Cobra Kai Season Four continues to entertain as one of the best film-to-television installments in years


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

Tension rises between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do in the Netflix series’ newest season, which mixes fight sequences with emotional drama.

Andrés Buenahora, Reporter

This article contains spoilers.

Cobra Kai never dies.

The Netflix series’ fourth season was released on Dec. 31, debuting at #1 on the streamer’s Top 10 in the U.S. chart. The series’ newest season sees tension continuing to rise between the two warring dojos: Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do Karate.

Conflict abounds as Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) struggle to work together, leading to a hilarious Twitter rant by Lawrence and a rematch of the pair’s original showdown 38 years after 1984’s “The Karate Kid.”

This dramedy parallels action and comedic beats effectively, with lovable banter between the two former rivals building off of entertaining, fast-paced fight sequences.

Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and Miyagi-Do students pick on new kid Kenny Payne (Dallas Dupree Young), whom Cobra Kai student Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) soon takes under his wing. Retaliation ensues.

Hawk is ambushed by the Cobra Kais at his favorite tattoo shop, as they shave his signature Mohawk off. After his former bully apologizes following the All-Valley tournament, Payne attacks him, seeking revenge. He’s stopped only by Keene, who’s horrified at the monster he’s created.

“It’s Cobra Kai,” says Payne without remorse, after Keene questions him. “No mercy.”

Immediately afterward, Keene visits his father in a scene packed with emotional punch that has taken four seasons to set up. Keene breaks down, admitting his heart has been full of hate for Lawrence and realizing what his father had warned him earlier in the season: Cobra Kai is dangerous.

The two embrace, and Keene’s tears show the mark of a heartfelt moment that’s been brewing since the show’s debut. The scene also introduces one of the saddest and most symbolic dynamics of its storyline: Lawrence’s failure as a father and his desperation to redeem himself through Cobra Kai, through his students and, finally, through being the father Keene has always needed but never had—until now.

Meanwhile All-Valley champion Tory Nichols (Peyton List) strikes an unlikely friendship with the very woman who threatens her in the season premiere: Amanda LaRusso (Courtney Henggeler).

This is a refreshing take on the previous season’s character arcs, as Amanda slowly begins to recognize her own privilege and how difficult Tory’s life must be as Tory is forced to care for her younger siblings, find a job while on probation and manage the demands of Cobra Kai.

Season four of Cobra Kai manages to strike the balance between honoring key aspects of the franchise by bringing back an iconic villain in Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) while crafting compelling stories with fresh faces, finding a breakout star in 15-year-old Dallas Dupree Young.

The brilliance of this show is its rich character development and knack for honing emotionally real characters with trauma and past experiences that influence their personalities, values and decisions in profound ways.

From Lawrence’s abusive stepfather to LaRusso’s upbringing in poverty to Silver’s PTSD from the Vietnam War, we see how each character’s past changes them — for better or for worse.

Showrunners Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have picked up right where season three left off, heightening tension and creating suspense leading up to the climactic All-Valley tournament. The use of jump-cuts, montages and a musical score that captures the show’s tone sets up the continuation of one of the best film to television adaptations in history.

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Twitter: @andresbuena01

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