In 1984, the world was introduced The Karate Kid, starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, and William Zabka; The film would go on to be a huge hit and it spawned two more movies featuring Daniel LaRusso and his teacher, Mr. Miyagi. The Netflix series picks up 34-years later and follows former Cobra Kai student Johnny Lawrence. The Netflix original has been a success thus far, with three seasons already in the can and a fourth on its way. This list will explore the five best episodes of seasons one through three. Let’s get started with the first:
The first episode reminded old-school fans why they fell in love with The Karate Kid in the first place. This time, we follow Johnny Lawrence, 34 years after he failed to beat Daniel LaRusso in the finals of the All-Valley tournament. Johnny is still reeling from the aftermath of his big tournament loss, getting drunk night after night, working a dead-end job, and living in a crappy apartment. The pilot episode does an excellent job of blending nostalgia and story together. The flashback scenes are great for newcomers who have yet to see the original Karate Kid movie, as it helps forward the story of how bad Johnny’s life has been going following his loss to LaRusso. This episode gives us a nice emotional depth on not only Johnny Lawrence, but Miguel as well. The parking lot fight was also very fun to watch. The pilot sets up a lot of intriguing pieces that the show will go throughout the season pretty well, and I’m pretty sure many fans were counting down the days for a rematch between LaRusso and Lawrence.
The fifth episode of the Cobra Kai series finally saw Miguel get revenge on his bully, Kyler in an awesome fight sequence and the best thus far until the season finale. This was a rewarding moment because Miguel has been beaten down and punked by Kyler and his crew, so for him to kick ass in style was a great character moment that showcased just how far Miguel had come since joining Cobra Kai. However, the best moment was Daniel LaRusso visiting Mr. Miyagi’s grave. The show has done an excellent job showing respect to the legendary character and actor Pat Morita, and the final scene of LaRusso honoring Mr. Miyagi was a tear-jerking moment. Johnny’s conversation with Miguel about letting Aisha into the dojo was funny, though it was nice that the writers didn’t make her out to be some weakling because she’s a woman.
In episode eight, the show starts off the fun with Johnny and his students at a junkyard training. The series here continued to develop the main characters, notably the feud between Johnny and Daniel. We got another chance to see Johnny kick some ass thanks to cousin Louie and his motorcycle gang. The visual of his car on fire was a beautiful image. Johnny’s final goodbye to his rich douchebag step-father was also a great scene. Robby and LaRusso training in the woods was also cool. The cheesy melodrama between Robby, Samantha, and Miguel helped advance the plot and create some nice tension that will pay off later in the season.
Different But Same
Johnny’s confrontation with Daniel was equal parts exciting, intense, and funny. The chemistry between William Zabka and Ralph Macchio remains strong as both actors bounce off each other extremely well. This is why their bond throughout the episode was a joy to see. While it would be great to see these two fight again, it’s the quiet moments that really elevate this story to being something great. Johnny’s anger towards LaRusso following the discovery of Robby training with him was a bit forced but it didn’t take away from the drama overall. Aisha getting revenge on Yasmine was another highlight of this episode. The Robby and Miguel feud also progressed nicely, setting the stage for their eventual fight in the season finale.
It’s tournament time! After 34-years, Johnny Lawerence gets a big chance to redeem himself following his humiliating loss to Daniel LaRusso. The writers of Cobra Kai had done an excellent job building up to the big finale that saw multiple stories interwoven throughout the tournament. Not surprisingly, the action in the All-Valley tournament was pretty cool, namely the finals between Robby and Miguel. However, the character development is what ultimately makes this episode one of the best in the season. The moment between Aisha and Samantha was sweet, but the tension between Robby, Miguel, Johnny, and Daniel was top-notch. Johnny got the character redemption that he was looking for; however, his relationship with Robby is broken. The last couple of minutes perfectly set up the next season of Cobra Kai, which saw LaRusso vowing to teach again and John Kreese making his grand return.