Season one of Netflix’s Cobra Kai was an unabashedly joyful experience, one filled with nostalgia, good vibes, and an obvious effort from the scriptwriters to adapt to modern viewers’ sensibilities. Gone were the days of 80s movies where bullies could commit full-on felonies (in public, no less) and not be punished, aside from, at worst, a stern talking-to. In the first two seasons, there were consequences for committing violence, no matter how well-deserved, including Johnny Lawrence heading to the clink more than once. But in the newly-released third season, the writers have returned to the fantasy land of no consequences, and it serves no one.
There is much to love about the newest season, so I will avoid a full litany of the season’s offenses. I’ll just go into the most egregious, which comes in the final episode. The show features a full-on home invasion. Yes, you heard right. Several Cobra Kai students besiege the home of Daniel Laruso, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage and assaulting the minors they find inside. As luck would have it, Samantha Laruso had several friends over, all of whom also knew Karate. But there’s no indication the assailants knew they would find a full retinue of fighters at the residence. It seems more likely they expected to find only Sam.
Instead of delving into this new level of teenage psychopathy, the show treats it like a tournament wherein each child is given the chance to redeem him or herself. Sam overcomes her trauma-based fear from last season’s all-out school riot; Miguel overcomes his injuries enough to defend himself from an assailant without help. And Hawk… switches sides to defend Dmitri. Through all this, no one calls 911. No one pulls out their cell phone to record the group of thugs demolishing a private home.
More infuriatingly, when the adults find out what has happened… they go to Cobra Kai to confront John Kreese. There was no mention of anyone calling 911 or even the insurance company, as the Larusos will have to pay quite a pretty penny to restore their home.
Like I said, this is only the most egregious example. There were multiple others where, inexplicably, no one used a cell phone to record illegal public behavior, police officers and school administrators are perceived as bumbling idiots who take no action, and people in general act in preposterous, unbelievable ways.
It took the fun out for me, despite my intense affection for the first two seasons and I have to wonder what happened. Why did the show that made a point of saying “violence has consequences” change their mind? Why have they decided that only our heroes will be punished for their violence, but not the villains? This isn’t how the world works. We saw that just this week.
Even if the cops, for whatever reason, won’t arrest an adult who assaults a child in public, there is always, always a camera to see what happened. And if the cops won’t do anything, then rest assured, public opinion certainly will. For better or worse, there’s no way the students of Cobra Kai, or their lunatic teacher, would have been permitted to behave like this. Someone would have made sure they were punished.
I can only hope Season 4 returns with a better grasp on reality, one that doesn’t make a mockery of its positive message and good vibes.