Cobra Kai‘s fifth season is now streaming on Netflix.
By Greg Wheeler
Cobra Kai has had quite the wild ride over the years. From its excellent opening season as a surprise YouTube Original to being resurrected by the gods at Netflix, this Karate Kid sequel has kept a rock steady performance on the small screen.
Not every season has managed to hit the right pressure points, with season 3 in particular feeling like the weakest of the bunch. But even at its weakest, Cobra Kai has still managed to remain very enjoyable to watch.
Season 5 then almost feels like a compendium of the best and worst parts of the franchise, picking up some time after the events of last year’s dramatic tournament. Cobra Kai and Terry Silver are growing from strength to strength. The dojo has a prolific reputation across the Valley, and whilst everyone has fallen for this façade as Silver being this misunderstood “good guy,” those involved with Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang know better.
The opening few chapters feel like a prologue of sorts and are pretty uneven in tone and pace. Half the characters are off gallivanting in Mexico while most of the kids back in the Valley wander around aimlessly. Daniel teams up with Chozen to try and find some dirt on Silver, complete with espionage work and a couple of hilarious misunderstandings.
It’s not until the halfway point where things begin to click into place, with a singular focus rather than a scattered approach to the individual subplots. These final episodes are much better in tone and pace, ramping up the tension and building toward a dramatic conclusion.
The actual story here essentially revolves around Daniel LaRusso trying to find a way to oust Terry Silver as a crook and a liar. That’s easier said than done though, when the guy is two steps ahead of everyone.
Johnny isn’t much help here either, as he has more important things to deal with back home. There’s big news from Carmen to comprehend, alongside the bubbling feud between Miguel and Robby. As for the other kids, Sam still has the usual angst with Miguel, while Tory is conflicted over what to do following Silver’s betrayal.
Whilst season 4 had a lot of karate action, season 5 does not. Instead, this is much more of a slow burn, with sporadic duels until the very end of the story. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and thankfully the show does go some way to quell the lack of action by doubling down on the comedy, and bringing the focus back to the adults.
There are some hilarious scenes here, including a deliciously amusing rendition of Eye of the Tiger. Another time Johnny tries his hand at being an Uber driver with similarly hilarious results. These moments are comedy gold and the show is chock full of these segments, which is great to see.
The stakes are definitely higher here than they’ve ever been before, and as Terry Silver’s plan comes into focus, there’s a real intensity to a lot of the scenes to reinforce that. That is, of course, also mired with the usual cheesy, over-the-top demeanor but it works within the context of this show, which has been a hallmark these past few seasons.
Whilst not as strong as last year’s effort, Cobra Kai season 5 starts off weakly but gets better as it goes along. It’s a pity then that the season ends just as it kicks into high gear. However, this is undoubtedly one of Netflix’s most reliable shows right now and it’s easy to see why. If you were a fan of what’s come before, season 5 doesn’t disappoint.
I give Cobra Kai Season 5 a B+.