Suddenly, Cobra Kai is hot. Since arriving on Netflix in 2020, the show has released four seasons in just under 16 months. Continuing the success of 1984’s Karate Kid sounded unlikely, but the show is now wrapping up filming up season 5 after a stellar season 4.
YouTube Red canceled Cobra Kai in 2019 after wrapping season 3 when the streaming video platform ceased producing scripted original programming, leaving the show without a home. Netflix acquired the series in June 2020 and released the third season on January 1, 2021.
From the start, writers haven’t been afraid to complicate Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence’s lives as middle-aged men — Daniel, empty yet successful, and Johnny, fallen far from upper-crust roots. Both have struggled to find meaning outside of the dojo and when fate brings them back to the mat, they can’t help but bow and accept. New characters intertwine Daniel and Johnny’s stories with intriguing odysseys of their own. Season one’s Miguel, for example, shared Daniel’s blue-collar roots but was trained in the vicious Cobra Kai style. Without expectations, and moving studios along the way, Cobra Kai’s creators continue to show that they know what they’re doing. Spoilers ahead.
Netflix released the show’s fourth season on December 31, 2021, with a stellar 100% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer over 28 critical reviews on Dec. 31. The season was one of those rare combinations that both wrapped things up and left them at a completely open end.
Cobra Kai’s fourth iteration continues to tangle things with Daniel and Johnny teaming up to join dojos and join styles against familiar villains: Original Cobra Kai dojo master John Kreese (Martin Kove) and Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) Karate Kid III’s Terry Silver, who served with sensei Kreese in the Vietnam War. Now the wealthy sleazeball who was the best part of part three returns to deliver more pain and aid to Cobra Kai.
“If a man can’t stand, he can’t fight. If a man can’t breathe, he can’t fight. If a man can’t see, he can’t fight,” Silver echoes in a Cobra Kai teaser.
Silver almost certainly will be a lead antagonist leading into season 5 after framing Kreese framed for an assault on Stingray, the self-named oldest Cobra Kai student. Silver bribed ‘ole Sting into claiming Kreese was the assailant, leaving Silver free to take over Cobra Kai and shape into his vicious vision.
With Kreese behind bars, many of Miyagi-do Karate’s enemies also ended up in sympathetic places, or healing relationships with loved ones. Tory Nichols (Peyton List) found out that Silver paid off a referee for her woman’s All Valley championship. Like her new partner Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), she finds herself in conflict with Silver from the start.
Despite switching back to Cobra Kai, Robby is still striving for a middle ground between the philosophies of Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai. Creating a bully in the course of mentoring Kenny led to an end-of-season reconciliation with his estranged dad, Johnny. Will Robby leave Cobra Kai to follow his dad in Miyagi-Do?
Cobra Kai’s habit of welcoming back previous characters continued when Karate Kid II’s Chozen Taguchi (Yuji Okumoto) showed up from Okinawa as an ally instead of an enemy in season 4. Chozen will definitely be there to help Miyagi-Do take on Cobra Kai in what’s shaping up to be a massive battle that’s connects several storylines in season 5. In an interview with TV Line, executive producer Josh Heald confirmed the Okinawan karate master’s inclusion.
“Chozen is somebody who ties into the more aggressive past where fighting wasn’t about a contest, it was about life and death. He still feels like he owes Daniel some help, and he wants to make amends even though Daniel has forgiven him,” Heald said. “From that alone, I feel like audiences can infer the energy with which Season 5 is going to begin. There is quite a bit of storyline that starts spinning very fast and very aggressively as we enter next season.”
With season 5 already in the can and scheduled for release, could we see a third Cobra Kai New Year’s release at the end of 2022?
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