Netflix gave the greenlight to a fourth season Cobra Kai in October, so fans sweeping the legs of season 3, which premiered over the New Year’s weekend, did so knowing there was more story to come. But with so many cameos and callbacks already made, and a finale more nuanced than a straight-up cliffhanger, what does it leave for season 4, exactly?
[Ed. note: Spoilers for the entirety of Cobra Kai season 3 follow.]
Cobra Kai episode 10 ends with Johnny’s dojo of exiles training alongside Daniel’s charges at Miyagi-do HQ. Kreese, meanwhile, has full control of Cobra Kai, with Tory as his second-in-command, and Johnny’s kid Robby joining the team out of spite. Daniel, at last, kicked Kreese’s ass in the Cobra Kai dojo, but was unable to have him evicted from said premises. Kreese has also called in backup, army pal and wealthy benefactor Terry Silver, whose character dates back to the lesser-known The Karate Kid Part III from 1989.
We’ll now discuss what Cobra Kai season 4 has left to resolve, and what else it might deliver, following the first three seasons’ formula of adult problems, teenage intrigue, callbacks to the original movies, and good old-fashioned fighting.
New (old) bad guy: Terry Silver
In Kreese’s bananas origin story from season 3, Silver is revealed to have been part of Kreese’s Special Forces unit, captured by the North Vietnamese after a botched sabotage operation. The NVA forces its POWs to fight, in pairs, to the death above a literal snake pit. Kreese steps in for Silver when his name’s called, saving Silver’s life. Then Kreese kills their C.O., even when a surprise air strike liberates the camp mid-bout. This puts Silver in Wookiee life-debt to Kreese, and so we see Kreese dialing up Silver to make good on that in Season 3.
Silver actually has a 30-year history in The Karate Kid universe. In 1989’s The Karate Kid Part 3, he hatched an elaborate, time-consuming plan to rig the All-Valley final and discredit Daniel and Mr. Miyagi in the process. Obviously, it didn’t work, but Silver apparently still has money and a grudge. Observant fans who actually saw the 1989 movie probably recognized his name when the tournament board in season 1 asked Johnny what his relationship was to Terry Silver. And when Daniel, at the end of season 3, mentions that he too was once Cobra Kai, it references the events of The Karate Kid Part 3 and how Silver lured him into that dojo.
Silver’s only been an off-camera presence so far, but if he’s coming back in Season 4, odds are good that original actor Thomas Ian Griffith will return, although he’s had no TV or film roles since 2006. But he’s still a tae kwon do black belt IRL.
Less certain is whether Silver’s loose-cannon protegé, Mike Barnes, comes back. Don’t rule anything out, and getting actor Sean Kanan surely won’t be as hard as getting Elisabeth Shue to come home for Season 3, but there’s not much of a need to give Johnny and Daniel another antagonist their age.
Hook-ups and break-ups
It looks like Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) and Samantha (Mary Mouser) are back to making goo-goo eyes at each other again, leaving their rivals, Tory (Peyton List) and Robby (Tanner Buchanan), to find some kind of traumatized love on the rebound. Both duos also have the third match in a best-of-three series coming up.
Miguel whooped a wounded Robby in tournament final of Season 1, and Robby paralyzed Miguel at the end of season 2. Tory scarred Sam, both physically and emotionally, in the high school melee, and Sam beat her with a stick during the Kai’s home invasion of the season 3 finale.
The question here: Who gets the championship bout at the All-Valley? The tournament does have female and male divisions (we saw Aisha Robinson fighting for Cobra Kai in season 1). We’re not sure if they do mixed-gender competition, though. So probably both sets of rivals will go the distance, as it provides the kind of comprehensive defeat that would force the losing dojo out of town by sundown.
Elsewhere, Yasmine (Annalisa Cochrane) recovered from her front wedgie at the canyon party in season 1 (she was absent for all of season 2) and is now the reluctant, but amazingly supportive girlfriend of Demetri (Gianni Decenzo). Yas is pals with Moon (Hannah Kepple), and with Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) defecting to Miyagi-do, that probably puts those two back together. (Hippie-child Moon didn’t care for Hawk’s increasingly brutal antics with Cobra Kai.)
Kyler (Joe Seo), who was Sam’s original boyfriend (and Miguel’s original tormentor) also returned for season 3, and was recruited to Cobra Kai by Kreese. He and Miyagi-do lieutenants Demetri and Hawk will likely account for most of the fighting in the run-up to the tournament, although Miguel did wipe the lunchroom floor with him in season 1, and those two might run that one back.
New dojo, new name?
Johnny (William Zabka) and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) have finally come together, united in their desire to rid the galaxy of Kreese (Martin Kove). Don’t expect the honeymoon to last long. There’s too much material to work with, from who will lead their new unified karate team, to what style the fighters will or should pursue (Miyagi-do vs. Way of the Fist), and even what the club’s name should be.
Johnny came up with “Eagle Fang” for his karate-in-the-park classes, a name that deliberately sounds like a Dökken tribute band. Miyagi-do, however, might be a little too hippy-dippy for Johnny’s kick-ass aesthetic. Season 4 should give Daniel and Johnny this and numerous other differences to put aside. But the show’s writers seem to understand the fan appeal when they legitimately team up, care for each other, and throw down. They don’t need another impromptu double-date with their S/O’s though. After three (in each of the first three seasons), that device has been used enough.
What about Robby?
Say this for Robby Keene: He’s earned his heel turn. Keene’s been used and abused by just about everyone who crosses his path, and he has had plenty enough. In Season 3, he does time in juvie hall for the fight that paralyzed Miguel — and he was put there when former mentor Daniel lured him into the open and got him arrested. Robby’s also been pissed at his father, Johnny, for the past three years, and for very good reason. Johnny has poured more effort into his relationships with Miguel, Carmen, Daniel, and anyone not named Robby Keene than he has his own son.
That makes it really hard to just patch up his differences with a heart-to-heart (or a good ass kicking) with the adults in his life. But if Netflix isn’t sure about a Season 5 for Cobra Kai, the writers may not get much time or room to put things right. Robby could instead go a lot darker, and be a glowering Karate Anakin — corrupted, brutal, dangerous, and the enemy no doubt, but not without some sympathy. Tory, as his love interest, got a lot of humanizing in Season 3, too. We see that she works two jobs (after getting expelled from school) to care for her sick mother and younger brother. She’s mean and bitter because there’s no adult in her life to support her, either.
When will Cobra Kai season 4 launch?
Cobra Kai Seasons 1 and 2 premiered in the spring of 2018 and 2019, and Season 3 just hit Netflix on Jan. 1. Netflix ordered a fourth season in October. We’ll probably see Season 4 in late fall at the earliest, and a year from now at the likeliest, if the pandemic doesn’t delay production further.