TV Review - Netflix's Cobra Kai, Season 5 (SPOILER-FREE)

A new era of no mercy.

Cobra Kai V is the fifth season of the martial arts comedy drama series, Cobra Kai. It is directed by some people, created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg, produced by Sony Pictures Television Studios, and distributed by Netflix. It stars William Zabka and Ralph Macchio. This season acts as a sequel to The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid Part II, The Karate Kid Part III, and Cobra Kai IV.


"No one can take honor from you. Only you can take honor from yourself." - Chozen Toguchi

Plot


After Cobra Kai wins the All-Valley Tournament, Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso are out of business. When John Kreese is arrested, the path is paved for Terry Silver to expand Cobra Kai and take total control of the valley. Unable to let that happen, Daniel turns to an old enemy-turned-friend to stop Cobra Kai at its most powerful.


Terry Silver / Series-Long Payoff / Stakes / Episode Five / Johnny's New Arc / Chozen / Direction / Entertainment Value / Overstuffed / Teenage Dialogue / Kim Da-Eun / Mike Barnes / Setup for Season Six


Final Thoughts and Score


The Sweet


The first thing I think of when I think about positives this season is Terry Silver. Silver is, by far, the best villain in this show and even this franchise. He is terrifying. I love it when a villain is able to be intimidating by just being on screen, and that absolutely applies to Silver. Thomas Ian Griffith has this polite, mild-mannered personality that is so clearly hiding so much malevolence and evil. They've established how competitive Silver is and how far he'll go to win, so you truly feel like our characters are in danger whenever he's on screen. And THAT is a great way to execute a villain.


This season also has some big, satisfying moments with the characters. What Cobra Kai is so good at is establishing character flaws and rivalries. You know what will set each character off. You know why certain characters hate each other. And, throughout the seasons, they build on these characters and rivalries. In season five, a bunch of those arcs and rivalries have big, giant payoff that is so satisfying. It makes this season standout amongst the rest of the seasons. You'll remember these moments. They are some of the best in Cobra Kai.


Season five also has the biggest stakes of the show...by far. Cobra Kai has slowly grown in size. Every season adds more characters. The threat grows. And, in season five, the threat is massive. You can feel the danger and the tension in the individual episodes. You feel the urgency of the battle with Silver and the rest of Cobra Kai. I love it when shows or movies have high stakes that feel earned, and this season absolutely earns the sheer scope of this battle.


I think episode five of this season is the best episode of the show. It essentially acts as the mid-season finale, and it's fantastic. The big, emotional payoff moments that I was talking about before happen here. A lot. There's a ton of huge, satisfying scenes and character moments that I loved. It also ends with a slam-bang finale fight that ups the tension and the danger. And then there's a little cliffhanger at the end that will put a grin on your face. I think this would've worked as a season split-off. They could've split this season into two parts and used this as the cliffhanger. But I have no complaints that they didn't. This episode was amazing.


They also take Johnny's character in an entirely new direction here, and it absolutely worked for me. They do a very interesting job of juxtaposing Daniel and Johnny, but I think Johnny's character worked slightly better in this season. The place that he goes makes sense, and I loved it. It feels like true character progression. Johnny has always been my favorite character in Cobra Kai. However, it felt like his character was kind of running in place in seasons three and four. But season five gives him new things to do and a totally new arc, and I loved it.


The biggest surprise of this season for me was Chozen. They teased Chozen's return at the end of season four, and this season absolutely pays that off. He might be the funniest character in the season. Maybe even funnier than Johnny and Stingray. But it also just feels good to see Daniel working with the villain from The Karate Kid Part II. They give Chozen a good amount of satisfying moments while also having no shortage of just gut-bursting laughs.


Season five also has the best direction in the show thus far. I never thought I'd point out the directing in Cobra Kai, but this season has some unique things it does with the camera. There's a scene in episode six or seven (I don't remember which) where Kreese is meeting with a psychologist in prison. I won't say too much, but that scene has really, really good direction. And that's just one example of many, many things that I loved about the direction this season.


I've praised all four previous seasons of Cobra Kai for this, but season five manages to be just as fun and binge-able as the rest of the show. Addictive is the best word to describe Cobra Kai. This is a show that you just don't want to turn off. Every episode builds the intrigue and the stakes. And, through all of that, it manages to be fast-paced and highly entertaining. This season goes by in a flash. You don't notice how quickly it goes by. And I mean that entirely as a positive.


The Sour


While season five had a lot of highs, there were also a significant amount of lows.


The first thing is that this season feels a little overstuffed. There's a lot of characters. There's a lot of plotlines. Similar to Stranger Things, you can feel the ambition of the show weighing down the quality of the story itself. The episodes are all significantly longer. Storylines feel squeezed into the confines of the show. Certain plotlines will disappear for multiple episodes and then re-appear, and it just plays out very weirdly. It was frustrating, because this season had so many great things up front, but as I think about it more, there were a lot of problems.


The dialogue between the teenagers is legitimately the worst it's been throughout the entire show. It feels unnatural. You can tell that this dialogue was meant to be for high schoolers, but it was clearly written by adults, and that shows in the words itself as well as the stale performances given by the actors whenever delivering these lines.


Another thing I really didn't like about this season was Kim Da-Eun. She is the sensei that Terry Silver brings in to help assist with Cobra Kai in Kreese's absence...and nothing about this character worked for me. The writing was horrid. The dialogue she was given felt straight out of the Star Wars prequels. And the performance was atrocious. Alicia Hannah-Kim is an Australian actress that is trying way too hard to put on a Japanese accent that was simply awful. It was so distracting and took away from the greatness that is Terry Silver.


Probably the most disappointing thing this season was the usage of Mike Barnes. If you don't know, Mike Barnes was Daniel's final opponent in The Karate Kid Part III. Barnes was trained by Silver and Kreese and proved to be much stronger than Daniel in the final showdown. So, when his return was announced this season, I was excited. But his character is used in a really underwhelming and lame way. I can't get into specifics, but all I can say is I was really let down.


Finally, I'm worried about this show's future. Season five does not set up a clear direction for season six, meaning that Cobra Kai can keep dragging on forever. I do not want this show to go on for nine seasons until it sucks. I'm advocating for season six to be the final season, but I don't know if they really set that up in season five. I'm confused with the ending, because it just leaves you so unclear as to what the future of this show is.


Final Thoughts and Score


In my review of Cobra Kai IV, I called that season "true, quality TV", which I said the other seasons were not. Cobra Kai V, while somewhat problematic, is still quality TV and feels like another really strong entry in the show overall.


I will go Savory here. Age range is 10+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)

Moldy (Terrible)


"Cobra Kai V"


Fun Factor: 9/10

Acting: 8/10

Story: 8.5/10

Characters: 9.5/10

Quality: 8/10


Created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg


Rated TV-14 for moderate violence and gore, language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements


Released on September 9, 2022


Episode runtime: 35 minutes


William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence

Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso

Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry Silver

Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz

Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene

Mary Mouser as Samantha LaRusso

Yuji Okumoto as Chozen Toguchi

Peyton List as Tory Nichols

Martin Kove as John Kreese

Courtney Henggeler as Amanda LaRusso

Jacob Bertrand as Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz

Dallas Dupree Young as Kenny Payne

Vanessa Rubio as Carmen Diaz

Gianni DeCenzo as Demetri Alexopoulos

Alicia Hannah-Kim as Kim Da-Eun

Joe Seo as Kyler Park

Sean Kanan as Mike Barnes

Oona O'Brien as Devon Lee

Griffin Santopiero as Anthony LaRusso

Paul Walter Hauser as Raymond Porter / Stingray

Robyn Lively as Jessica Andrews

Luis Roberto Guzmán as Hector Salazar