by Nick L’Barrow
In just two seasons, Cobra Kai has solidified itself as one of the best shows of recent times in two ways. Firstly, it’s significant impact on the current cultural zeitgeist. And secondly, it has successfully done what many reboots and spin-offs have failed to do in the past – recreate the elements of what makes the original source material great and still be relevant and entertaining for a modern audience.
Season 2 of Cobra Kai’s cliff-hanger finale left Miguel unresponsive in hospital, Robbie and Tory on the run, Kreese still digging his claws deeper into the Cobra Kai dojo and Johnny and Daniel attempting to control their rivalling clans after the huge battle at West Valley High School. So many jumping off points for great story arcs in season 3 were set up by this finale making the latest instalment of the Karate Kid spin-off another great and bingeworthy watch.
Season 3 smoothly continues with intriguing side stories and characters that have been strongly established over the previous seasons. Even though Cobra Kai is now juggling many character arcs, it still manages to hold a cohesive, but more importantly, engaging narrative that undoubtedly doubles down on the emotional investments this time around.
Whether its rooting for Miguel to recover from his life-threatening injuries or young Demetri to finally build his confidence and hold his own in a fight – each character, no matter how large or small their role is, has a great emotional arc. None more emotional this season, however, than the main ‘Karate-Kid’ himself, Daniel LaRusso.
Daniel this season finds himself having to travel to Okinawa, Japan in order to keep a contract alive for his now struggling car dealership. For fans of The Karate Kid Part II, this is significant as Daniel returns to Miyagi’s hometown and confronts old flames and enemies from this movie. In standard fashion, the show itself will fill in all the blanks with flashbacks and clips from the movie to catch new viewers up, but for fans of the franchise, this is a welcomed surprise which arguably brings the most heartfelt and best moments of the season to show.
One thing that Cobra Kai has consistently improved on are all the high intensity and action-packed karate scenes. Even after the exciting and amazing fight at the high school during season two’s final episode, season 3 manages to increase the excitement and stakes of the fights in both fine quality and substantial quantity. Using great stunt work, choreography and some fun one-take camera shots, the action is a massive reason as to why this show is continually getting better and better.
For many casual viewers of the show, there is no denying that the level of drama in this show is high. Like, over-the-top-teenage-drama high. It’s practically The OC but with loads of karate. The teenage issues and relationships are good portion of the shows story arcs. And occasionally, the level of investment in those parts of the shows do feel less earned than the more “serious” or adult themes with Johnny or Daniel’s characters. But in all honesty, that’s exactly what the original Karate Kid movies were all about, and it’s a welcomed nostalgia for the shows light hearted tone.
For both old time fans of the franchise and new lovers of Cobra Kai, there is a lot here to love. From the intense action scenes, great character arcs and varying levels of drama, Cobra Kai shows no signs of slowing down soon. And if it holds on to this level of quality for the seasons to come, definitely deserves to go down as one of the greatest spin-offs ever created.
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