Cobra Kai Season Premiere Review: Kickass Collaborations, The Return of a Legend & A New Karate Kid!

TV

It’s the hottest collaboration of the (new) year. And we do mean hottest.

Johnny and Daniel trying to set aside their differences long enough for Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang to join forces against Cobra Kai was top-tier entertainment during Cobra Kai Season 4 Episode 1.

And if most of the brats have tested your nerves over the seasons, Cobra Kai Season 4 Episode 2 introduced us to precious string bean Kenny. He is already bringing the lovable underdog energy needed as the newest karate kid.

But this series excels at queuing up the nostalgia, and the return of Terry Silver is a game-changer.

I also appreciate the series’ ability to make fun of the franchise and itself. It was hilarious when Terry addressed how insane he was as a grown-ass adult harassing a teenager and way too obsessed with a high school tournament.

Robby: They have a pretty good chance of winning now that they’ve teamed up.
Kreese: They’re not the only ones teaming up.

His coked-out obsession wasn’t the finest point in his life, so his initial resistance to Kreese felt normal and natural.

Of course, his current lifestyle is anything but, so all it took was a blast from the past to shake things up and unleash the monster.

It seems like Terry opted for a particular path in his journey toward getting clean, but it’s not a fulfilling one or something that suits him well.

His unhappiness surrounded by yuppies, hipsters, and mindfulness enthusiast and bedwarmer Cheyenne was palpable. All he needed was Kreese to blow in his life again with a tempting offer that he couldn’t refuse.

Terry put up a good fight, but if his karate kick of that expensive wine in his cellar was any indication, he’s bound for Cobra-Kai, and he’ll be helping Kreese whip the demon spawn into shape in time for the All-Valley Tournament.

It’s something that at least two of the people will appreciate. For Tory, she has a lot at stake with all of this, and you could understand her frustration with how entitled and complacent the other teens are.

Kyler bragging about Harvard and barely wanting to practice — showed how many of the Cobra Kai crew are out of touch with what’s going on.

As put off by Robby as Tory was, she could at least relate to his survivor-kid mentality and what he had to offer to all of them at this point in his life.

Kreese: You can crash here as long as you want.
Robby: Look, this was a bad idea. I know Cobra Kai helped when I was getting jumped in juvie, but I’m not going to be a pawn in this bet that you made with my dad and Mr. LaRusso.
Kreese: I don’t think of you as a pawn. I think of you as a king. Your father had all the talent in the world, but he squandered it. I gave him every opportunity to come back, but he chose Diaz, and he left you with that mark on your head. Trust me, you’ve got even more talent than your father. you just need to show it to the world.

Robby has fire and some fight in him, and he bears similar scars as Tory. They both feel as though Miyagi-Do/Eagle Fang screwed them over, and they feel as if the adults have let them down.

Robby basked in his moment of moral superiority briefly, but he caved as fast as you’d expect. It’s no surprise that one interaction with Sam pushed him right back to Cobra Kai, and he’s taking on an apprentice vibe by showing everyone Miyagi-Do’s tricks and skills.

It makes Robby Cobra Kai’s secret weapon in a way since he can anticipate the fight pattern of the Miyagi-Do kids, and now everyone will be able to respond accordingly.

But if Johnny and Daniel manage to combine their styles without Daniel’s self-righteous douchery, then it’ll level the playing field for all involved.

What made these first two installments stand out was how they focused so much on the difference in technique. Each dojo honed in their respective skills over the previous seasons, but the difference in style is never more transparent than when everyone is trying to marry the two.

Miyagi-Do has centuries’ worth of technique and rich history, but the way Daniel practices and teaches it, it’s all defensive and reactionary.

And obviously, there’s honor in not defending yourself and getting violent until you need it. Still, we already learned there are a plethora of skills Daniel didn’t even realize, and Miyagi-Do never has to limit itself.

It also makes the way Daniel practices karate predictable, and if they’re going up against a ruthless and conniving Kreese, they have to do more and get creative.

Kreese is banking on the fact that Daniel and Johnny won’t get along long enough to be effective with their students, and for a bit, he was right about that.

It was frustrating that the two couldn’t set aside their differences even when they both had the intention to do so. Hell, as much as the kids were pissed at Hawk, they got over it and moved forward for everyone’s betterment.

It took the kids, including Hawk’s ingenious idea, to literally break down the wall and create a bridge to show the adults how it’s done.

As we’ve learned over the seasons, so much of the tension and issues between Johnny and Daniel fall on Daniel’s self-righteousness, judgment, and arrogance.

Daniel: Clearly, our students want us to find a way to work through our differences, I know you don’t want to join Miyagi-Do, but at least you have to respect it.
Johnny: Well respect’s a two-way street. You respect my style of karate?
Daniel: You gotta understand, man. I was taught karate was for defense only. It’s always gonna be tough to respect Cobra Kai.
Johnny: You mean Eagle Fang.
Daniel: Oh, come on, Johnny. Is there really a difference? You’re still teaching aggression.
Johnny: Some kids need a little aggression.

He refused to see any value in what Johnny does and his technique. Daniel can’t get out of his way long enough to see that everything doesn’t have to go his way, and his methods aren’t the only tried and true ones.

You cannot team up with someone if you think they don’t add value to your team outside of another warm body. The whole point of collaboration was both would bring things to the table and fill in areas that the other lacks.

But Daniel had zero respect for Johnny and never believed he contributed anything, and there’s no way you can start a partnership from that point.

Johnny gets credit for biting the bullet after Miguel’s spot on Rocky/Apollo reference, but Daniel makes it hard to work with him on anything because he can’t get his head out of his own ass.

The first hour highlighted the two men teaching each other their respective practices and styles. Johnny needed to remember that Miyagi-Do is more than mindfulness and patience, and there’s a method to everything Daniel does.

And deep down, Johnny does know that. But more importantly, Daniel needed to see the value in what Johnny does because he refused to for so long, but he sat on his high horse the whole time looking down on him.

Johnny’s right about how some kids need aggression. He had his fair share of timid teens who needed to learn to assert themselves and navigate the world with confidence.

And whether Daniel wants to admit it or not, intimidation is in itself a defensive mechanism and technique that you use to prevent fights from happening.

Johnny: Kick ass! Nice work, LaRusso, way to assert your dominance.
Daniel: Where the hell were you?
Johnny: No be there.

Johnny teaches his kids how to project strength and confidence, and people don’t constantly challenge someone they don’t see as an instant target.

For Johnny, the best defense is a solid offense. Striking first doesn’t have to mean starting the physical fight, but you have to let others know that you aren’t someone to trifle with too.

Daniel’s segment as a student of Eagle Fang was hilarious, but it was informative for him. It also allowed him to tap into his raw masculinity in a way that he doesn’t any other time. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

The hockey fight was hilarious and a clever lesson for Daniel, too. Hockey is a contact sport, similar to football. A team is only as good as offense and defense working together.

You can’t have one doing all the work and the other lagging. Offense isn’t a dirty word; without it, there’s no winning. A hockey team is a prime example of how and why the Miyagi-Do/Eagle Fang collaboration is essential and requires the best of both.

Daniel kicked ass during that fight, but Zabka’s delivery of “No be there,” using Daniel’s own lesson against him, was as brilliant as it was hilarious.

Daniel is Daniel, so I doubt he’ll ever fully get it, but it was nice to see him humbled a bit and Johnny to get the upper hand using Daniel’s self-important lessons against him.

The show always shines best when Macchio and Zabka play off one another. Fortunately, circumstances will have them together a lot.

The potential of how fierce these two dojos can be if they each play to their strengths is exciting. They will be a force to be reckoned with, and the kids will be well-rounded fighters as a result.

We’ll probably see this the most with Miguel, Sam, and Hawk, as they are their best fighters and the ones they spend the most time with on the series.

But it’ll also be cool if the senseis cultivate some bonds with the new students. Johnny’s particular brand of bluntness and approach to situations could benefit Sam.

Daniel and Amanda treat Sam like she’s fragile, and they also cater to her too much without recognizing some of her flaws. However, Johnny could toughen her up in a meaningful way while still telling her about herself and preparing her for the battle with Tory.

Johnny: Ready. Let’s begin!
Demetri: Begin what exactly?
Daniel: Begin a new era. Many of us used to be enemies, but rivalries don’t need to last forever. The All-Valley Tournament is just a few months away, and this year the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been We know that Cobra Kai is going to use every dirty trick they can in the book. There’s only one way we’re going to be able to beat them–.
Johnny: By kicking their asses so hard they shit themselves. We’re going to take things to the next level. We’re going to teach you an aggression stronger than anything Cobra Kai throws at us. If they strike first, we’re going to pre-strike.

And Hawk could use some of the paternal tenderness that Daniel exudes with his students. He needs a bit more guidance and balance, and as someone who deep down is always looking for approval, it’ll be intriguing when that time comes, and he feels he has received it from someone like Daniel.

The season is also doing a decent job of incorporating the other LaRussos better.

Amanda’s badass moment of confronting Tory at her job had me hype, and while they insist on this narrative where we’re supposed to sympathize with Tory being rough around the edges because of her home situation, it’s still hard to care.

Tory is consistently an asshole for no reason. She’s out of control, has no boundaries, and she can’t even play along to get along enough to keep herself out of trouble.

Those little Cobra Kai shits ought to be locked up, especially that Tory psycho. If anyone deserves no mercy, it’s her.

Amanda

She trashed Amanda’s house like it was nothing. How the hell did she expect Amanda to react?

And Amanda didn’t get Tory fired from her restaurant job; her lack of self-control and poor attitude did the trick. She doesn’t comprehend life lessons and people for a teen facing a hard life, and it’s baffling.

Someone who needs her job shouldn’t be risking it all challenging a woman in the dining room or cussing out customers. A girl who knows her family depends on her and can’t afford to go to jail shouldn’t constantly do illegal activities and initiate behavior that will get her locked away as much as she does.

It’s hard to feel sorry for Tory or sympathize with her situation when she doesn’t do the bare minimum to look after herself.

Nevertheless, Kreese guilted Amanda into feeling bad for this pendeja, so now we have Amanda’s natural maternal instincts causing her to be mama bear over Sam but also wanting to look after the girl torturing her daughter.

Amanda, God bless her, is a woman of means and privilege, and it shows in all these little ways often. In this case, she didn’t realize how insulting and degrading it was that she sent Tory groceries.

As insane as it is, she’d have done better offering the girl a job.

All of this only fueled Tory’s anger, though it didn’t take much for her. Between her and Robby, Cobra Kai is coming for blood. Speaking of the two, how long is it before they end up a couple?

Amanda: Actually, there’s only one thing I need, and that’s for you to stay the hell away from my daughter.
Tory: Wait, you’re–
Amanda: Yes, I am.
Tory: You came to my job?
Amanda: Well, I tried calling your parents, no call back, Big surprise. Should I have kicked in your front door? Is that more your speed? Every day there are little reminders of the mess you made. I see my daughter covering up bruises and scars. The only reason you aren’t behind bars right now is because she asked me not to drag this ordeal out. So you can have your little tournament, but if you touch one hair on her head before then, you’ll be scrubbing toilets in prison for the rest of your life, if you’re lucky.

But most shockingly, the days of Cobra Kai forgetting about Anthony are over, and now, maybe it was better that they did.

Anthony is an asshole. Sure, they’re laying down the foundation that he’s also a nerdy, good kid deep down who is trying too hard to impress a bunch of pisspots who are only suitable for bullying, but Anthony should know better.

Nevertheless, it’s a refreshing take. Instead of Anthony serving as a new karate kid after endless bullying, he’s the one making a kid’s life a living hell.

The show always knows how to take some of the traditional tropes and turn them on their heads a bit, and there’s no doubt they’ll add more layers to Anthony, and it’ll lead to some intriguing interactions between him and Daniel.

How do you think Daniel will react when he learns that his son is the bully?

And where does that leave Kenny? Now, as the newest karate kid in need of some guidance, Kenny is the breath of fresh air that the series needs.

He’s a new face and instantly lovable. I already want to fight everyone on his behalf. He’s the purest little bean, and I cannot wait to see him in action. But where will he fall in this?

Kenny is an adorable kid, and there’s nothing wrong with him to justify the level of teasing he’s received from the first day of school. He had sweet moves at the bus stop, can ball like the best of them, and kicked ass at video games. Under normal circumstances, Kenny is prime “cool kid” material.

Maybe that’s why Anthony is so jealous of him, and the two boys having a crush on the same girl certainly doesn’t help matters.

Nobody is more badass than Mr. Miyagi.

Daniel

The catfish scenario was annoying as heck, and it’ll be a lovely day when the boys get what’s coming to them. But overall, Kenny is a good kid, and he’s instantly likable.

He has all the raw material for the newest underdog in this franchise. But the final reveal that his brother is Shawn, the same guy who harrassed Robby in juvie, is shocking.

The town is too damn small for its own good, isn’t it?!

By the time Robbie left juvie, he and Shawn had a begrudging respect for one another, so if he’s setting his little brother up with a karate connect, then it’s because of Robby.

But who Kenny aligns with isn’t as black and white as it seems, no?

Robby acknowledged that his karate derived from Daniel and Miyagi-Do. Shawn saw Robby’s interactions with Johnny and may know about Johnny’s dojo, too. But it was thanks to Cobra Kai, Robby got out of juvie in the first place.

If Shawn name-dropped Miyagi-Do from memory because of Robby, then Kenny could end up in the dojo of the man whose son is tormenting him, which could bring about some exciting things.

But if someone as sweet as Kenny ends up at freaking Cobra Kai, then not only is he corrupted by Kreese and his students, who are primarily bullies, but it would mean he’d go against Miyagi-Do at the tournament.

Kenny: Ever since I started this new school, my life has been miserable. They chase me. Beat me up. It’s not gonna stop. I don’t know how I’m gonna keep going. I don’t feel safe. One of them even knows karate.
Shawn: Karate, huh?
Kenny: What’s so funny?
Shawn: Hey, don’t worry about it, little bro. I know a guy who can help.

It’s the makings for another rivalry between Kenny and Anthony, and good lord, Miyagi-Do, is in dire need of some likable kids on their side. And Anthony won’t be one of them.

Other Tidbits:

  • Miguel, hermanito, why did you spill all the frijoles to Carmen about Johnny and Allie? We could’ve had Johnny and Carmen goodness after he told her he loved her, and now they’re on a freaking break. Ugh.
  • Fine, you guys are right. Amanda LaRusso is that bitch. The only Karen I can eff with here.
  • Johnny learning the Miyagi-Do ways was decades in the making.
  • It’s funny how non-intimidating Terry Silver is these days. His tired, rich uncle energy was a mood.

Over to you, Cobra Kai Fanatics!

How excited are you about Terry Silver’s return? Should Amanda really feel sympathy for Tory? How long can Daniel and Johnny’s truce last before they’re ready to kill each other again? Hit those comments!

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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