'Cobra Kai's Biggest Question Is How's Daniel This Dumb?
If you're a fan of karate or '80s nostalgia or just good television (the three are essentially synonymous) and you haven't yet seen Cobra Kai, then I don't know what you're doing here. Go through your old Facebook messages, find your ex-girlfriend's Netflix password, pray she's been too caught up in her whirlwind romance with "Skander" to have changed that password and then watch Cobra Kai. It's awesome, and you'll have it fully binged before Skander's even done showing your ex his collection of Supreme hats.
But, if you've already seen Cobra Kai, then you know it's the continuation of The Karate Kid through the vantage point of the former antagonist, Johnny Lawrence (William Zapka). If The Karate Kid is The Wizard of Oz, then Cobra Kai is Wicked. Naturally, there have been plenty of takes already made about the show's moral complexities ...
... with bloggers trying to plot Johnny's trek from bad to good or reframe Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) from good to bad. And while I think it's all a worthwhile discussion, I also believe in our collective haste to chart character alignments like they're NPCs in a game of Dungeons and Dragons, that we're missing the bigger question here: Namely, we need to ask how naive is Daniel that he thinks his daughter and Robby are "just friends?"
Daniel takes on Johnny Lawrence's son, Robby Keene, at the end of season 1 and begins training him to be a Bonsai-clipping, crane-kicking, karate master. It's standard Karate Kid practice, but Daniel throws a little twist on this formula, and by season 2, he is training Robby in tandem with his daughter, Sam. If you've ever seen literally any TV show featuring two heterosexual characters of the opposite sex, then you know what happens next.
Yet, Daniel is none the wiser, despite placing his daughter in sweaty proximity to this budding Bieber clone on a day to day basis. I mean, seriously, imagine not realizing your daughter is going to hook up with your only other karate student. Now, I'm not trying to say Daniel is a bad dad or that there's anything wrong with Sam and Robby getting together. I'm simply remarking on how oblivious Daniel has to be. He should know better than anyone about the magnetic sexual energy that is karate training, and yet his daughter has entered martial courtship right in front of his eyes ...
... and he's just standing there like a big karate dope. Again, I can't stress enough that Daniel shouldn't be prying into his daughter's love-life or doing any weird helicopter parent shit. There's nothing inherently wrong from a parenting standpoint with him facilitating the meet-cute between his daughter and a promising karate student. But I do find it incredible that a man could believe that if you're teaching two teens to wax on and wax off, that they're only planning on using those moves for the "All Valley Tournament."
Will Daniel's naivety about his daughter's relationship be a sticking point in season 3? Almost certainly. He hates Johnny Lawrence with everything in his being, and to find out Johnny's son has been waxing off with his daughter might be a mental sweep of the leg that his psyche can't hurdle. But damn, dude, with all the signs being there, you really should have mentally prepared yourself.
Support Dan on Twitter and he will talk about his life with you in lieu of getting a therapist.
Top Image: Sony Pictures Television