Forgive the gendered language in the clip, but Johnny Lawrence is a product of his times, after all, and those times are the Camaro-mullet rokken-like-Dokken 1980s. In this sequence, early in the second season of YouTube Premium’s Cobra Kai, he is coming to terms with the idea that he is making children into the the thing he has hated so much about himself.
Cobra Kai’s second season isn’t a particularly sophisticated look at abusive relationships or adolescent bullying, but it is still earnest and introspective in the right moments. Of course, it’s a show about karate kids, so things have to — and will — get physical. They just don’t here. Yet.
Looking at the bigger picture, Johnny (William Zabka) is in an existential struggle for his soul, and his enemy is not Daniel (Ralph Macchio). It’s the diabolical John Kreese (Martin Kove), who appeared in a puff of cigar smoke and brimstone at the end of season 1. The creed stenciled on the dojo’s wall is the code that Kreese taught Johnny, and that Johnny has now taught — like it or not — to Miguel (Xolo Mariduena) and Aisha (Nichole Brown) and Hawk (Jacob Bertrand). He’s trying to un-ring a 35-year-old bell.
For those wanting more of Daniel-san, be patient; he and Miyagi-do Karate are here to show everyone that the Way of the Fist is no way to live. They just need more students to spread that message. It’s one thing to convince a single troubled teenager (Tanner Buchanan) that his salvation lies within the docile waxing of cars and the peaceful painting of houses and fences. But it’s another to spread that to the masses — masses told that they, too, can be badass if they show no mercy and bring a checkbook.
Cobra Kai season 2 premieres April 24 on YouTube Premium.