The third season of “Cobra Kai,” the popular spinoff of the “Karate Kid” movies, is a well-written and gripping story from Netflix. The season is well worth the wait of nearly two years that we were given.
“Cobra Kai” takes place decades after the first movie that started it all, and features adult versions of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) in roles that really cement how good the casting for this franchise is. Both actors bring passion to their characters, and, despite years having passed since the release of the first movie, both perfectly capture the essence of the characters they portrayed decades ago.
While their lives are drastically different, they reignite their old rivalry when they open opposing karate dojos. Daniel runs Miyagi-Do, in honor of Mr. Miyagi, a central character in the film series. On the other hand, Johnny runs Cobra Kai, the win-at-all-costs dojo that gave this series its name. By season three, the rivalry between them has spilled over into their students, and we find ourselves in uncharted territory.
What makes “Cobra Kai” such a worthwhile show? It’s clear from watching it that a lot of hard work is put into making quality seasons and episodes. The good acting captures a wide range of character emotions; the setting and situations provide a fresh perspective on the lives our characters lead; and it contains many other elements of a good TV show: powerful emotions, positive and negative relationships, and some much-needed humor, which all blend together to create a visual masterpiece.
In addition to these positive attributes, the show also picks up on a common and likable trope: good characters, finding themselves making challenging decisions and bringing a heartfelt portrayal of how different people react to various situations. Rather than playing into stereotypes and predictable reactions, however, “Cobra Kai” interprets these themes in its own unique way and puts a new spin on the trope as a whole.
Similar to other shows that have found a home on Netflix, such as “All American” and “Outer Banks,” all three seasons of “Cobra Kai” focus on characters in undesirable situations, whether it be a rivalry, bullying or the challenges of high school as a whole. Still, our characters each find a unique way of taking their struggles and channeling them to become a variety of different characters.
Daniel’s daughter Samantha, played by Mary Mouser, trains peacefully at her father’s dojo, whereas her nemesis, Tory Nichols, played by Peyton List, grows to be a vengeful and powerful enemy. The character of Tory doesn’t hesitate to express her aggressive side, which makes her both a perfect antagonist and mirror opposite of Samantha LaRusso.
Each character also interprets core values such as friendship, resilience and community in their own way, whether it be embracing them, rejecting them as a whole or even switching from one to another. These qualities have become a staple in drama, sports and comedy shows geared towards teens. The difference is, the masterpiece that is “Cobra Kai” takes these qualities to a new level entirely, setting a high bar for future shows.
“Cobra Kai” has proven time and time again that it is not to be underestimated as a show. The next season is going to have a hard time topping the newly-released third season. This show is a must-see, and if there’s one thing that this most recent season has shown, it’s that the show as a whole is worthwhile for all.