“Cobra Kai” – Season 5 Review
“Cobra Kai” strikes its most powerful blow yet with the fast-paced, unpredictable fifth season that delivers everything viewers have come to expect from the “Karate Kid” spinoff.
The show picks up right where it left off in season four, with Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) on his way to Mexico to find his father after ditching the All Valley Tournament. Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) feels at fault for Miguel leaving, and hits the road with his son Robby (Tanner Buchanan) to bring Miguel home.
Maridueña has never failed to deliver powerful and emotional performances in “Cobra Kai”, but this season is his best work to date. The viewer can’t help but empathize with everything Miguel has gone through over the seasons, and honestly, everyone just wants him to be happy.
With Johnny and his star pupil off the board, Cobra Kai actively takes over all karate in the Valley, with Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) at the helm. Silver framed his ex-partner John Kreese (Martin Kove) for assault in season four, leaving the snake pit wide open for his taking.
Terry Silver is undeniably the best villain of the franchise. He covers up his tracks after every sneaky attack and gets under the skin of every main character. He’s a character that’s wildly fun to hate.
Silver’s intense and extremely unethical teaching style deeply angers Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) who was forced to shut down his dojo at the end of season four. LaRusso becomes entirely focused on formulating a plan to bring Silver down for good.
This is familiar territory for “Cobra Kai,” with every season thus far focusing on the All-Valley Karate Tournament and rivalry between Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai. However, season five takes a different turn.
For the first time, viewers get to see development in the father-son relationship of Johnny and Robby. It’s been extremely rocky since season one, when Johnny was completely absent in Robby’s life. He shut Robby out, and yet he took Miguel under his wing and trained him like a son.
This season, the first epic fight scene is a Johnny/Robby team up, where they take out con men on a Mexican beach during their search for Miguel. Seeing the two fight side by side was well worth the five season wait.
However, the LaRusso family sees their bonds tested this season like never before. Amanda has reached her breaking point with Daniel’s obsessive need to take Terry Silver down, which creates a rift in their marriage.
Anthony is being severely bullied by Kenny (Dallas Dupree Young), who Anthony tormented back in season four, and Sam (Mary Mouser) is struggling after her loss to Tory (Peyton List), wondering if she even wants to pursue karate or her relationship with Miguel anymore.
Sam’s messy internal conflict was definitely a low point for season five, and it was frustrating to see her push Miguel away and then become angry when he moves on. Her character has never been the strongest in the series, but her energy brought unneeded sluggishness to an otherwise intense and fast-paced season.
The karate drama comes to a head in episode seven of the season with the introduction of the Sakai Taikai, a global karate tournament that Silver had his sights set on since Kreese first opened Cobra Kai. With Silver vying for a spot, Johnny and Daniel feel they have no choice but to join forces again (even though it ended in failure last season) and fight for a spot in the Sakai Taikai as well.
The rivalry was back and more intense than ever. Joining Silver to prepare for the Sakai Taikai qualifications is Kim Da-Eun (Alicia Hannah-Kim), a karate instructor set on spreading her grandfather’s extremist karate teachings, no matter the consequences for the students. And joining Miyagi-Fang (Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang) is Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto), Daniel’s former rival who quickly evolved into his new partner.
These new characters match up incredibly well, and add even more ferocity to the “Cobra Kai” fight sequences.
Also coming back to the “light side” is Robby, who left Cobra Kai after realizing how badly Silver brainwashed his students into violence. Even though Miyagi-Fang is hesitant to let Robby in, they soon form a quick bond of teamwork and friendship with him.
This was absolutely another highlight of the season, being able to finally see the show’s best fighters, Miguel, Robby, and Hawk (Jacob Bertrand), work together and show off their mad skills.
The season finale was quite possibly the show’s best episode to date. Clocking in at 48 minutes (a new record), the viewer got a front row seat for two simultaneous and bloody fight scenes. They were shot and edited together incredibly well, leaving the audience basically breathless at the conclusion.
This does not feel like the end of “Cobra Kai.” The ending leaves so much room for an even bigger and badder sixth season. As they say, “Cobra Kai never dies.”
Kaitlyn Murphy is a first-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.