Now the real pain begins.
Cobra Kai IV is the fourth season of the martial arts dramedy series, Cobra Kai. It was created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg, produced by Sony Pictures Television Studios, and distributed by Sony Pictures Television. It stars William Zabka and Ralph Macchio. This season acts as a sequel to Cobra Kai III, The Karate Kid, and The Karate Kid Part III.
"Some kids need a little aggression." -Johnny Lawrence
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEASONS 1-4 OF COBRA KAI!!!!!
With Cobra Kai more dangerous than ever, Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso team up to take down Kreese once and for all. As they try to work out their decades-long feud so that they can defeat the common enemy, Kreese brings back Terry Silver to help train his students. It all comes down to the all valley tournament, where one dojo will win and remain.
Now the real pain begins.
I think, by far, this is the best season of Cobra Kai.
This show is all about alliances and switching sides. In season one, Cobra Kai was good. Daniel viewed them as the villains, but they were the good guys. In season two, Cobra Kai began to turn bad. Our heroes started to turn more evil. In the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi they had become "the very thing they swore to destroy". In season three, Cobra Kai was the clear threat while Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang were our heroes. This season, nobody is completely good and nobody is completely bad. Tory and Robby were full-fledged villains last season, and they are definitely more like anti-heroes this season. Miguel and Sam show their more villainous sides. Even Kreese doesn't seem completely bad in this season. It makes the show feel complex and have weight. You aren't rooting for a clear-cut winner in the tournament. It's much more complicated, which I liked. Instead of clear good and clear evil, the lines are very blurred.
And, of course, the antagonistic chemistry between Daniel and Johnny is just delightful. William Zabka and Ralph Macchio have this great dynamic that is on display throughout the whole season. Daniel and Johnny's relationship is the core piece of Cobra Kai. It's so fun, but it's also a great plot beat. Whenever they team up or seem to like each other, it's so satisfying. The end of season three was incredible because they finally teamed up to take down Cobra Kai. And that carries through to this season, where they know that the common threat is Cobra Kai, but can't find a way to work together. And it pays off so nicely in the finale where they accept that both of their styles combined is the best type of karate. I cannot wait to see more of them in season five.
I think one of the best parts of Cobra Kai as a whole was introduced in season four: and that is none other than Mr. Terry Silver, the main villain of The Karate Kid Part III. I haven't watched that movie, but I've seen parts of it, and I have a general knowledge of Terry Silver. He's utterly insane. But they explain him, ground him, and make him nuanced in Cobra Kai. He starts off by living this false life as a rich brat, then gets manipulated by Kreese, and then snaps out of this trance and becomes pure insanity again. And when he goes crazy, he is absolutely terrifying. The scene where he beats the ever-loving s**t out of Stingray is one of the most brutal, shocking, and horrifying scenes in Cobra Kai. And the way that they end his arc as betrays Kreese and gets him arrested...oh my God. It's so good. He is the true villain of this show, and I am so glad we are getting more of him in season five.
This season also develops the rivalries between the characters. At the forefront are Daniel and Johnny, which serves as the main focus of the first half of the season. The second half focuses a little more on Sam vs. Tory and Robby vs. Miguel, which I thought was interesting. In season three, you were rooting for Sam against Tory. You were rooting for Miguel against Robby. That is not the case here. Because they made Tory and Robby more anti-heroic in this season, there isn't a clear cut hero. They make Sam do unlikable things. They make Miguel do unlikable things. Like I said before, this season is so much more complex than the others. And this was a massive part of that.
Now, the finale of this season was not my favorite of the finales. But it was still great. It did such an incredible job of paying everything off from the previous episodes. Everyone, including the side characters, get their time to shine. Kenny has been turned into a Cobra Kai monster by Anthony and Robby, and gets his revenge against Anthony, but becomes something very bad. Hawk regains his confidence and beats Robby. Sam uses both Johnny and Daniel's fighting styles to have a chance against Tory. Tory, on the other hand, tries to beat Sam fairly while being pushed by Silver to cheat. When Tory does win, she has a moment to bathe in the glory, but it all disappears when she oversees Silver paying the ref. They just do such a good job of finishing off all the character arcs while also leaving you hanging for season five.
This is also probably the most emotional season of Cobra Kai. There's one moment where Johnny and Miguel seem to be having a heart-to-heart, and Miguel says "I love you", but then Johnny says "I love you too, Robby.", and it is the most devastating moment in the show. It's just a complete punch to the gut that sends Miguel spiraling down this path which leads him to leave to find his dad in the finale. There are other touches of emotion throughout the season that I appreciated as well.
Kenny and Anthony were, in my opinion, the weakest part of this season. Anthony has always been around as a side character that annoys the crap out of you, but he gets promoted in this season to an all-around dirtbag a-hole. He bullies this poor, sweet, innocent kid named Kenny, who joins Cobra Kai to defend himself. And, while I did think some of this was compelling, I also thought that it was pretty nasty at times. The bullies in the Karate Kid franchise have always been cruel, but this was different. This was all-out torture, and it was not enjoyable to watch. It made you feel horrible and I don't think Anthony deserves redemption. I also think that it's underdeveloped. Kenny and Anthony are big in episodes 2 & 3 but don't return until episode 7, and that's a big gap for a plot line.
The other thing that I really didn't dig was Miguel's final decision. After he pulls his muscle in the tournament, he decides not to fight, leaving Johnny out to dry. After that, he straight-up leaves. He gets on a bus to Mexico City to go find his biological father. And something just feels off about that. Once again, it is a sensical route, but I don't really think Miguel searching for his dad is a good plot line. It splits him off from the group of other characters, which is very bad setup for season five. And Johnny is going after him, which also means he's going to be split off from the rest of the characters.. This is my main concern about the next season. Johnny and Miguel are great, but part of what makes them great is their dynamic with the other people in the show. And I do not want that to disappear in season five.
Should you watch Cobra Kai IV?
Yes. This is the best season of Cobra Kai. It's not even close. If you haven't watched any of Cobra Kai, it's one of the most bing-able shows on TV right now. Pretty much everyone has Netflix, so just go watch it. Watch The Karate Kid first if you haven't seen it, though. That's a great movie and it's very important for Cobra Kai.
I am not a huge Cobra Kai fan. I liked seasons one and three. Season two is a little more meh for me personally. But, man. This season was amazing. It surpassed my expectations in every way possible, and I am very excited for season five, even if I do have a few worries.
This is the first season of Cobra Kai where I am going Sweet. Age range is 8+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 9.5/10
Created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg
Rated TV-14 for karate violence and action, language, sexual content, thematic elements
Released on December 31, 2021
Episode runtime: 35 minutes
William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence
Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso
Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz
Mary Mouser as Samantha LaRusso
Peyton List as Tory Nichols
Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene
Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry Silver
Martin Kove as John Kreese
Courtney Henggeler as Amanda LaRusso
Jacob Bertrand as Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz
Gianni DeCenzo as Demetri Alexopoulos
Vanessa Rubio as Carmen Diaz
Dallas Dupree Young as Kenny Payne
Griffin Santopietro as Anthony LaRusso