LaRusso and Lawrence are back for another round and this time their efforts are focussed solely on Cobra Kai's new head honcho, Terry Silver.
It was only at the turn of the year that Cobra Kai Season 4 landed on Netflix, and yet despite that being the case, Season 5 has already arrived as well. This season offers up a similar daft array of karate-packed action and picks up following the events of a fourth season that saw the nefarious Terry Silver taking control of the titular dojo following former sensei John Kreese being incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit. Yes, to an outsider this all sounds like some kind of karate soap opera at this point, and to an extent it actually is, but it's also highly compelling TV.
As we've come to expect from this series, Season 5 once again serves up a story filled with revelations and plot twists that see the growing cast of stars interacting with one another in unusual ways. But where this usually resulted in kids throwing down with one another for often inconsequential and petty reasons, this season has a central villain who feels truly... well villainous. And this is thanks to the efforts of Thomas Ian Griffith's Silver, who is without a doubt the best villain we've seen in Cobra Kai so far, because he truly lacks the limits that have defined Martin Kove's Kreese - as he did decades ago in The Karate Kid Part III. And it's due to this brilliant performance that we feel like there's genuinely someone to root against, rather than just being told to dislike the Cobra Kai dojo because they are cruel - despite equal amounts of fights being started by the "good guys". Similarly, Griffith's Silver is such a dominant force in scenes that it allows you to start humanising and connecting with a lot of the generally 'evil' characters elsewhere.
Take Peyton List's Tory Nichols. For the most part, this character has existed to be the bane of Mary Mouser's Samantha LaRusso's existence, and has been a villain just because she is. There hasn't really been much to justify her nature otherwise, rather she was simply a bully because there needed to be one. But in Season 5, we can see Nichols getting the character development she deserves, by becoming the prize fighter in Cobra Kai's forces and thus receiving the brunt of Silver and his new number two, Alicia Hannah Kim's Kim Da-Eun's cruelty. It's here that we see Nichols developing and growing beyond her one-dimensional existence, and this is a theme among a few different characters over the duration of Season 5.
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Xolo Maridueña's Miguel Diaz discovers some truths with his family and starts a reconciliation process with Tanner Buchanan's Robbie Keene. William Zabka's Johnny Lawrence discovers what it means to manage responsibility, and Ralph Macchio's Daniel LaRusso begins to understand the impact this petty karate feuding is having on his family. It's a season of growth and maturity, which is a little bizarre considering the fact that this show is still littered with daft scenarios, such as a moment which can only be described as a real housewives bar fight, or when Silver and his goons decide to throw caution to the wind and commit an incredibly serious criminal offence, and yet face zero repercussions.
That balance of daft moments and emotional development is what makes this show thrive, and it is still a thoroughly engaging series, one that is hard to see as anything less than one of Netflix's best. But, I am starting to grow a little bit concerned, because there are only so many faces you can dredge up from the past to keep delivering on nostalgia, and this season eliminates a whole bunch of prospective options. I won't dive into specifics about it, but we have a clear idea of what, or rather who, Season 6 will be framed around, and it's hard not to see this as a premise that has already been explored incredibly extensively. Hopefully, this won't end up being the case.
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But generally speaking, Cobra Kai Season 5 is still a hoot and one of Netflix's best productions. The cast are all still excellent in their roles - even if the growing list makes it hard for each to really shine these days - the set pieces and set design just gets better, the fight choreography is top-notch and massively entertaining, and the nature of the show, while often wacky, never ceases to surprise. What's not to love?