Season Two of Cobra Kai

Season 2 spoilers follow. Just throwing out some thoughts.

***

Major theme:

“I wasn’t taught the difference between mercy and honor, and I paid the price.” — Johnny Lawrence

“Second chances” is another overarching theme of the second season of Cobra Kai. That’s obvious. What’s subtle is the question of whether people deserve a second chance. John Kreese does not. He is a sociopath, redemption is irrelevant.

***

The two cartoon villains are Tory and Kreese. A word on each. Tory is a product of neurotic-male fascination with butt-kicking babes. For everyone else, such unrealistic female characters break the suspension of disbelief. Kreese: he is the articulation of their fears when they see us starting to turn to nationalism.

***

In earlier comments, CMC writes:

LaRusso’s looking across the Pacific, to another civilization for answers. Recall that the original was from the mid 80’s. The east was recognized as rising, as a worthy ancient culture whose defeat may have just been an aberration. For instance, Japan’s cars had been a cheap joke in the 60’s, then just cheap in the 70’s, then no joke in the 80’s. He ain’t some home schooled neo-Medici condottiere wrestling with Christian concepts like honor and meekness, he’s in another world.

Similarly, Johnny’s not looking to King Arthur’s court or Beowulf or the Illiad, he’s looking to a snake, he’s crawling along as low as he can go —or as basic as you want to go if we’re being generous.

***

I liked Season 2 through I think the 8th episode, when Johnny and Daniel shook hands after that accidental double-date. That was the time to start tying up the loose ends for the series. Leave the Ali loose end open though, as there wouldn’t be enough episodes in the season to work her in without rushing that. But if a third season is needed to introduce Ali, then we’re now milking the Johnny/Daniel dynamic, turning it into one arbitrary mishap or misunderstanding after another. In short, I wanted the series elegantly wrapped up in S2.

Johnny Lawrence carries the series. He is us. Ralph Macchio and the writers did a good job making Daniel a stronger and more sympathetic character in S2. The way his devotion to karate was jeopardizing his auto business was very well done. He doesn’t have Johnny’s pathos, righteousness, heroic honesty. But he does have a look in his eyes that reveals that he really wants to do the right thing.

***

Minor stuff I disliked, very much: the lesbian kiss at that party. Gratuitous (((filth))).

And I very much liked the single-episode subplot in which Johnny and his high school friends get together, even if under grim circumstances. Funny, isn’t it, how flashbacks of the guys riding their motorbikes are now conveyed as joyful moments of youth, while in 1984 Karate Kid they were meant to be menacing scenes.

There is something to be said about the meta phenomenon of Cobra Kai. The show is about White GenX men, now approaching or just past 50. What do they, the showbiz producers, want from us? America is on the verge of racial/demographic collapse. The all-around hate in the air is dialed up to the max. And here we have an ’80s vibe Valley in Cobra Kai.

***

Another theme… predestination? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Eli was right to do something about his awful nerdhood. But then he turned into a monster… almost literally, in that horror-movie lab scene when he was stalking Dimitri.

And Robbie. He had the full benefit of Miyago-do training. He wanted to be good. He was strong and had integrity. But then that dishonorable kick that might have paralyzed Miguel, who paid a price for showing mercy. The author can do whatever he wants. It’s his fictional world. The show’s writers wanted that implausible melee in episode 10, that had upset the series’ narrative arc.

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21 thoughts on “Season Two of Cobra Kai

  1. Many thoughts but I’ll probably miss the entire discussion, as I’m heading to a remote cabin in the mountains and will be “digital detoxing” leaving phones and tablets behind. The cabin has no phone or television either. Packing all day today, leaving tomorrow morning.

    So, I look forward to reading more and sharing some musings if it seems appropriate, when I return.

    PA, I wonder if you would consider aggregating this series of discussions. Newcomers or those interested in the CK phenomenon will find your posts on the topic informative. I certainly do, and I discuss this show elsewhere, but nowhere comes as close to the level of incision seen here.

    Be well, friends. I hope to return feeling less burdened by a stress that is threatening to kill me.

  2. “Yeah all right, Chubs”

    That douchey character is every Cheeto stained keyboard warrior, the one we don’t want to become. Way too fat and happy. A LARPer of the highest order.

    I have become more interested in HEMA, historic European martial arts. No chapters near me but I browse message boards and might attend a tournament later this year.

    Why?

    It is how the West was won. My fascination with swords and sorcery aside, I was interested in how fighting men trained in the pre-gun Times. How Spears and knives and swords are used in combat. How a simple stick could become a powerful weapon.

    Daniel looks to the east because he has no father but Miyagi. And our fathers looked to the east, too. Karate was all the rage when I was little, and Tiger Schulman is still in business. The West was abandoned in our hearts and minds long before the physical rot set in.

    The West is Christendom. Democracy removes hierarchy in the sense of power and rule following from God to King to People. This is why we are losing God and hence our homelands. This occurred to me at Mass this weekend, it’s not a new thought or revelation but the deeper reasons flesh out in increments. We wander in a wasteland of chaotic autonomy because we rebel against authority and hierarchy.

    The East has patriarchy and hierarchy, too, and it is respectable, but it is not ours or our way.

  3. HEMA is polluted by hordes of Gammas. If you get into it, you will likely become disgusted by their stench. The craftsmen who make the gear with their own hands can be decent dudes, but many of the rest are dreamers and losers who, having done little worthy of respect in the real world retreat to another world.

    Also, the amount of “paganism” and atheism is off the charts. When you armor up, make sure your back is protected first.

  4. What do they, the showbiz producers, want from us? America is on the verge of racial/demographic collapse. The all-around hate in the air is dialed up to the max. And here we have an ’80s vibe Valley in Cobra Kai.

    What are the odds on these two guys still living in the Valley? It’s a big country. Daniel grew up on the East Coast, then in sequels got out of the Shire and saw the world, but comes back? Ok, maybe the Valley the best place in the world. Meanwhile Johnny just hung on and now can’t get out? Sticking around to be near his son? As if their own personal arcs don’t affect the odds, there’s the question of how much SoCal demographically turned over since the 80’s. How much of this show is soma?

  5. The-mid-season scene in which Daniel irrationally mistakes the fisherman on the beach for Mr. Myiagi holds a clue. It spurred a thought that I’m not ready to express.

    Karate as element of nature to which man subordinates himself toward a harmonious state of being (East) vs. karate as commodified thing that man uses as weapon, ultimately to his own demise (West).

  6. BTW Chakrates, my opinion above re:HEMA came across stronger than I meant it to. I’m not railing on HEMA, merely pointing them out as a fairly difficult crowd for someone red-pilled to stomach. And I do believe you would need to watch your back or shut your mouth. Even then, they will probably sense there’s something different about you.

  7. Let us not forgot that Karate Kid was presaged by the nearly inexplicable rise of Bruce Lee. And that Bruce Lee might have been one of the most unwittingly (or wittingly) subversive individuals in American’s rapid modern racial demise. The idea of a cool, calm, collected Asian that could whip ass with graceful ease versus a brash, bellicose and bigoted white boy who cheats to win was just the {{{perfect setup}}} for high IQ baby “white” gammas coming into their formative years.

  8. Which really brings “us” to the Rocky —> Creed innerstainment devolution.

    White GenX fans of Cobra Kai are being {{{perfectly setup}}} for what will almost certainly be Johnny’s submission to anti-racist ideology against what one could imagine is a character not unlike the young Johnny himself with original flashbacks to the Karate Kid just to trigger developmentally arrested “white” GenX gammas.

  9. — {{{perfectly setup}}} for what will almost certainly be Johnny’s submission to anti-racist ideology against what one could imagine is a character not unlike the young Johnny himself

    That already happened as the show’s very premise in that Johnny has been training Miguel against his own blond son Robbie. Two things that “make it right” though is that the storyline goal is to reconcile the father and son. Secondly, Miguel is a pleasant looking, likeable, emo Castizo, culturally-American teen who loves ’80s hard rock.

  10. You people are taking way too much from this show. Cobra Kai is just a silly internet series aimed at teenagers, and who’s creators shrewdly gambled that The Karate Kid mythos had contemporary marketability based on nostalgia value. That’s all. A comparatively-unique money-making vehicle in an otherwise sea of unoriginality, and no more a commentary on men’s character or white people’s existential calamity than any other banal Hollywood nonsense on network or cable television. I’m a GenXer myself, and I’ll admit that Cobra Kai’s references to 1980’s, however overboard, make me crack an occasional smile, but you need to get a grip already. 1980’s America wasn’t a halcyon time and place, and jew screenwriters are the last people who’s imaginations anyone should take seriously.

  11. “aimed at teenagers”

    You sure?

    Also, remember which blog you’re on. PA is just as much an an art critic as he is cultural commentator, and what art critics do is parse out meaning from what some see as “banal”. It makes for good reading and opportunities to ponder our personal opinions. Commenters here enjoy the community and avoid attacking one another. You’re invited to do the same

  12. Circumstances unexplained finds you the moosehide leather you were meant to own; it’s emblazoned with the Cobra Kai.

    Do you wear it?

  13. A joke I’ve been trying to formulate for ten years, but can’t come up with the right set-up, the necessary context. The punchline is a leather jacket maybe even a cuttie, in the standard format letters across the back, along the usual arch of triumph —

    NO SHAME

    There have certainly have been a number of tattoos to that exact effect. Taking it to the leather is next level.

  14. I had a father son bonding experience, when he told me about how back in his younger days he went so far as to have a sheepskin jacket complete with trimmed collar. The punchline though, in case you are not getting it, is that he never wore it, or at least not much. Back in the 70s circa Warren Beatty, sheepskin jackets were the thing, like tattoos were ten years ago. Not exactly like tattoos but as a cultural expression sheepskin jackets was comparable in some ways. They became popular outside of their original social context for reasons of signaling. For instance Warren Beatty wore a polar bear jacket in some movie called Town and Country.

    My dear father, a boomer, shared with me this life experience of his for so in order to make me feel better about not having worn a jacket I had bought and recently given back to the ARC store, which ARC store bills itself as being the Goodwill except w/o the jews. It’s literally almost embarrassing to type, but I share this with you, “the jacket”: it was The Duckhunter by Filson, no less with a pouch sewn into the back (for dead ducks) and elastic suspenders across the front in which for your shells. That’s how “sporting gentleman” from like the 1930s approximately, used to dress up and go out (hunting).

    I wore that damn jacket one time! Hahaha the one time I wore it was on the busline in South Minneapolis. Some black dudes in the back said something more or less exactly like “get a load of this guy”. I took myself very seriously but it was an absurd get-up. Dumb and Dumber mocked it pretty well.

  15. Some black dudes in the back said something more or less exactly like “get a load of this guy”.

    They are so wonderful.

  16. I didn’t get around to seeing the Karate Kid in the 80s … do I need to see it for Cobra Kai to make sense?

  17. Cobra Kai has lots of flashbacks to Karate Kid 1984, so you won’t have trouble following the story without having seen it. But I do recommend you see it to fully appreciate the Johnny/Daniel dynamic.

    I never saw the 80s Karate Kid 2 and 3, fwiw…

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