Young adult fiction is one of the more interesting genres out there today. With some incredibly imaginative ideas and creative hooks, oftentimes these stories either outstay their welcome and lose the spark that was so interesting to begin with, or descend far too much into soapy romantic melodrama. Among the sheer number of titles are a few that stand out and become hidden gems.
Playing out as a mix between The Goonies and a modern-day Famous Five story, Outer Banks is surprisingly accessible and has all the ingredients to be a sure-fire hit. While it’s still early days and that could change further down the line, for now though Outer Banks gets off to a great start.
The Outer Banks is Paradise On Earth and as we soon learn, this island is inhabited by two distinct tribes – the Kooks and the Pogue. At the centre of our tale is John B, who we’re introduced to alongside best friend JJ, Kiara and the brains of the operation, Pope. John B’s father disappeared nine months ago at sea looking for a shipwreck but he believes his Father is still alive.
With his Uncle MIA, episode 1 of Outer Banks begins with Hurricane Agatha unexpectedly saving John B from child services. Agatha smashes through town and causes devastation in her wake. Heading out on their boat, JJ and John B take to the water and manage to convince Pope to defy his Father and head off with Kiara.
On the sea they find a small shipwreck and upon diving down to examine it, find a motel key. Unbeknownst to them though, a dead body washes up on shore of a man named Scooter, who happens to own the boat. As John B and the others head to the police station to try and report what they’ve found, the aftermath of the hurricane causes chaos to break out in the station and the officers tell them to leave.
Using the key, the four friends investigate the motel room and find a map with coordinates toward “The Big Swell”. They also find a number for the safe – 61666. Inside, they find a whole stack of money and a gun. The police arrive and start snooping around, dipping into the safe and taking the pictures hidden inside while the boys hide outside the window watching this unfold.
After stealing some of the money from the safe earlier, the group discuss what they should do and whether it’s better for them to take it back, especially after seeing Scooter wash up on shore. They don’t do that though and instead decide to party for now, where they meet Sarah, the rival gang Kooks’ golden girl. Unfortunately a fight breaks out between the Pogues and Kooks – more specifically John B and Topper which ends with JJ revealing his gun and firing it at the sky to break up the fight.
Sheriff Peterkin speaks to John B in the morning about the wreckage, giving him the option to stay out the marshes and forget the ship in exchange for helping him with his DCS problem. Thinking it over, John B realizes that may mean the police are hiding something.
Defying the rules, the four decide to head back to the wreck, this time with a scuba tank. John B investigates thoroughly and finds a black bag hidden in one of the compartments. John B heads back up for air after a close encounter with the deputy, but a rogue boat quickly approaches them on the marsh, housing two shady men following in hot pursuit. Kie manages to stop them with a bit of ingenuity but whoever they are, they clearly do not want that black bag taken.
Back on shore they open it up and find John B’s Father’s compass, which is where the episode ends.
With some good banter between the friends and some naturally delivered dialogue, Outer Banks establishes its world and builds the characters up really well this early in the game. With a good soundtrack and a slick yellow hue hanging over large swathes of the show, Outer Banks sets up its treasure hunt story nicely, leaving plenty of teasing glimpses of romance and danger on the horizon.
So far so good, Outer Banks effectively brings all its pieces to the table but whether it can stack these up without toppling them remains to be seen.