The long-awaited Season Three of Cobra Kai is here, streaming now on Netflix, but is it any good, here’s our review.
Besides cathartic and well-choreographed teenage karate, two things keep audiences watching Cobra Kai. The first is that the show never stops changing. Characters that began season one as meek bully bait ended it as the aggressive bullies. Others started by wrestling with resentment and bitterness to end up in a state of inner peace. In Season Two, friendships and alliances form and falter. Conflicts that appear close to resolving end up accelerating. Like a cobra, the show slithers.
The second what The Karate Kid franchise is all about: heart, and the ability to improve oneself. Even for a karate show, Cobra Kai is full of conflict and characters that do awful things to one another. Yet we can help but earnestly root for each of them on every side. Except for John Kreese, that is.
Season Three continues these themes while also elevating them. Not only is change constant, but about-faces abound. Characters confront their demons, learn to let go of the past, and reconcile with enemies. The first two seasons slither; Season Three plants its roots and grows.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Two particular characters bring out this theme of evolution from each of our two leads. First, Danny LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) travels to Okinawa, seeking simplicity and retreat. Instead, he finds a Tomi Village that has seen four decades of Japanese capitalism. He luckily runs into Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita), who remains the ray of sunshine she was in The Karate Kid Part II. After reconnecting, Kumiko brings Danny to meet with Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). At first, Danny is apprehensive about spending time around his former attempted murderer. But Chozen reveals secret Miyagi karate techniques even Mr. Miyagi kept hidden.
These techniques are a complete turnaround from the typical Miyagi style of defence. In particular, Danny learns the secrets of Miyagi pressure points and how to numb them. As Chozen says, “If your enemy insists on war, take away his ability to wage it.” They end their brief reunion in forgiveness and friendship, the same as their senseis four decades previous.
For Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), his evolution comes from the person in the past he never let go. Mild spoilers for the end of the season, but we are finally graced with the presence of Ali (Elizabeth Shue). She and Johnny have a lovely day reminiscing and regretting. They run into Danny and Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) at a Christmas party, where Ali takes both men down a notch (and rewrites a little canon). It takes the woman at the centre of a rivalry echoing for forty years to get the men in it to see they are the same. It’s ironic that the characters brought in for the nostalgia factor teach us to let go of nostalgia.
The season is full of other highs. Miguel (Xolo Maridueno) recovers from paralysis to become the best of his Season One and Season Two selves. Sam (Mary Mauser) faces the trauma and panic resulting from the Season Two finale. Robby (Tanner Buchanan) and Tory (Peyton List) wrestle with, and succumb to, their guilt. Hawk sheds more of his decency every episode, and Jacob Bertrand portrays his fading humanity with impressive subtlety. Amanda, whose aloofness from the drama has been her charm, finally gets in the middle of it. And as insane as John Kreese is, Season Three gives us a humanising window into the man.
The lows are easy to ignore, but believability gets strained in this season. It’s natural that stakes are hard to raise after a school-wide karate riot. But the antics of Cobra Kai pass into outright felonies, culminating in a home invasion with the intent of aggravated assault. The tone becomes confusing, setting lighthearted teen comedy alongside scenes of deadly fear. We’ve moved from high school bullying too, “Why is no one calling the police? Do any of these kids have parents anymore besides the LaRussos and Carmen?”
These complaints would usually be leaning into the nitpicky side of things. But this season features both cops and parental political will as major subplots! Robby goes to jail and the PTA pressures the high school to act on the karate issue and institute new rules. We see Miyagi-Do characters blamed for the karate riot, but how does Cobra Kai avoid getting bad press? John “been fighting in Nam mentally for over half a century” Kreese stands before the city council and gets thanked while Danny gets reamed.
Robby’s character arc is understandable and necessary from a narrative standpoint. But the individual twists of his arc lacked effective execution. Rather than the intended tragic figure, Robby is coming across as a kid who absorbs a new personality once he spends two episodes with a group of people.
Fitting for a season interested in roots, Season Three has a lot of easter eggs from The Karate Kid Part II. Johnny begins the season by emulating his Sensei by breaking some car windows with his fists. Chozen and Danny have a sparring match that ends in the very same finishing move as their climactic fight. Kumiko is following her dream of being a traditional Okinawan dancer and reveals that she has remained, in Danny’s old words, “a free agent” over the years. Sam bonds with Miguel by explaining the secret of the Okinawan hand drum and the karate lesson it holds. And Danny recounts to Chozen the story of Miyagi karate´s origin that Mr Miyagi once told to him. And a character that Danny saved forty years ago returns to save him from his own troubled situation.
What to expect
Season Four’s release date has yet to be announced, though many predict January 2021. It promises to be a high-octane thrill ride. Season One introduced and developed the characters. Then Season Two entrenched their arcs and conflicts. Season Three reinvented and regrouped them. We expect Season Four is thus prepared for a climactic confrontation, our heroes banded together against the horde of villains. A climactic battle for the soul of karate is forthcoming, and it won´t be as cheesy as that sounds. Though, knowing those Miyagi students, they may find a peaceful resolution at the end of the day.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10
Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai Season Three. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out our Cobra Kai Season Two review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Cobra Kai HERE.
10 Years Of Game Of Thrones
Since it first aired on 17 April 2011, Game of Thrones has captured the imagination of many fans from start to finish. But, after the lacklustre and rushed ending of this epic fantasy series in 2019, we find ourselves wondering: has its legacy been completely ruined? After 10 years is it worth looking again at the legacy of Game of Thrones? After all, like the fallen Ned Stark once said: “some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word”.
Have Game of Thrones fan’s been hit too hard by the hurried and unjust ending? Are there storylines and characters within the eight seasons that make up for the less than favourable ending?
After looking back through the seasons, below are what we think are some of the best and most redeeming moments and characters within the series. These could be the reason why fans stay loyal to Game of Thrones and even get excited about future prequels or sequels. We already have next year’s Game of Thrones – House of Dragons series to expect.
WARNING: Only read on if you have watched the entire series as there are spoilers.
Sansa Stark becomes Queen of the North
We ended the series with Winterfell once again being led by a member of the House of Stark. Queen Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), who regained The North as an independent Kingdom. This decision from the writers is easily the most satisfying conclusion to come out of the finale. And easily one of the best beginning to end character arcs in all Game of Thrones.
Starting out as quite an unfavourable character and the least liked Stark of the pack, mainly due to her spoiled and brattish behaviour. Sansa ended up being the character we were all rooting for. Especially when it came to regaining the north and standing her ground with Daenerys Targaryen – “What about the North”.
But it wasn’t an easy road for her to get to that point. She had to endure a lot of horrific scenes, storylines, and marriages which shaped her character from a little bird to a Queen. But as Sansa said herself, whilst talking to The Hound/Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), “Without Little Finger and Ramsey and the rest I would have stayed a little bird all my life”. We’re glad she didn’t stay a little bird and became the Queen the North.
Arya Stark kills the Night King
When it came to the death of the Night King there were only a handful of characters who could do the deed. But, if you were anything like us, we had our money firmly on Jon Snow (Kit Harington). But, it was his kick-ass little sister, Arya Stark (Masie Williams), that ended the long night. With a fatal blow to the Night King’s heart with her Valyrian Steel Dagger.
In this episode, there was hardly any dialogue, especially in the last 30 minutes, which made the whole cinematography of the final scenes so much more poignant. From the camera angles to the incredible score which was accompanied only by sound effects and the odd fighting shout of pain. It left us in suspense and just as we thought all hope was lost, as the Night King approached Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and fans started to believe that Game of Thrones was going to take another huge twist, winter was here to stay. Out came our hero from the dark, the epic shot where Arya was flying through the air will always be one of our all-time favourites.
The night before winter came
Another part of the final series that I think deserves some props, was episode two (mainly the last 30ish minutes). This episode was the calm before the storm. But it was also very well done, from this point, as a viewer we didn’t really know who was going to survive and who was going to die. Something that we were never sure with when watching Game of Thrones.
We managed to get some nice send-off scenes for most of the characters which kept the suspense alive. We saw Sansa and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) meet again, Arya and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) finally ‘get together’ but most notably there was a comical and heart-warming meeting by the fire with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Brienne of Tarth (Gwendolin Christie), Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman).
There were jokes, Brienne got knighted and we even got a song from Podrick. Which was made into a satisfying montage for other characters around Winterfell as well.
Arya Stark and the house of Frey
The demise of the House of Frey was indeed a good and a well-justified one. Positioned over the last episode of season six and the first episode of season seven. Arya Stark used her new newly found face-swapping abilities to first bamboozle Walder Frey (David Bradley) into eating a pie. Food made from his sons and then again to become Frey to poison the rest of the house.
This was the revenge we wanted for the fallen Starks of The Red Wedding and Arya was just the person to serve it! Because the revenge plot was separated between the two seasons it almost confused us fans. When we started to watch season seven and saw that Walder Fray was still alive the quick-minded ones of us straight away realised what was happening. Yet, there was a handful of us who looked just as confused at Frey’s wife/daughter who was standing next to him. That was until Arya took Walder Frey’s face off.
Cersei Lannister blows up the Sept of Baelor
Another example where the series utilises an amazing music score is in the last episode of season 10. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) finally goes all out with her vindictive evilness and blows up the Sept of Baelor. With her daughter in law Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and a host of other people she didn’t like, locked inside.
The whole scene lasts about eight minutes and also includes Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), having his tendons slit by one of Lord Varys’s (Conleth Hill) little birds, so he couldn’t stop the destruction which was about to happen. There was also the violent demise of Pycelle (Julian Glover), once again by Lord Varys’s little birds. Which was orchestrated by the crafty Qyburn (Anton Lesser).
Whilst this is happening a very smug Cersei watches over the chaos, with a glass of red. But, one thing Cersei didn’t account for was after the acknowledgement of his new bride’s murder, her son, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) walked himself out of the window to his death.
Battle of the B**tards
Most of the battle scenes in Game of Thrones are pretty epic, but The Battle of the B**tards was by far one of the best. Accompanied by a killer soundtrack and great sound effects this battle was both jaw-dropping and breathtaking.
From the moment Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) was killed by Ramsey Bolton (Iwan Rheon) to the moment Sansa sets Bolton’s dogs on him, there was action scene after action scene that captivated all of us and also gave us the Winterfell redemption story we needed. The death of Ramsey Bolton was also the most satisfying death since that of King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson).
In this section of high intercity scenes, we get to see Little Finger/ Lord Peter Baelish (Aidan Gillen) do something useful for once by bringing the Vale Knights of House Arryn to save Jon Snow from dying… for a second time.
Daenerys Targaryen and the unsullied
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was a fan favourite from her first scene. But the admiration for her character grew and grew throughout the seasons. One of the most defining moments was when she visits Astapor on the search for an army to aid her in reclaiming the throne.
After meeting the hostile and pig-headed Kraznys mo Nakloz (Dan Hildebrand), Master of Astapor, Slaver and Unsullied overseer, who taunts Daenerys, believing she didn’t know how to speak Valyrian, he agrees to sell her all 8,000 Unsullied members for one of her dragons.
As most of their communications were through his servant Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) he believed Daenerys didn’t hear all the things he was saying. Which made the end scene so much more satisfying. Once the exchange is done, she has the Unsullied whip in hand and Krazny is trying to hold on to the dragon on a chain. She speaks to the Unsullied in clear Valyrian and finally tells Krazny who she is – Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen the blood of old Valyrian.
The moment she tells the Unsullied to slay the masters and uttered the word Dracarys, will forever be the day when we truly started to see how badass she really is!
The red wedding
As horrendous as it is to watch it’s clear that the Red Wedding is still a highlight of season three and indeed the series.
Yes, we already knew by now that anything could happen in Game of Thrones. And blood and gore was a regular occurrence. But this scene took things to a new level with a blood bath no one saw coming… Not even King of the North Rob Stark.
This heart-stopping 10 minutes of cushion grabbing TV, not only saw the death of two of the most loved Starks Rob and Catelyn Stark but also the death of Rob’s wife and unborn child. As well as the betrayal of Roose Bolton a supposed friend of the Starks (Michael McElhatton) and the house of Frey.
This scene cemented for us that no one can predict what is going to happen when you play the Game of Thrones. You win or You Die, there is no middle ground.
The two most sassy characters
When it comes to Game of Thrones, I think we can all agree that the one thing they got right, time and time again was the casting. And this never rang truer than with Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). They didn’t have the biggest parts within the series, but boy, did they make their presence known. It got to the point where we were just waiting for their scenes to see what would come out of their mouths next.
Who’s the most impressive pre-teen in the whole of Westeros? That’s right Lyanna Mormont. Even at 10 years old I wouldn’t mess with her. Through the whole three seasons she was in, she demanded and captivated the audience. She said it how it was, and she wasn’t scared of a single thing. She came in like a warrior, back chatting Jon Snow and Sansa and acting like a total boss. Finally, she went out like a warrior taking a giant walker down with her.
The original, potty-mouthed grandmother Olenna Tyrell had line after line of roasting stingers. No one was safe from her sharp-tongued antics. But the one person that was firmly on her radar was Cersei Lannister. Especially after Cersei killed her family in the sept. In true Olenna style, even after she had been fatally poisoned, she still had the last word, admitting to Jamie Lannister that it was her that killed his and Cersei’s son, King Joffrey Baratheon.
There you have it, some of our favourites and redeeming scenes from Game of Thrones after 10 years, what do you think? What are your favourite scenes or storylines? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our seven lost plot threads from Game of Thrones HERE.
Read iMDB information on Game of Thrones HERE.
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