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Cobra Kai Season 4 is a successful balance of comedy, martial arts and heart
The Karate Kid universe continues to expand as Cobra Kai returns to Netflix for an exciting fourth season. Cobra Kai Season 4 finds the Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) led Miyagi-Do and Johnny Lawrence’s (William Zabka) Eagle Fang dojos joining forces to take down John Kreese’s (Martin Kove) Cobra Kai at the All Valley under 18 Karate Tournament, and whoever loses must hang up their gi.
Meanwhile, Samantha (Mary Mouser) and Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) try to maintain the dojo alliance and their budding romance. With Robby (Tanner Buchanan) going all-in at Cobra Kai, along with Tory (Peyton List), the Valley’s fate has never been more precarious. In addition to reuniting with his old war buddy Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), what tricks does Kreese have up his sleeve? Can Daniel and Johnny bury their decades-long hatchet to defeat Kreese? Or will Cobra Kai become the face of karate in the valley?
Cobra Kai’s senior season opens up right after the ending of Season 3. We see a fan-favorite character playing the piano and dodging a phone call before cutting to Daniel and Johnny with teaching methods that are contrasting rather amusingly. Kudos to the writers for Episode 1 titled “Let’s Begin” as they avoid the angle of having everything become instantly magic for Johnny and Daniel. The same treatment carries over to the Cobra Kai side for Kreese and Robby, as they deal with their leadership hierarchies.
Martin Kove continues to bring a great grumpy old man vibe to the role of John Kreese. His scenes in Season 4’s first few episodes with Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) are some of the best work that Kove has done throughout the series run. I commend the writers for Terry’s arc, as it is believable, following the third film’s end. Griffith came out of retirement to return to the role, and fans will be surprised where the writers take him over the course of Season 4’s ten episodes.
Tanner Buchanan also impress as Robby and has a tremendous season-long arc where you are initially disgusted with the character but come to understand his motives. Furthermore, Buchannan displays believable martial arts skills and athleticism, so it would not surprise me if he does not drift into action films of some sort soon. The only other returning Cobra Kai student with an arc is Tory. Peyton List continues to embrace the misunderstood bad girl motif for Tory fully, and the angle that started for the character in Season 2 starts to come full circle.
Meanwhile, at the Eagle Fang\ Miyagi-Do, Samantha (Mary Mouser) and Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) continue to be front and center. Both characters have a somewhat similar arc, and again I commend the writers for the situations that both characters find themselves involving Daniel and Johnny.
While the acting from Mouser and Maridueña is not necessarily Emmy worthy, both are maturing and will have careers once Cobra Kai ends. At the same time, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka can do these roles in their sleep. Outside of a few decisive moments in the second half of the season, both men still provide the character traits you have become accustomed to from them.
Two characters that surprised me the most this season were new addition Dallas Dupree Young as Kenny, a new student who joins Cobra Kai, and Jacob Bertrand’s Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz. I think anyone who has been the new kid in school will relate to Kenny, and Young brings the right amount of innocence to the character, combining elements of Daniel from the OG Karate Kid and Miguel from Season 1. In the past, I have been overly critical of Hawk. However, he earned my respect, due to his arc, by the end of Season 4. Like Kove’s Kreese, Bertrand has some of his most robust material to date as Hawk.
The folks not partaking in dojo shenanigans include Amanda LaRusso (Courtney Henggeler) and Carmen Diaz (Vanessa Rubio). Both actresses bring the right amount of significant other moxie and parental understanding to their characters.
There is also an expansion for Griffin Santopietro as Anthony LaRusso, who gets a great storyline that should expand into Season 5. I also want to tell the fans that some of your wild theories are way off regarding Season 4, but I do advise you to avoid spoilers if you can.
Mixing impressive martial arts action, concrete storytelling, and some of the most potent acting since its inception, Cobra Kai 4 is a winner and highly recommended.
Final Grade: A+
Cobra Kai Season 4 is available to stream this Friday, December 31st on Netflix
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