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‘Cobra Kai’ review: ‘Take a Right’

COBRA KAI
Season 2, Episode 6
“Take a Right”
Available on YouTube Premium
GRADE: B-

Daniel stares at the wreckage of Miyagi-Do in pure disbelief, currently unable to summon the same patience Mr. Miyagi had when he constructed this sacred place. Something we witness courtesy of a flashback, showing a very patient Mr. Miyagi (his face is never shown during the sequence and we only see him from behind in the climatic wide shot) as he builds what Daniel (Ralph Macchio) will eventually call “Miyagi-Do”.

Last week, we saw Daniel confront Johnny (William Zabka) over the vandalism of Miyagi-Do, something Johnny didn’t know about (and, for some reason, cannot emphatically state on this show), so Johnny’s making his students do push-ups until somebody admits to trashing LaRusso’s dojo — but not before he gets a phone call from Bobby (Ron Thomas) one of his old Cobra Kai buddies…it seems Tommy (Rob Garrison) is dying.

The title of this week’s episode of YouTube’s “Cobra Kai” is “Take a Right” and that’s fairly apt considering that it’s an arbitrary left turn (or “right turn” in this case), a strange filler episode for a series that, up until now, really hasn’t needed it. Nevertheless, we see Johnny reunite with Bobby, Tommy and Jimmy (Tony O’Dell) for “one last ride” which is only because “Tommy’s doctor is allowing him to sign out for 24 hours” and “he can’t rot in this place”. Yep. The hospital is signing off on the virtual kidnapping of a patient. Insurance and liability be damned. As writer Max Landis once said in “Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling”, “You better hang on to your suspension of disbelief because it’s about to take a fucking beating.”

The four not only go on one last motorcycle ride (rented bikes, I guess, it’s never explained), they also hit a dive bar and quaff beers, which ends up with them getting into a big, silly bar fight and laying waste to every geek in the place. All this does come with a nice Hallmark Movie moment, though: Tommy and Johnny talk about their respective pasts. Tommy admits to joining Cobra Kai because he wanted what Johnny had: popularity and guts. Unfortunately for Johnny, save for an increasingly shaky restart of Cobra Kai, high school was where he peaked. Additionally, he’s still hung up on what he had rather than what he has, which prompts Tommy to tell Johnny that he still has what he doesn’t: time to fix things and make things right. How Tommy is supposed to have the strength to run around, kicking ass and drinking beers when he looks like death is about to take him (and eventually does) is beyond me but it’s clear “Take a Right” isn’t interested in medical accuracy or specifics and is being fueled solely by nostalgia.

It is, however, a hell of a lot more interesting than the Miyagi-Do story which is literally comprised of Sam (Mary Mouser), Robby (Tanner Buchanan) and Demetri (Gianni Decenzo) trying to figure out how to lift Miyagi’s stone pillar up off the ground the entire episode, which they magically end up doing after an inspiring speech by Daniel about working together as one. In reality, it’s because Demetri and Chris (a Cobra Kai refugee played by Khalil Everage), use fulcrum physics to pry it off the ground via the use of shovels. How in the hell they weren’t able to summon the superhuman strength to lift the 2000 pound boulder before this is anyone’s guess (and Demetri is so thin and lanky, I don’t even buy him having the strength to open a jar of peanuts) but the music swells, Robby and Sam look on with their mouths slightly open as if they’re witnessing an absolute miracle and all we’re missing is a post-show PSA with Ralph Macchio teaching us about the science behind the creation of a makeshift lever.

Despite this stuff, “Take a Right” is still very much worth watching even if it is this goofy. The episode does have its highlights. Seeing the Cobra Kai gang back together after all these years is a blast and it’s nice to see them all at peace with the past and themselves, post-Kreese (Bobby’s a pastor, Jimmy’s a family man, etc.). But while the cat’s away, the big rat comes out to play: Kreese (Martin Kove) is, of course, behind the entire Miyagi-Do fiasco and we see him attempting to turn his students to the dark side in Johnny’s absence. It was nice to see Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) dissenting from Kreese, something that’s been in the works since the second season started. While “Hawk” (Jacob Bertrand) has shed who he once was and has quickly become Kreese’s pet viper (something I discussed, at length, in last week’s review), Miguel still has his humanity and tells Kreese that attacking an opponent while they’re down is not something an honorable fighter does. The scene is beautifully blocked with Kreese explaining that real life is much different than a tournament. Scoring points is one thing but winning a fight on the streets is the difference between life and death. Kreese getting between Tory (Peyton List) and Miguel is symbolic as hell.

And although it was predictable as the sun rising and setting and just a bit ham-fisted (Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” blares loudly, setting the scene as paramedics show up in the middle of the woods and jump out of an ambulance in slow-motion), the death of Tommy is heart-wrenching and the pain on Johnny, Jimmy and Bobby’s faces as they watch the paramedics declare their long-time friend dead is agonizing. It’s nicely intercut with Kreese taking full control of his dojo, instructing his students to practice punching as he waxes on about the bond between all members of Cobra Kai. This moment comes just after Miguel apologizes to a seemingly benevolent Kreese in private as he assures Miguel that they’ll both help get Johnny “back on track”. Of course, we all know that’s not going to be the case. The old guard of Cobra Kai has just died…and the new lions are poised to take over.

This week’s entry of “Cobra Kai” has a lot to like. It stays consistent and keeps the larger issues simmering while the show deviates from the norm. In doing so, “Take a Right” definitely goes for broke and, despite the sillier stuff borne of the need to please the oldest “Karate Kid” fans, it mostly succeeds.

OTHER STUFF THAT EXISTS IN THIS DOJO

  • Another episode, another reference to “The Karate Kid, Part III”. Daniel telling his students that he was briefly a part of Cobra Kai is a nice touch — even though it doesn’t really amount to much. Hopefully, it means we’ll see the return of Terry Silver in Season 3.
  • While I’m on this kick: Daniel tells everyone that it was “1985” when he he joined Cobra Kai and returned as the defending champ at the All Valley Tournament. I have no idea how that’s possible. It’s implied that he’s 15 in the original film, which takes place in ’84. He goes to Okinawa in the summer of ’85 (I think) and when we re-join him in the third film, he’s driving and signing lease agreements and it’s implied he’s ready for college. Anyone care to explain this timeline? There’s a great breakdown here.
  • The song playing during the Cobra Kai biking scene is, what else? The same song that accompanied the introduction of Cobra Kai on the beach in 1984. Awwwwsyeah. Listen to that 80’s goodness!
  • Tommy’s most famous line in the original “Karate Kid” film was “PUT HIM IN A BODYBAG!!! YEAH!!!” Fittingly, the final shot of the show is of Tommy…being zipped into a body bag. 🙂 Nice touch.

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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