Over the last year or so, I have not watched as much television as I used to watch. It was as much for time reasons as anything else. In fact, I have put a definitive limit on binging. I used to binge series a lot, but now, it is very light.
The TV shows that I have moved towards are those such as The Mandalorian, which is released on a weekly basis. Actually, I am not sure what the last series I binged was. Again, it had to do with the commitment of time required to binge a show on a weekend.
I had watched season 1 of Cobra Kai on YouTube Red and I enjoyed it quite a bit. However, season 2 had fallen into that no binge thing that I have been doing. It just did not fit into what I wanted to see. Even when it wound up on Netflix, season two had not enticed me.
2021 stared with Cobra Kia season 3 dropping on Netflix. I had heard some positives about it, but I had not seen season 2, so there was a roadblock. Saturday, I looked at the episode count and time for Cobra Kai season 2. It was only 10 episodes and they ranges around 30 minutes. That was not bad so I decided I might take a look at season 2, at least an episode or two, just for a flavor.
I wrapped up season 2 that Saturday night.
It was so good and so easy to binge that I found myself going to the next episode easily. I also chose to start on season 3 immediately, which I finished Sunday morning.
I have to admit that there were some things that I had to get past to enjoy the show. For example, during the beginning of the huge Cobra Kai vs. Miyagi-Do fight at the high school, I kept thinking how unrealistic this was. Where were the teachers? Why had the police not arrived by now? How is this being allowed to escalate to this point? These kind of questions were bugging me at first. Then, I understood. I suspended my disbelief over what was happening and just let the story be told without the constant nitpicking, and I found that fight to be hugely entertaining with amazing consequences for those involved.
Season three kicks off showing those consequences for all. Miguel is in a coma. Samantha is shell-shocked with a form of PTSD. Robbie is on the run. Karate is seen as the villain as the public, in a typical manner, blames the activity instead of the kids.
There were parts of season three that I was not a huge fan of. I was not a fan of Miguel’s recovery with the help of Johnny. Johnny’s methods seemed so over-the-top to me that it felt to comedic. Even with the super healing power of Dee Snyder, Miguel seemed to recover from his surgery quickly.
Probably the biggest problem I had was the turn from Hawk at the fight at the LaRusso house. It felt as if it came out of nowhere. Sure there had been some close ups on Hawk during the year making you thing that he was having second thoughts on what was happening, but he had done so many horrible things and was such a horrid bully that I did not think he earned that “face turn” enough. It was too out of the blue and I still do not want to root for this guy. I know redemption is a theme of this series, but that just did not feel developed well enough.
I loved the trip to Japan by Daniel and the reunion with the characters of Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), both the original actors from Karate Kid 2, was excellently done. The whole Okinawa material of the season worked really well.
Watching Robbie’s fall from grace was tough this year too, but it gives you the understanding on why he does what he does at the end of the season, sticking with Kreese over his father and Daniel. From his perspective, Daniel betrayed him to the police and Johnny was always choosing Miguel over him. You could see the conflict through the whole season with Robbie and you can see how that conflict was all-but-gone in the finale.
One has to wonder why the police are never involved in this series. It is one of those speedbumps that you have to accept and ignore to make everything work. I did like how the LaRussos tried to go to the police at one point this season only to find it a flop. It is not a major scene, but it helps address that potential plot hole.
I especially loved Amanda LaRusso this year. There were so many times when the trope of the genre would insist that she would be jealous or do something to cause more drama, but she does not. When Daniel is with Ali, his old girlfriend, there is not one moment of jealousy. Instead, she bonds immediately with Ali and starts to exchange stories. She is no nonsense and straight speaking and her undying support of Daniel and her family comes through in a level-headed manner.
Speaking of Ali, one of the best moments of the series was the arrival of Elizabeth Shue as Ali Mills. This is handled perfectly. She is not brought in to be the third side of the love triangle or to cause more problems. In fact, she is just the opposite. She is there to bring an end to the rivalry between Johnny and Daniel and that is a perfect choice since she was the reason the rivalry started in the first place. I appreciated the way the writers allowed Ali to give her side to the Daniel-Ali break-up that we only heard about during Karate Kid 2. The way Ali says it played out definitely sounds like how Daniel may have reacted. Elizabeth Shue brought a level of credibility to the scene and she was excellent in them.
We also got some flashbacks into the history of John Kreese. Every flashback to Kreese’s past were expertly handled and were some of the best scenes of the season. It was able to show us his back story without removing his teeth. You can see where his anger and his mindset is built from, especially in the scenes in Vietnam, and it only helps to build him as an excellent villain. Kreese took a step up this year into the spotlight as the key antagonist of the series.
I loved the early season Johnny and Daniel “buddy cop” vibe that was happening as they searched for the missing Robbie. There was great humor and remarkable chemistry between the pair of Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. It furthered the story while continuing to highlight the tensions between the two main characters of the adult story.
The finale with the war between Johnny, Kreese and Daniel was epic and helped bring everything back around. It perfectly sets up the next season of the show and gave us the truce between the warring factions of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang (what a name!). I am excited to see where season 4 goes.