Kicking off new beginnings: ‘Cobra Kai’ season five



Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) and Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) speak to Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) together a few episodes after forming a new friendship. The two have a long history of rivalries due to Robby being Johnny’s son and Miguel seeing him as a father figure.

Grace Sharma, Staff Writer

Season five of the “Karate Kid” (1984) spin-off “Cobra Kai” was released on Sept. 9 to excellent reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, season five received a 100% rating from critics and 92% rating from viewers. 

The show follows the second generation of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), including their children and other high schoolers in San Fernando Valley, California. The main characters include Miguel, Sam, Robby, Tory, and their friends, as well as villains John Kreese and Terry Silver.

Later in the show we also begin to see a third generation of characters, including Sam’s younger brother Anthony, and his rival, Robby.

What makes season five in particular stand out from the rest of the show is its character development. 

For four seasons straight, relationships, both platonic and romantic, steadily got worse and worse with miscommunication, jealousy, and rivalries. Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do students weren’t able to be in the same vicinity without getting kicked out, shown through mall, waterpark, and school fights. 

However, what makes this season so brilliant is its realistic character growth. The fact that we see the characters go through so much pain makes the joy of watching them overcome their struggles all the more sweeter. 

Robby and Miguel, for example, struggle with their karate rivalry, their respective relationships with Johnny Lawrence (him being Robby’s dad and Miguel’s father figure), and having the same exes. In season one, Miguel beat Robby at the All Valley tournament by exploiting his injured shoulder, and in season two, Robby kicked Miguel off a railing causing him to break his back. They also both dated Sam LaRusso and Tory Nichols.

To make them become friends in preparation for a baby, Johnny Lawrence attempts everything from bringing them together to eat at Olive Garden to a road trip to making an escape room in his apartment. After yielding no results, he tells them to fight it out as a last resort.

In a fight sequence reminiscent of the season two school fight with switched roles, they see each other from a different perspective. Miguel ends up in the position of being able to kick Robby over the railing of the second floor and Robby feels the fear of being kicked over that Miguel must have had at the school fight. 

With years of miscommunication and jealousy, their rivalry has merit and isn’t based on just petty jealousy. Therefore, seeing them make up and come to terms with their differences has even more significance.

Character development similar to this is seen with Sam and Tori, who both struggle with their identity outside of karate and the All Valley tournament.

The relationships throughout this season aren’t all unicorns and rainbows, and we see the many ways mending friendship can go wrong.

It’s realistic, messy, and beautiful all at the same time.