I knocked out season four of Cobra Kai over the weekend. Six episodes Saturday, four Sunday. Solid work.
I liked it, although I thought it took a long time to find a good rhythm and flow. I hoped there would be a payoff for a rather slow start, and, thank goodness, there was. In fact, the last three episodes were as good as any in the total run of Cobra Kai.
We were all giddy coming into this season at the prospect of Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso joining forces to train their students to compete against John Kreese’s Cobra Kai at the All Valley Tournament.
Just typing All Valley Tournament gives me goosebumps!
As we meandered through the first seven episodes, I got the feeling that the writers were so stuck on trying to make that partnership shine, at least in TV terms, that they lost elements that had made past seasons work so well.
Or, perhaps, they just knew where they wanted to get to and couldn’t make the path to that finish work as well as the finish itself.
Also, maybe my expectations for how they would interact were too high. I wanted so badly for it to be all about them that I forgot what makes this show so good: how there is always a counter-balance for any plot line or relationship. The writers would have to fundamentally change the show if it become the Daniel and Johnny Karate Hour.
To my eyes, Johnny was a little neutered this season. The first three seasons every episode had moments with Johnny that made me laugh out loud. He still had his moments this season, but they felt more spaced out and sometimes less funny as in the past. The funniest Johnny moment of season four was his training montage, when he started kicking waves and yanking kids off of scooters. That was some funny shit. Searching for “how to tell my student I’m banging his mom” was pretty awesome, too. “Learning feminism,” and “Do I look like I sit to pee?” were other favorite lines of mine. I’m all for Johnny maturing but not at the expense of his sense of humor.
I never saw The Karate Kid Part III, so Terry Silver was new to me. Maybe that affected how I viewed this season, too, as the callbacks and references to that movie were lost on me.
Every time either Silver or Krees worked out or fought someone, I kept expecting one of them to drop dead of a heart attack. These guys were in Vietnam and we’re supposed to believe they can engage in rigorous martial arts ass kicking in the 2020’s? I’ll believe a lot of bullshit in this show, but that’s too much.
I also continue to refuse to believe that Yasmine is really into Demetri. It is nauseating and setting up a lot of real-life geeks for disappointment when the hottest girl at their schools don’t suddenly fall for them.
All the overt flashbacks to the original movies are getting old. It feels like by season four those should be appear much less often. I did like that pretty much everyone, including Samantha, called out Daniel for being so hung up on Mr. Miyagi. We get it, he changed your life. But, dude, can you give it a rest? Based on how little time Daniel spends at the dealership, I’m starting to think Amanda was the real force behind any business success Daniel had. Maybe we need to dive into her backstory more to find the real reason the LaRusso Auto Group is the valley’s first choice for fine vehicles and auto service.
The show continued to do a wonderful job pitting characters against each other in new and entertaining ways, with constantly shifting rivalries and hurt feelings. Best example this season was the connection between Daniel and Miguel, which threatened Johhny’s relationship with his student. It’s basic, soap opera shit. But this show is really good at it.
With that in mind, I think the writers could have pushed the Amanda-Tory storyline harder. It’s just a different version of the interactions between Daniel, Johnny, Robby, and Miguel, but it had opportunities to turn into something really interesting.
From doing some stalking, errrr, “research” on Instagram, it appears that Vanessa Rubio and Courtney Henggeler hang out a little bit outside of the show. I bet that’s a good time…
Kyler Park, with his “rich Asian kid who talks like he’s from the ‘hood” act kills me.
Robby and Tory were devastatingly attractive at prom. I think my windows fogged up a little bit. I still have some Dirty Old Man issues watching Peyton List as a woman. So I’m not going to say much else.
It did make me chuckle that Robby and Tory could do a flawless Tango without ever having danced together before. This is the fake shit I can buy into.
The All Valley Tournament episodes were awesome. And, let’s be honest, the best character of the year was the guy who was the announcer for the matches. Another example of how the show isn’t afraid to be cheesy and almost always finds the humor in those moments instead of turning the audience off.
“I know who I am now. The guy who’s gonna win this whole fucking thing.” Eli Mother Fucking Moskowitz, ladies and gentlemen, with the line of the entire series. I literally raised my fists and shouted when he said that. Homeboy called his shot and delivered on it.
That was the only downside to how the final matches were ordered. With the boys final first, and Cobra Kai only needing one win to clinch the team title, you knew that Eli would beat Robby. Still, they made that fight, and the girls final, hella interesting, as Cali kids would say. Terrific action, camerawork, and drama in all the matches of the tournament.
If Daniel LaRusso wasn’t already insufferable enough, he has the balls to walk over to Robby and try to tell him how to fight before the final. What a dick. He can fuck right off. Daniel is the worst. I was glad when Samantha asked him why his way had to be the right way and then went out and fought her fight on her terms.
Poor, confused, emo Miguel. Kid is trying to get through life and this season seemed like an endless series of progressively bigger disappointments to him. If a single noise summed up his season, it would be a long, sad sigh. When a drunken Johnny called him Robby after Miguel told him he loved him, it looked like he was going to crumble into a million pieces.
The aftermath of the finals was terrific: Tory having her moment of glory ruined by seeing Silver pay off the ref, Miguel heading to Mexico City to search for his dad, Johnny and Robby hugging, Chozen arriving to help Daniel counter Cobra Kai, Krees getting arrested, and Anthony getting his ass beat. Throw those together with all the normal drama and season five is set up to be an absolute monster.
I didn’t go back and re-watch the earlier seasons before season four, so I can’t make a good comparison or ranking of them. Overall, I would give season four a B+, with the qualifier that the last three episodes were an A+. There are way worse ways to spend ten hours of your life.