2021 is off to a fantastic start thanks to Cobra Kai Season 3. Going into the new season, I was mildly concerned since some of the reviews were more negative than critiques of the first two seasons. I was afraid that the third season of Cobra Kai would be as bad as the third Karate Kid movie. Thankfully, the concern was unwarranted.
Cobra Kai Season 3 was just as entertaining as the previous seasons. It’s certainly not award-winning television by any means, but the show absolutely succeeds in delivering big, dumb, and nostalgic fun. The hooks are clever enough to keep you interested, while the overall tone is ridiculous and fluffy enough to make the show infinitely rewatchable. If you enjoyed the first two seasons of the show then it’s highly likely that you’ll enjoy the third.
After watching each episode twice, here are ten random thoughts on Cobra Kai Season 3 using the tried and true RPadTV binary system. Warning: spoiler punches will be fast and furious.
Cobra Kai Season 3 is More of the Same (Good)
I genuinely don’t understand why some critics had issues with Cobra Kai Season 3. It uses the same formula that made its predecessors so much fun: heavy doses of nostalgia, WWE-level writing, preposterous action scenes, and silly drama. This time around, the show takes a stroll down Karate Kid Part II memory lane, with a bit of Karate Kid Part III.
The struggles of the first two seasons are mostly the same for Daniel and Johnny. The kids, however, face all-new challenges. Miguel has to re-learn how to walk, Samantha has PTSD from getting sliced up by Tory, and Robbie is (stupidly) on the run from the law. It’s a good mix of familiar situations that stay true to the show’s roots and new paths that allow the story to develop.
Hawk’s Face Turn (Good)
There are several brief moments throughout the season where Hawk shows remorse and uncertainty. His face turn was telegraphed, but well done. He’s a good kid that’s overcompensating for being bullied most of his life. He knows he’s being a dick and that the things he’s been doing are wrong. It was nice to see him drop some of the Hawk schtick and let Eli Moskowitz shine through.
His face turn comes in the middle of this season’s big brawl and it seems really sudden. That said, it’s a nice payoff to the work Jacob Bertrand put into the character. Everything leading up to the switch was expressed with facial expressions, not spoken lines. Bertrand did a great job building up to the face turn without a single line of dialogue.
Chozen is the Best (Around) (Good)
My favorite episodes were the two set in Okinawa. It was hilarious that Daniel took a trip to the “old country,” only to discover that Tomi Village has transformed into a Southern California strip mall. Tamlyn Tomita did a wonderful job of bringing back Kumiko’s innocent charm and the Yuna coincidence quickly wrapped up a plot that would’ve overstayed its welcome
The best part of these episodes — and for me, the entire season — was Chozen. Yuji Okumoto was tremendous. Like his Uncle Sato, Chozen spoke in two distinct voices — his menacing and shouty one plus his soft and kind one. He had a valuable lesson to teach Daniel and the payoff was hilarious. Between Chozen screaming in the bar and him cracking up after the honk, he was my favorite character in Cobra Kai Season 3.
Too Much Kreese (Bad)
John Kreese is a great character that’s best in limited doses. This season had way too much of him. Between the current story, his flashbacks, and his horrendous fight scene, it was easy to get sick of Kreese. While the flashback helps you understand why Kreese is the way he is and builds up Terry Silver’s future involvement, it was entirely too long. Two-thirds of that story would’ve been better and as effective.
Martin Kove is a septuagenarian and his fight scene reflected that. The choreographers tried to cover Kove’s age with quick cuts, clever camera angles, and a stuntman, but it looked really bad. Hopefully we never have to see him “fight” again.
Nerd Trio Reunited (Good)
The best thing about Hawk’s aforementioned face turn is that it puts the three original nerds from the first season back on the same side. I’m looking forward to seeing how Miguel, Demetri, and Eli interact with each other now that they’re on the same team (for now).
Cobra Kai Season 3 Needed More Moon (Bad)
Moon was my favorite bit character in the first two seasons of the show. While she has two excellent moments this season (her “brunch not punch” song and proclaiming that she’s a sex-positive feminist), there wasn’t enough of her. It was great having a doofus hippie on the sidelines watching the fight between good kids and bad kids.
Cobra Kai Season 3 Has Excellent Music (Good)
One of the best parts of the show has been its use of music. Between Bill Conti’s unforgettable score, the catchy and cheesy original songs from the movies, and 80s hits, Cobra Kai knocks music out of the park. The trend continues this season with some Motley Crue (“Kickstart My Heart”), Journey (“Open Arms”), Twisted Sister (“I Wanna Rock”), and more. If you’re a child of the 80s or into 80s culture, the show is worth watching for the music alone.
Robbie is Stupid (Bad)
During the first two seasons of the show, Robbie was a bad kid trying to become good. He’s suffered a traumatic childhood and it was great to see him becoming an upstanding young man. The Most Ridiculous Karate High School Brawl has left him wanted by the law and making bad decisions. Daniel and Johnny want to do good by him, but he ends up traumatized by a stint in juvenile detention and into the manipulative clutches of Kreese.
Robbie’s 360 could have been avoided if he listened to one of the many sensible adults trying to help him. Instead, it looks like he’ll be the heel next season, partially because Kreese will play him and partially because he’s a moron.
I Missed Aisha and Stingray (Bad)
Two great supporting characters from the previous seasons didn’t make it to the third. Aisha, Sam’s childhood friend who was a science geek transformed into a bully by Cobra Kai, was written off; the writers allegedly didn’t have anything for her to do. Stingray, the manchild that joined Cobra Kai, was written off, but may come back in the future. While it makes sense that his character can’t be around kids due to his participation in The Most Ridiculous Karate High School Brawl, his levity was missed.
Elisabeth Shue Deserves a Trophy (Good)
Elisabeth Shue was, by far, the most accomplished and talented actor on set. That’s not a knock on anyone else; she’s simply in another class. Shue playing around in the world of Cobra Kai was like if LeBron James played a few games in the NBA D-League. Yet, she made it work. That’s not always easy to do. When talented people are surrounded by those not as skilled or experienced as they are, the results can be poor. I guess that’s another reason why she’s Elisabeth Shue, national treasure.
Your Thoughts on Cobra Kai Season 3?
Overall, I enjoyed Cobra Kai Season 3 immensely. It was exactly what I wanted from the show and left me excited for the next season. How about you? What did you think of it? Do some kata, focus your chi, and leave your thoughts in the comments section (please).