The brilliance of Cobra Kai is just like that training exercise in season two, where Sam and Robbie have to balance on that weird raft thing in order to fight alongside each other. It’s a delicate balance, but rather than a balance between a spoiled girl and her boyf with a bad haircut, it’s a balance between sincerity and irony. We wouldn’t love this show if it was just inspirational speeches or if it was just meta jokes about itself. We love it because it’s both, and when one of these two poles fall out of order then we all fall into the drink and our bad haircut looks even worse all wet. Well, this episode we were in the drink because sincerity won out.
The whole storyline where Sam is scared of the Cobra Kai kids and having nightmares about Tory drowning her in a koi pond was totally lame. Yeah, I get that in real life it would have been traumatic for her to go through all of the aftermath of the school fight. But this is not reality. It’s a TV show. Miguel learns to walk again in a week with the help of one training montage while Johnny sits on the couch looking at old skin magazines. What I’m trying to say is, get over it Sam.
Instead of that she has to go on a fishing trip, then to a random sports stadium, then listen to another Mr. Miyagi story about overcoming fear, which she has probably heard 15 times by now and is probably sick of, because I know we are. Finally, after all of that, Sam comes back to karate and does some bo training with her dad like she’s Donatello. Purple would be very flattering on her.
That story took up most of the episode, and if I weren’t contractually obligated to watch every second of every episode — that’s journalism, folks — then I would have fast-forwarded through all of those scenes looking for fights. But I watched them and learned a valuable lesson. As Daniel tells Sam, you are never alone. Yeah, tell that to her best friend Aisha, whose salary the producers couldn’t afford this season.
Now that Miguel can walk again he has to go back to school. Seriously? He was out of school because he was in a wheelchair? What, are there no ramps at this school? Is it not ADA compliant? When he returns he finds that things are really not to his liking. Hawk is hanging out with the new Cobra Kai crew and they’re a whole bunch of jerks, especially Slim Jim, as I like to call the former wrestler that beat up Ass Face last episode. (Hey, Ass Face is the show’s nickname, not mine!) Slim Jim is being especially mean to Dimitri and draws a huge dick on his cast, which would be funny if it wasn’t so mean.
Luckily, in the episode’s most touching moment, bitchy hot girl Yasmine takes pity on him and finally decides to sign his cast. “I love your big dick. Love Yas,” she inscribes, making him instantly cool again and showing that she can use her Regina George powers for good instead of evil. Get this girl in a gee and breaking boards already!
One of the great things about this show is that it is totally ludicrous except when it decides to be shockingly realistic. I mean, there is no way that there would be a karate melee in a high school like the end of last season, but we just choose to accept that. However, when Johnny goes to rent a new dojo the show decides to show us what the world is really like. He goes to see a sick gym with a sauna and a juice bar and the Realtor is like, “Let’s sign some documents.” And Johnny just wants to do a handshake deal because, obviously. Then the Realtor wants to run his credit and Johnny says he would rather not. Yes, there is no way he could afford somewhere so nice.
Then he goes to see a roach motel of a warehouse that might still have asbestos in the uncleaned corners. He thinks because it’s such a dump it will be affordable, but the Beverly H Hillbilly renting it tells him it will be $3,000 a month, which is about what one would pay for a small East Village studio, so it’s not that bad, actually. But, as we’ve learned, it doesn’t seem like any of these dojos operate on a great business model. As the Hillbilly says, if it’s in LA, it’s going to be expensive.
Johnny ends up somewhere affordable and it’s the public park, after some random stranger tells him that it’s free and they can do whatever they want there. “Can I go back to my family now?” he pleads, after signing a lease that Johnny scrawled on a crumpled up Applebee’s napkin.
The only problem is that he has to recruit students. He decides the best way to do that is to show up at Miguel’s high school. There is nothing so cringe as seeing an adult who does not work there roam the halls of a high school. Once you have had a prostate exam from your doctor, the only time you should ever be in a cinderblock-lined hallway is to go to your grandchild’s graduation, or if your polling place just happens to be in a public school. Other than that, stay away. Can’t he recruit kids in the 7-Eleven parking lot where they hang out between classes?
Anyway, he does give a good inspirational speech to Hawk and the others, but it’s in that totally Johnny way. “I made you what you are, not Kreese,” he says. “He doesn’t give a shit about you, if you want to complain about the past like a bunch of pussies, then stick with Kreese and don’t be surprised when your life ends up in the shitter. Or you can sack up and join my dojo.”
The next day Miguel, Ass Face, and a few random dweebs join Johnny in the park where he unveils the super cool name for his new dojo. It has to be something that can defeat a snake, but not a Mongoose because Johnny doesn’t think that is a real animal. Yes, his name is Eagle Fang, even though, as Ass Face points out, eagles don’t really have fangs. Also, it’s a bit deceptive because the other side’s champ is named Hawk, but he spent most of the episode wearing an American Eagle sweatshirt so it seems like either the ornithology consultant quit or no one really gives that much of a shit.
Just when it looks like Hawk, Tory, and some of the others might actually join Johnny, we see that Kreese brought his whole squad there to humiliate Johnny. Well, not really humiliate him — he gives him one last chance to rejoin Cobra Kai, but Johnny is now too smart to take it. Kreese tells him it is a decision he will eventually regret. He seems very sincere in his threat, but at least it wasn’t nearly as sincere as Daniel kissing his daughter’s owie for the better part of an hour.