Cobra Kai S5: Attack of the Koreans

Like seeing a lamer version of Ryu, Ken and Gouki

One of my friends that I can’t remember whom, said it the best when it comes to describing Cobra Kai: it’s a show that has no right being as good as it is.  All throughout all prior seasons of the show, I always spoke about it with this air of superiority, like I was too good to like the show.  But then I’d watch every single episode and dare find myself enjoying them all.  And as the seasons progressed, I found myself fast-tracking the show ahead of the endless queue of shit that I want to watch.

Needless to say, when I saw some online ad stating that season 5 was dropping on September 9, my first reaction was, aw shit; now I have to jump this shit in the line and watch all of it as soon as I could.  By now, there was no denying that I was a fan of the show, and that the show had no right to be as good as it had been up to this point.

And with all the Emmy consideration the show has gotten throughout the years, it’s clear that the show runners have found a good formula of appealing to a younger demographic, while still being captivating to us olds through nostalgia and not-always that clever references to stuff from the past.  Fewer things seem as cheesy as seeing footage from and of the prior films in a flashback, and then coming back to present time to seeing an old-ass Daniel or Johnny looking all reminiscent.

But anyway, season 5 of Cobra Kai; and I make no promises that I won’t say things that could be construed as spoilers – watched all of it in three days, and found it as cheesily satisfying as most of the prior seasons were.  The ending to the season seemed uncharacteristically wrapped up in neat little bows, and considering the context of everything that had happened, I get the impression that Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are kind of hedging their bets in the event that the show is not picked up for a sixth season, not to mention that they’re running out of source material from the original series to dip into for nostalgia effect, that things are at least tied up pretty well in the event that this really is the end.

Okay, a cut here, because I probably am going to write about plot points beyond this.

So among the takeaways I have from S5 of Cobra Kai, is that Terry Silver was basically turned into a Gus Fring-caliber big bad, and way more of a vicious big bad than he ever was in Karate Kid III.  Seriously, like Gus, he was always 3-4 steps ahead of all of his opposition, and the first few episodes of the season were basically like a montage of how can Terry Silver cockblock everyone who’s trying to stop him?

Like, I felt the seeds were sown that Chozen would infiltrate Cobra Kai and spend the entire season working from the inside, but that shit was quashed in two episodes with Silver figuring him out, and then Chozen was basically turned into a mascot-like character for the remainder of the season until the very end.  Silver out-gamed Daniel into literal submission by fucking him over physically as well as psychologically, and he had already owned Johnny at the end of season 4 in combat.

And frankly, he wasn’t really undone by anything other than brute force, by when Johnny and Chozen stormed his place and Stingray deciding to turn on him.  Nothing the kids did or Daniel defeating him finally in combat, really would have stopped his original objectives, so really he didn’t go out like Gus Fring and make a critical error, so much as it was that a bunch of circumstantial shit caved in on him.

Next, we have the rise of the Koreans throughout the season, where Silver brings in a bunch of Korean ringers to be Cobra Kai’s newest senseis, and I’m left with this confusion on the dichotomy of martial arts.  I don’t really know the history of Tang Soo Do and its relation to the general umbrella of karate, but from a surface level, karate = Japan, and Korea = tae kwon do.  I don’t know who originated Tang Soo Do, but the show seems to explain that it was Koreans that developed it, taught it, and that it was kind of like the evil stepbrother to karate, and it was the primary style to be taught by Cobra Kai.  And I guess it’s just easier for everyone to continue to call it karate, since there was no series ever called Tang Soo Do Kid or anything.

But all the same, it results in Koreans basically taking over the combat arena, and for a discipline that is by and large, Japanese in origin, Cobra Kai’s dojos sure were operating very Korean.  In some regard, I’m pleased to see Koreans getting some respect as formidable fighters, but in the other hand, why’s Koreans got to be the bad guys in this shit??

In the one episode where Amanda the MILF takes the kids to Ohio, I had no idea that the seemingly-rando woman introduced at MILF’s mom’s house was actually Jessica, the just-friends chick from Karate Kid III.  In fact, I had no idea that she was even played by Robyn Lively, and that it was Robyn Lively herself reprising the role.  Clever on the show to spin the history that it was she who introduced Amanda to Daniel, to further tie things up, as well as to prove that there is literally no corner that the showrunners wouldn’t not seek to dig up something nostalgic for us old viewers.

However, in doing so, it also begs the question on whether or not the series, if it continues, will start to dip into The Next Karate Kid, since that too was also a Mr. Miyagi film.  And then it begs the question on whether or not Hilary Swank will show up, because she’s become quite a bigger star than she was when she did Next, but considering the show managed to harangue Elizabeth Shue into coming back, there probably shouldn’t be any doubt that they couldn’t get Swank to show up for an episode or two.  Probably, as somewhat of a female mentor to Sam and/or Tory.

And finally, I thought it was really funny that the ending where Kreese faked his death in order to escape from incarceration; if he waited just one more day to enact his plan, there might’ve been the possibility that he would’ve been exonerated for his crimes, after Stingray came clean about lying in court and Terry Silver getting arrested.  But because he did what he did when he did it, now Kreese is also a fugitive.

I suppose if the series actually does manage to continue, the next steps really are going to be the World karate championships that were introduced, as the silly Sekai Taikai, which I suppose will be all about Miyagi-Fang prepping their students for it, and we’ll have some convoluted quick story where Kreese somehow wrests control over the vacant Cobra Kai to get Kenny to participate, but for all intents and purposes, it’ll be really interesting to see what the show does next, if anything, because they’re running out of source material and will be put to the test if and when they’re forced to start having to invent shit themselves.

All the same though, if there is more Cobra Kai in the future, I’ll undoubtedly be ready to watch, because the show is good, in spite of myself.

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