The Curse of Oak Island recap: Once in, forever in

The Curse of Oak Island team in War Room
The Curse of Oak Island team after making a big decision about the rest of the season

SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read below here if you don’t want to know what happened in The Curse of Oak Island Season 5 Episode 11. 

This week’s The Curse of Oak Island was an emotional rollercoaster for both fans and the team, but as we all know — the Oak Island family always weathers the highs and the lows together.

While the location known as H-8 seemed hugely promising going into the episode, hopes plunged as the hour progressed as nothing of substance materialized from the spoils.

Hopes were then raised again when it emerged the team had apparently drilled through into a void, prompting speculation that they may now be in the collapsed Money Pit — and that their caisson may have been pushing the so-called Chappell Vault down into the ground in front of it.

The episode ended on a solemn note as Craig Tester revealed he was leaving the island for the rest of the season following the tragic death of his son Drake early last year. But in a fitting tribute, the last borehole the team will dig this year will be named after Drake.

Here’s 10 things we learned from Season 5 Episode 11:

1 The Medieval cross has recently been moved

Medieval cross
The Medieval cross being examined by Laird Niven on this week’s episode

Last week’s episode saw the remarkable discovery by metal-detecting expert Gary Drayton at Smith’s Cove of a Medieval cross. This week the cross was shown to the team’s resident archaeologist Laird Niven — who was taken aback by the discovery, saying: “I really haven’t seen anything like that before!”

One of the most interesting things that he and Gary both noticed was that the cross did not show much sign of wear, suggesting that it hadn’t been in the environment it was found in, ie amongst rocks on the shore, for long.

Laird said metal that old would normally have a white patina — a layer that forms on the surface over time — if it had been exposed to air. The cross being made of lead, it would also likely have been far more worn if it had been exposed to the elements.

Marty conjectured that they may have unearthed it while trying to uncover evidence of box drains in 2016 during the filming of Season 4, with it then later getting washed up the shore by the huge storms that hit Oak Island that winter.

The team concluded that more research needs to be done, and they plan to consult archaeologists in Europe — where the think it most likely originally came from — about its origins.

2 H-8 proved a sore disappointment

Pottery piece
A new piece of pottery from the H-8 spoils, which didn’t come up with much else

Everyone seemed pretty much convinced they were about to pull the Arc of the Covenant or chests full of pirates treasure out of H-8 — or at least something groundbreaking linked to the pottery, bones, parchment and book binding found earlier in the season.

Granted, they did find one more piece of bone and a possible piece of leather, but the rest of the spoils proved fruitless.

After seeing everyone’s hopes dashed, his included, Rick Lagina said: “It just mystefies me. We find these intriguing clues, which seem to indicate there’s something of substance down there, and yet we come up empty. A few more clues — more bone, more book binding, leather — but not what we expected.”


3 They hit a void which could be the collapsed Money Pit

Money Pit collapse recreation
A recreation shown on the episode of how the Money Pit may have collapsed

Not all is lost, as despite finding hardly anything in the spoils there is still hope. After last week’s episode ended with the caisson resting on a “flat, hard surface”, this week they went straight through into an apparent 10ft void.

With the group speculating about what it could all mean, Marty Lagina said: “I’ll tell you what it means. It means we’re in the Money Pit, we’re in the collapse of the Money Pit, and we’re going to find what was ever in there — that’s what it means.”

He added in an interview with producers: “Any void before bedrock is very exciting to me, because my pet theory is that the Money Pit collapsed — that all the dimensions that were given all those years ago are all inaccurate, because everything sluffed down the hole and we’re looking for where it could have landed.

“Well, if there is sort of a void that it all fell into, now we’re approaching it.”

Rick also had another theory…

4 They may have been pushing the Chappell Vault down into the ground

Caisson at H-8
The caisson at H-8, which it’s thought may have been pushing the Chappell Vault in front of it

Rather than going through the flat, hard surface they were resting on last week, might they have pushed it ahead of the caisson this week? That was the theory floated by Rick.

We’re not sure what this means for where the Chappell Vault — if it is indeed there — would be now, but either possibly off to one side or down inside the void they’ve now drilled into. How do they hope to find out? See number 8 below.

And, all hope is not lost because…

5 There IS something at around 150-160ft

Dual-induction chart readings
The chart from the dual-induction probe, showing the cluster of readings around 150-160ft

This episode saw the return of geophysicist Mike West from Gemtech Ltd, who carried out a scan of the Money Pit area with a dual-induction probe earlier in the season.

He arrived with a 3D underground map of each and every shaft the team dug this season, as well as of the shafts that were already there. The map also showed the exact areas that the dual-induction device picked up signals signifying metal objects.

The markers ranged in color from dark blue to red, with red the strongest response indicating something big like a casing. They also came in diamond shapes, with the longer the diamond the longer the response obtained by the dual-induction device as it moved past an object underground.

What was the big takeaway from all this? That there is a cluster of responses at the 150-160ft depth range around H-8. Marty said: “Well, that’s exactly where the Chappell Vault should be — so that’s exciting!”

Jack Begley later added: “The big positive we should have out of this is that there is a target in the Money Pit where it’s supposed to be, right? Despite all of the open area that we missed, we still got a hit where we were looking for it at.”

Marty said in an interview with producers: “It’s good news, there’s all these theories about where the Money Pit itself is — the original excavation. I think we’ve found it. I’m convinced that we found it. So yeah it’s a huge bit of news, and to me it means that we’re nearing the end of the hunt.”

6 Smith’s Cove is an area of interest again

Possible spoon handle
A metal item found which it’s thought could be the handle of a spoon

Smith’s Cove shot up the list as an area of interest again after last week’s discovery of the Medieval cross. After that was found, we were immediately left thinking ‘surely there’s more stuff there — why on earth are they not continuing to look straight after finding the cross?’.

It turns out we were just being a bit premature, as Gary and Rick were straight back out there this episode — starting at the area they found the cross, then planning to work their way around the rock pools, then into the rock pools themselves.

They didn’t come up with anything majorly significant this episode — a possible spoon handle and something which Gary thought might be a decorative piece of brass from the side of a boat.

But what was interesting was that Gary has scoured this area before and not found anything. So something, whether it was the digging in Season 4 or the winter storms, has definitely shaken things up a bit.


7 This could be the last time we see Craig on Oak Island

Craig Tester
Craig in the War Room as he told the team that he will be leaving the island

Watching Craig reveal that he would not be returning to the island this season was hard to watch, as his pain following the tragic death of his son Drake was etched across his face.

Asked whether he thought the team should dig one more hole this season, he replied: “It’s up to you Rick, and to the other guys around this table, because I’m…I mean when I’m headed out of here I’m probably not coming back this year. I don’t want to be here and say ‘hey drill here’ and then not be here to support you guys.”

He added in an interview that being on the island had helped keep his mind off Drake’s passing, but that it was time for him to go home to be with his wife. He said: “Oak Island for me has helped. It takes my focus off losing Drake. I think of him every day — I think of him always out here.

“I wish he could be here helping us, so it’s been a tough year. It’s time for me to head on home and help my wife who’s struggling through this too. So I’m appreciative for all the guys and I’m appreciative for Oak Island. But I think it’s done for me.”

It’s not yet known whether Craig will ever return.

8 They’re going to dig another hole

Geotech grid
Pencil crosses on the geotech grid marking where they plan to dig their last hole of the year

After asking everyone’s opinion, the decision on whether to dig one last hole this season essentially came down to Rick and Marty. When Rick’s involved, we know there’s going to be no argument from him. However, Marty was also hugely positive.

He told Craig: “I kind of want to finish this now, especially because you said you’re not coming back. I mean this is a chance to finish it, you know. I don’t know how to say it exactly, but I want to try and finish this for Drake.”

Rick added: “Well, we said it from the start. Once in, forever in. I’ve given it everything I’ve got for the last 10 years. You know me, I’m not a quitter. So, let’s find it. For everyone.”

The dual-induction device showed that there was quite a bit of area underground that was missed by the team’s geotech drilling, due to a number of factors including the deviation of some of the holes. So the hope is that this new hole will cover that ground.

In a poignant tribute, and at the suggestion of Jack Begley, the hole will be named DMT —  after Drake Tester’s initials.

9 The cross likely pre-dates 1416

Medieval cross and closed caption
Part of the conversation about the cross that takes place next week

The sneak peek for next week’s episode showed the team talking about the Medieval cross on the phone to someone who is presumably a European archaeologist, as was suggested by Laird Niven earlier this episode.

The archaeologist can be heard saying: “Ive found very similar crosses from the 13th century. I can say, quite securely, they were made before 1416.” You don’t need us to tell you that that is extremely old. How a cross from pre-1416 would have ended up on Oak Island? Only time will tell.

10 A key could help unlock the mystery

Skeleton key
The skeleton key that Fred Nolan found on the island

The sneak peek for next week, as well as a newly released trailer, both show several items from Fred Nolan’s archives being examined by the team. At one point Rick is handed a skeleton key, and is told: “This is one of the things Fred found on the island.”

The trailer also shows detailed maps being looked at, and Rick speculates that the key could somehow solve the riddle behind the rock formation on the island known as Nolan’s Cross — which some have said resembles the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life in Jewish mysticism.

Rick said: “Is this the key to unlocking the mystery?” Let’s hope it is!

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on History. 

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