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Cobra Kai Season 3 – Review

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Miguel Cobra Kai Season Three image
Netflix

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.

Highs

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.

Lows

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.

Easter Eggs

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.

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Loki Episode 6 – Review

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Loki episode 6 image
Marvel Studios

Episode six of Loki from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus. It’s time for the series finale. Here’s our review.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

More to come

The post-credit scene showed that a second series has already been ordered, meaning this finale is essentially the end of Part One. Thank goodness it is. Because if this was the denouement of the entire Loki story then there’s a good chance it would go down in television infamy as one of the more unusual series endings.

Introducing the big bad

We pick up from Sylvie and Loki’s defeat of The Alioth as they look at the citadel upon the rock at the end of time. They make their way to the entrance, and upon being invited in they’re met by Miss Minutes. It’s been widely predicted that ‘she’ would be an agitator in this series. And at last her role has been revealed. She is an emissary of Kang The Conquerer, embedded within the TVA.

She offers Loki the earth, almost literally, as she tries to coax him to betray Sylvie. Her offers of infinity stones, defeating Thanos etc. Happily, Loki rejects all the trinkets that she offers. Instead, he and Sylvie head into the lift where they meet ‘He Who Remains’ aka Kang The Conquerer. A 31st-century scientist and the true timekeeper.

Loki fight

Sylvie attempts to kill him but he quickly demonstrates some of his powers by dodging and weaving her before she gives in and the three of them sit down for a very long discussion. To sum up what was a lengthy and occasionally fairly tedious scene. He Who Remains (HWR) asks Loki and Sylvie to kill him and take over the role of controlling the timeline. Loki is extremely reticent but Sylvie, angry at what HWR’s meddling has done to her life, is desperate to do so.

Meanwhile, back at TVA HQ, Renslayer is informed by Miss Minutes of HWR’s plan. Showing her dual role and playing on Renslayer’s desperation to keep the TVA active and relevant.

Loki and Sylvie get into a physical fight over what to do with HWR. With Loki recognising how the timeline will fragment with branches springing up all over the place. But Sylvie is consumed by her rage and eventually overpowers Loki, sending him back to the TVA and then kills He Who Remains.

Setting up season two

Loki finds Mobius and tries to explain what has happened. But then discovers the terrible effects of what Sylvie has done by apparently killing HWR. Mobius has no idea who Loki is. This situation is then made worse when Loki looks out to see a statue of He Who Remains adorning TVA HQ. Loki realises that he is in a different timeline branch. One where HWR or Kang is in control of everything. Sylvie has been manipulated into apparently killing him which has enabled him to increase his power further.

Jonathan Majors was masterful as He Who Remains. Which is what you’d expect from someone with a Masters in acting from Yale. He was flamboyant, powerful and mesmerising, which is exactly what you want from a major villain. He will be back in AntMan 3 as Kang The Conquerer and is set to be the key villain in the next phase of the MCU post-Endgame and Thanos.

I have been extremely positive about this series, as I think it has been the strongest and most cohesive of the Marvel series so far this year. But I can’t disagree with anyone who felt short-changed by this finale. My 11-year-old son was pretty vocal in his disappointment the moment the credits rolled, and he was absolutely right. He is one of the most obsessive Marvel fans around and if he was underwhelmed, I feel pretty sure he was reflecting the majority view. Nothing I’ve seen online since has dissuaded me from that either.

Phase 4 groundwork

It seemed that the finale was essentially an exercise in introducing He Who Remains or Kang to our screens ahead of AntMan 3. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it meant that the focus shifted away from being the climax of this series. Instead of being a prologue for the next phase of the MCU, which does seem a peculiar decision.

There are those who feel that the series original premise of Loki and Mobius teaming up to find Variants dotted around time and space was dropped after the first two episodes. Instead, it was replaced with a love story between Sylvie and Loki and a voyage of discovery with Mobius reduced to a bit part for the rest of the series.

But, the cliffhanger at the end of the series as Loki returns to the TVA does give me hope that Series Two will be an even better follow up.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 6/10


Thank you for reading our review of Loki episode six. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Read our Loki episode five review HERE.

Read IMDB information about Loki HERE.

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