The fourth season of Cobra Kai brings around yet another All Valley tournament and the fate of the karate dojos is at stake with the losers being forced to shut down forever. The episodes are now streaming on Netflix.
With the conflict between the Cobra Kais on one side and the Miyagi-dos and Eagle fangs on another reaching a boiling point, Daniel LaRusso, Johnny Lawrence and John Kreese decide that they will bring this rivalry to an end at the upcoming All Valley Tournament.
Daniel and Johnny are convinced that the only way to beat the Cobra Kai dojo is for them to join forces and while they find it very difficult to coexist, they do manage to pick up valuable lessons from each other before eventually splitting up again.
Robbie decides to join Cobra Kai and insists that he’s only looking out for himself but when he sees how his protege, Kenny turns out, he realises that he too has succumbed to the poisonous environment in that dojo.
John Kreese seeks out his old buddy, Terry Silver, to help out with the tournament and while Terry does come with some good experience, he also has his own ulterior motives and betrays Kreese to accomplish his goals.
Sam and Tory maintain the animosity that comes with their rivalry with both girls going through their own struggles which they work towards overcoming with some help and guidance from unlikely sources.
Miguel is building his way back to full fitness and learns some key lessons about patience from Daniel at Miyagi-do but it also makes him realise that he doesn’t have the balance in his life, which is why he heads out in search of it by the end.
A recurring trend seen in the characters of Cobra Kai is that no one is inherently “evil” or “good” in this world and the cast does a wonderful job of portraying that ethos yet again in this season.
Except for someone like Terry Silver or Carmen Diaz, many of the characters showcase moral shades of grey, proving that people are a sum of all their experiences and they cannot be defined by any one particular act or decision in their lives.
Wiliam Zabka and Ralph Macchio continue to lead from the front with their emotionally charged performances comfortably balanced with their comedic offerings during their many odd couple scenes together.
Credit should be given to each and every one of the younger stars who are brilliant in their roles as troubled, teens who struggle to really wrap their heads around what’s going on with them. Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni DeCenzo, Peyton List and Xolo Maridueña absolutely shine throughout the season when given the spotlight.
Thomas Ian Griffith reprises his role as Terry Silver and he does well as a slightly more mature version of his character who still hasn’t completely lost his roots when it comes to his trademark insanity and maliciousness, letting it slip out at key moments.
The 80s themed soundtrack is yet again a standout, with the use of iconic covers and original songs from that era maintaining the connection to the original films while making sure it also stands strong as its own entity.
The storytelling is of the highest grade as multiple plotlines are explored simultaneously without overshadowing each other at all. The way these stories amalgamate so seamlessly is a clear example of the quality of the season.
The fight sequences are well choreographed with each movement well highlighted and bound to keep the viewer at the edge of their seat.
The writers have done a great job of balancing the serious tone with the humour that was so prominent in the original films with many quippy jokes at integral moments lightening the mood while not stealing anything from the overall intensity of the situation.
The portrayal of typical teen issues like bullying are dealt with quite appropriately and while some of the reactions can go a little overboard, they fit the narrative of this series perfectly.
Some of the storyline decisions are definitely questionable such as Miguel’s rather sudden quest to find his father in order to explore a new plotline or the fact that someone as young as Kenny is involved in such a manipulative and toxic environment at such an early age.
Cobra Kai is one the best examples of continuing a franchise that was built several years ago and then getting the execution right down to a ‘T’. From the brilliant performances to the many different stories being told, this nostalgia-filled season is a must-watch for anyone who is a fan of good quality content.
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