‘Cobra Kai’ strikes back with third season

Jenny Peery, Staff Writer

This review contains spoilers.

Season three of “Cobra Kai”, a spin-off of “The Karate Kid” (1984) films, dropped on Netflix on Jan. 1. This action-packed season is the show’s best so far, and any fan of this universe will not be disappointed with the direction it’s heading. Season three picks up right where season two left off, allowing the viewer to see the consequences of the big school fight from last season’s finale. 

Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) is paralyzed from his fall and spends the season recovering with the help of his sensei, Johnny (William Zabka). Meanwhile, Robby (Tanner Buchanan) is in trouble with the law for putting Miguel in a coma and feels abandoned by both of his father figures. Sam (Mary Mouser) wants revenge on the Cobra Kai kids but is suffering from anxiety because of the terrifying things she experienced during the fight. And, as always, Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny keep trying to figure out what the right thing to do is as their characters go on many adventures and face a wide range of problems.

 All of these troubles faced by the main protagonists pairs with the growing threat of John Kreese’s (Martin Kove) ever-evolving Cobra Kai. 

This season continues the show’s major theme of how generational trauma impacts everyone, not just by showing the currently traumatized teens, but also by giving a backstory to the previously cartoonishly-supervillain character Kreese. These flashbacks are spread out over many episodes, and the transitions between what the past Kreese experienced g and what the current Kreese is doing are well written. Showing Kreese’s past helps establish why he acts the way he does, turning him into a three-dimensional character, without making the audience sympathize with him. 

In contrast to “The Karate Kid”, where everything was black and white, good and evil, Cobra Kai emphasizes the idea that life is full of grey areas. It makes a point to show why characters make the decisions they do. This allows for realistic arcs that make the characters human. However, sometimes the way the characters develop feels rushed, requiring the viewer to assume a lot of off-screen action occurred to make sense. 

Other moments in season three don’t make sense and require some suspension of disbelief in order to be believable, such as the speed from which Miguel recovers from his paralysis or the lack of legal consequences the characters face. If the viewer ignores these details, however, then the storytelling of the season is well done. 

The cinematography is beautiful and entertaining. Transitions between scenes are especially well done; they are often clever and used in a funny way. Additionally, the choreography during the many fight scenes is amazing to watch. 

This season has a good balance between its overall cheesy, humorous tone and its more serious themes and emotional scenes. The jokes are mostly well-timed and rarely overdone. 

Likewise, the acting in this show is phenomenal, especially the performances of the younger actors. Jacob Bertrand, who plays Hawk, rarely gets to outwardly express his character’s inner thoughts, but he does an exceptional job communicating these feelings through his facial expressions. One can see the inner struggle his character is going through just by looking at his eyes, which is impressive. 

It is also fun to see older actors reprise their roles. When Daniel travels to Okinawa, many actors from “The Karate Kid Part II” (1986) make a guest appearance. Additionally, Elisabeth Shue, who played the love interest of both Daniel and Johnny in the original “The Karate Kid”, comes back for a few episodes, offering Johnny some much-needed wisdom and bringing him closure. 

The best part of the season is the powerful speeches the characters give to each other, showing the impact they have on others in their community. When the teen characters have an important moment in the show, voiceovers of their respective senseis play in their heads, inspiring them.

Although it is sometimes predictable, this season is full of twists and turns, making it a lot of fun to watch. This teen drama mixed with comedy is one that will hook any teen but will also be fun for families to watch together. It can be viewed exclusively through Netflix.