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Cobrai Kai Episode 2 ,’Strike Fast’: It Might Not Be Shakespeare, But It Sure is Awesome

Cobra Kai Episode 2 Strike Fast
Screenshot from Cobra Kai Episode 2

Cobra Kai ‘Strike Fast’ Plot Summary:

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is not happy about the Cobra Kai reopening, which also dregs up a lot of bad memories. While Johnny (William Zabka) trains his new pupil (Xolo Mariduena) hard, he feels pressure to bring the dojo up to code before he can fully reopen.

When Johnny asks his new student, Miguel, to listen to some Guns N’ Roses Miguel responds by asking who they are. After an annoyed look, Johnny says he’s going to pretend he didn’t hear that. That sums up the series right there. Cobra Kai continues to be a nostalgic goldmine, but it doesn’t sit back on its laurels. This episode continues to build off the momentum from the pilot. Not only does it develop the mentor/mentee relationship between Johnny and Miguel further, but it continues to reignite the rivalry between Johnny and Daniel in a slow, but tense way that will eventually boil to one hell of a conclusion.

Speaking of Daniel, there’s a lot more focus on him in this episode. While the pilot offered a down in the dumps Johnny Lawrence, we see the polar opposite with Daniel LaRusso. We see a montage of his dreamlike life played to the perfect song choice. Daniel truly has it all. Then with a simple tilt of the head, it all comes to a screeching halt. He gets a glimpse of the Cobra Kai dojo reopening. Much like with Johnny in the first episode, we get brutal flashbacks of all the pain this place caused Daniel. It’s a very well-directed sequence.

What’s great about Daniel’s character is they successfully have their cake and eat it too. Daniel has become everything he wasn’t in the films. He’s rich. He’s going to country clubs. He’s got it all. The series doesn’t betray the character though. Daniel still has all the lessons Mr. Miyagi imparted onto him. It’s everything around him that doesn’t feel right. They are definitely planting seeds for tension between him and his wife, played by Courtney Henggeler. She seems much more into the country club/elitist world whereas Daniel still feels uncomfortable with it. Daniel’s son, played by Griffin Santopietro, is textbook “I’m on my phone playing video games,” which irritates Daniel to no end.

This series also nails the dichotomy of the two generations flawlessly. Daniel wants to rip that phone away from his son, but we also get the irritation from Johnny’s side when he’s training Miguel. We already get the dialogue from the pilot about Johnny’s belief that kids in this generation need to toughen up. They dive deeper into that conflict here. The interaction between Johnny and Miguel on their first lesson is shockingly well written. It’s blunt and right to the point. It’s kind of funny, but also a great back and forth. You understand where both characters are coming from based on their generational philosophy.

The mentor/mentee relationship is sneaky complicated. In the first Karate Kid, the Cobra Kai are clear villains, especially with John Kreese essentially being a comic book character. There’s more grey area here. I love it. The lessons Johnny teaches are harsh and very much Cobra Kai, which Daniel calls him out on in this episode. What’s brilliant here is we sympathize with Johnny after the first episode, so we know where he’s coming from.

They also make a point of making Johnny a more measured John Kreese. Kreese was a dictator. While Johnny makes Miguel do chores and is rough on the kid, there’s just enough there where you know he genuinely cares. Even though this probably isn’t the most healthy relationship, you kind of buy it. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

While playing with some new themes, this series also brings it back to basics. While Miyagi has passed on, his presence still looms. Even when Daniel is just thinking about Miyagi, it’s some of the stronger material. Daniel’s daughter, Samantha, played by Mary Mouser, is a huge part of this. Samantha is that classic trope of newly becoming popular and leaving her old friends in the dust. They make it clear she’s still a good person after a strong parenting scene with Daniel. There’s also a great flashback of Daniel teaching his daughter karate just as Miyagi did. It’s a good reminder of where Daniel came from, and a meaningful moment to see Daniel pass on the Miyagi knowledge.

I’m not saying this is Shakespeare, but there was clearly a lot of care put into this show. It’s not just banking on nostalgia. Maybe it loses steam in the later episodes, but right now I’m riveted. This is how you do a sequel series. They are hitting all the right notes from who these characters were and what they have become. It makes perfect sense.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)

Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen likes movies and bagels, and that’s pretty much it. Aside from writing Box Office predictions, Daniel hosts the monthly Batman by the Numbers Podcast on the Breakcast feed. Speaking of Batman, If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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