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TELLY TALK TODAY #07—MY REVIEW OF COBRA KAI: SEASON 5, EPISODE 1.



Greetings and bienvenue, all.


In this installment of my Telly Talk Today series, I’ll be reviewing Cobra Kai: Season 5, Episode 1, “Long, Long Way from Home.”


First things first, though.


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With that in mind and without further ado, as follows is my review of Cobra Kai: Season 5, Episode 1, “Long, Long Way from Home.”


*BE WARNED: MILD TO MEDIUM SPOILERS FOLLOW*


• SUMMARY •


Picking up from the Season 4 finale, Johnny journeys with Robby to Mexico looking for Miguel, who is there searching for his father.


In Mexico, Miguel gets directions from Australian surfers who, nevertheless, scam him and take much of his money.


When Robby—who initially believed that the Mexico trip was Johnny’s way of bonding with him—learns of Johnny’s plans to find Miguel, he grows displeased with Johnny and expresses a desire to return home. However, he relents and agrees to help Johnny find Miguel after he and Johnny get directions from and later beat up the same scammers who had conned Miguel earlier.


Miguel finds one criminal poker player named Hector whom he believes may be his father, only to realize after a heated conversation with Hector that they are not related. Miguel soon finds another man named Hector who is married and has a young son named Luis. Miguel, believing that this Hector might be his father, tails him at a distance, eventually saving Luis by pulling him away from the path of an oncoming vehicle. Miguel, as a reward, is invited by Hector to have dinner and stay with his family for a while.


Back in The Valley, Terry Silver has begun his expansion of the Cobra Kai franchise, opening a flagship dojo in Encino as well as several other dojos across California. His expansion plans include an aggressive marketing campaign of viral videos and specialized merchandise.


Honoring his deal with Cobra Kai, Daniel decides to shut down Miyagi-Do Karate and dismiss his students in order to prevent them from being harmed by Silver. However, Daniel also secretly conspires with Chozen—who he is allowing to stay at his house—to bring down Silver. This plan particularly irks Amanda, who is displeased by Chozen’s living at her home.


Chozen, while spying on Silver, recognizes Silver’s moves and informs Daniel that Silver’s sensei was Kim Sung-Yung, a martial artist whose no-mercy-no-honor teaching style was based on deception. Daniel and Chozen plan to expose Silver’s dissembling nature to The Valley. As a part of this plan, Chozen poses as a local sensei auditioning alongside other sensei for a job at Cobra Kai.


• MY THOUGHTS •


Cobra Kai has been one of my favorite shows since I got hooked on Season 1 back when it was a part of YouTube’s ill-advised streaming service. The distinctive mix of humor, life lessons, martial arts spectacle, and (usually) over-the-top drama just works somehow for this show on so many levels where it would probably fail in ninety-nine percent of other shows. The markedly increased focus on said over-the-top drama has made each Season beginning with Season 3 a little more ridiculous and a little less iconic than Seasons 1 and 2. However, it’s pretty much an open secret that accepting Cobra Kai’s unique format and internal logic is basically the price of admission for enjoying the show for the unique gem that it still is.


Season 5’s first episode was more of the same thing that we’ve been getting since Season 3, but it was still a very strong return. As follows are my general nitpicks:


o It’s hard to believe that Daniel flew Chozen all the way to The Valley from Japan and offered Chozen lodging at his home without even consulting Amanda. Cobra Kai has long relied upon a soapy habit of fostering conflicts that stem entirely from a lack of communication between characters. This is yet one more example of that habit in play, but I think it’s safe to say that Daniel is in the dead-wrong here.


o It’s even harder to believe that Miguel’s grand plan for finding his father appears to be going to a random part of the country where his father supposedly lives, tracking down every random man with his father’s name, and attempting to deduce from conversations with each man whether they are related. The silliest part of it all is that the tactic appears to have worked after only two tries.


o It is BEYOND obvious that the Hector who invites Miguel to stay with his family is some sort of wicked crime lord and that Miguel is in way over his head here.


o This show has officially graduated from the Young Adult moorings of earlier Seasons into a decidedly more Adult format. One thing that comes with the change is a drastic uptick in swear words. There are, in fact, more F-bombs dropped within the first twenty minutes of this episode than in all previous seasons combined. It makes sense—more focus on adult themes means more inclusion adult language—but it is something of a shock.


o The resurgence of the Sam/Miguel drama had my eyes rolling so hard that they almost popped out of my skull. It is manufactured, it is stupid, and I was really hoping we’d seen the end of this nonsense during Season 3.


o This episode’s fights were good-ish, but the quick cuts and the artificially sped-up timing were something of a distraction from the spectacle. (Most of the fights featured adults in their fifties or above who did their own stunts, so I suspect that the use of the cuts and the artificially accelerated timing were necessary to maintain the illusion of faster or more powerful moves.)


o The premise of Daniel’s feud with Terry Silver is just plain laughable as a plot point for this season. Daniel, as presented, is a mid-fifties man with a successful auto business, a wife, and kids. Why would he or should he care about stopping the plans of another grown man in his sixties-to-seventies to build karate dojos in California? Where is Daniel getting the TIME off from his other responsibilities to spy on Silver with Chozen? For that matter, why and how does Daniel think that Chozen—a career martial artist from another country—will be able to help him decipher Silver’s business plans and stop him? Doesn’t Daniel realize that Chozen most probably has NO business experience?


• BRASS TACKS •


Cobra Kai returns for Season 5 with a very strong first episode that, nevertheless, has more than a few structural and plot issues.


• MY RATING •


I give Cobra Kai: Season 5, Episode 1, “Long, Long Way from Home,” four cronuts out of five.



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