Starring: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Peyton List, Dallas Dupree Young, Vanessa Rubio, Thomas Ian Griffith, and Martin Kove
Cobra Kai is back with it’s fifth season and the stakes have never been higher. It feels like it’s been barely any time at all since the fourth season aired at New Year’s, but there’s never enough Cobra Kai. The new season lives up to everything that’s come before with more of the over-the-top melodrama, 1980s references, and badass karate we’ve come to expect from the Karate Kid follow-up.
This season follows up on the nail-biting season four cliff-hanger, with Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) turning every dojo in the Valley into Cobra Kai, with his eyes set on expanding the brand globally. At the same time Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is forced to shut down Miyagi-Do after losing at the All-Valley Championship in the previous season, and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is focusing on things beyond karate, by trying to right some wrongs. He heads to Mexico with his son Robbie (Tanner Buchanan) to find Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), who set off in search of his own father.
This season is simply fantastic. Just like before, it mixes everything together so well. The story is even more ridiculous this time, ramping everything up to eleven and it all adds to the crazy fun. All of it works though, as the characters are all really well written. The line between good and bad is still completely blurry, which has always been Cobra Kai’s greatest strength. Silver is a villain, but his pupils are just a victim to his schemes, and you don’t always know who to root for.
Daniel is taken to his limit, having to reckon with his past and trauma. There’s flashbacks to The Karate Kid III, showing that Silver has always been Daniel’s ultimate weakness. Silver knows exactly what buttons to press to get the reaction he wants from, and he brings Daniel to the brink of losing everything here. Thomas Ian Griffith perfectly replaces Martin Kove as the main antagonist this time around, giving a sinister performance as Terry Silver. Kove still has a part to play, but it’s a lot smaller as he’s stuck behind bars after what happened at the end of season four.
It’s not all fighting and drama, and this is probably the funniest season so far, with a lot of really great jokes. Most of the humour still comes from Johnny not really understanding the modern world as he tries to find a way for himself outside of Karate, but it doesn’t get old. At one point he gets a new phone to make money by delivering food and working as a ride share, which is really funny. William Zabka is absolutely brilliant as Johnny, and is still the heart of the show.
All of the character arcs are really strong in season five, with Samantha’s (Mary Mouser) being an absolute highlight as she struggles to find herself her the loss at the All Valley Championship. Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto) also gets a lot more screen time in this season, which is good to see. His character is developed a lot more and over the course of the season he becomes one of the best of the show. There’s also a couple of familiar faces that reappear from the original films, which is always nice to see.
Family is even more of a focus than before, as Miguel heads off to find his dad, and is left facing the reality of why his mum left in the first place. Johnny is settling down with Carmen (Vanessa Rubio) and at the same time trying to bridge the gap between Miguel and Robbie. Daniel also faces troubles with his family as Silver tries to drive a wedge between them. The common enemy of Silver brings all of the main characters closer together than ever before and it’s great to see so many team-ups. There’s still a few characters switching sides throughout, because it wouldn’t be Cobra Kai without that.
Everything leads to a very tense finale where it feels like there’s real risk. Terry Silver is a borderline psychopath, manipulating everyone to get what he wants, and it all comes to a head in a non-stop final episode that comes close to matching the epic season two finale. The danger feels real, and after spending five seasons following these characters, it’ll have you on the edge of your seat the entire episode. It even ends with yet another cliff-hanger that promises the next season will be just as great, as long as it gets another renewal.
Cobra Kai has been consistently one of the best shows around, and season five is no exception. If you’re a fan of the series so far, then this is more of the same. It’s an absolute blast to watch, with tense and exciting fights, plenty of laugh out loud moments and a lot of drama to keep you invested. Five seasons deep and Cobra Kai hasn’t let up once.
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