Outer Banks Finale Recap: Two Deaths and a Whole Lotta Treasure — Grade It!

Congratulations, Big John Routledge: You found the treasure for which you’ve been searching for years, the literal cave full of gold for which you upended your life and effectively orphaned your son.

And also? Bummer, Big John Routledge: In Outer Banks‘ Season 3 finale, you die before you’re able to reap any of the rewards or fame that go along with your giant discovery.

But John B.’s dad isn’t the only major character to lose his life in the Netflix series’ season-ender. Read on to find out who else says goodbye in “Secret of the Gnomon” (then watch the video above to hear Madison Bailey — with an assist from Carlacia Grant and Madelyn Cline — discuss Kiara and JJ’s long-awaited hook-up).

CLOCK’S TICKING | The hour starts with Ward’s plane landing in Orinoco Basin, where he declares that he’s going to tag along for the last leg of the treasure hunt. But Sarah sternly tells him to take the plane and go on to Guadaloupe, like they planned, and he reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, JJ and Kiara arrive in the area via Mike’s plane and soon run into Cleo and Pope as they’re trying to escape Singh’s men. This coincides with John B. and Sarah realizing that Big John is nearby and being held captive by Singh; the teens use fireworks in a creative way and manage to free John B.’s dad.

With both the gnomon and its translation key in hand, the reunited Pogues now need to get upriver to Solana in time for the solstice. When they finally procure a river guide to ferry them, he informs them “he already paid” — and Ward steps onto the dock. Big John lunges for him, and it’s about to be a THING but then Singh shows up in the nearby marketplace and all long-standing deathmatch grudges need to be tabled. The Cameron/Routledge party, including Ward, sets out on the water.

outer-banks-finale-recap-season-3-episode-10-big-john-diesWHERE LOYALTIES LIE | They spend the night in El Tesoro, where a suspicious Big John tells John B. he thinks Sarah and Ward are in cahoots, and Sarah worries that her father is going to cross her yet again just to get his hands on the gold. Ward swears he has good intentions. “You’re my gold,” he says. “And was I your gold when you were strangling me?” she wonders. He promises that he’s changed, but Sarah later tells John B. she doesn’t trust her father and can’t blame Big John for doubting her loyalty, as well. And that seems to bear out, given how Ward secretly sends their location to someone that night after everyone’s fallen asleep.

The next morning, Ward stays behind at the port, saying he can’t make the hike to Solana on his bad leg. He promises to send up flares if Singh shows up. JJ, Kiara, Cleo and Pope arrive at the port later, having followed Singh and his men. They take off on the hike, as well.

EL DORADO, HERE WE COME! | John B., Sarah and Big John get the gnomon in place in time for the solstice. And when the moon hits its zenith, the magical doohickey reveals glyphs that map out a path (in the most obtuse manner, naturally) to the legendary city of gold. “It’s showing us the direction to El Dorado!” Big John cries in glee. But he gets all secretive regarding the final translation, and Sarah realizes it’s because she’s there. John B. demands to know what it says — and then so does Singh, who’s crept up on them with his men… and Ward!

“I made a deal,” Ward tells his horrified daughter. “I did a favor for Mr. Singh, and in return, he’s going to give me all I want… you’re going to be safe.” Eventually, a shooting war breaks out; when John B., Big John and Sarah are relatively safe, she takes John B.’s gun and shoots over her father’s head. He leaves. “You’re one of us now, kid,” Big John says. And when John B. notices that his father is bleeding, Big John says he just got grazed. (Spoiler alert: It’s worse than that.)

The trio eventually find a cave that seems promising, but Big John says he won’t fit through a small opening inside, so he’ll wait for them to explore. There’s a lot of going underwater and jumping across scarily deep crevices and flares going out at the worst possible times, but they eventually wind up in a room that is absolutely lousy with gold. “After everything we’ve been through, it actually exists,” Sarah breathes. They fill their backpacks with loose gold — “To going full Kook!” John B. whoops — and then they make their way back to the main cavern… where Singh points a gun at them.

BIG JOHN THE HERO | John B. hands over his bag when Singh demands it. And when Singh calls for Big John to show himself or his kid will die, John B.’s dad steps out and launches a stick of dynamite at the cave wall, then tells the teens to run. The explosion kills (we think?) Singh, but the Routledges and Sarah get away unharmed… except for Big John’s bullet wound, which is much worse now. Then Ward (!) shows up with a gun, saying he can’t allow them to return to the Outer Banks. But he doesn’t know that the rest of the Pogues are behind him, armed with machetes, and their arrival is enough of a distraction for John B. to step between Ward’s gun and Big John. THEN Sarah steps in front of John B. and tells Ward she knows him, and she knows that he can’t kill them all. This reduces Ward to tears; she takes the weapon from him.

As if there weren’t enough going on, one of Singh’s armed men then arrives and winds up aiming at Sarah. She and Ward share a very emotionally loaded look, then he charges Singh’s thug. The bodyguard shoots Ward several times in the chest as they both fall down from a not-small height and die.

R.I.P., BIG JOHN | The Pogues get Big John down the mountain and onto a boat, but he’s in bad shape. “You were the best son any many could hope for,” he tells John B. Everyone is crying. John B. puts a gold nugget — from Sarah’s bag — on his father’s chest. “I’ll see you at home, kid,” Big John says faintly, then he dies. They bury him when they arrive at port, and Sarah also makes a memorial for her father.

Then we skip to 18 months later. Everyone is back on the Outer Banks, and the town is holding a ceremony to celebrate the teens who solved the centuries-old mystery. The local museum has a “Road to El Dorado” exhibit. And as the Pogues talk, we get an update on their lives. Pope (who kissed Cleo back near El Dorado) is going to school. JJ bought a charter boat. Kiara is saving turtles. Sarah and John B. have “a killer surf shop,” according to him. Seems like everyone’s settled into normal life, right?

But then a man approaches them and wants them to look at a manuscript that’s in his possession. “I need partners, and you all were first on my list,” he adds, showing them a 1718 captain’s log that looks like it belonged to Edward Teach, aka the pirate Blackbeard. “Hot damn,” John B. says with a grin.

Now it’s your turn. Grade the finale and the season overall via the polls below, then hit the comments with your thoughts about Outer Banks Season 3!

GET MORE: Finales, Polls, Recaps