(DISCLAIMER: this review of Season 3 of Cobra Kai will be SPOILER-FREE in regard to major plot turns until you read down to the spoilery space below)
What’s new, readers? Let’s get right into Cobra Kai, the much-beloved action-comedy show that debuted on YouTube Premium in 2018 as a spinoff to The Karate Kid film franchise. I had heard of the show for a while, but wasn’t that interested in it until the second season dropped. Unfortunately, YouTube kept the show behind a bothersome paywall, and signing up for a free trial to watch it specifically and then cancelling the membership wasn’t a desirable option in case YouTube made the quitting procedure difficult. You know how corporations love making their customers jump through hoops like that. So I was overjoyed when both seasons of Cobra Kai got released outside the paywall for a limited time in 2019. Then Youtube, realizing original content wasn’t their forte, sold off the show to Netflix in June 2020—the right move to make for a series that was growing far too big for its first home and is now one of the most-watched shows on Netflix.
Cobra Kai proved itself to be a surprisingly and consistently excellent show with its first two seasons. Set thirty-four years after Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) crane-kicked Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) in the face at the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, the series took a curious approach by focusing on Johnny as he picked himself up from his crappy life and reopened the notorious Cobra Kai Dojo. This subsequently revived his long-dormant rivalry with Daniel, who had gone from high school karate champion to owner of a local car dealership, then proceeded to retaliate against Johnny by launching his own dojo, Miyago-Do. The co-creators—Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, co-directors of the Harold & Kumar comedies, and Josh Heald, writer of Hot Tub Time Machine—and the writing crew achieved what should have been the nearly impossible task of keeping the series faithful to the spirit of The Karate Kid, creating impressively fun and self-aware narratives driven by likable characters and their interrelationships, and existing in a charmingly kitschy pocket universe where karate is the pinnacle of awesomeness. Really, it’s astounding to consider the quality gap between how subpar the show should be and how great the show actually is.
Overall, Season 3, which arrived at Netflix on January 1, doesn’t disappoint, maintaining the show’s capacity for remarkably tight writing and engaging storylines constructed around The Karate Kid lore. The season kicks off to a good start with the opening episode, “Aftermath,” which explores how Johnny, Daniel, and the rest of the characters are handling the titular aftermath of the bonkers school fight at the end of Season 2. It almost feels as if the show uses this time to acknowledge just how crazy things are getting as John Kreese (Martin Kove), the psychopathic sensei and Vietnam veteran who stole Cobra Kai from Johnny, asserts an imperious grip on the young students at his dojo and ingrains in them his iconic motto: “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”
Cobra Kai has been adept at stretching its narrative into popcorny outrageousness while managing to retain a semblance of realism and setting up crucial stakes for its characters. All of that escalates in Season 3. While the narrative can lean too far into campiness and sitcom contrivances for my taste and the pacing can be awkward here and there, the season largely succeeds at straddling that fine line between the excessive karate drama and the relatively grounded relationships. It helps that the show hasn’t lost its wonderfully snappy sense of humor. One of my favorite gags is Johnny knocking books out of a passing teenager’s arms, then remarking, “Sorry, kid. Old habit.”
The series has always been filled with hearty nods to the eighties and the old Karate Kid flicks, but this season is especially replete with fanservice in the form of a few delightful cameos and numerous homages to the second and third Karate Kid sequels that are woven into the narrative without feeling forced. I’ve only seen the first movie, so the flashbacks are very helpful with keeping me up to speed on the events of the sequels. And the karate fights are fun as always, with an especially engrossing and giant brawl at the end of Season 3 including a prolonged and well-choreographed one-shot that smoothly segues between multiple different struggles in a callback to the Season 2 school fight.
Throughout the show, Johnny has been redeemed from his villain origins and evolved into the most astonishingly absorbing character in the cast. This doesn’t stop in Season 3. The bumps and ridges around his edges are on full display as he tries various well-meaning but dubious ways to help his star student and neighbor Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) recover from the paraplegia in which he was left after almost getting inadvertently killed by Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), Johnny’s estranged son, at the school fight. The show is deft at simultaneously teasing and sympathizing with Johnny for being stubbornly stuck back in the ‘80s as a guy who loves Tango & Cash, keeps a collection of old Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazines, refers to women as “babes,” and acts politically incorrect in a manner that’s soft enough to play into his outdated personality and make me chuckle-cringe instead of just cringe. It’s stunning that he’s always been pretty easy to cheer for, considering he wasn’t the greatest person in Season 1, where he, among other things, complained about immigrants when he first met Miguel and initially objected to Aisha (Nichole Brown) joining his dojo because she’s a girl. However, he’s shown himself since then to be open to inch-by-inch growth by taking advice from his students on such matters as sexism and not calling people “penis breath.” His ineptitude in regard to social media and modern technology—exemplified by him calling hashtags “hash browns,” mispronouncing WebMD as “webbemed,” composing a long-winded Facebook message in all caps, and owning a Dell laptop—makes him even more endearing. Kudos to Zabka for taking a role that began as a cartoonish bad-boy villain, committing to it with enough rough-hewn charm and emotional range to carry the show, and making it feel plausible that Johnny is actually much wiser than he was as a teenager and is able to learn from his mistakes. I don’t know why Zabka’s career hit the skids after The Karate Kid, but I’m happy he’s able to display his potential now. Personally, I’d love to see him develop his acting chops outside Cobra Kai and work under a director like Marielle Heller or Charlie Kaufman.
Daniel has always been a pretty sympathetic guy in the first two seasons despite his smarminess and his tendency to act as immaturely than Johnny. But Season 3 really draws viewers over to his side as he does his best to save karate in the Valley and repel the ridiculous amount of disorder and pugnacity being stirred up by Kreese and his disciples. The trip he makes to Okinawa, Japan (shot on location with that sweet, sweet Netflix cash, and something the show wouldn’t have been able to afford on YouTube), in a last-minute attempt to meet with an auto client and save his dealership slots into the show’s internal logic without feeling contrived, and once he reaches his destination, it turns into one of the best plotlines I’ve seen in the show due to its authentic performances and character beats.
This is also the season that puts a spotlight on his wife Amanda (Courtney Henggeler), whom I’ve always enjoyed as the supportive partner who works with her husband at their dealership, becomes a sounding board for his misgivings, and is always ready to cut him down to size whenever he gets too big for his britches. On a meta level, her character serves as the show’s voice of reason, verbalizing what the audience is thinking and pointing out the silliness of these shenanigans. Season 3 sees Amanda being integrated more deeply with the story than ever before as she realizes what a monster Kreese is and involves herself alongside Daniel in the fight to prevent him from overtaking the Valley.
Kreese himself emerges as an intriguing part of the season through the backstory it gives him. Like Johnny, he was an over-the-top villain in the movie series. Now the show uses flashbacks to reveal the trials of his younger years, most of which took place in Vietnam during the war, and add a new facet to his character. In the present, he’s entertaining as all get out thanks to Kove’s sublimely hammy performance. At the same time, his character can get a bit much for me, particularly during the occasions when a simple phone call to the police could stop him from inciting his pupils to violence. Then again, the show is framing local law enforcement as being useless, which I guess isn’t a farfetched notion. Plus, as evil as he is, he’s also worming his way into the community and gaining its trust by feigning a benevolent and fatherly front, something at which many sociopaths excel.
One of the things I love most about the show is its strongly character-driven base. It certainly leans into that for Season 3, particularly with the teenagers. Daniel’s daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser, who was 22 when she began playing 17-year-old Sam, the same age that Macchio was back when he played Daniel in The Karate Kid) is seen struggling to recover from the PTSD of almost being mutilated by her ferocious archenemy Tory (Peyton List), Miguel shares touching moments with Johnny during his recuperation, and the intense enmity between Eli, AKA Hawk (Jacob Bertrand), and Demetri (Gianni DeCenzo) progresses through its own compelling turns. Robby is the only outlier, not having as much to work with as he did in the other seasons, though his arc this season does set him up to be a major player in Season 4. It’s no sweat to emotionally invest yourself in all these characters, even the smallest ones like friends-turned-enemies Chris (Khalil Everage) and Mitch (Aedin Mincks) or popular girls Moon (Hannah Kepple) and Yasmine (Annalisa Cochrane). The show gives off the distinct air of paying attention to everyone in the cast, especially during the moments when it explores certain characters from whom you wouldn’t have expected any depth.
The high schoolers are appealing all around, with Bertrand and List deserving extra credit for embodying their characters with enough charm to get you to root for them, even as they do the most horrible acts under Kreese’s cult-like mentorship. I must say, it’s boss to see Peyton List, whom I’ve had a massive crush on since her Diary of a Wimpy Kid days, sink her teeth into Tory’s terrifying badassery. After Wimpy Kid, she became a Disney starlet on the TV shows Jessie and Bunk’d. It can be challenging to successfully break out of that mold, but she made the right move transitioning into this menacing role. She was actually what drew me to Cobra Kai in the first place once she joined it in Season 2. Honestly, I’m baffled as to why she hasn’t hit her peak in a similar fashion to Zendaya. Mark my words, though—her time to shine is on the horizon.
Cobra Kai has been on the receiving end of some recent flak for being racist. Aside from Miguel and Chris, the cast is primarily white. It’s definitely problematic that this show has been around for three seasons and the sole Asian character is Kyler (Joe Seo), who only plays a minor role. The team for the series has spoken out about this and said Asian representation in Season 4 is something they’re focusing on. I don’t think the whiteness is as in your face as it is in, say, the MCU, but it’s without a doubt an issue that the crew needs to fix.
To conclude my non-spoilery assessment of Season 3 of Cobra Kai, it doesn’t outdo the superb content in either of the preceding seasons—my favorite season is the first one, since it’s the smartest season and it navigates the themes of the series most deftly out of all the seasons—but it heightens everything I love about the show and sustains its reputation as one of the best popcorn TV series you can watch right now. Season 4 will start production in early 2021, according to Heald, which means Netflix could drop it on New Year’s Day, 2021, to follow up with their release of Season 3 on January 1, 2020.
Read onward if you want my spoilery thoughts on Season 3 of Cobra Kai. All my love and prayers go to you, readers. Stay healthy and stay strong.
Windup score: 88/100
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
Two of the supporting characters were missing this season. Raymond, AKA Stingray (Paul Walter Hauser), wasn’t present, and while I enjoyed him for the time he was on, I wasn’t begging to see more of him. I’m much more upset by the absence of Aisha, whom the writers said they didn’t have room to incorporate into this season, resulting in their writing her out in that line about her moving out of town. Personally, I think the writers could have tried a little harder to involve her rather than cut her out and leave Sam without a close friend to back her up during the trouble with Tory. Even a heart-to-heart over the phone between Sam and Aisha would have been nice. A part of me wants Aisha to move back into town, but this might be too much of a soap opera move.
As I already said, the Okinawa trip is a supremely enthralling part of this season. Bringing back Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto, who owns two Hawaiian restaurants called Kona Kitchen here in my hometown of Seattle) from The Karate Kid Part II could have been nothing more than a fluffy throwback, but it ends up enriching their relationships with Daniel, showing how they’ve progressed since the events of the sequel, and making it fun for people like me who haven’t seen the sequels. Just thinking about the scene where Kumiko reads aloud Mr. Miyagi’s love letters makes my heart want to explode. It was smart for the show to bring in Yuki (Nobu McCarthy), once the little girl whom Daniel rescued from a tsunami, for a cameo as the senior VP of Sales at Doyona (the show’s fictional Toyota), serving the purposes of both nostalgia and plot.
Johnny and Daniel both have dynamic arcs this season, but the Okinawa trip particularly capitalizes on Daniel’s personal narrative by reuniting him with Chozen and showing how his old rival has changed since they last met. Daniel felt like he’d been out of touch spiritually for some time, so it’s good to see him reconnect with his spiritual self and with Mr. Miyagi on this trip. It was just as satisfying to watch him reconcile with Chozen and realize people are capable of making amends for their mistakes—a lesson that he ends up transferring over to his view of Johnny, someone whom he’s stubbornly believed was and always will be a loser and a jerk, and someone whose development as a person he comes to accept to the point of the two middle-aged men partnering their dojos. Plus, Daniel gets to learn Mr. Miyagi’s secret pressure point techniques from a scroll. Yes, a scroll, which fits into this absurdly karate-centric world quite nicely.
Cobra Kai did a spectacular job with bringing back Elisabeth Shue in the role of Ali Mills, once the love interest whom Daniel and Johnny fought over in their youth. Shue wasn’t even confirmed to be part of the cast when Season 2 ended with the reveal of Ali accepting Johnny’s friend request on Facebook, so the show was taking a real risk with that teaser. The buildup to her long-awaited return is hilarious, consisting of Johnny, with the help of Miguel, clumsily figuring out social media mores as he reconnects with Ali. Then there’s the moment when her mom arrives home and the camera pans over to Ali herself on the couch, with an oh-yeah-I’m-here grin on her face. For the last couple episodes, she gets to be as sweet, beautiful, and down-to-earth as she was when she was a teenager—so much so that even Amanda, rather than reacting with envy, just goes, “I can’t wait to talk to you,” and is eager to chat with Ali. I’m extremely glad the plot didn’t go in the tiresome direction of her (a) wooing Johnny and messing up his budding romance with Miguel’s mother Carmen (Vanessa Rubio), or (b) egging on Johnny and Daniel to reignite their fight over her. Instead, she delivers some great nostalgia, points out that the rival senseis actually aren’t all that different (I’ve always believed their paths as teenagers would have been switched if Johnny had Mr. Miyagi as his mentor and Daniel had Kreese), and opens up Johnny’s eyes to the realization that he needs to stop living in the past and pining over her so he can move on with the present and commit himself to Carmen. Shue barely shared screentime with Zabka in The Karate Kid, so it’s gratifying to see them interact maturely and positively at the end of this season. I’d love for Ali to return, perhaps in time for the 51st All Valley tournament in Season 4, but only if it can be done without feeling cheesy.
I was struck by how Kreese’s backstory initially presented him as an innocent and gentle guy who was able to put those bullies (one of whom was played by Martin Kove’s son) in their place after one of them got rough with his girlfriend. Young Kreese and her got together before he shipped off to Vietnam, where we see him go on a mission and hesitate to make a choice that would complete it but also kill a fellow soldier in the process. As a result, the enemy forces caught his unit, shot a companion right in front of him, and threw the survivors into a cage in which they had to sit and wait until the soldiers selected them for fights to the death over a snake pit. Kreese crossed the Line of No Return when he adopted his captain’s “no mercy” policy in the snake pit brawl and downright murdered him. I like how his origin gets the audience to sympathize with him to an extent because of his time in Vietnam—although I could have done without the fridging of his girlfriend—while letting him make a pivotal decision as to whether he would be merciful or give in to his cruelty. At the same time, I wonder if this was truly the moment when a switch flipped for him or if he was always a heartless bastard hiding under a kind exterior. Now that his character is being fleshed out, is it possible for him to undergo a redemption arc? Honestly, I don’t know if the show can convincingly pull that off for a malicious and conniving brute like him. It seems much more plausible for Robby and Tory to switch over to the good guys’ side.
Miguel didn’t have too much character development this season, but it was still incredibly pleasant to watch him and Johnny get up to their antics during the former’s recovery, like going to the Dee Snider concert or snapping cool pictures of Johnny to gussy up his Facebook profile. One of the funniest scenes in the season, if not the entire show, is the one where Johnny shows off his glam shots to Miguel, especially with the uproarious “baby oil” line. The teacher-student bond between them has always been a fun and touching part of the show, though there is a sobering aspect to it when you consider the disparity between their bond and Johnny’s fraught relationship with Robby. On the one hand, it’s moving to see Miguel and Johnny spend all this time together and be so close, but on the other hand, it makes you sympathize more for Robby and wish Johnny would put just as much effort into being a good father to him.
Robby’s arc didn’t have much meat for the first half of the season, but it still manages to be one of the most heartbreaking parts of the show, along with Tory’s story. He’s always had a tough time finding stability in his life, having had to wrestle with feeling neglected by his flawed father, his mom being a drunkard who constantly brought home dates until she went to rehab, losing the All Valley tournament when Miguel struck his injured shoulder, and eventually reciprocating with his own ruthless move in the school fight that resulted in him coming close to killing Miguel. In Season 3, Robby spends a good chunk of it getting bullied in Juvenile Hall, feeling betrayed by Daniel for ambushing him and putting him there, feeling abandoned once again when Johnny skips visiting him and instead stays at the hospital with Miguel, catching Miguel and Sam in what he misinterprets as a romantic moment together (one of the sitcom contrivances I didn’t need this season), running off to Kreese and relying on him as his toxic father figure, and goading his dad into a fight that ended with Johnny accidentally knocking his son unconscious. Robby is quite similar to Anakin Skywalker at this point, letting himself be engulfed by his own hurt and rage, while Kreese is the Palpatine of this show, encouraging him to derive strength from those poisonous emotions. I hope Season 4 will conclude with a much happier ending for Robby than Anakin, an ending where he frees himself of his malice, breaks away from Kreese, and heals his relationships with Johnny and Daniel.
Sam can be an annoying character with her habit of acting whiny and making some pretty foolish decisions throughout the show. Season 3 sees her continuing to behave that way on occasion, but overall her PTSD plotline is quite engrossing. It’s not often when you see a show as campy as this one explore the stories of characters confronting the weighty fallout of their negative choices. This makes it all the better to watch the show flesh out Sam’s arc with her panic attacks, her Wolverine scars, and the talk she has with her father about her trauma. She feels more nuanced this season than ever before, and it’s boosted by Mouser bringing a sense of solemnness and regret to this role. I do wish the show could set up more friendships for Sam to fall back on rather than focusing so much on her romantic relationships with Miguel and Robby. Again, Aisha could have stuck around, but the writers moved her out of town, isolating Sam in a position where she had to process her problems mainly by herself, with a modicum of support from her father and then her ex-boyfriend-turned-current-boyfriend. It’s irritating that Sam and Miguel’s reconciliation is the tacky plot point that pisses off Robby, especially since I would have preferred the continuation of his and Sam’s romance instead of her and Miguel getting back together and ignoring all the red lights indicating that this isn’t the healthiest relationship for them. I just hope the show doesn’t throw in extraneous drama by breaking them up again in Season 4.
Tory doesn’t display as much character growth as some of the other teens this season, but she’s still captivating to watch as she begins this season by working two jobs to provide for her brother and her ailing mother while putting up with sexual harassment from her disgusting landlord (seriously, doesn’t he have better things to do with his time than prey on underage girls? I must say, the one time I’ve ever been on Kreese’s side is when he threatened to slice off the slimeball’s finger with his cigar cutter). Then Kreese reels her back into his dojo for her karate prowess, and the season wraps up with her losing a rematch against Sam at the LaRusso household. She’s possibly the most mesmerizing fighter on the show due to the intense presence of the actor herself and the bloodthirsty choreography with which she’s able to work. It can be easy to dismiss Tory as crazy, but I think deep down she’s merely an extremely passionate person and is capable of doing plenty of good. It just so happens that she’s channeling all her passion towards Kreese’s cause, resulting in her being engulfed by the same rancor as Robby. Hopefully, she’s able to eventually reject Kreese’s darkness and find the light of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang Karate. For the purposes of the series, though, I understand her redemption might not happen for a while—at least not until the end of Season 4 or sometime in Season 5—because of how pleasurable and yet spine-chilling it is to watch her be such a relentless badass. Admittedly, as much as I didn’t want her to literally and metaphorically scar Sam at the school fight, it was pure fun watching Tory whip out that spiked bracelet of hers.
Demetri is essentially the lost brother of Frasier and Niles Crane, a personality that came off as irksome more often than not in the first two seasons. So I was glad to see him tone down the pouting and gain some confidence that offset his pomposity in Season 3. However, this is also where we had to watch him get his arm snapped by Hawk. Child torture is not fun. But at least Yasmine signed his cast, followed by Miguel and Sam catching them necking together. With Yasmine dismissing the kiss and Demetri getting swooped up in his infatuation for her, it makes sense to predict they’ll keep dating sub rosa in Season 4.
Hawk has never come so close to Kreese-level savagery as he did when he broke Demetri’s arm this season. It’s staggering to consider his beginning as a dork who was taunted because of his cleft lip, then his gradual transformation into an absolutely callous bully who deemed his former best friend and other perceived wimps as targets worth hectoring, and now his apparent return to the good side as he and Demetri bury the hatchet and he enrolls with Miyagi-Do/Eagle Fang. Like Tory, Hawk’s portrayal benefits greatly from the actor’s aura of sheer ferocity, both in karate fights and in social situations. Bertrand deserves a big thumbs-up for selling the viciousness of his role as easily as the momentary flashes of timidity and embarrassment that his character experiences during events like those old bullies Kyler and Brucks (Bo Mitchell) coming to his dojo (we never got a Hawk-Kyler fight this season, so I highly believe the show will give it to us in Season 4) or Robby showing him up by successfully stealing the snake from the zoo. I do wish the show led up to Hawk’s flip at the LaRusso house fight more effectively; while he expressed reluctance here and there this season, his sudden turn might have felt more believable if there had been a quick scene of him on the drive over to the LaRussos as he starts to question whether it’s really okay for him and his comrades to storm the place. In the end, though, I’m glad he reunited with Demetri and is under the tutelage of Daniel and Johnny. He’s definitely the kind of devoted and impassioned fighter that Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang needs on their side if they want to win the upcoming All Valley tournament. However, Hawk is also an impulsive teenager who is still struggling to get a firm handle on his sense of self, which makes me worry that he might not be able to resist Kreese, Tory, or Robby tempting him back over to Cobra Kai.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a season of Cobra Kai if it didn’t lead up to a brawl in the finale. Season 1 ended modestly enough at the All Valley tournament, while Season 2 jacked up the drama with the school fight. Season 3 managed to amp up the lunacy at the LaRusso residence, where the Cobra Kai kids invaded it in the middle of the students of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang stipulating a truce that would result in the two dojos combining together. Once that kid got hurled through the window, the situation just blew up into insanity. The show stepped it up even further by segueing into Johnny fighting Kreese at the Cobra Kai dojo, Daniel wielding the newly learned pressure points to disable Kreese, and then the pledge to settle things between the dojos at the next All Valley tournament. The season concluded in its final scene with the disciples of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang training together in the LaRusso backyard under the instruction of both Daniel and Johnny. Seriously, what more could we want?
When a beat-up Kreese calls an old friend while looking at a photo of himself and two fellow soldiers at the end of Season 3, it’s evocative of him being just as beat-up right after he killed his captain, at which point he proceeded to unlock the cage and free the other soldiers—one of whom promised he’ll be there for Kreese if he needs anything. It looks clear-cut that Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffin), the toxic waste-dumping villain from The Karate Kid Part III, will be brought back into the fold in Season 4. It’s a good bet that Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan), another big bully from the same movie, could also make an appearance in either in Season 4 or 5, maybe as the sensei of his own dojo.
While we’re on the topic of returning characters, many viewers believe Julie Swanson (Hilary Swank), the lead of the much-maligned The Next Karate Kid, might pop into the series to enroll her child at Miyagi-Do/Eagle Fang or Cobra Kai, or be the sensei of her own dojo. I would say it’s unbelievable, but three seasons ago I would have had the same thought if someone predicted Johnny and Daniel forming an alliance or the reappearances of Chozen and Silver. The series has reportedly tried to get Swank on, but she’s turned them down multiple times. Now that Cobra Kai is on Netflix, it’s far from improbable for her to sign on and cash that big streaming paycheck. Who knows, maybe even Shawn (Okea Eme-Akwari), the guy who bullied Robby in juvie before they had their final battle and found some grudging respect for each other, could come back in the future.
The series has always dealt heavily with bullying, and Season 3 keeps building upon that through a broad cast of characters who address the matter in varying degrees, whether they dispense the abuse or suffer from it. They include Kreese and Tory, who are buried within their sadistic cruelty; Johnny and Chozen, who were once downright bullies but have seen the error of their ways and improved themselves significantly since then; Hawk, who committed some terrible acts this season before arriving at a turning point, though we’ll have to wait and see if Cobra Kai will lure him back into the darkness; and Daniel, Sam, and Demetri, who have responded fairly well to bullying and resisted getting sucked into its whirlpool of animosity. As farcical as the show can be, it’s always been smart when it centers around the themes of what it really means to be a bully, the impact such torment has on its victims and their relationships with the people around them, and the redemptive capacity that people have to change themselves and atone for past sins. I wouldn’t have expected something like Cobra Kai to offer such a multifaceted assessment of bullying, but that just goes to prove the underrated perception of the writing.
I’m pumped to see how Season 4 will ratchet things up for this nostalgic, clever, and hits-you-in-all-the-feels show. My only genuine concern is it might lose steam if it lasts too long. Unless the series launches new obstacles for its characters to contend with, it could wrap up all its narratives in Season 4 and bring down the curtain at that point. If it does proceed to Season 5, I hope it can keep things fun and avoid getting repetitive.