Cobra Kai has had a long journey to becoming one of the biggest shows on streaming. The Karate Kid sequel series was very much relegated to “hidden gem” status during its first two seasons, thanks to it only being available on YouTube Red. Now, though, Cobra Kai is set for its long overdue bow on the big stage – with the first two seasons available (and hugely popular) on Netflix, and season 3 arriving in January.
Cobra Kai season 3 has a lot of pieces to pick up. A surprisingly sombre second season finale saw Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) being kicked over a railing at West Valley High School by long-term rival (and son of Johnny), Robby. It’s clear that there’s going to be a long, challenging road ahead for Miguel.
“Coming into season 3 there’s going to be a lot of questions he has to ask himself in terms of ‘Is this the person I want to be?’ and whatnot,” Maridueña tells GamesRadar+.
“But first and foremost he has to get out of his coma. After that part, we’ll [see] really who he decides to trust again. He put a lot of trust in Johnny and his word and it still blew up in his face. We’re going to have to deal with that before anything.”
The series, which navigates a Karate Kid-style balance between camp cheesiness and more serious overtones, is seemingly going to carry more of an edge when it returns to our screens in 2021.
“There’s a lot of fun that happens – but it does get a lot darker,” Hawk actor Jacob Bertrand teases. William Zabka – who plays Johnny Lawrence in Cobra Kai – agrees but maintains that it keeps the formula which made the show so successful and ultimately “keeps the balance of the fun and the humour and the fighting.”
As you might have spotted in the Cobra Kai season 3 trailer, Daniel’s one-time love interest Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) makes a return from The Karate Kid Part 2. Plot details on the reunion are being kept under wraps, though Ralph Macchio is waxing lyrical about the comeback.
“It really affects [Daniel] in a profound way,” Macchio says of the re-introduction of Kumiko. “It’s really one of the highlights of the season for the LaRusso character and for me personally as I got to work with some of the actors from yesteryear.” He continues: “Those scenes in Okinawa are some of my favourite because they inform Daniel going forward, yet embrace the nostalgia of yesteryear with a lot of emotion and fun and, of course, action.”
Cobra Kai’s premise – re-framing and re-examining an iconic ‘80s franchise – is so deceptively simple and effective, it’s little wonder that it hasn’t already been replicated a hundred times over. So, are there any more ‘80s classics that deserve the Cobra Kai treatment? It’s a question we put to the cast – with interesting results.
“The Breakfast Club. I still wonder to myself ‘Where are they now?’” says Mary Mouser, who plays Daniel LaRusso’s daughter, Sam.
“I like to imagine they still know each other in some way and they trickle down. Maybe their next generation ends up in detention together and they’re like ‘You have that story of your mum?’”
Macchio, though, wants Cobra Kai to remain unique in terms of presenting that latter-day setup: “That’s a tough one. I want none of them to be better than Cobra Kai! We want to maintain our framing of how to do it right thanks to our great creators.
“It’s tough to say – the films of that time I look at Back to the Future, The Karate Kid, Ferris Bueller, but it’s very tough to go back to the well. What was so smart about this was it was coming in through Johnny Lawrence’s eyes, it was another way into that universe and then once we’re there it becomes a balance of all the characters. So, how’s that for tap dancing away from picking one?!”
For now, Cobra Kai stands alone at the top of the streaming mountain. The light touch of nostalgia may never go away but as season 3 creeps over the horizon, it’s likely to be a very different type of footwork, not tap dancing, that sees Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence fight through a darker chapter in the Karate Kid sequel series.
Cobra Kai season 3 arrives on Netflix in January. In the meantime, check out the best Netflix shows to watch right now.