The time has come for us all to binge Season 3 of Outer Banks.
Following the suspenseful finale of Season 2, the cast is back in full force for a third installment that is bound to knock you off your socks. Jonathan Daviss, who plays the role of Pope Heyward, has reprised his role as a Pogue and is continuing his mission with his best friends to secure themselves the treasure they have tirelessly been trying to take home. In our exclusive cover story interview with the 23-year-old actor from Nashville, Tennessee, Daviss spills his thoughts surrounding the much-anticipated new episodes and provides some in-depth insight into his evolving character.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
As we know, the last season didn’t go down well for the Pogues as Pope, JJ (Rudy Pankow), Kiara (Madison Bailey), John B (Chase Stokes), Sarah (Madelyn Cline), and Cleo (Carlacia Grant) had no choice but to flee to another location after losing the large gold cross from the Kooks at the very last minute. Just like the first two seasons, Season 3 pretty much picks up from where the previous one ended. In this case, Pope and his friends can be seen adjusting to their new lifestyle on a deserted island, which they refer to as “Poguelandia.” They’ve been away from their homes and families for about a month, they are completely skint, and don’t know who to trust. Within the first 15 minutes of episode one, they are saved by a pilot who they have doubts about. But, with no other option, they take the risk and jump into the stranger’s plane and hope for the best. Of course, this show is never smooth sailing. Before they know it, the gang finds themselves caught up in another race for the gold with even more complications. Not only are they competing with Ward (Charles Esten) and Rafe (Drew Starkey), but also a Caribbean Don who will go to any length to get his hands on the treasure.
At the time of our chat, Daviss is eight episodes into watching the new season. Much to my surprise, the cast received screeners at the same time as press. Therefore, even Daviss, was also viewing the finished edit for the first time and it was a new experience for him. With Season 1 dropping in April 2020 and Season 2 coming out a little over a year later, Season 3 has the longest gap between releases. “This one took a minute,” Daviss admits. “We started early February in Barbados to begin production. We filmed until the end of September. That was the longest production I’d ever been a part of.”
“And not to mention this season was just way bigger than the other two had been. We really wanted to push the action, the intensity, the set pieces,” he continues. “We wanted the shots to all feel very real, so it was important to us to go to these locations and not do everything on a green screen so we could give people that real feel of the country and adventure, kind of like the old action movies like in the ‘80s.”
Daviss was cast as Pope at age 18 and started filming the first season at 19. As time has gone on and his character has evolved, he finds himself identifying with him on a more personal level, relating his story with his own. “When I first got to know the character, I felt his need of wanting to get out of where he was,” Daviss says. “He was under a lot of pressure from his parents. Even though my parents never put me under a ton of pressure, I had AP classes in high school and tried to keep straight A’s. With that kind of pressure to never mess up, I really understood how he felt, especially because I was fresh out of high school when I got the role.”
“As the show has continued, he’s definitely come into himself a lot. He’s gotten more confident, he’s gotten more determined, and he’s become all-around cool. I’ve kind of have been growing in that same way myself. But at the same time, Pope deals with a lot of loss and regret, and feelings that many folks go through, like, why can’t we just get one win?” he continues. In addition to his more self-assured demeanor, we mutually agree that Pope has also embraced his comedic side in the new episodes. “He’s definitely found his humor, for sure,” Daviss says.
Out of all the Pogues, Pope has always been considered the wisest. As John B likes to say, he’s “the brains on the operation.” With that being the case, the gang hasn’t always taken his well-advised strategies on board when maybe they should have. However, Daviss respects their decision to depend on their own judgment at times. “Sometimes the voice of reason is, you gotta choose whether you’re gonna listen to it. Like Jiminy Cricket, it’s like he’s there, but is everybody gonna choose to listen?” he says. “Last season, they listened to Pope a lot but in this one, it seemed they wanted to take on their own tactics. I think they all kind of allow each other to give their input, come into the group and all respect each other equally enough to sometimes take the idea and sometimes go with something else and not feel any way about it because that’s just kind of how groups work.”
People have had their doubts about other characters but it’s been proven time and time again that Pope is a Pogue through and through. Even though he’s not the kind to look for trouble and isn’t one for rule-breaking, he’s always down for an adventure, especially if it’s with his best friends. His loyalty was put to the test in Season 1 when he managed to bag himself an interview for a scholarship, which he ran out of to continue his mission for the gold with the Pogues, despite desperately wanting to go to college. The sacrifice he took seemingly went over his friends’ heads and didn’t appear to be a big deal to them, leaving many viewers mad about the situation. That said, in defense of some people’s individual thoughts, Daviss believes they did care, deep down. “Everybody has their own personal thing that they care about,” he explains. “I think they all really did care about him running outta that interview, I just think there’s a lot going on in terms of life or death. Everybody’s sympathetic towards different things and I really do think they cared. Whether it showed or didn’t, they absolutely sympathize with that.”
After losing out on the gold twice at this point, how does Daviss feel about Pope’s decision to throw all his hard work away at the last hour and for it to not have totally paid off at the time? “Honestly, with Pope, I think there’s always gonna be the pull of adventure,” he says. “As they all say, it’s about more than the treasure, friendship, or whatever, it’s definitely about that call to adventure and that they all really want to answer that call regardless of what might be going on and what’s best for them. I think if there is an adventure, Pope would run to it either way. He is a smart kid, but he also feels that recklessness like the rest of them do.”
Talk of Pope’s scholarship is brought up once again in Season 3 during his first scene alongside Cleo. While his education is something that is really important to him, he informs Cleo that getting the cross back was just as much of a priority after learning about his personal connection to it. During Season 2, he finds out he is a descendant of Denmark Tanny, who was enslaved on the Royal Merchant shipwreck and the only one that survived. Denmark used the gold he didn’t hide to buy freedom for himself, his sons, and the Tannyhill plantation, which is now owned by the Cameron family. While the Pogues have all made a joint effort to find the valuable goods, there have been ongoing discussions and different opinions amongst fans about who they think deserves the gold most. Daviss shares his own point of view if they were to succeed in their escapade.
“When they started the treasure hunt, we all, especially the four Pogues, were like, we’re gonna split this evenly because they love each other that much. This isn’t just friends looking for gold, this is a found family. These guys are pretty close, so I would assume they would split it 50/50 or however that splits evenly,” he says. “With the cross, that was more of a symbolic thing for Pope. I don’t think he necessarily wanted to put it up in the old Heyward house, but he wanted to make sure the right thing was done with it. It would be so people know the story of Denmark Tanny, the story of this cross, and how it pertains to the racial aspects of it. While looking for other treasures, Pope still wants to make sure Denmark Tanny’s name is not only spread throughout the Outer Banks as somebody who did this amazing thing and brought this to this island, but how they were treated by people once they were brought there.”
While in the middle of another race, more relationships start to unfold between the cast. After a short-lived fling with Kiara, Pope develops a close bond with Cleo, who joined the gang as a Pogue during Season 2 and is welcomed into his home after Pope persuades his parents to let her live with them. “He probably feels a bit more confident around her,” he says about their connection. “She’s someone who is very confident in herself and Pope kind of wants to be more confident in himself. She’s very sure of herself and when she starts to open up to him, it’s in a different way. He’s known John B, Kiara, and JJ since he was a kid. This is a new person and I think he’s finding a lot of himself and her and vice versa.”
Cleo is always on the lookout for Pope and is rooting for him all the way. She encourages him to not give up on his scholarship when he considers quitting school altogether and constantly tries to gear him in the right direction for his own benefit. When Cleo tells JJ about the situation with his education, he informs Pope that he has even more things to be concerned about, breaking terrible news surrounding rival Rafe and the cross. As a result, Pope’s anger is put to the test as he is close to acting out and shooting Rafe later that episode. Cleo follows him that evening and persuades him to let it go, convincing him that it’s not worth his time, which he thanks her for in the next episode. Without Cleo’s guidance, Daviss insists Pope would have gone ahead and shot Rafe in the heat of the moment. “He definitely didn’t seem like he wouldn’t have. Cleo definitely talked him down. This guy killed a sheriff, he attempted to kill his friends twice and then he took away the biggest piece of his family’s heritage, the biggest heirloom his family has ever owned,” he says.
Cleo and Pope’s friendship continues to blossom in the upcoming episodes. Finally, during the finale, Cleo confronts him and tells him she’s happy to “quit” the No Love Club, confessing her love for him. They share a kiss but put their feelings aside in order to continue their hunt for the treasure.
It’s no secret that Netflix is notorious for canceling popular shows (I Am Not Okay With This and Teenage Bounty Hunters) fresh out the gate. With Outer Banks’ ongoing victory, however, both the cast and fans have proven time and time again that this is a series worth investing in, especially with Season 2 reaching the No. 1 spot on the US Netflix chart the day after it premiered. But, what is it about the show that Daviss thinks continues to beat out its competition and capture people’s attention? “I’d have to say it’s that it’s the feeling that we try to give off,” he says. “I think we all as a cast and crew try to make a compelling story. You never know what’s gonna really resonate with audiences when we go in there as a cast, we always try to give our best, we always try to make sure these scenes are the best they can be.”
Daviss continues, “We always try to get better as actors, we always want to continue to progress our skills and, further these character storylines. I think that it comes from the top down from the producers, the writers, and the crew who come every day and work their butts off. It takes a whole community of people, it’s like opening a business and when everybody is working at 110%, I think that’s the first step. And then, you know, it’s a bit of luck from there, I think.”
During the time of our interview, there had been no confirmation whether Season 4 of Outer Banks was to take place. However, one week prior to Season 3 premiering, it was announced by Netflix that there are definite plans for at least one more. In our chat, Daviss expressed his desire for another season, hoping he and the rest of the cast would be given the chance to develop their characters with the new changes in their lives. “I would love to get another to continue to grow Pope throughout the series. I would wanna see how his relationships progress with his interests. I wanna see how he deals with that rivalry with Rafe and how his friendship with John B, JJ, and Kiara’s friendship is tested as they get older as they’ll start wanting different things,” he says. If there is one thing Daviss is adamant to see, it’s another confrontation with Rafe that will finally put things to an end. “Pope has to be the one to beat Rafe. He just does. They’ve fought three times now. So there’s gotta be a final showdown at some point.”
With Outer Banks serving as Daviss’ breakthrough role, he has been keen to expand his talents by delving further into other genres. Last year, he starred alongside the likes of Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, and Sarah Michelle Gellar in the teen black comedy Netflix film, Do Revenge. “That was a really big opportunity to just try a really different type of role from Pope, just to see,” he says. “I mean, I know I can, but it’s like, you want to go and do the scripts that resonate with you and that are fun, interesting, and push you as an actor. I want to try to do something unsafe, I think that’s my next step.” When asked what genres he would like to tap into next, Daviss reveals that he would like to take on some indie projects.
Acting aside, Daviss has no desire to limit himself as working in front of the camera isn’t the only thing Daviss has his eyes set on. Also on his list of ambitions is to start directing and writing, along with continuing his passion for art and fashion. “I think I just wanna keep exploring my hobbies, you know, the things I did when I was young, and kinda see what I can do with them. I never wanna stop pushing those skills, but definitely, I want to be all around involved in entertainment,” Daviss says.
2023 is what Daviss declares as his “Jordan year,” which basically means he is going to be unstoppable. And honestly, we love to see it. “I’m gonna attempt to be focused on all levels,” he says. “I’m very focused on myself and becoming better.”