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The Mole Theory That Changes Everything On The Curse Of Oak Island

When "The Curse of Oak Island" debuted on History back in 2014, the odds of it becoming a long-standing, eight-season hit, complete with a special nickname for its most fervent fans, seemed slim at best. And yet, eight years on, the often anti-climactic cursed-treasure-hunting reality series is as popular as ever. 

As Tammy Swift of the Duluth News Tribune points out, "The History Channel claims 'Oak Island' is the No. 1 rated show on cable television, and there are legions of Oak Island fans out there, who are known as 'Acorns.' Countless blogs and Reddit chats expound theories and dissect every show development in exhausting detail." Swift points to a number of potential reasons for the show's success (including that it's "manly," "has brilliant marketing," and operates much like an addictive but fruitless slot machine), but regardless of what compels viewers to return each season for more disappointment, the fact remains that they do, indeed, return. And with every new season, members of the show's massive following come up with new and more complex theories to explain where the cursed treasure of the island might finally be found, or why the Lagina brothers haven't found it yet. 

One of the more intriguing theories — albeit an impractical one — came from Reddit user Merdinus-Legendarius, who shared their hypothesis with other fans on the series' subreddit following Season 7: "What's the best way to help the team not find the treasure?" the user asked — "Plant a mole to help lead the team astray." 

Fans think Charles Barkhouse might be the mole

The Reddit user pointed out that "the team is trying really hard to connect the (Templars) and Masons to this mystery treasure. If the (Templars)/Masons did bury the treasure, they know where it is." The user then went on to suggest that Oak Island historian and cast member Charles Barkhouse seems the most likely candidate for the mole, since he was "part of a nucleus team of Masons that initially took part in this project."

Barkhouse has been a member of the cast since Season 1, and his vast knowledge of the island's history — as well as the legend and lore surrounding the treasure — has fueled and helped direct brothers Rick and Marty Lagina's excavations numerous times and in multiple ways. And yet, as the Reddit theorist points out, "He is never decisive in his explanations and never forthcoming with information." Moreover, "Whenever someone presents a theory, he sits smiling and nodding his head, occasionally wording an approval ... His expression only changes when the theory at hand involves the Templar/Mason connection." 

This isn't the first time a fan has pointed to Barkhouse as potential threat to the team's success. Two years prior to Merdinus-Legendarius's proposal, another Reddit user responded to the suggestion from u/Bikpla that Barkhouse was "a secret Templar trying to lead Rick Marty and the boys astray" by saying they didn't trust the Oak Island historian and tour guide either. 

"I always feel Barkhouse is messing with us," they wrote, adding that, "It's like he knows more than he lets on." Unfortunately, as a number of fans pointed out in response to the theory's more recent reemergence, there are a few problems with this line of thinking. 

How realistic is the mole theory on The Curse of Oak Island?

User adineko responded to the Barkhouse-as-Mason-Templar-mole theory with some hard facts. "As a mason, I can pretty much guarantee that 'The Freemasons' as a global entity don't know where any treasure on Oak Island is." They also added that, "Masons are largely independent and jurisdictional," so the notion that some central body would have knowledge about the location of a treasure that far outside their region is impractical at best. Moreover, the user explained, "The connection to Freemasons and templars is very speculative ... there isn't a lot of hard evidence." 

Another Mason on the thread echoed u/adineko's response, reiterating that, "There's zero historical evidence of any actual historic connection between the Masonic (Knights Templar) and the original medieval (Knights Templar)," and that connecting the two would be like saying there's a connection between the famous late-17th and early-18th century pirate Captain Kidd and the Pittsburg Pirates baseball team. 

While other users on the thread still weren't convinced of Barkhouse's innocence (if someone suspects today's Masons are secretly connected to the medieval Knights Templar, they'd hardly be willing to take the word of an actual Mason that they're not), others were on board with the mole theory — just not with the idea that it might be Barkhouse. 

"What if the free mason mole is Paul Troutman?!" asked user kylebobwild, adding that Troutman is "Head of the research center and in prime position of power to hide anything important." 

What if, indeed. For now, fans of "The Curse of Oak Island" will have to continue to speculate as they await an official announcement for Season 9 of the oddly addictive, grown-up Goonies treasure hunt series.