This is the quickest turnaround we’ve had Netflix push through a totally new season. Maybe it’s just me or didn’t they just show the last season of Cobra Kai a few months ago? Okay, to me more accurate, they did release the 4th season on New Year’s Eve of last year. So, it technically was a year ago but my point remains how quickly Netflix was able to pump out the latest season for this weird Karate Kid pseudo sequel. I still wanted to see what happened to Johnny Lawrence, Daniel LaRusso and the rest of the characters, though. So, of course I binge watched the latest season of Cobra Kai when I got the chance.
By the way, when I say “binge watch,” what I mean is that I sat down and watched everything a good week or two after the entire season dropped on Netflix. So, just in case you’re like me and still haven’t watched Cobra Kai’s latest season, don’t worry. This will be a SPOILER FREE review.
This season of Cobra Kai takes place pretty much right after the end of the previous one. Cobra Kai, now run solely by Terry Silver as he framed John Kreese for assault, has beaten both Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang dojos, forcing them to disband. Miguel has run off to Mexico to find his father so Johnny Lawrence goes there as well with a now supposedly reformed Robby to look for him. Tory is also broken up because, although she officially won the All-Valley Tournament and beat her rival, Sam LaRusso, she found out she only won because Terry Silver bought the referee to calling the match in Cobra Kai’s favor. Realizing he can’t take on Terry Silver using conventional means, Daniel LaRusso recruits Chozen, his old rival from Karate Kid Part II, to help devise a strategy to take down Cobra Kai for good.
Right off the bat, I will say this isn’t definitely not my favorite season of Cobra Kai. The biggest problem is, because of how big the cast has become and this means the writers had to write stories for all of the characters and hanging plot threads. To their credit, they did manage to resolve a lot of the storylines and character arcs during this season. The problem is all of these secondary stories has taken away from the core of Cobra Kai, which was supposed to be Johnny Lawrence’s path to redemption. It’s still there but Cobra Kai, this season anyway, is now more focused on this weird grand plot Terry Silver has percolating in the background for… world domination? It’s something like that but on less grand scale.
This season also has a lot of callbacks from the Karate Kid movies. Besides Terry Silver becoming the main antagonist here, we also see the return of the aforementioned Chozen from Karate Kid Part II as well as Mike Barnes from the Karate Kid Part III. Even the girl friend (note the space in between the words) from Part III makes a brief cameo just so she can inform her cousin, who just so happens to be Daniel LaRusso’s wife, how bad Terry Silver made Daniel’s life before. These are nice touches but, aside from Chozen, they really didn’t feel needed in the grand scheme of things. It even felt like they were there for fan service and filler because Netflix had to develop the required 10 episodes for the season.
Maybe calling the majority of this season of Cobra Kai filler is a little harsh. Like I said, they do wrap up some of the longer running character arcs with a neat little bow on them. It’s just that they are a little too neatly cleaned up quickly. This feels disappointing as a lot of them have been going on since pretty much the start of the series. These resolutions don’t feel earned or given the necessary weight so everything feels anti-climactic.
The overall story for this season feels a little weak as well. This season of Cobra Kai felt aimless in general. It’s more about Daniel, Johnny and the rest of the good guys and girls trying to find out Terry Silver’s plan. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but only if the story had a lot more focus. This didn’t because, not only did they have to come up with the main plot regarding Silver’s ultimate plan, they also had to divvy up the 10 episode to tackle Tory’s dilemma of feeling like a fraud, Kenny growing angrier under Silver’s tutelage, Miguel’s search for his father, Robby’s reuniting with his father, Sam doubting herself because of her losing the All-Valley Tournament and a lot more. As they have to cover a lot of ground, a lot of these stories are quickly resolved incredibly abruptly. There really isn’t even any dramatic buildup to the climactic battle this time around. It seems to just happen without any real rhyme or reason.
Despite this, there are still an astonishing number of hanging threads left untied here. Most of them were actually added during the season. I guess they’re there as they need a story that can be told for the next season as most of the secondary stories have reached their conclusion. Either that, or they totally forgot about these supposed plot points. I can’t really go into details as this is a SPOILER FREE review. Let’s just say there are still stories that can be told for a possible future tournament, Miguel’s search for his father and the fate of John Kreese.
The acting, overall, is pretty good across the board. The entire cast have been playing these roles for almost half a decade by now so they’ve gotten used the nuances of their characters by now. However, it’s also nice to see some characters have some development. The most evident are the two main teen protagonists, Miguel and Robby. Then again, they do seem to experience some character growth and changes each and every season. Johnny Lawrence also saw him soften up, which is both good and bad. It’s nice to see him try harder to be the sensei Kreese wasn’t but it was when he acted like an old-school douche when he was the most entertaining, so there is a danger he won’t become as interesting next season.
Of course, the real scene stealer here is Terry Silver. He just chews up the scenery whenever he’s on the screen. It’s just really fun to see a character with that elevated level of smugness be executed so perfectly. The feeling of how he comes off as calm but you know that, at a moment’s notice, he could snap and unleash a beatdown in an instant is just really good. His new lackeys, unfortunately, don’t really add anything special. They’re just bad guys who are cartoony evil. They even gave this one guy and eye patch because, you know, evil!
There isn’t really a whole lot of action here as well as a lot of the conflict feels compartmentalized. There is always going to be at least one fight or action scene each episode but it’s all definitely downplayed this time around. Usually, these combat scenes are over pretty quickly as well so they’re nothing really to talk about. Things do ramp up by the final three episodes with some lengthy and generally well-choreographed combat but the rest of the fights are very lackluster and lacking energy.
I will say, despite all of my gripes, I still kind of enjoyed this season of Cobra Kai but only because they do bother to give resolutions to some long-standing story threads and also give some closure to some character arcs. There is some cheesy fun to have in the proceedings as well. Fans will also get a kick from the cameos from previous characters from the Karate Kid films. It’s kind of weird why Netflix just didn’t close out Cobra Kai and make this the final season as most of the story arcs have been finished now. They haven’t announced another season as of yet, but you can bet they will in the future if this does well. As someone who’s watched all of Cobra Kai, however, the 5th season doesn’t hold a candle to some of their better seasons, like the 1st and 4th seasons.
If you’ve been watching Cobra Kai, you should still watch it but don’t expect it to hit the highs of the earlier seasons.
Have you seen this season of Cobra Kai? What’s your favorite season? Let me know in the comments section below!