And that’s how you end a season!
The buildup for the tournament wasn’t the best throughout the season, but once we got there on Cobra Kai Season 4 Episode 9, it didn’t disappoint.
And by the end of Cobra Kai Season 4 Episode 10, there were too many heel turns to count, a new villain emerged, and Cobra Kai may as well have changed its name to Ouroboros.
The season lacked more training scenes, making the timeline difficult to follow. We never knew how long the kids were training for it and how prepared they were.
Obviously, you knew the primary fighters would be just fine, but the introduction of skills comps during the tournament opened the door for many of the background characters to shine.
Johnny: I don’t give a shit about the math! What do we need to beat Cobra Kai?
Devon: Uh, math.
Demetri is a character who is good for quips and humor, but he’s notoriously been one of the least skilled fighters. We saw Sam hand him some knives one time, but we didn’t find out until the tournament that it became his area of expertise.
He also showed a surprising level of skill while fighting against Robby. You wouldn’t have expected Demetri to handle himself in that match-up, but he did well. He’s had quite the glo-up.
The focus on the tournament for the two final installments made up for the lack of visual training leading up to those moments. It was exhilarating and nostalgic.
The added skills comps heightened the stakes and gave a more diversified view of the sport. It put many of them on level playing ground, and it gives characters we don’t often see a chance to shine and be great at something.
Do not let history repeat itself. Do not let emotions cloud your judgment. And above all, do not let anything stand in the way of your victory.
They crammed in so many delightful easter eggs and callbacks throughout the tournament, and that’s the type of quality content that the series does so well and how it balances appealing to the longstanding fans of the franchise as a whole and the newer ones.
The kids are just two additional generations generating the same drama of those older than them. You get to see how the trickle-down effect of longstanding rivalries and how they’ve poisoned the younger characters and never seems to let up.
They worked in so many great moments that showcased this. At some point, Johnny realized that he was emulating the similar toxicity that Kreese bestowed upon him during the finals with Miguel.
He pinned everything on Miguel, and he allowed a tiff with Daniel to work him up and pointed Miguel at his best friend and former teammate like a loaded weapon. Johnny, more than anyone, understood the position he placed Miguel in, but he didn’t think about his actions until it was too late.
Johnny: You’ve beaten Hawk before just remember that killer instinct. Take his ass out.
Miguel: What? Take his ass out? Hawk is my friend.
Johnny: He’s fighting for LaRusso, he picked his side. Whose side are you on?
Johnny: Are you sure? Hawk may be your friend, but if you want to win this thing, you’re gonna have to beat him.
Miguel: Whose side are you on?
Johnny: What do you mean?
Kreese experienced a similar awakening when he flashed back to his treatment of Johnny decades ago, and he saw how ruthless Silver was with Robby and Tory.
Kreese’s epiphany felt unearned and out of the blue, but Martin Kove is excellent enough to pull anything off, so the moment was effective all the same.
Even Robby snapped out of things when he saw what Kenny had become. He’s done well mentoring the kid. You can’t even accuse him of warping Kenny’s mind in any way. Robby has been a fantastic mentor to Kenny.
Unfortunately, Cobra Kai got its hooks in Kenny, and Robby didn’t realize how damaging that was until it was too late. He saw the hate and fury in Kenny’s eyes, and it scared him how much Kenny had become like him.
He did his best to preserve Kenny’s principles and mentor him counter to what Silver and Cobra Kai instilled in him, but he was no match, and the dojo fostered the worst in Kenny, and he’s now become the bully and everything he loathed.
And now, Kenny is promising damage and pain, threatening to become the bully of Anthony’s nightmares when they head to high school. And thus, the cycle carries on, and it’s another generation of kids hurting each other.
Despite my suspicions, Anthony is genuine and contrite. He wanted to extend an olive branch to Kenny, but Kenny is too far gone and angry to accept it or what it is, and now a new vendetta is born, and the tables have turned.
The season did a wonderful job of developing Anthony this season, and it paid off by the end. He’s one of many characters whom you look forward to next season.
Robby: Anthony LaRusso was your bully?
Kenny: Not anymore. You hear that? Get ready for high school next year because you’re going to be a world of pain.
Robby: Hey, this is not how I trained you.
Kenny: It’s Cobra Kai. No mercy.
He’ll fall deeper into Miyagi-Do now that he has a reason to be there and a newfound appreciation for it. Bringing Anthony into the fold more will make the LaRusso family’s storylines overlap, and it’ll flow better.
It’s nice having both LaRusso kids involved, and they’ll both need some attention from the parent after that match. Anthony has to reconcile with how his actions created a monster within Kenny, but he’ll need to dodge bullying.
Sam took a fiercer, darker stance this season. Sadly, after all of her work, she feels it didn’t pay off. She kicked ass during that tournament, though.
She was far more believable as a badass this time around, and her highly-anticipated fight with Tory didn’t disappoint. Sam’s gift was finding a way to merge both Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang karate into something kickass.
Sam has always been a predictable person, so it was thrilling when Tory didn’t know what to anticipate and how to fight her. She and many other Cobra Kai members got too comfortable assuming that the Miyagi-Do kids would play it straight.
You felt for Sam. Technically, she won that match, but because of a dirty referee Silver paid off, Sam would have never prevailed against Tory anyway. It was frustrating, but overall, the girls had a great fight.
They matched each other well, and it could’ve gone either way because of how skilled they both were. One of the most gratifying moments was when Daniel finally gave her the words and encouragement she needed, and both Daniel and Johnny were there to talk her through everything.
Sam deserved the chance to find a path of her own for karate, and no matter the outcome, she succeeded in that. I loved the callbacks to her father, whom she was representative of when fighting Tory.
But it was also satisfying to see Tory take the trophy when you knew how much it meant to her.
She kept her word to Amanda, and she reached a turning point where she didn’t hate Sam and didn’t intend her harm. It’s too early to know if the issues between the two girls will die down, but it looks promising.
A lot of it hinges on how Tory will respond now that she knows Silver paid off the ref. Tory wanted to win something because she deserved it and was the best, but Silver took that from her.
With Tory hip to Silver’s shadiness and Robby’s turn for the better, they are left in uncertain places. Kreese’s absence will only make things more intense.
Daniel: You wanted to beat Miyagi-Do so badly you gave Cobra Kai all of our secrets.
Robby: The goal is to win. I did what I had to do.
Daniel: If all you care about is winning then you really didn’t learn anything that I taught you.
Robby: You know, everyone thinks that their way is the only way. You. My dad. Cobra Kai. The truth is, it doesn’t matter which way you fight as long as it works, and I’ll use whatever it takes to win.
Daniel: Why? To get back at your dad? Me? Miyagi-Do? Sam? The world? Because if that’s the case, I have another Miyagi-Do secret that you can slip to your friends. Never put passion over principle, because even if you win, you lose.
Robby floated through most of the season fueled by a carefully crafted air of indifference, but it all caught up to him. Daniel’s talks throughout the season stuck with Robby, but their last chance about principles was a sticking point, especially after he saw what Kenny had become.
Tanner Buchanan was a standout through these final installments. But his most impactful scene was him breaking down to Johnny. Anger is exhausting; it steals more from you than it does the person you’re angry at, and he realizes how tired he was of blaming Johnny for everything.
At some point, he was old enough to hold himself accountable and not let his juvenile need to get back at his father ruined his life. It’s the long-awaited understanding that Johnny and Robby needed and deserved.
It’s too late for Johnny to make things up to Robby, and Robby has done too much to blame things on his father, but this could be a fresh start for them, and we could reach a point where they’re on good terms and can cultivate a relationship.
Johnny: Hey, it’s just a match. Don’t let it eat you up, trust me.
Robby: It’s not that, um, it’s this kid, Kenny. I thought I could take him under my wing, be the mentor I wish I had when I was younger, But when I saw him today, it was like looking in the mirror. I realized I screwed everything up. I had all this hate inside of me for you and for Miguel, and I thought I could use Cobra Kai to control that, but it just made things worse, and now it’s never going to get better.
Johnny: It’s not true. You had a good thing going with LaRusso, and I got in the way of that. Don’t blame yourself, you blame me.
Robby: I’m sick of blaming you, dad.
Ironically, Johnny and Robby are making amends when Miguel has taken off to find his biological father. It seems Johnny can never have both of his boys at the same time.
Miguel needed a break, and he’s right about karate not feeling like something he did for himself anymore. He was a young man carrying the burdens and expectations of his mentor, and it was unfair to him.
He was the crown jewel of Eagle Fang, but all the infighting was exhausting and took the fun out of everything. Nevertheless, it was a breathtaking moment when Miguel got hurt. It felt like the worst-case scenario.
But in the end, it was an out for Miguel. He stepped aside and did what was best for himself, and I’m proud of him for trusting his instincts rather than kowtowing to Johnny to appease him.
Miguel: Mom, I’m sorry for leaving a not like this, but I thought it was the best way, maybe the only way to say what I need to say. The last few months have been a rollercoaster: my injury, rehab, me and Sam, Sensei and Mr. LaRusso. I convinced myself that I could get over it by focusing on the tournament. I thought that if I won that everything would work out, but I was wrong. Tell Sensei that I’m sorry I failed. His karate helped me grow, but I’m still not sure who I want to be , and to figure that out , I think I need to know where I came from. Sensei was scared to find out about his past. Honestly, I am too. But overcoming that fear is the fight I have to face instead of competing for a trophy I need to be with my father. This is something I have to do.
He didn’t seem to hold anything against Johnny because of the drunken slip-up, though he had some moments where he expressed frustration that Johnny treated him as a tool or commodity.
But staying true to being one of the most mature characters of the series, Miguel stepped back as necessary and took his experiences as an opportunity to face his fear.
He loves Johnny, but he doesn’t want to be like him, and he knows that Johnny can’t fill the void of a father.
They had too many references to Miguel’s father this season for it not to lead to something, but it was still shocking that Miguel boarded a bus to Mexico in search of the man.
Carmen is beside herself, and you can’t blame her one bit. It’s risky enough to have her teen son in another country without her ability to do anything for him. But the jaw-dropper was in learning that Miguel’s father doesn’t even know he exists!
If Miguel finds him, that’ll be a hell of a reunion. But it’s scary what that can mean. Carmen says he’s a bad guy, and he must be if she never told him she was pregnant. But where does that leave Miguel?
Whether his father does something to him or takes an interest, either way, it’s concerning.
Johnny will do whatever it takes to get Miguel back. You can trust and believe that, but adding another layer to this series with complex bonds and broken people, Miguel finding his father could fundamentally change Johnny’s relationship with him. The thought of that is too much to bear.
Daniel: Everything good?
Eli: Never better. I know who I am now.
Daniel: And who’s that?
Eli: The guy who is going to win this whole fucking thing.
In Miguel’s absence, Hawk’s redemption is complete. He stepped up and into himself, figuring out who he was in the process. It was surprising when he admitted to Moon that he was lost and didn’t know who he was.
But she had the perfect words (and a kiss) that gave him the boost of confidence he needed, and he proceeded to kick some serious ass. Hawk had his very own Karate Kid moment with his face-off with Robby.
The Sudden Death round was a thrill, and it was brilliant that they used this season to focus on the different styles, landing the message that combining them made for stronger fighters.
Bless Daniel for coming around in the midnight hour, but it made you want to smack him for assuming that Miyagi-Do was the only way. I mean, why did he look so shocked that Robby taught Cobra Kai all of the Miyagi-Do skills?
You know, Robby said that Miyagi-Do is for defense only, and without your defense, you have nothing.
How didn’t Daniel anticipate this would happen? If he’d have sucked it up and worked with Johnny teaching their students both styles in the first place, they could’ve avoided so much bullshit.
The fight scenes were next level during these final installments, and it was because everyone combined what they learned to surprise each other and get an edge. It was hard to choose a standout fight as a result.
But this blend of styles, and Daniel and Johnny realizing that they both genuinely have something to offer. It works flawlessly and better together, revitalizing the series. Cobra Kai deserves all the props or its ability to reinvent and outdo itself, staying fresh.
It took Daniel a long way to get to this point, and now that means we can anticipate a bigger collaboration. Daniel and Johnny setting their differences aside to work together was already a massive step, but Daniel enlisting the help of Chozen is unparalleled.
I did everything I thought was right. I followed all the Miyagi-Do teachings. I even put aside my rivalry and teamed up with Johnny. None of it worked. Now I’m supposed to give up my dojo and step down as a sensei. There’s too much at stake to honor an agreement made with men who have none. If Cobra Kai is gonna to keep growing and getting stronger, I need to do whatever it takes to stop them. Even if that means going on offense. I know this isn’t your fault, and this is a lot to ask, but will you help me finally put an end to Cobra Kai?
But he’ll need all the help he can get to go up against a sadistic Silver, his unlimited funds, and his Cobra Kai franchise.
Kreese was child’s play in comparison. Hell, even Kreese didn’t see Silver’s betrayal coming. Somehow, Cobra Kai ended the season with Kreese becoming sympathetic, which was a huge feat to pull off.
Silver has been playing 3-D chess against Kreese for some time, and to some degree, you can’t blame him for getting fed up. It’s only so long that Kreese should invoke Vietnam as a debt that never gets paid whenever he wants something.
Kreese didn’t even realize what he’d done by bringing out the beat in Silver. The man doesn’t have to be coked out to be unhinged, and he showed as much.
Silver: You remember when you asked me what I thought your weakness was? It’s Johnny Lawrence. That’s what this was all about, right? It was never about us teaming up and bringing back the glory days, that was all bullshit.
Kreese: It’s not true.
Silver: Yes it is, and I fell for it. You know why? Because everyone has a weakness, John, and mine is you.
Kreese: You think I’m your weakness? You’ve got it backward because I am your strength. I’ve been your strength ever since Vietnam.
Silver: Yes, there it is, I can always count on you to play the guilt card. How many times do you expect me to repay that debt before we’re square?
Kreese: What did you do?
Silver: I’m shedding my weakness, Captain.
It was jawdropping when he had Kreese go down for assault and attempted murder against Stingray. And unless Kreese gets help from unlikely places, he won’t be able to worm his way out of that setup.
Silver screwed Kreese over the same as Kreese did to Johnny. It’s poetic justice in a way
Silver is diabolical, and now we have another worthwhile antagonist moving into the new season.
Over to you, Cobra Kai Fanatics.
Did you enjoy this season? What did you think of the tournament? Are you shocked Miguel left the country? What are your predictions for next season?
Hit the comments below!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.