Let me state that YouTube Red has in fact released the first two episodes of Cobra Kai for free. The other eight episodes will require signing up for YouTube’s streaming subscription service. However, signing up nets you 30 free days…so basically Cobra Kai is free, right?
The Cobra Kai series in a nutshell, gives us the opportunity to catch up with Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso. The main protagonists from 1984’s Karate Kid, played once again by William Zabka and Ralph Macchio. It is 34 years later after that epic showdown at the All Valley Karate Championship. Things have not gone quite as either men had expected in their youth.
The first two episodes, entitled Ace Degenerate and Strike First, will take you by surprise. At the very least they certainly caused me to pause. You might recall the post I made at the end of March, for the Fathom Events special event. The premiere in fact of these two very episodes. I made the comment in that article that the trailer certainly made it look like Daniel had become a bully. After catching the two free episodes I can say this is indeed the case…as well as not.
The series so far does a remarkable job of actually painting both Johnny and Daniel fairly. What I mean of course is that each has their positive sides and bad sides. Naturally. I do not consider this a spoiler as it originates from the first film and it’s 1986 sequel. While Johnny’s life has kind of spiraled out of control, he thinks constantly of the past. When he had a beautiful girlfriend and was respected…and feared. But the showrunners make sure to let us see he remembers how wrong John Kreese was in the end. Obviously he blames the path of his life, or at least it seems, on the outcome of that karate championship.
While Ace Degenerate gives us the series viewpoint from Johnny’s side. Strike First allows us to see that other side of the coin with Daniel. At first glance it definitely seems LaRusso has been dealt the best hand in all things. Incredibly successful automobile dealerships, loving Wife and two good kids. Quickly however I think we see where the main focus of Cobra Kai is going to be focused. The main showdown might not be between Johnny and Daniel again but their kids. Moreso between the idealogy of the two men. While it’s a small spoiler, we do learn that Johnny hasn’t been a great Father to his own Son. But I believe that his taking over the role of Sensei, opening his own dojo, is in fact to help others.
The question of course is whether the main protagonists from The Karate Kid will have the wisdom to see the path they are upon. That each is in their own way trapped by their past glory. In short, this series isn’t just a shot of nostalgia, it very much has something to say.