Netflix Cobra Kai Season 4 Recap

Sarah Larsen

After much anticipation over the upcoming season four release of Netflix show, “Cobra Kai,” a revival of the 1980s film franchise, “The Karate Kid,” Netflix finally released the new season on Dec. 31, 2021. Since its release, season four has been viewed for over one hundred twenty million hours weekly from late December to early January.

At the beginning of the season, the show started right where it left off.  Lifelong rivals, Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence, had to team up karate dojos (Miyagi Do and Eagle Fang) in order to take down the big bad karate dojo, Cobra Kai, led by Sensei Kreese.

The two teamed-up dojo leaders had many arguments about how to lead the dojo they were creating together. This was obviously going to be a challenge since LaRusso and Lawrence are rivals and could hardly get along. They end up running the same dojo, but the leaders separate their students into groups based on what dojo the student was in originally. The dojo leaders switched off groups to avoid working together, but this clearly was not an amazing idea in order to take down Cobra Kai. 

Sam, Daniel LaRusso’s daughter, found herself liking the Eagle Fang or the “Johnny” way of doing karate more than she liked the karate her dad had taught her throughout her life. In addition, Miguel, Johnny Lawrence’s first karate student who has somewhat of a father-son relationship with Johnny, finds himself leaning towards the Miyagi Do or “Daniel” way of doing karate. This causes more quarrels between Daniel and Johnny. This way of teaching students was a let-down to viewers because they wanted to see Johnny and Daniel form a friendship.  Later on, they separate dojos and plan to compete separately.

Over at Cobra Kai, Robby, a former student at Miyagi Do who recently switched over to Cobra Kai because he did not want to be associated with his father, Johnny, and Tory, a troubled teen who is struggling financially and has always been on Cobra Kai, have completely turned to the bad side of karate. They are ready to take down the opposing dojos, and Robby starts teaching the Cobra Kai students their rivals moves to beat them since he is a former student of Daniel’s. Tory is just trying to take down her number one rival, Sam, by training hard, while simultaneously desperately trying to find a job to make money to raise her family. 

While training for the All-Valley Karate Tournament, Cobra Kai gains a new addition, a middle school student named Kenny. Kenny was a boy who was bullied by Daniel LaRusso’s son, Anthony. Kenny tries getting into Cobra Kai after being publicly humiliated on social media by Anthony and his friends. The first time Kenny tries getting into Cobra Kai, he is rejected on the spot, which is completely unfair.  Kenny tries to get in for the second time and almost fails, but then Terry Silver, an original “Karate Kid III” character, tells Kenny to find his rival’s weakness. Kenny does this, and he ends up getting in. It was a bit unoriginal for the kid to beat his rival, who is five times bigger than him and would probably be able to predict many of his moves, but it was fun for the show. 

Terry Silver, who recently joined the series, made a jaw-dropping return. He was an old friend of John Kreese ever since they had gone to war in Vietnam together. Terry is persuaded by John to come back and help teach the Cobra Kai students to win All-Valley. Terry declines the offer at first, claiming karate pushed him towards insanity. n the 1980s, he put all of his time and effort into taking down Daniel LaRusso and getting into his head about karate, and he was discouraged after Daniel still defeated his strategies. He then dreams of getting into karate again, not thinking about the his bad past experiences. 

Jumping back into the teen side of Cobra Kai, the students have their karate friends and rivals, too. Sam and Miguel are dating and have been since season one, with a short breakup at one point partially because of the interference of Tory, whom Sam did not like. While she has been seen as evil by many (including yours truly), but now, in season four, she has started to redeem herself, and Sam started to take her place as annoying, because she became unhinged when it came to her mean-spirited actions towards Tory. She would make fun of her for trying to make money at an “embarrassing” job she had to do, which made the viewer feel bad for Tory. 

In addition, Sam’s mother got into the situation and made things worse for Tory and Sam by doing, “charity work” for Tory. Her mom bought Tory supermarket goods and left them at her door step, and trying to make other donations towards her. Tory took that as insulting.  What was weird was Sam’s mother helping Tory out after finding out that she was a troubled teen trying to make money for her family. This was quite unrealistic because Tory had broken into her family’s home seeking some sort of revenge on Sam in the previous season. Tory also has a vendetta against Sam and gave Sam several injuries from physical altercations shared. Any protective and sensible mother would steer clear of a girl who was out to get her daughter. It was surprising when Tory left Sam alone until the Tournament after getting help from Sam’s mom. 

Tory also ended up having a weird dating situation going on with Robby. It was unclear whether they were dating because they only shared a kiss near the end of the season after their junior prom, where they shared a very cringey dance scene. They also did not address it in the following scenes/episodes, which was confusing It was confusing because they both also made awkwardly romantic eye contact with both of their ex lovers at a party held by a weird karate-obsessed adult man following junior prom, in which a fight broke out between all four lovers, Robby and Tory, and the ex lovers, Sam and Miguel.

Then there is Miguel and Johnny, a Sensei-student relationship, or what some would call, an almost-stepfather-stepson duo ever since Johnny started dating Miguel’s mom from near the end of season two to the middle of season three. Miguel was not totally comfortable with this but came to terms with it after he and Johnny shared a sweet moment that Miguel never got to have with his biological father, where they both confessed their father-son love for each other.  Miguel then tries to find his biological father which is shown at the end of the season. This is kind of a cliché plot twist, but it was definitely to keep viewers watching and viewers were definitely curious to see who Miguel’s real father is since he was never featured in the show before. 

Following all of these bitter and sweet moments in “Cobra Kai” is the awaited All-Valley Karate Tournament. This is the moment where viewers wait and hope for either Miyagi Do or Eagle Fang Karate to win the tournament. Kenny, the sweet boy Robby recruited for Cobra Kai, has turned evil. When he sees his ex-bully, Anthony, in the bathroom at the tournament, Anthony tries to make amends, but Kenny beats Anthony up and does not plan on stopping until he is pulled away by Robby. 

Aside from that altercation, viewers get to see Eli/Hawk, who had lost his self-confidence after losing his Mohawk, which was kind of his mojo, and considered quitting karate, win the boys division against Robby because of a romantic gesture from his ex-girlfriend, Moon. Maybe she was his karate muse? Anyhow, this is the part where viewers do not get their way. Even though some like Tory seeing that she has grown on people during season four, she is still a part of Cobra Kai, and she wins the girls division against her rival, Sam. After adding up all of the points, Cobra Kai wins the tournament, to Eagle Fang and Miyagi Do’s dismay, but they did not win by playing by the rules: Terry Silver made a deal with the referee to let Cobra Kai win. 

After this disappointing win, Terry Silver invites John Kreese over for a drink as a post tournament celebration, but all is not well when Silver gets Kreese arrested for something that he did not do. This was so Silver could get Kreese out of his way so he could rule the karate dojo himself. 

What happened? One night, Silver was down in the dumps about something karate-related, and Stingray (the guy who hangs around teens and is obsessed with karate) comes in, pleading to Silver to let him back into Cobra Kai, and Silver cracks, and beats this man to a pulp, sending him to the hospital.  He somehow makes a deal with this guy to blame his hospitalization on John Kreese in order to be let back into Cobra Kai. Since this man is so passionate about karate, he agrees. This cliffhanger leaves viewers wondering if there is a possibility of a season five.

Overall, the show is definitely worth watching if you are into the Karate Kid franchise or just karate in general. The acting is not at Joaquin Phoenix level, but is fun for everyone to watch. The right actors are chosen for each character, but the show does get a little bit ridiculous with the way people act. This show would not be as exciting for an adult as it is for a kid/teen, but the comebacks of the original actors might interest them. Overall, the show is a 8/10 because it is very very fun and exciting show.