REVIEW – Cobra Kai Season 2 Episode 1 – “Mercy Part II”

(WARNING!  CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 EPISODE 1 OF COBRA KAI!)

One of my favorite shows of the year last year was definitely Cobra Kai.  I promise you that I'm not saying that because I am a huge fan of The Karate Kid, but because the show earned every moment of that first season.  It's not very often that I want to immediately see the next season of a show the moment that the finale is over, but that's how I felt about Cobra Kai.  Now we don't have to wait, because Season 2 dropped at midnight!  Now we finally get to see what happens after John Kreese shows up at the Cobra Kai dojo!  So let's do just that and dive right in to the now season.

What you saw at the end of last season sums it up pretty well.  Kreese tells Johnny that he brought Cobra Kai back to where it belongs and that he finally won.  Johnny doesn't react well to seeing Kreese AT ALL.  He pretty much attacks him right away and the fight is on.  Both men have their fair share of moments, but Johnny is much more the aggressor in this.  A huge mirror is broken and there is even a small fire.  The biggest moment from early in this episode is when Johnny has Kreese in a choke hold.  Sound familiar?  Well, what flashback do you think Johnny saw in that moment?  He drops Kreese, and his guard, which leads him on the mat right next to his former sensai.  There was so much raw emotion in that scene, and as a lifelong fan, I absolutely got chills.  It's also clear that Kreese wants something, but we'll get to that in a minute.

We also get to see Daniel and Robbie getting to work on restoring Mr. Miyagi's old house to start Miyai Do Karate.  Plenty of great callbacks here with the painting, sanding and, of course, waxing of the cars.  What's great is, they were the same classic cars that fans will remember from the original movies.  Daniel seems even more reinvigorated by this project, and is definitely spending a lot more time on it and with Robbie.  At one point, his wife asks him if he feels like he can balance it all.  He points out that balance is what he does, very clever.  This could be one of those classic instances where Daniel gets a bit overconfident, only the end up realizing he's bitten of more than he can chew.  It wouldn't be the first time this has happened.  Could he be blinded by just wanting to take down Cobra Kai?  Maybe, but that also gets dealt with in this episode.

First let's get back to Kreese.  Johnny finally agrees to see him, and we get at least a small piece of why Kreese is back.  Apparently he was gone doing some off the books training with the military.  I'm not sure I quite buy the story yet, but we'll see if that ends up being part of the plot later on.  Kreese points out how soft society has gotten, and every kid gets a trophy.  So he says the world needs Cobra Kai right now.  Johnny is still not buying it, and is still carrying a lot of guilt over how Miguel won the title in the last season.  Not just because it was his son on the receiving end, but because it seems like he genuinely wants to be a better man.  He tells Kreese to say away from him and his students.

Speaking of those students, they are in celebration mode over the big win.  Miguel seems to be the only one who isn't ready to party.  We know that he and Sam have broken up, and she even blocked him on Instagram.  Back in 1984 that would be like giving back someone's letterman jacket, it's bad.  That's not the only bit of bad news he would be getting.  In their first class back since the tournament, Johnny lashes out at both Miguel and Hawk.  To sum up, he pretty much says that preying on a weak opponent is the easy way out and there will be no cheating.  After all, what's bad ass about that?  Johnny clears this up with Miguel later, saying that he is his best student and he is going to be a bit harder on him.  Miguel is absolutely not past redemption yet, and respects Johnny a great deal.  Johnny admitting that he still makes mistakes, and admitting this to Miguel, is a very strong parenting and mentoring foundation for Johnny.  He is building trust by wearing his mistakes on his sleeve, and that really takes a lot of courage.  If I'm being honest, Hawk is the one I'm worried about going forward, but we'll get to that.

We get to see how Sam is dealing with the breakup with Miguel, but there's more to it than that.  Her friends are also hanging out more with their Cobra Kai group, and that's something that Sam wants no part of.  Can you blame her after how Miguel acted last season?  At the same time, Sam was no angel at the beginning of last season either.  Still, she is taking things really hard and dad finally comes to talk to his daughter.  He talks about his past relationships, and I even thought we might finally get to find out what happened with Ali.  We get that rug pulled out from under us pretty quick, and Daniel basically says that he gets what she's going through but she'll eventually find someone new.  Could this be at a dojo perhaps?  It's no secret from seeing the trailers that Sam joins Miyagi Do, and we get to see this right in the first episode.  Looks like she'll be spending a lot of time with Robbie this summer.  I still don't quite buy that relationship yet, but I'm willing to see if their chemistry starts to grow on me as we see them together more.  Robbie is practically family as it is already.  There was a really awkward scene at the hardware store where Johnny runs into Daniel and Robbie, and one of the employees thinks that Robbie is Daniel's son.  Ouch!  It also doesn't look like Robbie wants to forgive dad any time soon.  It's also interesting that Daniel now wants to turn his focus away from defeating Cobra Kai and more to teaching a better path.  This is classic role model material, and is an interesting way to highlight both he and Johnny's different methods.  Clearly they both inspire these kids to be better, but with vastly different approaches.  That's kind of the beauty of the show, is it not?

Finally, let's talk about that last run in between Johnny and Kreese.  This time he comes back to apologize, not for the mirror, but for everything that happened between the two of them.  He also plays the "best student" card, this after he told Johnny earlier in that he had nothing years ago when Johnny came to him.  Then there was the clincher, he fixed the 2nd place trophy from all the way back in 1984.  While this was a really nice moment, you had to feel like there was more to it than that.  Johnny absolutely gets sucked in by this, and stops Kreese from leaving.  While I want to believe this is genuine, and is exactly what Johnny needed to hear, you have to feel like Kreese is just trying to take back what he believes has been his all along.

All in all, this episode is exactly what what it needed to be.  I am even more hyped than I was for this season and that is saying something.  What did you think of this Season 2 premiere?

(Photo Credit: YouTube/Sony)

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