This is a spoiler-free review!
Cobra Kai has always had a sense of ridiculousness to it, but Season 5 takes it up a notch in the best way possible.
Most shows tend to falter as seasons go on. For some, it is in their sophomore seasons that they fall apart, while others begin to falter in latter seasons, seemingly struggling to maintain quality over the years. Cobra Kai, thankfully, managed to avoid the sophomore season curse and has only continued to become better with each new installment. Five seasons in, the Karate Kid spinoff appears to have more steam now than ever. The series understands what it wants to be and is willing to take risks. So, by the time the final episode of Cobra Kai‘s fifth season ends, viewers will find themselves desperately seeking Season 6 — which is currently thought to be the show’s final season.
Season 5 of Cobra Kai picks up shortly after where Season 4 ends. Miguel has headed to Mexico in search of his biological father, Cobra Kai is riding high from winning the All Valley, and Johnny is still trying to mend his relationship with his son. But given that this is Cobra Kai, things don’t necessarily go as planned. Cobra Kai is still causing trouble – both the students and the senseis – and there will be repercussions felt throughout the entire season because of their actions. While prior seasons have focused on the relationship between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence, Season 5 has put the focus on family and how our choices impact those around us. What we get to finally see is the weight of their choices. Both men are still incredibly, incredibly stubborn, but this season sees them move beyond being karate obsessed.
This season puts a ton of focus on character growth. Season 5 of Cobra Kai takes its main cast and puts them into uncomfortable positions, forcing them to learn from their mistakes along the way. Surprisingly, while Johnny and Daniel do grow plenty, it’s the kids this go around that show the most growth. Which is a nice change. We’re so used to the story being centered around the adults, but Season 5 puts the kids in the spotlight. They’re reckless, they’re frustrating, but at the end of the day, they’re a lot different by season’s end. The most notable character arc this season belongs to Peyton List‘s Tory Nichols who has arguably the best (and most emotional) storyline this season. List leaves everything on the mat this season and deserves all of the praise she’s sure to receive.
The season isn’t without its faults, of course. There are moments that do drag on seemingly more than necessary, and the things Silver manages to get away with can be quite frustrating. But the stumbles are minor, and the season always manages to recover from the tiny blows.
As for the fight scenes this season, they’re not as great as they have been in the past. That isn’t to say there aren’t some highlights, though. After all, this is Cobra Kai and there will always be at least one insane fight included. Some of the fights are goofy, of course, but the hard-hitting fights are memorable – especially the big battle we see near the end. It’s the first time in the show’s history that audiences will find themselves unsure of the safety of some of their favorite characters. It’s both well-executed and well-cut. It’s a hell of a way to end what is easily the most ridiculous and yet fantastic season of Cobra Kai to date.
Honestly, looking at where Cobra Kai is now, it’s easy to forget that the series started out as a YouTube original. It’s easily one of the best shows on television because it knows what it wants to be and doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is a karate series with great characters. The dojos and karate used to be the main selling point of the series, however, Season 5 does a hell of a job making it about the characters. The series has grown over the years into a far more confident version of itself and it shows.
Overall, Season 5 of Cobra Kai is one of the best seasons to date. While the fight scenes aren’t the best, the season excels in its character work. It’s hard to believe a story about two warring dojos has managed to shine in its storytelling five seasons in, and yet, Cobra Kai has done so with ease. While the plan might’ve been for six seasons, Season 5 proves there is still plenty of story left to tell if the creatives are up for it. For now, fans can relax knowing their favorite karate series is back bigger and better than ever.
Cobra Kai is now streaming on Netflix.