The first reviews for the third season of Cobra Kai are in, and it sounds like another knockout blow for the Karate Kid sequel series. Rather than a controversial head-kick though, the first reviews suggest that Cobra Kai season 3 hits hard in all the right places, delivering another dramatic, exciting, fun-filled adventure for Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence.
Beginning with Entertainment Weekly, the third season of the hit show ends on a very high note, with a lot of sensitive reflection along the way.
"Since production wrapped, Cobra Kai moved to Netflix and earned an early season 4 renewal. The ensuing popularity boost could suggest a long run ahead - but the finale points toward an endgame. And that finale is wonderful, wonderful, ridiculous, and wonderful: A high energy showdown for youth in revolt, alongside a never-more-sensitive portrayal of middle-aged reminiscence. It reaffirms Cobra Kai as one of the cleverest reboots in our nostalgia-drunk era. The series crafts a moral fable beyond any obvious definitions of irony and sincerity. "Being a badass doesn't mean being an a--hole," Johnny explains. It's a goofy line, and a real evolution. Like all the best teachers, he's still learning."
SlashFilm meanwhile drew some contentious parallels with the recent Star Wars sequel trilogy, likening intense Karate sensei John Kreese with the return of Emperor Palpatine.
"In some ways, you could draw direct parallels between Cobra Kai and the Star Wars sequel trilogy. If season 1 of this show took a bit of a The Force Awakens approach, reintroducing us to the legacy characters while telling a new story in the same universe that was all about confronting the legacy of the original story and season 2 was all about asking whether these characters (or anyone) can actually change, season 3 is all about teachers and how their legacy shape their students in profound ways. That's right: this is The Last Jedi of the Karate Kid universe. There's also a little bit of Rise of Skywalker in here, especially with the ongoing machinations of John Kreese."
The RadioTimes relished the action sequences, calling them a "visual treat" that "move the story forward in a compelling manner," as well as delighting in the "subtle and symbolic Easter eggs related to the Karate Kid films."
"The penultimate episode is a highlight well worth the wait, and it segues nicely into the final episode. Season three's finale is more resolute than season two's equivalent, even if it is a more haphazard episode. Nonetheless, its emotional payoff is satisfying and will leave you hankering for season four. In an era of countless TV and film reboots, Cobra Kai is a welcome revival. Given the events of season three, it's clear that the show is hitting a new stride. There are still more stories left to tell in this series, karate chop and all."
JoBlo sadly found fault with the series, before adding that "It is easy to overlook these faults because there is a lot of fun to be had with this show," but did say that they were "hoping for more from these episodes." The review concludes that creators Hurwitz and Schlossberg "clearly already had the fourth season in mind when they wrote season three and my opinion may change once I have seen them together. Cobra Kai is still a fun return to a franchise that still has life in it but this season is the first misstep in the franchise since Hilary Swank became the next karate kid."
The review over at Polygon found the series to be an excellent continuation of the dramatic events that closed season 2, as well as a typically brilliant comeback worthy of Daniel-San.
"Heading into Cobra Kai season 3, I worried that the mess made in season 2 was setting us up for a serviceable mop up, and little more. I was especially troubled by the teases for Daniel's Japan visit, thinking we would be getting more nostalgia sizzle than narrative steak. But season 3 still has plenty of substance; it got me to care again, about what has happened and what will happen to these people, rather than regret the previous 10 episodes as a tale that didn't need telling. That's a hell of a good comeback, but then, we expect no less of The Karate Kid."
The Metro described the show's return as "a series that shouldn't be as good as this is for a nostalgia trip," saying that season 3 "strikes first, strikes hard and shows no mercy." Though they did also find that the series does lack in certain areas, namely the "sparse use or explanation of certain characters that deserved more from the story than just being 'the angry kid' - most notably Robby, Tory and Hawk."
Showbiz Cheat Sheet heaped praise on season 3 saying, "There's a lot of substance in Cobra Kai Season 3, meaning it maintains the high standards they already set in seasons 1 and 2," while Paste Magazine described the series as a "pure, escapist delight."
Lastly, Consequence of Sound drew attention to the show's ability to balance all the elements to make one, cohesive whole; "It's a staggering accomplishment that continues to crane kick our expectations. What's been keeping it all together - and this is important - is balance. That was Miyagi's greatest lesson. As he told Daniel way, way back in 1984, "Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?" That's a lesson Cobra Kai has yet to forget, and as long as Heald, Hurwitz, and Schlossberg stay true to those words, the best Karate remains inside of them and there's no reason for any of us to leave the mat. Besides, this thing has to last long enough to give us Silver."
Set 34 years after the first Karate Kid movie, Cobra Kai re-examines the narrative from Daniel's rival, Johnny Lawrence's point of view. Now a struggling alcoholic, Johnny decides to reopen the Cobra Kai karate dojo, leading to the rekindling of his old rivalry with Daniel LaRusso. Season 3 picks up with the characters as they struggle to come to terms with the repercussions of the brawl at the high school that closed out the show's thrilling second season finale.
Cobra Kai season 3 is now scheduled to premiere a week earlier than expected, and will be available from January 1st, 2021 on the official Netflix.com streaming app.