Cobra Kai season 4 jogs my memory of a professional wrestling pay-per-view. A very good one, to make sure. SummerSlam, the Survivor Sequence, no matter you’re watching, the perfect half comes from guessing who the writers have matched to win and whether or not that might be plausible or pleasing to the followers. And in the perfect ones, effectively, you get endings you legitimately didn’t see coming. I don’t know who you had in your betting pool for the 51st Annual All-Valley Under-18 Karate Championship, however I didn’t come near guessing these winners, proper as much as the final strike.
Cobra Kai season 4’s consequence lingered with me for a great two days after viewing it, very like WrestleMania when it actually delivers. However the issue these PPVs have, which Cobra Kai season 4 shares, is that they typically sag within the center portion with lesser conflicts and expository dialogue, dithering as they construct to the primary occasion. The satisfaction of the result makes the journey forgivable; the tip of the seventh episode delivers a head-snapping second, at which level the present rapidly sheds its campy wrapper and will get very severe, and really decisive.
Cobra Kai season 4 picks up with outdated frenemies Johnny (William Zabka) and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) merging their dojos to win the upcoming event and drive John Kreese (Martin Kove) out of the Valley, beneath the phrases of a loser-leaves-town aspect guess that nobody expects anyone to honor. Kreese is in command of not solely Cobra Kai but in addition Johnny’s estranged son, Robbie (Tanner Buchanan), whose time in juvenile detention reworked him right into a scowling Karate Anakin.
Robbie has accomplished worse than flip to the darkish aspect. He’s now educating the Cobras the Miyagi-do secrets he learned from Daniel in season 1. For his or her half, Johnny and Daniel waste time disagreeing on whose fashion ought to take priority of their instruction. This manifests primarily as a sequence of humorous montages taking part in effectively past sort. Johnny’s “Eagle Fang” fashion expects children to leap throughout rooftops and kick one another within the gonads inside a dimly lit warehouse. Daniel has the children chasing carp round a koi pond as one other ulterior coaching gadget.
However even because it introduces new conflicts price exploring, like Samantha LaRusso (Mary Mouser) embracing Johnny’s strike-first ethic, Cobra Kai season 4 can’t wait to deliver extra characters to an already harried ensemble narrative. It’s a confounding place to be as a viewer, as a result of this 12 months’s callback to the Nineteen Eighties movies is the strongest and most dynamic of all of them: Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry Silver is the psychopath the Cobra Kai dojo has desperately demanded, and which the 75-year-old Kove has solely subtly supplied within the two seasons previous.
Silver, within the Karate Child canon, was Kreese’s wealthy buddy who bankrolled a convoluted scheme to defeat and discredit Daniel in The Karate Child Half III. The character arc that showrunners Hayden Schlossberg, Josh Heald, and Jon Hurwitz have chosen for Silver virtually redeems all the 1989 movie, which was a crucial flop. Silver is teased out of his New Age, Malibu rehab way of life by Kreese, who wants money help to make Cobra Kai thrive. Kreese will get far more than he bargained for, and it’s fascinating to observe Griffith out-Svengali Kove in each scene they share. Silver’s cliffhanger knife-twist caught me effectively off-guard and has me genuinely optimistic for season 5, which has already been greenlit.
As if Silver wasn’t sufficient of a presence, we additionally get Kenny Payne (Dallas Dupree Younger) because the all-new prism via which Cobra Kai refracts its annual cycle of bullying, revenge, and the dehumanization each trigger. Once more, extra time for brand spanking new characters means much less time and distance for the established ones to journey. However it’s not just like the writers, or Younger, waste the house that Kenny has been given. His character and his circumstances are well-written and sympathetic, particularly the breaking-point prank that drives him to Robbie and Cobra Kai. His bully is Daniel’s heretofore-unused son, Anthony (Griffin Santopietro), an amazing alternative as an antagonist because it offers some depth to Daniel’s battle administration and lays a stable basis for future seasons.
That’s nonetheless a lot of territory coated in seven half-hour episodes. Nevertheless fascinating the brand new characters and their dilemmas are, taken on the entire it looks like the primary two-thirds of Cobra Kai Season 4 isn’t held collectively by something stronger than a lingering comparability of Daniel and Johnny’s conflicting strategies. So the damaged-goods coupling of Robbie and Tory (Peyton Listing) will get just a few fast plate-spins earlier than the story dashes to the opposite finish of the stage to carry out upkeep on no matter’s occurring with Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and Demetri (Gianni DeCenzo). It’s a disgrace as a result of Listing’s breakout efficiency over the previous two seasons has me wanting extra out of Tory than anybody else.
Of all of the antiheroes in Cobra Kai, Listing does the perfect job at promoting the chip on Tory’s shoulder, seething with earned resentment and underprivileged insecurity. Don Lee’s combat choreography, general, is extra visceral and visually entertaining in season 4 than within the earlier three seasons mixed. It elevates Robbie’s character to the standing of Cobra Kai’s undisputed greatest fighter. However when it’s utilized to Tory, we see the form of barely managed fury that distinguished the unique Cobras of their scenes of the primary movie.
As expressive and satisfying as Listing’s and Buchanan’s combat scenes are, Mary Mouser steals that exact present with the bespoke combating fashion Lee created for her. It visually marries Cobra Kai’s meta-meta-meta battle, between Daniel and Johnny’s coaching and traditions, in a form of interpretive dance. No quantity of expository dialogue might promote the purpose, and possibly no different character might deliver it dwelling. The result’s a climactic duel by which the viewer is rooting for each combatants — identical to the Robbie-vs.-Miguel finale of season 1 — and thus we get a genuinely suspenseful consequence, a rarity for a sports activities flick.
After the salvage effort — profitable nonetheless — of season 3, I was skeptical that Cobra Kai’s story-spinners actually had a universe and characters that might prolong past a trilogy. Season 4 proved me flat unsuitable. Though it meandered a bit on its solution to the finale, I nonetheless ended the tenth episode feeling just like the present had been reborn. That’s largely because of Terry Silver, in addition to story-resetting scenes and chemistry involving Johnny, Daniel, and Robbie. And there’s not only a visible cliffhanger to be rapidly resolved, like the tip of season 2. There’s actual floor, new floor to interrupt, particularly with Kenny and Anthony, subsequent 12 months.
Cobra Kai season 4 begins streaming on Netflix on Dec. 31.