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Outer Banks Season 3: The Romantic JJ And Kiara Kisses We Never Got - And Why

Since premiering in 2020, Netflix's "Outer Banks" has been able to deftly balance its twin influences of swashbuckling adventure tales and juicy teen dramas. For all the island-spanning treasure hunts and contentious class warfare between the working-class Pogues and wealthy Kooks, there's ample material in the romance department. For many fans, the will-they-won't-they drama between JJ (Rudy Pankow) and Kiara (Madison Bailey) is the main event of Season 3.

The relationship between JJ and Kiara has been a long time coming ever since JJ ratcheted up the flirting way back in Season 1. JJ and Kiara finally threw the "no Pogue-on-Pogue macking" rule out the window in Season 3, Episode 9, when JJ busted Kiara out of Kitty Hawk wilderness therapy school, and the pair revealed their feelings for one another.

Co-creators Shannon Burke and Josh Pate have managed to stretch out the 'Jiara' build-up as much as possible, including postponing some Season 3 smooches. "We'd had them kiss at least twice in the script — in Episode 3 in the boat and then in Episode 4 at the Chateau — and then pulled it back," Burke told Tudum. "Josh and I would talk about it like, 'Should we play that card?' And we thought, 'No, let's wait.'"

Jiara's Season 3 romantic build-up is worth the wait

For Shannon Burke and Josh Pate, it was important that the kiss between JJ and Kiara was deservingly climactic. "We just always knew that we wanted to have a great scene because we knew the fans were excited about it, and we were excited about it," Pate said in the same Tudum interview. "We wanted to hold it off until we found a scene that did it justice when they finally got together."

Madison Bailey was just as happy with the payoff. "I love that moment," Bailey said. "Her getting sent away really makes him realize, 'I need to show her I care and I need to show her I'm going to be there for her, too.'"

Since Season 1, Burke and Pate have been carefully constructing the building blocks of JJ and Kiara's friendship. By the time they get together, it comes from a place of genuine connection rather than a regrettable hookup. "JJ in the hot tub in the first season was one of those scenes that when it was written we all knew, 'This one's going to work for sure,'" Pate says. In the hot tub scene, JJ — covered in bruises from his dad's abuse — breaks down and cries in Kiara's arms.

Jiara may have been a long time coming, but anything could happen with Kiara and JJ in Season 4. "With the time jump, there's time for stuff to blow over," says Bailey. "Anything could have changed...Now we jump 18 months later, and everything's back to being ambiguous."

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