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‘Cobra Kai’ review: ‘Glory of Love’

COBRA KAI
Season 2, Episode 8
“Glory of Love”
Available on YouTube Premium
GRADE: C

If last week was “Lull”, then this week’s episode should be called “Lull, Part 2”.

When we last left Southern California, Daniel’s (Ralph Macchio) wife Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) was upset with Daniel for being so into his dojo and not so much into her. Daniel’s daughter Sam (Mary Mouser) was beginning to get hot and heavy with Robby (Tanner Buchanan) and Johnny (William Zabka) kicked Kreese (Martin Kove) out of Cobra Kai, seemingly, for good this time.

So, where are we now?

Daniel is now sleeping on the couch while his wife tells him that any attempts to make things up to her is “like putting a Band-Aid on a headwound”. Jesus Christ in a dojo, that escalated quickly. Meanwhile, all Sam and Robby do is make out whenever they can while vowing to eventually tell Daniel and Amanda about it. And Johnny makes speeches about “honor” and declares that “Cobra Kai needs to change”…while teaching his kids the art of headbutting their opponents.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on in “Glory of Love”. It’s just that hardly any of it is terribly interesting and, the more time we spend on these current character arcs, it also becomes unbelievable to the point of being unintentionally humorous. I’m not even sure why the whole “Daniel in the doghouse” sub-plot is a thing. I mean, it was established in last week’s episode and not before then and I said as much in my review for “Lull”. But there’s Daniel, surprising his wife with take-out sushi at the dealership. That doesn’t work. How about putting all his underage students to work, waxing the dealership’s cars? Nope, that doesn’t work, either. And it’s against child labor laws (for crying outloud, her character points this out) and she simply points out that “I just know all your stunts to fix this are just temporary.”

Thank the Karate Gods that Daniel’s mom, Lucille (Randee Heller, reprising her role from the original films as well as the first season) is conveniently in town to tell Daniel that, sometimes, a guy’s wife just likes to know that a husband is “in it with her, no matter what” after the two of them reminisce about a family trip to Coney Island where Daniel’s father simply hugged Lucille and told her that he loved her. Thankfully, the moment between Daniel and his Mom pulls an otherwise arbitrary and pedestrian plot line from the fire, so I guess this whole thing was worth it. Let’s just never do this again, mm-kay?

And because Robby and Sam have no chemistry, the rest of the episode features more hijinks between them and Cobra Kai’s power couple, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) and Tory (Peyton List), who are also hot and heavy — except the writers just can’t leave well enough alone so we’re subjected to a love quadrangle on “80’s night at the local roller rink” (I’m not making that up) where Sam and Robby are dressed like the characters from “Pretty in Pink” (a movie that came out at least a decade and a half before they were born and is over 30 years old) and name drop “Don Johnson” (who Robby calls “Dan Johnson” because, suddenly, he has the IQ of a goldfish and misheard the name) as well as “James Spader”.

The best part of the episode belongs to Johnny who goes on a dating spree after being introduced to Tinder, courtesy of Miguel. Predictably, most of his dates go south (he tells one woman that he’s “good with children” before describing a time where he “body-slammed one to a mat and elbowed him in the face”; he tells another that he “hates the Patriots, too” after the woman in question condemns “the patriarchy”), but three interesting things happen to him here: 1) he finds his old girlfriend, Ali (absentee Elisabeth Shue), on Facebook and messages her — albeit, inadvertently. 2) He literally bumps into a woman (Gena Shaw) and ends up having drinks with her (which is ironic since Johnny describes that this is how “cavemen used to do things back in the day”) and 3) he finally comes to terms with his relationship with Miguel’s mom, Carmen (Vanessa Rubio) after he catches her new boyfriend cheating on her at the same bar he’s at.

It’s still not great television by any means, mainly because the interaction and chemistry between Johnny and “Melissa” (I mean, we don’t even get her name; I had to research it) is just awesome — but Johnny just dumps and forgets her because he suddenly likes Carmen a lot. The window for Johnny and Carmen was at its widest last season but nothing was done about it. Carmen hasn’t really had much to do in Season 2, so it’s asking a lot of its audience to just accept that Johnny’s feelings for her are suddenly this strong. And it’s even more dubious when Johnny’s feelings for her all but stem for his sudden need to be “the nice guy”, but I guess it works to further humanize him and not make him into such a jerk, so I’ll take it.

We’re two episodes from the end of this season and, mercifully, it seems like the show has wrapped up the LaRusso’s marital problems and will quit subjecting us to children having 80’s retro parties for the sake of being self-referential and meta. The issue here is that the last few episodes have presented us with some interesting ideas but gives them little room to grow and breathe before axing them altogether and moving on. That mentality works when done right (“Take a Right”) but feels arbitrary and listless when done wrong (“Lull”). “Glory of Love”, at best, is a welcome means to an end.

OTHER STUFF THAT EXISTS IN THIS DOJO

  • The episode’s name is “Glory of Love” which is, of course, a callback to “The Karate Kid, Part II”. It’s the film’s “love song”, performed by Peter Cetera of Chicago fame — but we get Chicago’s “You’re My Inspiration” during the big lovey-dovey climax instead. That’s awfully odd for a show that hasn’t been shy about soaking us in gratuitous flashbacks and series references.
  • There was so much potential between “Melissa” and Johnny in this episode. Melissa literally used Johnny’s “move” (bumping into a woman before buying her drinks at a bar), then shared some great banter with him. Carmen and Johnny weren’t even close to being a thing, so I’m at a loss as to why we had to have Melissa leave the show this quick.
  • It’s nice to see Randee Heller again as Lucille LaRusso. She’s an insanely talented actress and her tear-filled story about her husband had me choking up. It’s also nice to see that the producers of the show have such great attention to detail. Sitting on the couch and interacting like they did, it truly does feel like we’re watching Daniel with his mom after all these years and not two actors playing roles.
  • Great callback to Season 1: Kylie Delre reprising her role as “Judy”, the woman who got Johnny fired in the very first episode and indirectly kicked off his second stint with Cobra Kai.
  • The opening dream sequence (set to Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”) features Carmen pouring a Coors Banquet all over herself and Johnny. That’s about what Coors Banquet is worth. They should do a follow-up where Johnny’s students dump whole barrels of it into a big dark hole in the forest where it will never be seen again.

About Matt Perri

Matt Perri
Matt Perri is one of those literary Ronin you’ve never heard of until he shows up and tells you he’s a literary Ronin. He’s a native Californian, a film buff, old school gamer geek, and a sports/entertainment fan. A lifelong Giants, 49ers and Sharks fan, he also covers the world of pro-wrestling, writing recaps for WWE Monday Night RAW and Total Divas at Scott’s Blog of Doom. You can follow the guy on Twitter via @PerriTheSmark as well as here at The Workprint and his own blog, We Hate Your Gimmick.

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