Pogues At The End Of Outer Banks Season 1?

Though JJ, Pope, and Kie were there to help John B. and Sarah every step of the way, they also had their own problems. From the very start, Pope was worried about losing his high school scholarship because of the illegal things he was getting into with his fellow Pogues. By the end of the season, the teenager was attempting to help John B. hunt for the gold all while preparing for his scholarship interview. But during his interview, Pope couldn’t help but talk about The Royal Merchant. He also remembered an odd thing his father told him earlier that day: That Ward was going to be flying out of the island with large cargo. So he literally walked out of the interview midway to go warn John B.

Things seem to fall apart in Pope’s life academically, but his love life takes a turn for the better when Kie finally kisses him in Episode 10, alluding that the two might break the “Pogues don’t mack on other Pogues” rule in Season 2. But Kie’s relationship with her parents hit a boiling point by the end of the season. Caught up between two worlds — Pogue friends but a Kook family— Kie’s friendship with John B., JJ, and Pope caused a rift between her parents, especially with her mom.

But JJ’s rocky relationship with his dad was the most difficult to watch. While Pope and Kie’s parents were upset that their kids were MIA 24/7, JJ’s dad Luke (Gary Weeks), had a susbstance abuse disorder and was both verbally and physically abusive toward JJ. The father-son duo clearly had a complicated relationship that left JJ dealing with a lot of trauma that still needs to be worked through.

Plus, the final episode leave all three Pogues in turmoil, as they believe their best friends to be dead.


Clearly, Season 2 will be full of surprises, both for the Pogues and for viewers, as there’s still so many unanswered questions. Outer Banks Season 2 hits Netflix on July 30.