An underground concert with an aging rock star, dog-eared bikini magazines, some old-man karate sparring, the mystical lost art of making someone’s limbs go limp, an almost prison riot, and an all-out karate battle in an abandoned laser tag arena: Was this an episode of Cobra Kai or a Stefan sketch? This episode had everything, as he would say. And it was more fun than Ben Affleck showing up at your Halloween party with Donnie Wahlberg and three boxes of Munchkins.
The most disturbing story features the second generation of karate warriors. The episode starts with Kreese in juvie to talk to Robbie. What exactly is the purpose of this conversation? Is he trying to recruit him to Cobra Kai? Um, did Kreese not notice he’s in teenage-after-school-special jail right now? Kreese leaves him with the parting words that, “All that Miyagi-Do mumbo jumbo might score you points in a tournament, but you’re in the real world kid, you might need to learn to strike first.”
Robbie learns exactly this lesson when he logs on to the computer and his Gmail inbox is just a whole bunch of spam from the LaRussos, one email from his mom, and a daily email from Jon Ossoff asking for campaign contributions in Georgia. (Seriously, dude, can this election happen already so I stop getting harassed?) Just as he’s about to send Sam a love note, Juvie Bully pulls the plug from the computer so he can’t email.
Later, taking Kreese’s words to heart, Robbie sees Juvie Bully and his minions (the beat-up kind, not the round yellow kind that eats bananas) sitting at a table. He jump-kicks Juvie Bully in the face and then throws the other two against the table. After dispatching the minions, he takes Juvie Bully out into the hall for some one-on-one karate action that even includes the classic move of running up the wall before he can get slammed into it. Jackie Chan would be so proud, if he didn’t think this kid was ripping off his moves. After the guards pry them apart, we find out that neither of them snitched, and it looks like Kreese was right: Robbie earned the guy’s respect and will have an easier time in the pokey, even if he is on the wrong side of the moral divide.
Hawk and the other Cobra Kais are squarely on the other side of that divide. They go to the Chuck E. Cheese ripoff place where Chris works. (Apparently the tall, chubby Miyagi-Do student’s name is Chris. I did not know.) They steal a bunch of prizes and make his life hell. Sam shows up with Dimitri and the gang, and Chris tells them that they’re in the abandoned laser tag joint next door. I have so many questions about this. Not to sound like old man Johnny, but how do you let something as cool as a laser tag arcade go out of business? Secondly, if there is already a fake Chuck E. Cheese next door, why don’t they just open that shit up and start charging for laser tag? Also, can we get these kids to fight in an abandoned roller rink next? I would really enjoy that. Thank you. Love, Brian.
The Miyagi clan is doing a good job holding their own, until Tory shows up with reinforcements. Seeing Tory, who gave her a gnarly scar on her arm, reignites Sam’s PTSD. She just got over her crippling fear of banisters and now it’s been reignited by this girl with fake Wolverine claws. Sam is so paralyzed that when Hawk is threatening to break Dimitri’s arm she can’t do anything. At the urging of his merciless mates, Hawk pops Dimitri’s arm and they all laugh and clap about it like it’s some great accomplishment. I don’t know. I think they would be like, “Oh, shit. That is too far. Let’s get the fuck out of here before the cops show up.” Still, this moment really felt like a turning point, and I actually winced when thinking of poor Dimitri having to go through that pain from his bed-wetting former friend.
Speaking of ill-advised moves, when Amanda LaRusso hears the news about Dimitri’s arm she decides that she’s going to go to Cobra Kai in the middle of the night to confront Kreese. The best part of this scene is that we can see that Kreese is clearly keeping the snake he bought for a demonstration about aggression in episode one in the corner of the dojo. He really does care about other living things. Chief scold Amanda tells Kreese he’s a sociopath, and then slaps him unprovoked for no good reason. I mean, she’s always telling everyone how disappointed she is, but physical violence seems like a stretch. As she leaves, Kreese rubs his face and smiles and he looks, I don’t know, vaguely aroused. Is this the first non-Cialis boner he’s gotten since the Obama presidency?
Oh wait, I almost forgot Amanda’s first appearance in the episode, when she busts Sam and the Miyagi crew working out at the dojo. She arrives with her other child, the son, who I thought they couldn’t afford to pay this season. Turns out he’s still around but he is like a totally different person. Did they recast Daniel’s son (haha, Daniel-son, get it?) or did he just lose a ton of weight, get a new haircut, and maybe his voice changed or something? Was no one on the show going to mention this?
Daniel might not have noticed because he’s still in Japan. This time he has to confront Chozen, the dude he fought and defeated in Karate Kid II: The Revenge. The very beginning of the episode features a flashback to their climatic fight, and I knew it had something to do with those Japanese drums you see at cheesy souvenir shops. The move it taught Daniel, though, was to just club this dude with his arms from one side to the other. Seriously? The first movie we got the crane kick, this time he just… bludgeoned someone with his arms? Like Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Crème Pies, not as good as you remembered.
It turns out that Chozen and Kumiko, Daniel’s lover, are now friends and she leaves Daniel to hang with Chozen for the afternoon so she can, I don’t know, go eat at the KFC in the mall or something? What else does she have to do? Chozen takes Daniel to his dojo and tells him there are all sorts of secrets that Mr. Miyagi never taught him. The old dudes have a Karate Battle Brought to You by AARP and Boniva, and Chozen keeps cleaning Daniel’s clock like the guy never learned how to wax on or wax off in the first place. Even when Daniel does an excellent move where he grabs Chozen’s leg from the ground and spins him around onto the mat he can’t get the upper hand.
That’s when Chozen pulls out the pressure points and turns Daniel into a simpering drooling mess with his secret pressure-point karate. He’s all like, “Holy shit, my arm is numb. Why didn’t Mr. Miyagi teach me that? Can you teach me that? I seriously want to paralyze some M-er F-ers.” And Chozen is like, “No biggie, dude. Just read these scrolls and you’ll be all set. Also sorry about wanting to kill you and stuff back in 1986.” And Daniel is like, “Naw, it’s cool man. I forgot about it like parachute pants. See, rivalries can be squashed.” And Chozen is like, “Is that foreshadowing and are you and Johnny going to team up by the end of the season?” And Daniel is like, “Probably. Oh, I have to go meet the deus ex machina that is going to save my company now.”
He goes to meet Kumiko at the mall and she introduces him to this lady who is apparently the child Daniel saved during a typhoon in Karate Kid II: Red, White, and Blonde. There was a typhoon and he saved a child? I really don’t remember anything about this movie at all other than the drum stuff, which I apparently did not remember all that well. Turns out she is now the head of sales at Doyona and she’s totally going to save Daniel’s dealership. And just like that, it all gets tied up in a neat little bow.
Back in the Valley, Johnny is trying to get Miguel to walk by any means possible. First he dangles a boobie magazine on a fishing line just far enough away from his chair, as if the entire internet doesn’t exist and Miguel wasn’t watching Two Girls, One Cup at his 7th birthday party. And thank you Miguel for pointing this out, and also thank you Johnny for still being like, “Boobs look better on the page.” No one change, ever. This obviously doesn’t work. It also doesn’t work when Johnny tells Miguel some comically inaccurate origin story of the term “hibachi” and instead lights his shoe on fire to get him to move his foot. Miguel leaves in a huff, but it’s not even that Johnny set his shoe on fire, it’s that he couldn’t move his foot when it was on fire. Johnny has already permanently warped this kid’s thinking.
He goes home and comes up with a list of ways to fix Miguel’s legs, and we know this because the list has a heading that says, “Ways to Fix Miguel’s Legs.” They include electric shocks, hypnosis, acupuncture, Tony Robbins, and LSD, which seems like a likely cure, but I’m hearing better things about psilocybin these days. Johnny boots up his janky Dell that he thought was broken but just needed to be plugged in, and the first thing he Googles is, “How to fix legs.” Please, as if the first thing he’d search wouldn’t be “Tawny Kitaen White Snake Video.” He then goes to WebMD, which he pronounces, “Web Mmmmm Duh,” which is the most disturbing thing I have heard since that VRBO commercial where they call it “Verbo” instead of VRBO. For the record, “Verbo” will not be recognized. It is not canon.
Somehow, Johnny gets the idea to take Miguel out of the house, and he’s wheeling him through what looks like the hallway of a storage facility. After telling a bouncer that wheelchair-bound Miguel is a Make-A-Wish kid, we find out he’s taking him to see Dee Snyder, the rocker formerly of the band Twisted Sister, and I haven’t been sadder, more excited, or more confused since DJ Tanner took Stephanie and Kimmy Gibbler to see Macy Gray on Fuller House. Johnny’s new plan is to give Miguel some beers (that he smuggled in because he’s cheap) to help him heal. Dee even tells all the ladies in the audience to make sure the kid gets everything he wants. Sorry, but last I checked, Dee Snyder did not sing “Sexual Healing.”
However, this plan kind of works and Miguel starts tapping his foot to the music. When he gets home, his mother is so excited that he can move his foot about an inch that she doesn’t even yell at Johnny for giving a 17-year-old a beer covered in American flag tape at a rock concert in a storage facility. Triumphantly, Johnny goes into his house to finally Google that White Snake video, but instead he accepts a friend request from Ali, his and Daniel’s old flame. Things are about to get even crazier. Someone tell Stefan to add “former pinup girl Elisabeth Shue” to this hot new nightclub lineup.