When it comes to long-form storytelling on the small-screen, it isn’t unusual for shows to lose their steam after multiple seasons. This is, of course, in part due to the typical 20+ episode order received by most primetime network, and the ability to stretch out a story over a long period of time. While miniseries are becoming more normal and networks (finally) welcoming 10 to 13 episode seasons, most shows are able to tighten the grasp on their stories. For Cobra Kai, the 10-episodes often worked in its favor. However, by the start of Season 4, most of the drama felt rehashed. Thankfully, Cobra Kai easily set itself up for a new story by season’s end while still offering a sense of closure to what came before.
For the past three seasons of Cobra Kai, the drama has focused on Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. They, of course, were the stars of the Karate Kid films from the 80s, and despite thirty-years having passed, the duo are unable to let go of their differences. After coming face-to-face with LaRusso, much to his chagrin, Johnny makes it a point to bring back Cobra Kai and teach kids to be “badass.” It’s a plot point that worked for the first few seasons, however, after four seasons, it does become a bit stale – especially with the continual sliminess of Kreese. The re-introduction of Terry Silver, however, makes it so Cobra Kai is able to start anew, in a sense.
After attacking a Cobra Kai “student” – and the term student is used lightly here as Stingray is an adult – Terry begins crafting a plan to overthrow Kreese and make Cobra Kai his own. Does it sound familiar? Yes, because Kreese managed to steal back Cobra Kai from Johnny after Season 2. The difference here, however, is that Kreese was finally on the verge of character development at the end of Season 4. There was a sense he was finally beginning to comprehend everything Johnny had been desperately trying to tell him, only to find himself behind bars due to Terry. As it turns out, Terry worked out a plan with Stingray, ensuring him he’ll become a Cobra Kai if he tells the police it was Kreese that put him in the hospital – not Silver. It’s a huge turning point for the series as it impacts numerous characters moving forward.
Sure, Johnny and LaRusso are bound to fight back against Silver, but this is no longer solely about these two characters any longer. Stingray has become so desperate to belong he’s willing to become someone else just to appear cool, while Kreese is on the verge of being more than a one-note villain as he’s thrown behind bars. More importantly, though, Silver is here to wreak havoc on Cobra Kai as a hole. He’s worse than Kreese ever was. Not only did he bribe a referee to ensure a win at the All Valley competition during Tory’s fight, but he also put a student in the hospital just to get rid of Kreese. He’s willing to go to extremes the series has not yet touched upon; Silver is the terrifying variant that the series needed moving forward.
As the series moves into its fourth season, with Season 5 having already filmed, it’s time Cobra Kai acknowledges people do grow from their mistakes. The amount of character development crafted over Season 4 is honestly impressive and makes for a promising Season 5. The best part, though, is for the first time since the series started? There’s no telling where things go from here, and the series can only be better for it.