"Obstáculos", Cobra Kai's seventh episode of season three finds two of the younger characters in Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) and Sam LaRusso (Mary Mouser) at critical points dealing with their greatest respective adversity that brings its share of heart and conflict to the Netflix series. This also starts a new major chapter for Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). As always, this is your minor spoiler warning for the episode.
Sam LaRusso's PTSD & Cobra Kai Student Tory Nichols
At the heart of Sam's PTSD is Tory Nichols (Peyton List), who left both physical and mental scarring from their confrontation at the end of season two in their school-wide brawl. Sam's trauma played out in various forms from touching a familiar handrail at the stairway, which was near when Tory cut her arm using jewelry as an improvised weapon. There were also nightmares and to top it off, the incident at the Golf N' Stuff where her rival got fellow Cobra Kai, Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) to break his one-time best friend Demetri's ( Gianni DeCenzo) arm while she hid away, froze, and looked on hopelessly. Daniel (Ralph Macchio) checks up on Sam, who's buried herself in her depression quitting karate and skipping school. The two end up spending some quality father-daughter together while he imparts some much-needed wisdom to her. It's a light-hearted sequence that shows as merciless as Cobra Kai can be sometimes, it has enough touch to perfectly tune its nurturing side to offer these invaluable lessons that not only help the characters, but the audience appreciates life more.
Speaking of appreciating life, Miguel gets a crash course catching up on the tensions in the dojo war. Since he and Johnny have largely been out of the loop, they decide to splinter off knowing how much John Kreese (Martin Kove) allowed Cobra Kai's toxicity to fester to the point where neither recognizes what they help rebuild to form Eagle Fang Karate. Luckily for them, they find some recruits from some former Kai students. It just irks me that despite everything that's gone on that, they wrote Aisha off the show like that not knowing how she would handle this arc of the story. Directed by Jennifer Celotta and written by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Alyssa Forleiter, "Obstáculos" is one of the biggest character-building episodes of the season that bring the best out of Macchio, Mouser, Zabka, and Maridueña. Season three of Cobra Kai is available to stream on Netflix.