Episode 1 of Cobra Kai Season 4 begins right off the back of the previous season. The All Valley tournament is a couple of months away and both Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso work with their differing styles, trying to blend them together into a cohesive whole.
Of course, given Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang’s differing teaching methods, training is…. interesting, to say the least. In fact, they eventually decide to divide and conquer, learning at opposite sides of the dojo. Unfortunately Johnny’s loud methods and obscenities send Johnny and Daniel into an inevitable argument about their methods.
Cobra Kai’s training, by comparison to Miyagi-Do’s peaceful ways, is far more intense. Tory is livid over the nonchalance of her teammates in the wake of their defeat at Daniel’s House. He implores Hawk’s old bullies to get into shape.
Robby rocks up late too, with Kreese doing his best to convince Robby to join them properly. Right now he’s only looking for a place to crash, but between Kreese calling him a king and Tory questioning his defeatist attitude, you can tell he’s seriously considering it. In fact, Sam even tries sweet talking Robby too, but after Tory’s words earlier about Sam’s puppy-dog eyes and wanting, it falls on deaf ears.
John Kreese understands the challenge laid before him and heads over to meet Terry Silver, who’s now going by the name of Terrance. This is the old, maniacal antagonist from way back in Karate Kid Part III. He’s very different now and he’s not exactly thrilled to see Kreese. As they sit together, Kreese reinforces that karate is a way of life and doesn’t leave you.
When he mentions Lawrence and LaRusso working together, it’s enough to convince Terry to… say no. After the events that happened in Cobra Kai, he’s not that same coked up crazy guy he used to be. So Kreese leaves empty-handed. However, his words stick with Terry, who kicks a bottle of wine in the cellar and immediately feels that familiar rush again.
Johnny’s issues extend beyond the dojo though. Heading over to Miguel’s for dinner, things take an awkward turn. Miguel begins talking about Ali and how Johnny went on a date. Johnny does try to explain himself to Carmen later that evening while washing the dishes but she tells him to give it some time.
That time is spent with Johnny and Daniel together, trying to hash out their problems. Daniel decides that he should join Miyagi-Do and disband Eagle Fang. Johnny refuses to do that and eventually they decide to “rip the band-aid off” and go their separate ways.
Robby shows up at Cobra Kai in Kreese’s position, deciding to use his influence and fighting prowess to overcome the kids challenging his authority. Mixing Cobra Kai with Miyagi-Do teaching is a dangerous combination and he quickly dispatches everyone, including Tory. She does manage to kick him in the face but his fighting is enough to convince her that he should stay.
As Johnny and Daniel show up and decide to tell the kids the bad news, they have a surprise for them. They’re actually building a brand new deck for them both to use. Seeing them all together is enough to change their tune, deciding to team up after all.
The Episode Review
The references to Rocky III are absolutely perfect here and certainly ring true. Just like in those movies, where Apollo and Rocky were big enemies turned friends, Lawrence and LaRusso both exhibit those same traits too.
The same tone and themes from the previous seasons have come fighting back in a big way, and the inclusion of Terry is a really nice way to tie all the other Karate Kid movies together, especially his reflective chat about his ill ways going after LaRusso.
The battle lines have well and truly been drawn now though, with the comedy and drama combining beautifully to make this just as strong as the previous chapters. Unlike season 3’s devolve into teen romance and soapy shenanigans, it seems season 4 is back to focusing on the karate first and foremost.