“Cobra Kai” Season 5 Packs Its Biggest Punch Yet


“Cobra Kai’s” season 5 was recently released on Netflix, and adds a great chapter on to the beloved show. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Hannah Boring, Assistant Copy Chief

*Spoiler Warning*

The season four finale of Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” showed the culmination of the bet that set the stage for the future of karate in the California Valley. So, in the recently-released season five, it would be expected that all this dojo madness would be behind the senseis.

But, apparently the one thing men are better at than honoring bets is holding on to decades- long rivalries.

Before I get into this season, I’ll give a slight spoiler warning. I’ll try my best to not reveal too much of the newest season, but since season four came out in December 2021, that and everything before it is fair game.

To recap the intense season four finale, Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) Miyagi-Do and Johnny Lawrence’s (William Zabka) Eagle Fang fought hard at the 51st All-Valley Karate Tournament to keep their dojos alive against the ferocious Cobra Kai, led by John Kreese (Martin Kove) and the newest of the returning senseis, Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith). Miyagi-Do’s Eli Moskowitz (Jacob Bertrand) defeated Cobra Kai’s Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), but Cobra Kai’s Tory Nichols (Peyton List) defeated Miyagi-Do’s Sam LaRusso (Mary Mouser) in the finals, leading to an unfortunate Cobra Kai tournament win. Tory later discovers that her and the team’s win was inevitable, as she finds Silver paying the referee after the tournament, so per the bet placed by the senseis, Myagi-Do and Eagle Fang had to shut down. Basically, it’s a mess.

And so, we carry this mess into season five: Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) in Mexico searching for his father, Johnny and Robby trying to be a family, Daniel and Sam unwilling to let go of Miyagi-Do, Tory battling with her guilt and all of them wondering, “What do we do now?”

The answer: grow. Season five intensely focuses on character growth and, to spotlight a few, Zabka, List and Maridueña gave their best performance to show their characters’ evolutions.

Johnny has spent the majority of the series trying to right the wrongs of his selfish past, and while his way may not be conventional, his effort is undeniable. In season five, he works to mend his relationship with Robby while also finding a new family with the Diaz’s. Zabka performs excellently, showcasing a different, more nurturing side of a character that has often been viewed as the villain. But that doesn’t mean comedy went out the window — we can always count on Zabka to keep the laughs rolling during the most intense scenes, what would “Cobra Kai” be without Johnny making a sarcastic drunk comment while getting beat up by multiple karate masters?

On the other hand, everything Tory has done has been for others — every accomplishment, every chore, every fight. When she won the All-Valley, it symbolized that she was the best at something, not because she needed to be but because she wanted to be. But unfortunately, the paid-off referee shattered the confidence she had in herself. With this, Tory learns from the mistakes she’s made and tries to fix them, hoping to prove that she is no longer a selfish girl with a knack for getting into fights, but rather that she is a young woman who wants to do the right thing but just doesn’t know how. Tory’s actions are misunderstood by other characters, and she is a perfect example of how there is good and bad in all of us, but it is what you do with it that makes the difference. Where Johnny’s story treads more lightly, Tory’s is dark and emotional, and I can only applaud List for her gut-wrenching performance.

The more heartfelt scenes excel in the hands of Maridueña. He has always been a talent in this series, but this season truly demonstrates his improvement as an actor. This season brings back the Miguel we saw at the beginning of the series — the insecure new kid who just wants to prove himself. When Miguel finally gets to break down, Maridueña shines, blending the Miguel we first knew with the young man he has grown into.

Real talk: I had never seen “Cobra Kai” prior to the Sept. 9 release of season five. So, as one does, I spent around two weeks binging the whole series. Watch- ing that many episodes in a row produces an unfathomable amount of emotions, but the one I felt the most at the end of this season was confliction. I would love to see another season in the future, however if this is where the series ends, I would be content. I would feel relief knowing that these kids are done with this worthless fight that started well before they were born. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: They have grown. Every character in this show had a beautifully executed arc filled with trials, tribulations and redemptions. So, if creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg decided to end it here, they end it with the knowledge that they gave these characters the best outcome they could have gotten, and that is all any fan could hope for.