Forget about Ice Road Truckers and Vikings. Forget about Yellowstone and every WWII documentary on the History Channel. Even forget, if you possibly can, about Bosch. Cobra Kai is now the most dad show of all the dad shows on TV. It is basically one gnarly full-color back tattoo away from becoming Ben Affleck.
As far as dad shows go, this episode really has it all: car chases, fight sequences, leering at young women in inappropriate contexts, cheesy jokes, monster-truck rally shoutouts, being confused by totally obvious technology, and flashbacks to the good old days. This episode might as well be titled “Sunday in June” because this year Father’s Day came early.
This supersize episode features two parallel tracks, one where Johnny and Daniel go on the hunt for Robby and the other where we learn the origin story of John Kreese and see his plans for taking over Cobra Kai from his former student.
First up is Jonny and Daniel. If they were to star in a movie it would be called Dad and Dadder and everyone would wear ill-fitting khakis like Daniel is always saddled with. Daniel says that he has a lead on where to find Robby, but his lead is just going to ask the kid’s mother, who didn’t even know where he was when he was around. Daniel is paying for her to go to rehab, but not just any rehab, a fancy rehab where people do yoga on the front lawn, and where Johnny manages to leer at any woman in a pair of leggings. (This guy certainly doesn’t have a Twitter account so there’s no way he knows what Me Too is.)
Shannon, of course, has no clue where Robby is and she says that when she found out he was missing she was going to go search for him but her “life coach advised against it.” I’m glad that even though Shannon is in rehab she’s still the narcissistic monster that she’s always been. I also love that when Johnny tells her rehab seems like a vacation she says, “Your idea of a vacation was a monster truck rally,” and Johnny responds the only way he would, by declaring that Truckasaurus is awesome.
The only lead they get is to talk to his old no-good friends who he used to pull scams with, who, last we saw, he was beating up when he wouldn’t let them rob LaRusso Autos. Turns out they’re in jail and calling the cops “Kevin James lookalikes,” which is the meanest thing I’ve ever heard, and my husband affectionately calls me “Paul Blart” on the regular. When Johnny punches the guy twice in the mouth the guard pretends not to see, which is what you get for comparing a corrections officer to a mall cop.
They don’t give the karate wonder twins much info either. Luckily they’re at a gas station and see the minivan that Robby stole, but it’s being driven by some random dude. Johnny, his belly full of Corn Nuts, gets behind the wheel because of course he’s a better driver than Daniel, who has probably ridden shotgun on more test drives than Miley Cyrus has taken bong rips. (Do dads get Miley Cyrus jokes? If not, substitute Miley Cyrus with Snoop Dogg.) They end up at some totally dodgy chop shop full of stolen cars and guys who look like the frozen slabs of beef that Rocky Balboa used to hit in training. (Dads love a Rocky reference. I have redeemed myself.)
Of course, Johnny and Daniel are going to wipe the floor with these guys, but there is always one criticism of these fighting scenarios, which is the goons are on the sidelines waiting to get beaten up as the karate stars take them out one by one. That is for sure true here, where the biggest guy, a true man mountain, is literally just standing in the background idle as his compatriots in car thievery get their proverbial asses proverbially handed to them.
Once they’re all cleaned up, Johnny is about to cave in one of the dude’s faces to get information and Daniel has to pull him away. Then they get in a big fight because of course our rivals couldn’t remain friends for the whole season. What show would we have then? It would be like This Is Us, where everyone airs their petty grievances but hugs at the end of the hour.
The guys go their separate ways. Johnny breaks into the hospital again to see Miguel, who has woken up from a coma with a brand new haircut. Props to whoever was doing his grooming for the two months he was out because his hair looks way better now than it did going in. The first thing Johnny says when he walks in is, “Thank god they got rid of that neck brace. I always thought headgear was for nerds.” It is funny and touching and heartbreaking and the exact wrong thing to say in the moment and it makes me love Johnny even more.
They get into a big old fight because Miguel might not be able to walk again (I give this five episodes, tops) and he thinks it’s because he showed mercy like Johnny told him to and Robby still threw him over a railing. He kicks him out of his room and never wants to talk to him again.
Daniel doesn’t have better luck with Robby. He finds him at his mom’s rehab facility and the first thing he says to Robby is, “Nice cut.” Yes, he got a haircut too. Netflix really splurged on the hair and makeup budget after this thing migrated from YouTube, didn’t they? I’m so glad that Robby no longer has a look that all dads will recognize as the JTT.
The original plan was for the dads to find Robby and convince him to turn himself in so that he would get a lighter sentence. Instead, Daniel calls the cops and has them nab him at the rehab facility. Isn’t that an awful idea? Won’t most of the people at rehab have had bad experiences with the cops? Wouldn’t all of them be ditching their yoga mats and jumping into the bushes to avoid arrest? Shouldn’t this whole scene come with a trigger warning? Robby is pissed enough that he tells Daniel to leave him alone as he fends for himself in the criminal justice system.
The only person who still has a protégé at the end of the hour is John Kreese, the craggy faced evil incarnate. First, though, we get a series of flashbacks throughout the episode to learn all about Kreese. In the opening, a Back to the Future–esque trip back to the ’60s (yes, Marty McFly went back to the ’50s, but same diff), we see some tough dudes at a diner talking about how they’ll give no mercy. We’re supposed to think that one is Kreese, but we are wrong. Of course Kreese is the 98-pound weakling working there who they pick on.
Later, when Kreese sees one of these big bad dudes beating up his girlfriend, he intervenes and whips out some karate skills to save her and the day. But where did he learn those skills from? Did his mother, who killed herself, teach him? Did his father? Or a brother? Are we going to see more of the Kreese origin story in another episode? If we do it will probably be more about his time in Vietnam, where he goes off to learn about the strong versus the weak and apparently comes back a very changed man.
In the present, Tory is dealing with a sick (though invisible) mother of her own as well as a creepy super who tells her that if she can’t pay the rent she can pay it in (ahem) other ways. Dude, this girl is in high school. Someone call the cops on this entire building and have it shut down.
Kreese stops by her gross building (which bears a striking resemblance to Johnny and Miguel’s gross building) and she tells him she can’t return to the dojo because she can’t afford the fees right now and she has to work to support her mom and her siblings. Kreese also catches wind of the creepy super, who he threatens by putting his finger in a cigar cutter and telling him he’s going to chop it off. There’s another of this guy’s appendages I think we could shove in a cigar cutter and lob off, and I think he might like that one even less.
Eventually Kreese convinces Tory to come back to the Cobra Kai dojo, where he fired all the weak and squealing students and is replacing them with hardasses like Tory and Hawk. In him rescuing Tory, we see that he isn’t all bad, though ultimately he just wants her around for his own selfish purposes. He tells his class, “If you shed your weakness you will be unstoppable.” But is that really true? Kreese has seemingly shed all of his weakness and he’s a total mess who was only about five episodes out of a homeless shelter when his former student gave him a pity job. Kreese’s indoctrination is an interesting echo of the show’s first season, where Johnny was teaching these kids all of this bunk before he realized that it was exactly this mindset that screwed him up so royally. Daniel and Johnny are trying to be dads to Miguel and Robby, and meanwhile it is everyone else that they’ve put in real danger.