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‘Outer Banks’ Stars Break Down Kiara, JJ and Pope’s Season 3 Love Triangle: ‘Kiara Is Really Fighting for Him to See Her’

”It’s probably tough watching to see your best friends slowly fall in love,“ Jonathan Daviss tells TheWrap

Note: The following discusses major plot points from “Outer Banks” Season 3.

After getting stranded from their wide-stretching treasure hunt on an island the crew calls “Pogulandia,” “Outer Banks” Season 3 picks up right where it left off in the ongoing love triangle between Kiara (Madison Bailey), JJ (Rudy Pankow) and Pope (Jonathan Daviss).

While Kiara and JJ and Pope and newcomer Cleo (Carlacia Grant) lean on each other, respectively, as they embrace island-living, their surprise return to Kitty Hawk quickly switches up the dynamic as the Pogues must face the family — or at least, what’s left of one — that awaits them back home.

“After being on the island, Kiara and JJ saw a certain side of each other, that brought them closer,” Bailey told TheWrap. “This season is kind of the ups and downs of figuring out what that chemistry means. How do you create a relationship out of chemistry?”

By the time the Pogues return home to the Outer Banks, Bailey admits Kiara and JJ are “really in two different situations” as Kiara must explain her departure to her strict parents and bargain with them to continue seeing her friends, while JJ’s absentee father leaves him no sign of family.

“JJ is a little confused this season,” Pankow told TheWrap. “He’s going through something of where he sees a future for all the characters, but he doesn’t see one for himself very much, and I think that gets him a little worried and confused.”

Upon returning home and seeing the difficulty JJ experiences reckoning with what home is left for him, Kiara opens up to JJ, sharing her feelings for her longtime friend and promises to be there for him. But JJ is “a little hesitant” and struggles to accept Kiara’s support.

“Kiara is really fighting this season for him to see her and … for him to know that she is somebody that will always be on his side, no matter what,” Bailey said.

Adding to the pair’s conflicted feelings about shifting their companionship to something more is their friendship with Pope, with whom Daviss admits Kiara “kind of led on” in the series’ second season, leading Pope to come to terms with the tinge of betrayal he feels as his best friends begin their romantic relationship.

“It’s probably tough watching to see your best friends slowly fall in love,” Daviss told TheWrap. “He probably feels … really betrayed, but doesn’t want to take that out on two people who probably really still care about him. So he takes the high road — he’s like, ‘I’m gonna go work on myself and you guys do you … I’m not going to bring it up, and I’m going to focus on my cross and try to get my life together.'”

Luckily, Pope doesn’t have to deal with the daunting transition back home alone, however, as Cleo joins the Pogues’ return to OBX, and Pope’s family welcomes her into their home.

“She has been through some of the things he has gone through and they kind of form a relationship based off of that,” Daviss continued. “It’s been nice kind of working through those emotions with him … he deals with a lot of loss in the season … and he has to take himself out of some deep emotional holes.”

Since Cleo wasn’t around the group while Kiara and Pope explored their romantic connection, Grant notes Kiara has “blessed the situation” — “You have my full blessing,” Bailey adds — leading Cleo to “lean into” her and Pope’s potential connection.

“I think that Pope just brings out a different side of her,” Grant told TheWrap. “He doesn’t back down to her and Cleo’s used to bossing people around and Pope just stands up to her, so she likes that.”

“Outer Banks” Season 3 is streaming on Netflix.