Cobra Kai took the online video-watching world by storm. Not because someone had the gall to create a TV series-style sequel out of The Karate Kid trilogy, but to make it actually great and plausible while making some warranted callbacks to the series. The first season took concepts like “love triangles” and “80s nostalgia”, then added more substance beyond these two core pillars with story arcs of redemption and middle age blues.
How does the second season fare? For the most parts, pretty well! It amps up the teen drama, adds more dimension to its middle-aged leads (William Zabka and Ralph Macchio as Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso respectively), and creates a decent “dojo vs dojo” arc that blows up in a gratifying fashion in its season finale (“No Mercy”).
And yes, that blowup is way, WAY better than that Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3 battle. Fight us on this, we dare you.
It brings in some much-needed story bits from the past that becomes compelling drama in the present (“Take A Right”), fleshes out past season minor characters into potential frontliners (Demetri in “All In” and beyond), and even some much-needed in-fighting and philosophy battles between mentors (“Lull” and the episodes that lead up to it).
We even get a surprise character development arc for nostalgia-pandering more-than-a-cameo appearance by Martin Kove who plays the trilogy’s antagonist John Kreese. This all gets thrown out since his involvement in this season is just an iteration of leopards not changing their spots. Despite this, new star Peyton List (Tory) is shaping up to be the Yang to Mary Mouser’s Yin in the best and most natural way possible.
Kick, Punch, Turn, & Chop The Door
It’s compelling stuff as a whole, but one can’t help but feel that with what transpired and built up is demolished in the last few episodes because everything needs to be resolved in the eventual third season. Showrunners Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg are confident that it’ll have its story capped off the following year.
Which turns out to be true, since it’s renewed for a third season in 2020. But what a gamble, eh? We’d all be pissed if the show didn’t do well and ended up being cancelled.
Cobra Kai‘s second season, while still a worthy watch, suffers for being the typical “mid-movie” bridge with the dark turns for the story and Johnny’s story arc ending as such to make his eventual rise (along with Xolo Maridueña’s Diaz who balances his jerk/anti-hero/dork persona well here) all the more gratifying. We know it’s coming, and we know our show’s hero needs to make a comeback, but as a whole, it feels like it’s rushing there too fast instead of pacing itself properly.
It’s still a must-see & a fun ride, but keep your expectations low if you’re expecting anything more than a cliffhanger and a conclusive season.