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Today, YouTube Premium released the 10-episode second season of the highly-entertaining Cobra Kai, a follow-up series to The Karate Kid, taking place 34 years after the original film and finding former enemies Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) rekindling their old rivalry. Johnny blames all of his life’s misfortunes on Daniel and the way things played out at the All Valley karate tournament three decades earlier. So as a way to find redemption, he decides to reopen the Cobra Kai karate dojo, taking in other social outcasts, toughening them up, and teaching them the No Mercy motto of the Cobra Kai. His top student is Miguel Diaz, who happens to be Daniel’s daughter Samantha’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, Daniel has become a successful businessman, turning his All Valley fame into a way to sell cars. As a way to find balance in his life, Daniel decides to mentor a karate student Robby Keene – who, unbeknownst to him, is Johnny’s estranged son – teaching him the much more peaceful methods he learned from his own mentor, Mr. Miyagi. After several personal clashes throughout the season, things came to a head at the 50th Anniversary All Valley Under-18 Karate Championship, where once again the Cobra Kai utilized unethical methods, with Miguel exploiting Robby’s injured shoulder in order to win the match. As the season ended, Johnny found a shadowy figure waiting for him back at the dojo – his former mentor John Kreese (Martin Kove), who was thought to have been dead.
The second season picks up right where that jaw-dropping moment left off. Where has Kreese been all these years, and why has he returned now? What are his plans for the Cobra Kai dojo he created, and is he going to sit idly by and let Johnny run things? Meanwhile, Daniel decides to open his own dojo in order to fight back against Cobra Kai. However, he’s having trouble finding new students for his less flashy form of Miyagi-do karate, leaving him just two students – Robby and his daughter Samantha (though that’s one more than he had last season!).
The second season is one about love, forgiveness, redemption, and good versus evil. The series does an excellent job of making you question who is the real bully in this story – Johnny or Daniel. Johnny is in a constant struggle to better his life and do the right thing, but nothing ever seems to go as planned, and when he tries to do the right thing and things go wrong, he never gets credit for it. So why does he even bother? Why not just be the villain everyone seems to think he is?! Meanwhile, Daniel may seem like the nice guy, but when Johnny’s around, he turns into a bit of jerk. He’s also letting his obsession with the dojo take over the other aspects of his life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this second season – once I started, I binged my way straight the way through all ten episodes. Throughout the series, there is this nice parallel and contrast between the Miyagi-do and Cobra Kai training methods. While the ultimate goals and lessons are the same, the way these two dojos go about their training is vastly different. Over the course of the season, there are some really nice character arcs and growth, both for the adults as well as their students. As with the first season, the writers have done an excellent job of weaving in footage from the original film as a way to provide both backstory and to explain motivations and actions in the present. While the first season focused on the rivalry between Miguel and Robby, this season we get more of Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and his former (pre-Hawk) nerdy best friend Demetri (Gianni Decenzo). Plus there’s some fun new students and additions to the cast, including Paul Walter Hauser (Kingdom). The second season also sees the return of several characters from the film. It is another great season that culminates in an exciting, action-packed finale that will have you screaming at the TV for a third season.
Check out the entire second season now on YouTube!
I’ll also be watching/recording Whiskey Cavalier, The Amazing Race, What We Do in the Shadows, and Happy!.
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