One of the most popular shows in recent memory, Cobra Kai, kicks its way into a highly anticipated third season. Initially beginning on YouTube Red back in 2018, the show gained a whole new fan base when it started airing on Netflix. Season 3 finds everyone reeling in the aftermath of the violent high school brawl between the dojos, which has left Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) in a precarious condition. We also find Daniel (Ralph Macchio) searching for answers from his past and Johnny (William Zabka) seeks redemption for his past actions.
Meanwhile, Kreese (Martin Kove) further manipulates his vulnerable students, including Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and Tory (Peyton), with his own vision of dominance. The Miyagi-Do students aren’t doing much better, while Daniel’s daughter Sam (Mary Mouser) deals with mild PTSD, and Johnny’s son Robby (Tanner Buchanan) is on the run.
The opening episode of season 3 is titled “Aftermath,” and it picks up two weeks after the Season 2 ending karate melee at West Valley High. I commend the writers of this episode, Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg, as it sets a perfect tone for the rest of the season. Whether or not Miguel recovers isn’t actually revealed in the first episode. Instead, the writers decided to let the story build-up. What I really enjoyed was the depths that season 3 brings to the consequences of your actions. No one in the series main cast gets off easy, and the writers handle the arcs in a way that both fans of Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai will enjoy.
Throughout ten episodes, season 3 of Cobra Kai features Daniel taking a trip back to Okinawa. He reunites with a former love Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) and former foe Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). I would have to say the episodes where Daniel is in Okinawa were some of my favorite moments in the season. Kudos to the writers for the storytelling angle they use for this overseas trip for Daniel. I must also mention there is a great callback to one of The Karate Kid Part II’s pivotal moments, which I won’t reveal here.
I also loved seeing the return of Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing a spin-off or one-shot that goes into detail about his life after his defeat at the end of The Karate Kid Part II. Fans of Kreese will be happy to know that season 3 even dabbles briefly into his backstory and why he became the man he is today. Martin Kove is having a grand time hamming it up as Sensei Kreese. It’s still a puzzling that he never made it to the A-List as a go-to bad guy in the eighties, as he plays evil so well.
As for the younger villains, I’m still not a fan of Hawk and his character. However, I do tip my hat to the writers for his third season arc, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for him. Jacob Bertrand fully commits to the role, and I would love to see what he can do outside of the Cobra Kai universe as he shows some great depth.
The rest of the young adult cast all get moments to shine this season. As Tory, Peyton List still owns the mean girl persona. At the same time, Xolo Maridueña and Mary Mouser continue to charm Miguel and Sam’s roles, respectively. Sadly, I did find one of my favorite characters, Demetri (Gianni Decenzo), arc to be a bit underdeveloped, which was a letdown. Nevertheless, he still has a few moments to shine.
However, we all know at its core, Cobra Kai is about the relationship between frenemies Daniel & Johnny. Ralph Macchio and William Zabka still have fantastic chemistry together. Their ability to go from a tag-team fighting local thugs, to arguing in an early episode was great to see. Not only do the writers respect the heart of The Karate Kid franchise, but Macchio and Zabka do as well.
While I did binge season 3 in one sitting, I did have one small gripe in the season finale. Homeowners, you’ll know the moment when you see it. Thankfully the cliffhanger and set up for season 4 validates my high grade for the season.
With decent martial arts action, a tremendous linear story arc for its core characters as a whole, applause-worthy moments, callbacks to all three previous films, and a few surprise cameo appearances, Cobra Kai season 3 continues the legacy of The Karate Kid franchise with class and grace.
Final Grade: A
Cobra Kai Season 3 will be available to stream on 1 January 2021 at www.netflix.com/cobrakai