Cobra Kai Season 3, the first episode of episodes to premiere on Netflix, does something intriguing with its Big Bad, John Kreese: In a story arc about how old rivalries and past traumas can continue to cause damage over decades, the authors use the The character series questions the amount of automatic respect and trust America has for its veterans.
Such a charged, nuanced criticism stands out Cobra Kai. The story of two karate students who competed in a tournament as children and found their rivalry revived in their adult lives when they both competed against each other New Karate students is ridiculous. The characters on the series seem to know that none of this makes sense or is plausible in a normal reality, but knowing that a situation is silly doesn’t mean you are out of that situation.
Each character on the show is stuck in their own way in the high-stakes drama of the Karate Kid movies, and in this world anything in life can be solved or made worse by karate. Even Daniel’s wife has a hard time explaining or at least believing the whole thing.
Daniel’s wife in Cobra Kai is so damn excited to hear about karate at this point in her life, and it’s one of the best things about the show pic.twitter.com/74tPPWUn1x
– Ben is worried about everything right now (@BenKuchera) January 10, 2021
Then there’s the edition of Kreese, who was established as the ultimate villain on the series. Season 3 concretizes an already crazy backstory about Kreese’s time in Vietnam, in which he was captured and forced to kill other prisoners over a literal pit of snakes because Hollywood doesn’t believe that you can give a name without something Creating a backstory to justify this name
Kreese fights for another prisoner, wins, they are released, and the two men open a karate dojo called Cobra Kai to teach the importance of killing your opponents before they kill you. A shopping mall karate dojo is a little different from a death pit in Vietnam, or at least it should be for most people, but no one can tell Kreese that.
So when Kreese returns to the world of the Karate Kid at the end of season one Cobra KaiWe know things are going to get serious soon. Lawrence is an aging, no-touch sucker who is trying to improve a bit by reopening Cobra Kai, but Kreese wants control of the dojo because he’s a cartoon villain, someone who just seems to enjoy it To cause suffering to others.
I feel a bit for Johnny in Cobra Kai because the guy clearly knows his childhood messed him up badly and he wants to do better, but has literally no support, no role models, and three brain cells, but damn he’s out there Trying to stop generation trauma so I feel like I have to stan pic.twitter.com/0o7W23BNS1
– Ben is worried about everything right now (@BenKuchera) January 11, 2021
During another karate brawl between students, the Cobra Kai students break an opponent’s arm, and Kreese of course agrees. Hurting your enemies is the whole point! But in real life you can’t just teach children to hurt other children. Someone will come and complain. Understandably! When Amanda LaRusso answers, we see how creepy and effective Kreese can be as a villain.
Everything about the scene gives me the Willies. She is alone in his business, he obviously has no regard for any type of social contract, and Kreese knows exactly how much Amanda screwed up beating him in response to his veiled threats and aggressive behavior. Suddenly he has all the power in this situation and is ready to play one last card out of jail: he’s a veteran.
In a meeting with the local government to discuss the cancellation of the upcoming karate tournament, which is the only way to resolve anything in this universe, Kreese begins by introducing himself with his rank, being thanked for the service he does a false show of being a good but tough teacher who wants only the best for his students and reminds of the room in which he was so happy to serve his country. He’s not the violent one, the people trying to interrupt him are the bad guys and he has already had to file an injunction against Amanda LaRusso for beating him.
His combat veteran status is the first weapon he reached for, knowing it would likely be the most effective. American society gives a lot of social power to the people who have served, and Kreese knows exactly how to arm that inherent trust in order to manipulate the people around him.
Whether or not Kreese would have been as compelling without this particular card is debatable, but it’s a card the character is clearly used to and knows how to use what they want. Martin Kove, the actor who plays Kreese is also in his seventies, so his options for actual physical combat on the show are limited, and he makes a more imposing enemy when the threat is more cerebral anyway. It also shows his cunning; Whatever advantage he can use, he will use.
That turn in the power dynamic between a newbie to the community and a well-known local businesswoman who owns a car dealership is just a small moment on a surprisingly tight show. But as written, the scene between Kreese and the other adult characters from Cobra Kai provides a rare warning about upgrading Veterans or Service Members based solely on the fact that they are Veterans or Service Members.
That’s a provocative perspective for a piece of American television. Our pop culture often turns soldiers into action heroes and the police into anti-heroes, who bend the rules to do what needs to be done. These romanticized versions of the people who hold these jobs run into friction versus reality, in which a host of citizens, including veterans and law enforcement officials, misused their social position and trust in them to riot in the United States Capitol . Cobra Kai doesn’t say soldiers are particularly manipulative or evil, just that it’s not a veteran by itself Good reason to believe someone is telling the truth. It’s a data point, not the whole story.
Kreese’s season 3 arc shows the downsides of this particular tendency and how easily it can help cause and also cover up. ongoing violence and abuse. Daniel LaRusso already kicked the guy in the butt once on season three of the show, but the debate scene shows his real threat: Kreese doesn’t need fists of his own to cause harm, just the trust and support of the community while he is works war against his rival dojos. And he’s able to get there, in large part because he’s addressing that one aspect of his extremely troubled past.