Mercy Part II
Back in Black
Fire and Ice
The Moment of Truth
Take a Right
Glory of Love
Back in 2018, Cobra Kai was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Combining action, an 80’s vibe and a surprisingly faithful continuation of the Karate Kid world, Cobra Kai did an excellent job with its first season. The blurring of lines between our preconceptions of these characters we originally saw in the films were challenged and ultimately made the series work a lot deeper than its surface level plot.
Skip forward a year and Cobra Kai is back and badder than ever. With more karate action and a deeper exploration of the warring dojos, Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do, the second season feels a lot more black and white than it did before. With clear lines drawn between good and bad, Cobra Kai loses some of its deeper meaning but replaces it with a story rife with twists and turns along the way.
The story begins right where the first season left off. John Kreese is back and his influential presence over Johnny spells bad news for Cobra Kai. As our anti-hero struggles to find a unique identity for his dojo, Kreese’s influence spills over to Hawk and several rebellious members of the group who find themselves sparking a war with Miyagi-Do.
Meanwhile Diaz and Sam both find themselves growing closer to their new partners but old feelings threaten to spill over at any time. This teen romance angle builds toward a finale that sees both dojos driven to breaking point.
Despite the story feeling a lot more black and white this time around, Cobra Kai mixes things up with some new, interesting themes to explore. There’s a lot of imagery and ideals discussed here, including the idea of balance against raw strength. This crops up time and time again, with La Rousso’s continuing reliance on the dojo ironically contradicting his teachings in the dojo. It’s a fascinating concept too and even Johnny, who’s usually so strong and confident, finds his resolve challenged by John Kreese’s return.
Almost every character has more depth this year too, with most of the Cobra Kai kids (and Stingray) offering a good balance of humour and inner conflict. Where the series comes undone however is with La Rousso’s two star pupils. Both Robbie and Sam feel bland and ironically play the “goody/goody” archetype much more than they did the first time around.
Given the first season’s overall message around blurring lines and how things aren’t always black and white, the second season abandons that idea for a much clearer picture of Cobra Kai being the “bad guys” and Miyagi-Do as the “good guys”. Still, despite this the season is still enjoyable but it’s much less thought provoking as the first season.
Thankfully, Cobra Kai continues its fantastic humour and throughout the series there’s a great dose of comedy injected into proceedings. Whether it be Johnny’s illiteracy toward technology, Stingray’s hilarious outbursts or the various throwbacks to the first season, Cobra Kai at least keeps the core feel of the show intact for its second season.
Still, given the surprising quality of the first season, Cobra Kai’s second doesn’t quite have the same impact the first had. Despite a highly enjoyable story and a great dose of karate action and well worked comedy, the second season does pale in comparison. Fans of the show will certainly find a lot to like here and the series itself is definitely a great offering from YouTube, just don’t quite expect the second season to strike as hard as the first.
Verdict - 8/10