A season packed with punches

“Cobra Kai” Season Three filled with twists


photo courtesy of Amazon

“Cobra Kai” follows Johnny Lawrence (William Zakba) and Danny LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) 34 years after the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament. ****/5

Anna Blumenthal, Entertainment Editor

In May of 2018, YouTube put out the first episodes of the hit series “Cobra Kai” on their YouTube Red streaming service. The series, which follows the original “Karate Kid” cast in their adult years, recently released its third season on January 1. After Netflix acquired the series, the first two seasons of the show gained 50 million viewers within the first 28 days. The nostalgia and actors of the show keep audience members coming back for more.

The series follows Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Maccio) 34 years after the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament. While Danny has a wonderful life, with his own car dealership and a loving family, Johnny is down on his luck and cannot keep a job to save his life. After saving his neighbor Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) from being beat up by his classmates, Johnny decides to restart the Cobra Kai karate dojo in order to teach kids self defense. The presence of Cobra Kai restarts the rivalry between Johnny and Danny as well as attracts classic movie villain, John Kreese (Martin Kove) back to the valley. In order to stop Cobra Kai from taking over, Danny starts his own dojo, Miyagi-Do.

The Season Two finale left off with a huge fight between the students of Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai, in which Miguel is kicked off of a school balcony by Johnny’s son, Robby (Tanner Buchanan), leaving him unconscious on the floor. Season Three picks up a few weeks after the incident with Miguel still in a coma. Robby is on the run from the cops, and Johnny and Danny decide to team up to find him before the police do in order to get him a shorter sentence. Kreese has taken over Cobra Kai completely, as Johnny is too upset with himself over Miguel’s condition. Under the influence of Kreese, the students of Cobra Kai become even more vicious and start attacking Miyagi-Do students any chance they get. After Johnny guides Miguel through physical therapy and helps him walk again, the two must find a way to defeat Cobra Kai once and for all.

Every season of “Cobra Kai” so far has exceeded my expectations and Season Three is no exception. While the first two seasons have been very light-hearted and fun, Season Three feels more intense and intriguing. Each character struggles internally between choosing kindness or giving into anger. The writers definitely show a progression throughout the series of the effects of Cobra Kai on the kids and what Kreese’s teachings lead them to do. At the start of the show, the students start taking lessons in order to defend themselves against the bullies at their school. Cobra Kai is a collection of misfit students, who use self defense in order to stand up for themselves. However, in Season Three, the Cobra Kai students have joined the bullies, and some of the original mean kids end up joining the dojo.

One of the best aspects of the show is the nostalgia and the incorporation of old characters and references into the episodes. For part of the season, Danny takes a trip to Okinawa and the audience gets to see characters from “The Karate Kid Part II,” such as Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). It helps to include more of Mr. Miyagi in the series despite Pat Morita’s passing. Season Three also brings back Ali (Elisabeth Shue) which helps to finally end the rivalry between Johnny and Danny. The only letdown is that both men are in committed relationships, so there is no opportunity for either one to end up with Ali in the show.

The most obvious villain of this season is Kreese, and flashbacks in each episode help to show the backstory of one of the most iconic characters of the 1980’s. These scenes reveal Kreese’s time in the Vietnam War and his experience as a prisoner of war. He must learn to fight for his survival and adopt the iconic phrase “no mercy.” The flashbacks even reveal the explanation behind the name “Cobra Kai.” While I can’t stand Kreese and am excited to see Johnny and Danny work together to take him down in the next season, the backstory does help the viewers understand how he got to be heartless and cold. I’m not sure the Vietnam scenes are historically accurate, but I enjoyed the parallels they depict between how Kreese let karate consume him just like the Cobra Kai students have.

Kreese also ends up showing a bit of a softer side towards his students throughout the season. He becomes sort of a mentor to Robby during his time in juvy, and the two form a weird alliance. I can tell that the partnership between Kreese and Robby will become a major plot point throughout Season Four.

Although the dark undertones of this season are an interesting contrast compared to the previous ones, some of the violence depicted is intense and difficult to watch. In one particular scene, an altercation ensues between the two warring dojos and a character’s arm gets intentionally broken in the fight. I usually admire the karate scenes shown, but I found myself cringing at a lot of them in this season. These scenes might be too intense for younger viewers, but none are too violent to handle for adults.

Overall, I loved Season Three and am excited to see what direction the writers take the show in next. The last few episodes set the stage for a joint dojo between Johnny and Danny that would have to defeat Cobra Kai. My dad and I watched every episode in the span of a day and enjoy having a show that we can watch together. “Cobra Kai” has the perfect amount of comedy, drama and karate scenes to keep anyone entertained.