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jj, pope, big john, and kiara in outer banks season 3
jj, pope, big john, and kiara in outer banks season 3
Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix
Culture > Entertainment

Let’s Talk About The Pope, Kiara, & JJ Love Triangle In ‘Outer Banks’

There are two types of people in this world: team JJ and Kiara (or should I say Jiara) and team Pope and Kiara. Outer Banks follows treasure hunts, but also explores something most of us can relate to: awkward relationships in a friend group. As the Pogue friend group of the show are teens, it was evident that relationships will develop over the course of the series. And for Kiara, who also goes by Kie, her love life got messy at times as she went against the rule of the friend crew: no romance in the group. 

In the first episode of Season 1, the three main guys of the friend group John B, JJ, and Pope all admitted they had a thing for Kiara. Kie, played by Madison Bailey, had a temporary fling with John B in Season 1. The romance was short-lived as they decided to remain friends. Near the end of the first season, Pope and Kie started to develop feelings for one another. After losing a scholarship and the Royal Merchant gold, Pope was drowning in his sorrows, which led him to confess his love for Kie. Kiara wasn’t exactly thrilled about this, but shortly after the abrupt confession, Pope and her shared a kiss. 

Pope and Kie were having a hard time finding their footing as a couple amid the chaos their friend group was enduring at the start of Season 2. However, their relationship grew stronger as they chased after the Cross of Santo Domingo. Despite improvements in their relationship, the chemistry wasn’t there and Kie decided it was best they remained friends. Lingering feelings and growing ones made the friend group romances even more complicated in Season 3, which premiered on Feb. 23. Warning: Spoilers for Outer Banks Season 3 follow.

jj and kiara in outer banks season 3
Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix

The Season 2 chemistry between Kiara and JJ strengthened in Season 3. 

Despite being with Pope for Season 2, it was clear that JJ and Kiara had a strong connection.  Kiara seemed to be the only one always there for him through all of his struggles. They even joked about running away together if they were to get the treasure. Even though JJ and Kie’s relationship might’ve been strictly platonic during this season, fans were quick to jump on the Jiara bandwagon for their chemistry. Ahead of the Season 3 release, fans were making edits to express their hopes for the Jiara storyline in the new season. 

The OBX gods listened because Jiara stans got what they wanted. JJ and Kiara grew even stronger in Season 3. From being kidnapped to getting sent away to a wilderness camp by her parents, Kiara always found herself being rescued by JJ. The subtle glances across the room and nearly-kissing moments were tell-tale signs of their feelings for one another, but a kiss with exchanges of “I love you” finally sealed the deal in Episode 9.

kiara in outer banks season 3
Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix

Does Pope still have feelings for Kiara?

Though Pope and Kie ended things on seemingly good terms, there still seemed to be lingering feelings from Pope at the beginning of Season 3. When witnessing a moment between JJ and Kiara, Pope got upset as he realized he wasn’t OK with JJ and Kiara being a thing. However, Cleo, the Poguelandia friend group Season 2 addition, talked him through his emotions. The two decided to swear off love and created the No Love Club. 

Fans not only shipped Jiara, but shipped Pope and Cleo as well. Viewers couldn’t help but notice that Cleo would be a good match for him after their run-in in Season 2. Now that she’s an honorary Pogue and living with Pope back home, the two were spending a lot of time together in Season 3. Their time with one another showed that they truly have each other’s back, and Cleo became Pope’s support system during his struggles with school and his family. Despite swearing off love, Cleo admitted to Pope in the season finale that she no longer wants to be a part of the No Love Club and kissed Pope. Ugh, I love a slow burn! 

pope and cleo in outer banks season 3
Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix

Are Pope and Cleo and JJ and Kiara official?

There were no verbal exchanges of relationship status updates in Season 3, but we can assume from the PDA of both pairs that the relationships are official, or at least soon to be. At the ceremony celebrating the group’s finds, which takes place 18 months after the discovery of El Dorado, Pope and Cleo are seen holding hands, and JJ and Kiara are sitting together. What started as a love triangle, ended with my two OTPs together. Everyone wins in the end! 

Hannah Tolley is a contributing writer under the Entertainment and Culture vertical. She covers entertainment releases, fan theories, pop culture news, and more. Aside from Her Campus, Hannah was also a member of the Florida State University (FSU) Her Campus team. During her time with the chapter, she served as a staff writer for three semesters, where she wrote biweekly pieces across campus, culture, and personal verticals. She also was a content editor for two semesters, where she led a team of 6+ writers and oversaw and edited their articles. Hannah was also an editorial intern for Her Campus during her spring and summer term of her second year in college. As an intern, she worked alongside the full-time edit team to curate timely and evergreen pieces across life, culture, career, and style verticals. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from FSU in May 2023, with a Bachelor of Science in Media/Communication Studies with a minor in English. When she's not dissecting the latest pop culture events, you can find her reading a cheesy romance novel or establishing parasocial relationships with fictional TV characters. She loves to rewatch her favorite shows (Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, and Friends) or spend the day going down a rabbit hole of reality dating shows.