After a near two year break and an acquisition by Netflix, the hidden YouTube ‘Karate Kid’ continuation gem but now smash hit Cobra Kai is back. We may have been waiting but for the characters it is only two weeks since the massive brawl at school. Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) in a coma, Robbie (Tanner Buchanan) is on the run, Johnny (William Zabka) is drinking his troubles away and Daniel’s (Ralph Macchio) business is suffering.
Miguel’s coma is handled lazily with the trope that he has to fight his way out of it in a dream. These scenes are unnecessary as you known as a character he would be fighting to come back and more time could have been spent on the effect his hospitalisation was having on others. We only briefly glimpse Robbie, who caused the injury, and Samantha (Mary Mouser) is clearly suffering from PTSD in the few scenes she appears in. If your episode run times are short you can’t be wasting screentime. It feels that the dream sequences are here just to get some karate into the episode.
At first it appears that Johnny’s character has reset to how he was at the start of season one. It quickly comes apparent that he still deeply cares for Miguel and is affected by his condition. Zabka cements Johnny as the heart of show with his unconventional willingness to try and help. In direct opposition to this is Kreese who maintains his position as the pantomime villain of the piece and Martin Kove, an actor in his seventies, still menaces as a physical presence. There is genuine tension when Daniel confronts him over the running of the Cobra Kai dojo.
The show is still wearing its Eighties heart on its sleeve. During a school meeting, to discuss the fight from season two, we get not only references to the original film but also to the dance classic ‘Footloose’. We also get the recurring joke that many see LaRusso as the high school bully.
A solid return that maybe doesn’t make best use of it’s run time.