Spoilers for Outer Banks season 2 below.
Ever since its pandemic-era peak in 2020, Netflix’s teen mega-hit Outer Banks has gleefully eschewed realism for anything eyebrow-raising: car chases, stolen treasure, secret trysts, and fugitive getaways. But the drama’s second season—released July 30—upped the ante by a shocking degree. One particular plot point made the dubiously miraculous healings on Grey’s Anatomy look like kid stuff: We’re talking, of course, of the death of Sarah Cameron.
Within the first few hours of OBX season 2, Sarah (Madelyn Cline) receives a bullet wound courtesy of her older brother, Rafe, who accidentally shoots her in the side as she and John B (Chase Stokes) attempt to escape in a truck packed with $400 million in gold. Stranded in Nassau and unable to go to the hospital—they’re fugitives, remember?—John B races Sarah to the home of Captain Terrance’s fave doctor.
We know nothing about this doctor, other than that he has a lovely little office on the coast, he supposedly discovered a cure for arthritis while in medical school, and he “doesn’t do heads.” (Good thing Sarah didn’t get shot in the face!) He’s also, uh, “not a doctor.” He’s “more like a service provider,” in his own words. Naturally, that’s exactly what you want to hear when your girlfriend is hemorrhaging on the table in front of you.
Anyway, this not-a-doctor makes John B refuse to hold him liable if Sarah dies, and he charges the poor kid $4,000 for a surgery in which he a) operates on her in the kitchen, b) doesn’t wear a mask, and c) sips from a “salty dog” moments after sewing up her wound. They wait for hours as Sarah slips back into consciousness long enough to tell John B “hey,” then just as quickly goes into cardiac arrest. Let’s break down the details of what happens next.
Does Sarah Cameron die?
Well, technically yes. Her heart stops, and John B performs desperate CPR while Mr. Arthritis Cure embodies the human equivalent of the shrug emoji. “She’s just lost too much blood, kid,” he tells John B as the monitor flatlines behind them. For several minutes, Sarah remains technically dead while her boyfriend screams at her to wake up. It’s only after he tells her he loves her that the Sleeping Beauty kiss of life works its magic, and her fingers twitch.
Not-Doc saunters back into the room, realizes she’s alive, and gives John B a nod of something like approval, as if to say, “Good work on that love confession! It really did the trick!”
Is there any part of this that was realistic?
Not really. But if we’re digging into the literature, there is a difference between “clinical death” (heart stops beating) and biological death (actual, irreversible death). A delayed return to life following resuscitation is known as the Lazarus phenomenon, named after a Biblical character who returns to life four days after his death. Technically, it’s possible for a heart to stop and then restart several minutes later. But, according to Healthline, this is an incredibly rare phenomenon: One 2015 study found only 32 cases of the effect between 1982 and 2008. The likelihood that Sarah would have experienced it moments after John B’s “I love you” is remarkably low. The likelihood that she’d be up and about hours later, with no discernible trouble walking or neurological damage, is even lower.
But hey, it’s Outer Banks. Anything goes if it ups the drama.
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