Cobra Kai Season 4 Review

Cobra Kai Season 4 Review

by Tech News
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Netflix’s Cobra Kai is a brilliant series with long legs, but this season is a bit of a stumble.

Mat Elfring

In a sea of ’80s and ’90s reboots, reimaginings, and continuations, there is typically a lot more failure than success. However, Netflix’s Cobra Kai is the shining example of how to bring a classic IP to a new generation. Its first two seasons as a YouTube Original were a massive success, and after Netflix grabbed it for Season 3, the world knew about the greatness of the series.

Now, coming into Season 4, Cobra Kai has finally hit its “sophomore slump,” just two years later than expected. Seasons 1-3 were incredibly fun and built on ideas from the original movies, while Season 4 pulls a bit from Karate Kid III for its main story–the weakest in the original trilogy.

Digging into Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) past, this season heavily deals with the return of Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith)–the bad guy from the third film. He teams back up with Kreese (Martin Kove) in order to take down the team of LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), building towards the second All-Valley Karate Tournament on Cobra Kai. However, the reasoning for his return is forced and doesn’t make sense. Silver has his own life–outside of the world of karate–where he’s fancy and still has a lot of money. But the appearance of Kreese has Silver running down memory lane, which for some reason leads him think he still owes Kreese a life debt for saving him during the Vietnam war, and Silver decides to join back up with Kreese to ruin the lives of teenagers he doesn’t know–something Silver says he wants no part of moments earlier. Considering where Silver seems to be in his life–and how happy he is–his dramatic change back to “the dark side” feels a bit bizarre.

What’s more, it feels like an episode or two is missing in the latter half of Season 4, prior to the finale. The karate tournament they’ve spent all season talking about their need to train for arrives out of nowhere, after not much more than a quick training montage. Considering the pacing–and juggling–of numerous ongoing storylines, paced out pretty well throughout these episodes–the highlight of the season should be the All Valley Karate Tournament. But the build up is lackluster and feels like it arrived with no fanfare whatsoever. Perhaps, Season 4 could have used one more episode in there to fill in the gap–this could also help for a couple of other storylines that need some closure, most of which can’t be mentioned in this review.

One of the shining stars of the season is the growth of Anthony LaRusso (Griffin Santopietro), who has become a bit of a bully. His character does go through some drastic changes throughout the season, which is a lot of fun to watch. Additionally, new student Kenny (Dallas Dupree Young), makes his debut this season, struggling to find his own way in school, which pushes Kenny to join Cobra Kai, in order to gain the ability to stand up for himself. Outside of the adults, Kenny’s story is easily the most interesting one of the season, and Young is the perfect fit for the cast. His inclusion adds something fresh to the season.

And speaking of bullies, LaRusso and Lawrence’s students have made the switch to become the bullies against Cobra Kai, which wasn’t something expected for the season. The show started with Lawrence training Miguel in order to overcome bullies at his school, and while the Cobra Kai name is infamous, Lawrence rose to the occasion to train those who were picked on to stand up for themselves–a big departure from the original dojo in Karate Kid. This switch in Season 4 has LuRusso and Lawrence’s collective students picking on the Cobra Kai students throughout the episodes, and it’s a bit jarring, since we’ve been routing for these individual students since Season 1. It’s a flip in the status quo, and while it works for some people, it really doesn’t for others–Samantha LaRusso (Mary Mouser), for one. In Season 4, she is vindictive and constantly going after Tory Peyton (Peyton List) . While it might feel earned after the last couple seasons of tormenting at the hands of Tory, Season 4 elaborates on that character and her struggle to survive quite a bit, which worked well. She becomes someone you slowly start rooting for in life, regardless of Sam picking on her.

Without getting too in-depth with how Season 4 wraps up, there are a lot of interesting choices made by many of the characters on both sides of this karate war. It leaves a lot of questions in mind for Season 5, without Season 4 feeling like “watchbait,” where you only continue watching to see how the batch of episodes’ stories wrap up. The majority of the stories wrap up by the end of the karate tournament, and these vague character choices are more of something to look forward to in the next season.

Cobra Kai Season 4 is the worst season of the show thus far, but it’s still good. It just doesn’t have that same “umph” as the previous installments. It’s a season leading up to the next All Valley Karate Tournament, but getting there felt incredibly rushed toward the final episodes. It’s a season where characters go babyface turn heel–and vice versa–and it feels a bit forced and not with the flow or tone of the series. Terry Silver’s inclusion as the “big bad” of Season 4 works in some aspects, but his introduction and reasoning for joining up with Kreese don’t work. The shining star of Season 4 comes from one of the new characters, giving the audience something incredibly fresh to a show that has no sense of becoming stale anytime soon. Cobra Kai continues to be one of Netflix’s best original series, even if the latest season doesn’t live up to expectations.

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