The first season of YouTube’s Cobra Kai was an unexpected treat: What looked for all the world like a tired rehash of a now 35-year-old (!) movie turned out to be a surprisingly funny and poignant tale about how sometimes even the best intentions can’t outflank the past. William Zabka and Ralph Macchio both turned into committed performances as men whose lives went down very different paths—Daniel LaRusso has financial success and a happy home life, while Johnny Lawrence’s failed relationships and wasted potential found him pushed into starting a new Cobra Kai gym simply to stave off unemployment and eviction, only for both to discover a renewed passion for martial arts. The two miguided men’s rivalry drove the series through its compelling conclusion, in which a resurgent Cobra Kai wins the All Valley Karate Championship but Johnny is left drunk and depressed that his methods have turned his prize student into a jerk.
Everything good about that season was found in the harsh tone and unflinching assessment of the failings of the two leads, so it’s a little strange to see the trailer for season two leaning so hard into earnest, wide-eyed drama. Rather than highlighting the humor or awkward social dynamics that made season one a success, it focuses squarely on the bigger battle between Cobra Kai and the new Miyagi-Do Dojo being opened by Daniel, where he’ll train kids free of charge, intent on defeating Cobra Kai and his old enemy. We see a brief glimpse of the surprise villain from the last episode, Johnny’s old Cobra Kai mentor John Kreese (Martin Kove), and multiple shots of the various teens on both sides of the battle, training in preparation for the coming matches. Here’s hoping the show hasn’t lost sight of the wit and human foibles it portrayed so well in its attempts to ramp up the size of the conflict from two men to two dojos of determined youths. Cobra Kai returns April 24 to YouTube Premium.