Cobra Kai Season 5
This is a spoiler-free review of all ten episodes of Cobra Kai: Season 5, which will be available on Netflix on Friday, September 9th
Cobra Kai fifth season deviates from the previous two seasons, which debuted at the end of the year, with a September premiere and a conclusion that, for the first time, feels like default closure should the series not return for another season. Season 5 feels less organic than what has come before it because things feel a little too neat and tidy near the end.
Having said that, in true Cobra Kai fashion, there are still plenty of crowd-pleasing moments, an abundance of heart-warming sentiment, and some joyous use of franchise legacy characters that contribute to these ten “summer break” episodes being the most triumphant.
This is the first post-All-Valley Tournament storyline since the show’s second season, so there is aftermath to contend with, regrouping and recouping to contend with, and healing to occur. Terry Silver, Thomas Ian Griffith’s wealthy and malevolent character, is now in charge of Cobra Kai and has grand plans for the dojo’s expansion. Meanwhile, Peyton List’s Tory and Mary Mouser’s Sam are both devastated by their championship match, despite Tory’s victory.
Both Ralph Macchio’s Daniel and William Zabka Johnny are depressed because their respective dojos must now close, but while Johnny, who is just relieved Kreese is in jail, sees it as a fresh start, Daniel becomes obsessed with taking down Silver, who, as we all know, is always a few steps ahead of poor Daniel.
Furthermore, Johnny is now more forward-thinking than ever, having to consider the future in ways he never expected while also wanting to make amends with his son Robbie (Tanner Buchanan) and surrogate son Miguel (Xolo Mariduea). Cobra Kai, as usual, is full of drama caused by simple misunderstandings, but it also earns the hell out of its reckonings and reconciliations through creative tricks and rewarding exchanges.
It’s incredible that Daniel and Johnny can now operate as full friends and see the actual benefits in each other’s styles (this season has a fun element where the two seem to switch roles for a while). The same can be said for Daniel and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), with Chozen’s role shining the brightest this season.
Chozen becomes a much more rounded character in Season 5 as Daniel’s bizarre “ride or die” against Terry Silver, whether he’s serving the drama or the comedy. Despite the fact that this year’s offering is firmly rooted in the events of The Karate Kid Part III (there’s even a new villain brilliantly sprung from a throwaway line in that film), Chozen remains a lingering part of the second film that feels worthy of exploration here.
It wasn’t enough that Daniel and Chozen had last left each other on “good terms.” One of the series’ geniuses is that it insists on making them BFFs. It’s an absolutely lovely way for a show to go, and it’s probably the best way to honor a film series that used stupid adolescent rage for the sake of action.
This message is intended to permeate the rest of the show, including Robbie and Miguel, Tory and Sam, Dallas Dupree Young Kenny and Griffin Santopietro’s Anthony, and so on. There even a scene in Season 5 where LaRusso Auto employees Louie and Anoush fight… only to make up a few minutes later. The theme here is always understanding and forgiveness, whether it takes years or minutes.
Cobra Kai Season 5 Trailer Netflix
Okay, maybe not when it comes to Terry Silver, this year’s standout villain. Yes, you may have to put up with Daniel making some massively stupid mistakes for a while because he can’t see how Silver is causing him to self-sabotage, but things will smooth out and people’s heads will be reset. – and not just Daniel’s either. He learns from his mistakes, but others begin to catch up to him as they see the true, serious damage Silver is capable of inflicting.
It’s no surprise that Sean Kanan “Bad Boy of Karate” Mike Barnes returns this year (though Mike’s role may surprise you in its own way), but Cobra Kai has more Part III tricks up its sleeve, from cameos to callbacks. When it comes to the Miyagi-verse, Cobra Kai is nothing if not thorough.
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Five seasons into Cobra Kai, there’s a clear pattern in place, though there’s still room for surprises. As Martin Kove’s Kreese spends his days in prison (framed by Silver for the beating of Stingray), we wonder if this will finally be the time for him to do some real soul-searching.
And, just as Season 4 gave Robbie a bullied kid to mentor in Kenny, Season 5 sees Oona O’Brien’s Devon rise from the ashes of the All-Valley, ready to complicate Tory’s life exponentially. There’s still so much gold to be mined here, in what feels like a penultimate season, that it’s difficult to blame Cobra Kai for skipping the finale of this batch of episodes.
That’s not to say that things go unanswered or that there are plot holes, because everything still makes sense. There’s just one instance of our heroes’ poor decision-making that feels like it should lead them down a much different path than it does.
The series appears unsure of itself as Season 5 approaches its conclusion and things are wrapped up more neatly than expected. That isn’t to say there isn’t a path to Season 6, because a very big story for our heroes begins in Episode 8, but there are elements of this ending that play like the end-end if necessary. With Netflix, you never know. Of course, you can’t end this without mentioning Hilary Swank, can you? You simply must.
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Verdict Cobra Kai winning streak continues with a summer break season featuring Terry Silver as the karate kingpin to be dethroned. Whereas Kreese knew how to manipulate Johnny’s mind, Terry knows how to manipulate Daniel, and Season 5 has a lot of fun honoring The Karate Kid Part III in a variety of awesome ways (with Chozen from Part II fully joining the fray in an amazing blend).
There are some loose ends in the finale, but overall, Cobra Kai is filled with heart, humor, and a staggering amount of franchise love, as if the entire show was designed to help us understand and forgive all ’80s movie bullies while also reflecting on our own actions. It’s not enough that past villains are being healed here; some are thriving and finding their own happy endings.