Cobra Kai Never Dies

The newest season of the beloved show keeps its action-packed essence alive.

The tagline Cobra Kai Never Dies has never been more true. Season 5 of the hit show was released on Netflix on Sept. 9. Already, it has karate chopped its way onto the Top Ten list with critical acclaim and a much-unabashed fandom. 


For those not familiar with the premise, Cobra Kai is a continuation of the much beloved 1980s Karate Kid movie franchise starring Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, two rivals who fought endlessly in the first movie. In the first season of Cobra Kai, which debuted on Youtube Red in 2018, viewers are reintroduced to the main characters some 30 years later, where these rivals are shown as adults in their current lives. Told through a series of seamless flashbacks, the backstories of the protagonists are told from their own points of view. Johnny, once a karate champion and typical “spoiled rich kid” is recast as a down-on-his-luck divorced adult, working a series of dead-end jobs with a fraught relationship with his teenage son Robby Keene. On the other hand, Daniel has a successful car dealership, a beautiful wife, and 2 children. 


From there, the intersecting lives and rehashing of a decades-old rivalry between Daniel and Johnny introduce characters that immediately grab the viewer’s heart. Johnny meets bullied teenager Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) and soon after witnessing Miguel being tormented decides to show him some of his old karate moves.  Seeking to recapture the successes of his youth, Sensei Johnny with his new pupil Miguel, re-launch the Cobra Kai dojo.  Soon, other bullied teenagers join the fray including Eli (Hawk) Moskowitz (Jacob Bertrand) and show off their newfound karate skills in some epic battles, often on school grounds. 


Never one to give up, Daniel decides to counter Cobra Kai by opening a rival dojo, Miyagi-Do. The feud between the dojos fosters a never-ending feedback loop of hatred between the respective senseis and students alike. Johnny’s miscreant son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), finds refuge in Miyagi-Do, further adding fuel to the fire. Additionally, Daniel’s daughter, Samatha (Mary Mouser), is in a love triangle between Diaz and Keene. 


Throughout the next three seasons, new (and old) characters are rotated in and we see the feuds play out and alliances change. Some of the characters brought in included Tory Nichols (Peyton List), the original Cobra Kai Sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove), and John’s war buddy Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith).


Season 5’s storyline picks up immediately after the Season 4 finale- a predictable but exciting showdown between the Johnny/Daniel dojo and Cobra Kai.  We see Miguel, going to Mexico to find his father, Sam struggling to recover from her defeat, and Silver mapping out a sinister plan to convert every kid in the Valley to Cobra Kai-dom. 


Fantastical as it is, this season is awesome. To say that it is action-packed would be an understatement.  The fighting scenes throughout the season are well choreographed and offer up new standout characters that keep viewers interested in the plot. An early plot twist brings old foes together and strengthens the bonds of the original enemies. John Kreese still gets in the mix, while serving a prison term for assault. Daniels’ old rival for Karate Kid 3, Chozen Haguchi (Yuji Don Okumoto) is given ample screen time and has a hilarious introduction during the season. The final bad guy, Silver, is a character you love to hate.  


Unlike other seasons that highlighted more conflict, Season 5 shows a developing friendship and harmony between Johnny and Daniel, and Miguel and Robby.  It was refreshing to see how they were able to join forces to fight a common enemy.  All in all, Season 5 of Cobra Kai lived up to the hype. It was exciting, funny, and gripping.


Miguel has had an especially hard time in the past few seasons and I was hoping for him to finally have some joy. The season didn’t start off promising in this regard, with Miguel traveling to find his dad who his mother had repeatedly warned him about. Halfway through though, things get better for him. We finally get to see the happy, sweet Miguel we were introduced to in Season 1. The writers thankfully decided to not continue and torture him with one sad storyline after another. 


I am a devoted Cobra Kai fan and have been since Season 1. Introduced to the original Karate Kid movies by my dad, I have loved the way Cobra Kai has managed to seamlessly reintroduce old characters yet bring in a new generation of characters to keep the story fresh. You do have to suspend disbelief while watching, however, that is part of the charm of this show.  Despite the over-the-top grudges, fight scenes and lack of accountability for some of the more outrageous behaviors, the relationships between the characters are otherwise realistically portrayed. The chemistry between the cast jumps off the screen and makes this TV worth watching.  


There is never a dull moment in Cobra Kai Season 5. The show has an all- nostalgia that appeals to my parents with a modern update that appeals to my generation. Hopefully on to Season 6- Cobra Kai never dies!