After two seasons on Youtube Premium, Cobra Kai has transitioned to dominating streaming service Netflix for its latest season. With a new network heading up the series and an even larger audience exposed to the show, Cobra Kai has managed to overcome expectations and deliver what is undoubtedly its biggest and best season yet, full of high stakes, incredible action, and emotional arcs for each of its leads.
Cobra Kai’s third season picks up soon after the conclusion of the second, with its effects still very much in place. Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) finds himself in a coma following his battle with Robby (Tanner Buchanan), who is now on the run. With his fellow Cobra Kai followers like Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and Tory (Peyton List) at even greater odds with the students of Miyagi-do, such as Sam (Mary Mouser) and Demetri (Gianni Decenzo), Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny (William Zabka) must decide whether they should continue their long-standing feud, or set it aside in order to take down their enemy, John Kreese (Martin Kove).
After the amazing second season, pressure remained high for the popular sequel to the 80s classic, The Karate Kid. Luckily, this third season fails to disappoint, with some of the best writing the series has had to offer yet. Each and every character is sent on an amazing story arc, although some are stronger than others. The relationship at the center, much like with the previous seasons, is that of Johnny and Miguel, and with the second season ending on them at their lowest point, getting to see them recover and get better together proves to be an emotional joyride for any viewer, as the show is strengthened by strong performances from both Zabka and Maridueña.
Another storyline that deserves special praise is that of Hawk. Bertrand manages to encapsulate the conflicted nature of a weak outcast turned powerful bully in a very realistic way, showing how a child can be changed by the world around them. Robby’s arc in the season is also one to note, as Buchanan portrays the young boy slowly being pushed down a path that viewers will find themselves urging him against. Kreese returns as the primary antagonist, with extra depth added to the character in the form of flashbacks that serve as an origin. If only Kreese’s depth could’ve been added to Tory, the secondary villain, who feels extremely one-note, with no real personality trait or storyline besides being evil.
One of the biggest highlights of the season comes in the middle portion where, unlike the first two seasons, which primarily pay homage to the original The Karate Kid, we find ourselves returning to Okinawa with Daniel to continue the story of the equally beloved sequel The Karate Kid Part II. Through the return of Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), main characters from the sequel, we get to see perfect continuations of those storylines. We also get an emotional arc for Daniel in these episodes, with a tribute to Pat Morita’s iconic Mr. Miyagi that will undoubtedly touch viewers deeply.
One thing Cobra Kai has never been lackluster on is its action, and the third season is no different. This season delivers what is undoubtedly the most high-stakes fight scenes the show has brought yet, where viewers will find themselves legitimately on the edges of their seats wondering if a character will make it out alive or not. With the incredible school fight ending season 2, the series had a tough act to follow when it came to action, and it is very relieving to know that they surpass expectations in every way.
Cobra Kai season 3 is an exceptional continuation of The Karate Kid, as the series continues to break away from the often terrible sub-genre of 80s revivals and sequels, being an honorable entry in the iconic franchise. In the ten-episode season, viewers will find themselves laughing, crying, and cheering as their greatest hopes are fulfilled in the best run of the series yet.