Whilst most people were seemingly fixated on Game of Thrones in 2019, I found myself ignoring GoT in favour of the second series of Cobra Kai. The brilliance behind this series is that it was able to respectfully carry the lore of the original film trilogy, without trying to rewrite anything. Therefore it managed to retain the long standing interest in the movie, and help the audience explore real life after and beyond the All-Valley Karate Tournament that created both winners and losers.
Much of the following is pure speculation and equal conjecture, as there are numerous Youtube channels now dedicated to Season 3 theories. Many of these channels have not only presented a staggering amount of information, but some have opted to dissect the smallest amount of information (from visual cues) in the new trailer, and finding easter eggs in prior seasons. In doing so, they offer up some compelling narratives. Much to the credit of the show’s creators, they have remained tight lipped on Season 3 with only Okinawa being presented as an associated new locale. Of course this generates as much intrigue as it does interest.
Below are five of the theories that have intrigued me the most, with all being potential story arcs for Season 3. I have limited these to the adult characters of the series, as a child of the 80s I have ‘grown up’ with the stars of the original trilogy – finding more in common with Johnny and Daniel, than I have with Miguel or Robbie.
Johnny and Daniel Unite
Like Apollo and Rocky becoming friends, it would be somewhat satisfying to see Johnny and Daniel also becoming pals. The only reason this may not eventuate is predicated on the fact that the show is built around the rivalry between the two main characters, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). Certainly in the show itself it was a neat surprise to see the subversion in character roles, with the once dominant Cobra Kai star student Johnny now a down-on-his-luck handyman (who is hilariously still stuck in the 80s); whilst the once bullied teen Daniel is now a successful, classy and wealthy businessman.
The character subversion also altered the audience perception, making Johnny a more sympathetic protagonist and allowing Daniel to become the over bearing douchebag, at least initially. In both seasons, it appears that both men do come to a truce finding common ground and hence maturing past the bitter rivalry. However, it is that rivalry that sparks competition and creates for a better character and story dynamic. At the shocking end of Season 2, Johnny has lost his dojo as it is usurped by the villainous John Kreese (Martin Kove); whilst his top student and surrogate son Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) is left in a critical condition. At the same time Daniel is left shell shocked after his daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser) is injured in the school brawl and is once again seeking that balance. Such turmoil could have the two rivals find peace in helping one another, especially if together they combat a new threat in the Valley. Some theories have stated that the two may join forces and together combine each respective style of Karate, to create something even more powerful. Perhaps fusing the aggressive linear striking expertise of Johnny’s Cobra Kai style, with the more refined calmer counter attack measures in Daniel’s Miyagi-Do.
That said, as this conflict is at the heart of this character dynamic, any future seasons would be heavily contingent on maintaining some degree of rivalry between the two.
NOTE: Interestingly in 2012 the Australian indie rock band The Temper Trap paid tribute to the first Karate Kid in their song ‘Need your love’, which predicts and depicts a friendship between both characters.
Unholy Trinity: Kreese, Silver and Barnes
As opined in the first theory, a new threat to the Valley could form with the reemergence of Kreese flanked by Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffiths) and Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan). Both Silver and Barnes were two memorable antagonists in the third Karate Kid, with the wealthy Silver providing unwavering financial support to his destitute old war buddy, Kreese. Meanwhile, Tournament Terror, Mike Barnes proved to be a more unforgiving opponent for Daniel in the All Valley Karate Tournament.
The inclusion of both men in Season 3, would be invaluable allies for Kreese and nasty adversaries for Johnny and Daniel. The millionaire toxic dumping Silver providing limitless resources to enable a Cobra Kai expansion en-masse within the Valley; whilst Karate’s “bad boy”, Mike Barnes, may foster a more aggressive suite of fighters within existing Cobra Kai ranks. A scene in Season 1, reveals that Johnny is fired from his handyman role and some have stated the employer on the other end is none other than Terry Silver. The presence of Terry Silver may not only prove to be a strong physical opponent for either Lawrence and LaRusso, but perhaps maybe even a commercial threat to the successful LaRusso Auto. There is less indicators pertaining to Mike Barnes appearing in Season 3, however this writer opines that his presence will be neither heroic nor noble.
Return of the Chozen One
There are pockets of fans who cite The Karate Kid: Part II as their favourite in the main trilogy, denoting the focus on Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and his own rivalry with his former best friend Sato (Danny Kamekoma). This sequel introduced audiences to Okinawa (though actuality filmed in Hawaii), a new love interest for Daniel in Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) but also another rival in the arrogant and brutal Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). Though the bloody end bout at the Obon Festival between Daniel and Chozen was seemingly motivated by Chozen losing face during a typhoon, their initial hatred between one another seemed forced and unexplained in the opening scenes of the film.
However, with many years passing since their duel, Chozen may have indeed reformed and soon become a key stabilizing influence in Daniel’s life. In recent months one detail that the show creators have revealed is that Daniel does in fact go to Okinawa. The reasons for this are as varied as this conjecture-laced piece ranging from Daniel attending Sato’s funeral to an open invitation from Chozen himself.
Intriguingly within the concluding seconds of the latest Cobra Kai trailer for Season 3, a white gi’ed Daniel is pitted against an unknown fighter adorned in a black gi. This opponent does not only physically best Daniel in what looks to be a sparring match, but also counters him verbally making him (and us) question the extent of Mr Miyagi’s tutelage. In the voice over, Daniel says ‘Mr Miyagi treated me like a son, he wouldn’t keep any secrets from me’ whilst a disembodied voice retorts with ‘Are you sure about that?’
Many think this black gi’ed fighter is indeed Sato’s highly skilled nephew, Chozen whose cryptic rebuttal, also creates doubts in Daniel’s mind. As this looks to only be a non-lethal sparring match, it could be that Chozen is now a reformed and respected sensei, who becomes a valued ally for Daniel. This could further make the rivalries interesting, with a clearer three-on-three triple threat match-up between Daniel, Johnny and Chozen against Kreese, Silver and Barnes.
It’s Doctor…Ali (still with an I)
The shock ending of Season 2 saw a brawl between the two rival karate schools. Consequently, students from both dojos were injured, with Johnny’s star pupil Miguel coming off the worst – last seen in a critical condition, after he was kicked off a level and landed spine first into a railing. In season 1 it was revealed that Ali (Elizabeth Shue) became an pediatric surgeon, has since married an Oncologist and is living a comfortable life. (This scene also hilariously revealed how much of a luddite Johnny was, being unfamiliar with social media – something that this writer can also relate to) In the final moments of Season 2, a distraught Johnny discards his phone and fails to realise that Ali has accepted his friend request on Facebook. As a somewhat more definitive indication of Ali’s presence in Season 3, this has led many to speculate that Ali will be instrumental in Miguel’s physical recovery, given her specialty medical expertise – and in addition this may rekindle her romance with Johnny. These do seem more likely, given that Miguel’s mother blames Johnny for her son’s condition and their budding relationship is now a moot point.
Origins of the Master
With an unspecified portion of Season 3 taking part in Okinawa, some have stated that this narrative may be dedicated to more of Mr. Miyagi’s origins. Much of this could perhaps be explained by Chozen or Kumiko, as supporting characters who would know more about the karate master than Daniel himself.
Evidently, the strength of these movies is not found in the fight scenes (which are lackluster compared similar themed 80s film such as ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’) but rather in the Father-Son dynamic between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel. In adopting Daniel as a surrogate son, Mr. Miyagi was not only teaching the youngster to defend himself, but more as a means of maturing the hot-tempered teenager from New Jersey. One could assert that much of Daniel’s success he enjoys in adult life, is largely attributed to the mentoring from the humble Karate master. Perhaps, Mr Miyagi himself had his own troubled youth and also found maturation and balance through the martial arts.
It will be interesting to see if Season 3 ventures into the past, to view perhaps a more vicious and aggressive Miyagi in his younger days alongside his tag team partner, Sato. This predicted premise had me thinking me of a scene in the Mas Oyama biopic ‘Fighter in the Wind’, where the Kyokushin founder defeats numerous American GIs. (If you haven’t seen this Korean movie, I highly recommend it; even UFC champion, karateka and all-round nice guy Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson features it in his fight scene breakdowns for GQ)
So these five are prospective story threads in Cobra Kai that have piqued my interest, however it is interesting to see what further ideas are presented in the coming months leading up to Season 3’s highly anticipated, 2021 release.
Here’s hoping more substantive trailers will be soon released for us eager fans of this superb series.
Lead image: Sony Pictures Television