TV Review: Chemistry and nostalgia highlight a tension-filled ‘Cobra Kai’ season 3
The theme of regret is prevalent throughout season 3 of Cobra Kai. Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is seemingly adrift after having his dojo taken from him, facing some harsh truths about what an awful parent he has been, and who could forget his role in the school brawl which landed Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) in a coma and unable to walk. Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) struggles to keep his dealership afloat following backlash stemming from his dojo’s role in the school-wide riot. LaRusso’s daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser) is confronting psychological scars resulting from the fight, which left Miguel unable to walk. We even get to peek into the blackened soul of John Kreese (Martin Kove) and witness the seeds of neurosis which eventually lead to him becoming a sociopath.
Season 3 of Cobra Kai is really about three things – the right path, the wrong path, and the obvious path. The right and wrong paths are subjective. Making that determination depends on one’s outlook on things. The obvious path is most often taken and allows for the most growth. However, it’s hard to take any path if one is constantly reliving the past. Living for the future is the only way anyone can evolve, which can’t occur if the past demons continue to haunt them. Show runners and head writers Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg do a brilliant job of weaving these heavy themes with familiar comedic elements, a dash of over-the-top moments, and sprinkled in several fantastic fight sequences resulting in the best season of Cobra Kai to date.
Before we go any further, try and avoid any spoilers going into this season because there are certainly some juicy treats for fans of this series and any number of the previous films. The best way to frame this new season is with the word aftermath. All ten episodes of the third season of Cobra Kai deal with the aftermath of decisions or actions taken in the second season. LaRusso and Lawrence’s petty rivalry escalated tensions, leading to the brawl between Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai, leaving the valley and their lives in a dark place. Johnny is drinking again after his whole life crashed in. His son Robby (Tanner Buchanan) is on the run after his kick leads to Miguel’s injury. Daniel and his wife Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) are worried about the stress this is taking on their daughter as their community blames them for what occurred. Cobra Kai is essentially splintered, and Kreese capitalizes on this, molding the dojo into his own vision. He personally pays a visit to tough girl Tory (Peyton List), who quit the dojo due to financial hardships and sees no that is longer an issue for her.
Cobra Kai is at it’s best when the show balances the obvious 80’s cornball dialogue with elements of realism. Zabka shines the brightest once again this season. His mixture of machismo, heart, and being oblivious to any technological advances made after 1985 is highly entertaining. Maridueña and Zabka are once again great together on screen. Macchio and Zabka have the type of chemistry which can spark any scene, but it’s those tamped down moments where they find common ground that sticks out in season 3. Could they finally move forward and leave the past behind them?
Beneath the goofball charm and ’80s, music stingers is a well-written show with great themes that will delight those longing for nostalgia and teenagers who love melodrama with some ass-kicking moments on the side. There’s a reason why Netflix was so interested in giving this series a new home. Cobra Kai is entertaining as hell, and with Netflix backing them now, the sky’s the limit for this series.
Cobra Kai‘s third season heads to a new dojo, Netflix, on January 1, 2021.