cobra kai recap

Wax On – Cobra Kai 105 ‘Counterbalance’

Welcome to episode 105 of Cobra Kai! Just a reminder, please do not discuss anything further than this episode (including actors who will be in the show in the future) without putting it under the SPOILER tag.

We start with..a training montage. Okay, I love a good training montage. I seriously wasn’t writing anything when I rewatched this, just sat there with my chin in my hands, a big dopey grin on my face. Miguel, getting stronger! Miguel running up hills! Miguel doing pushups on his knuckles while he wears a grey hoodie like Rocky! Miguel dodging baseballs from a baseball machine! Miguel sparring with Johnny!

Love love love love

We end with Miguel sweeping the leg from his sensei (oh dang!), who fires off another baseball when he was unprepared ‘What the hell?’ Miguel and I both say, though Johnny justifies it saying Miguel has to expect the unexpected.

I guess?

Then the dojo is invaded!…by yoga students. Johnny has had to sublet the space to pay the rent, and it’s funny how frustrated he is by the yoga teacher wanting to ‘change the energy’, putting up a ‘love is here to Namaste’ poster over the Cobra Kai motto. I have to admit, I got a good chuckle out of how annoyed Johnny was by this. (Also their first movement is ‘the cobra’! I see you show, I see you.)

embrace your inner peace

Meanwhile Daniel is winning and dining a fellow by the name of Armand Zarkarian (Ken Davitian) and his family at the country clubs lobster night. He says he’s looking into buying the strip mall, the one that Johnny has ‘Cobra Kai’ at. Oh boy, not cool Daniel, not cool. Look at your life, look at your choices. Don’t be that guy!

Sam is not enjoying lobster night, because she finds a video of Plastics at a party concert without her. Kiddo, dump them, they are making your life miserable. Seriously. Her mom, ever the peacemaker, says maybe they forgot or something, which is mom speak for ‘They are assholes but you’re my daughter so I’m gonna lie to you to spare your feelings.’

(Also Anthony continues to be the embodiment of my id by drinking the butter. I mean, if they didn’t want you to drink it, why would they put it in a cup? Check and mate.)

Robby is at his and his Mom’s apartment, and Shannon is. Well. Shannon is on her way out for another date. Robbys kinda crushed. He’d gotten some of his moms favorite frozen pizzas for a movie night and she’s brushing him off. ‘Let’s do it tomorrow night’ she says. ‘Right. If you’re not too hungover.’ he says bitterly.

Looks like she and Johnny had a lot in common huh. So much for squandered potential. As she’s getting ready to go out, she casually mentions she saw Johnny, who wanted Robby to go live with him. This gives the kid pause. Maybe Johnny was being honest with him the other day?

At Cobra Kai dojo, Johnny and Miguel are sparring. ‘There’s only one reason to hit someone.’ says Johnny. ‘To inflict pain.’ That gets him a questioning look from Miguel, but not enough to stop the training. When Johnny says these things, it hurts to hear. I mean it hurts to here him say the sexist bigoted stuff he says too, but this hurts in a different way. That he was taught to do things in this fashion, and he had no idea on how to do it differently. Geez. And then the show gets 110% better because Aisha walks into the dojo! She wants to train!

And Johnny says…no. Well Johnny says a lot of stuff. The man opens his mouth and bullshit comes out. ‘Can I talk to you for a second Sensei?’ says Miguel. ‘Don’t give me that sexist crap, women can’t train, they have tiny hollow bones.’ says Johnny.

Behold! A woman!
Diogenes loves this joke

‘Her dad is Isiah Robinson…Hall of Fame lineman for the Chargers?’ says Miguel.

Johnny still doesn't get it
Still doesn’t get it.

Miguel sighs. The student has become the teacher! And so soon! ‘Her family is loaded.’

money is very convincing

‘My student tells me you’ve been harassed.’ says Johnny. ‘Yeah.’ Aisha says sadly. ‘Mostly online. I get mean texts and emails sent to me. Mostly anonymous…telling me that I’m ugly, and that I should kill myself.’ I’ll say it again: I’m glad I’m not a teenager right now.

‘My god…what a bunch of pussies!’ Johnny says.

Aisha and Miguel?????

‘When I’m done you’re gonna be sending a message back. Only it’s not gonna be with a keyboard, but with your fists!’ And Aisha smiles for the first time in a while.

Punching problems sounds good

So Daniel is still trying to get that strip mall from the Zarkarian guy. Keeps going on about it, and it’s making the guy suspicious. Obviously Daniel wants this for some reason. Daniel protests it’s just because he’s sentimental, but nope, guy is not buying it and also, he’s not selling (the strip mall to Daniel). Daniel hangs up but..he’s not upset. Or disappointed. In fact, satisfied smile crosses his face. Daniel…Daniel…what are you doing???? What have you done??????

The Plastics are getting high in their car in a parking lot (responsible?) when Sam busts in on them, demanding to know why they’re avoiding her. Apparently Kyler’s been gossiping behind her back, saying that Sam thinks she’s better than them. Oh and also that she went down on him in a theater. Is Kyler just stealing stuff from Alanis Morisette lyrics? Because that would be ironic, don’tcha think? Sam is pissed.

Johnny is teaching Aisha and Miguel. Well, it’s more he tells Miguel to ‘give her everything you’ve got’ Neither of them think that’s really fair, but Johnny insists. ‘I’m sorry.’ Miguel whispers, looking very reluctant before kicking Aisha to the mats. But then! She gets up, tackles him, and then does a pile-driver into his ribs! ‘The girls a natural Cobra!’ says Johnny with admiration. Just then he hears a fight outside. It’s Nestor (Vas Sanchez) the convenience store clerk, arguing with the landlord about doubling the rent. Which Johnny, who is barely getting by, will not be able to pay.

Robby is looking up stuff about his Dad on the Cobra Kai webpage when his mom stumbles into the apartment, laughing, drunk, with a new strange guy. ‘Shh, we don’t want to wake up my son!’ she giggles, leading the dude into her bedroom, obliviously waking right by said son. Yeah this is not a good place for a kid to live. I have a friend whose mom was like this. She basically had to raise herself because her mom was too busy out partying, it’s a really crappy way to live.

Johnny is trying to make the rent by selling his old stuff, but none of it is actually worth anything. He takes it all and goes back to his dojo space to drown his sorrows in a beer, but he’s out. Going to Nestors convienience store, he reaches to the back of the fridge to grab some Coors, only to hear a familiar voice. Daniel’s in the store, looking to ‘buy some red paint for an art project’ Their eyes meet and Johnny offers up a weak ‘What’s going on?’ He knows Daniel knows. Daniel knows he knows. Johnny knows why the rent got raised. Everyone knows everything. ‘Put that guy’s beer on my tab, looks like he’s had a really rough day.’ Daniel says, before exiting.

Dick move LaRusso, dick move. Then he goes home to celebrate the good news with his wife! Who is rightly creeped out and upset! Because that’s not cool! BECAUSE YOU RAISED JOHNNYS RENT AND EVERYONES RENT BECAUSE JOHNNY PAINTED A DICK ON YOUR BUILBOARD DANIEL WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.

Okay but.

It was fucked up and wrong, but I know why he did that. I’ve talked a bit about how Johnnys trauma informs his present, but Daniel was traumatized too. Cobra Kai bullied him and tormented him. If Mr. Miyagi hadn’t been there to at Halloween, he could have died. He looks at Johnny, and the dojo, he’s that scared kid again. And so his actions are justified in his mind. Except they’re not the actions of a scared kid anymore, they’re the actions of an adult who has money and influence. And that, guys, gals and non-binary pals, is why therapy is fucking important. Because without therapy, we do dumb, fucked up, shitty stuff because of past trauma that we haven’t acknowledged.

At school, Sam doesn’t have a place to sit at lunch because all her ‘friends’ are judging her for being a slut. Oh fuck high school. So she confronts Kyler, who continues to be an asshole about it. When Sam knocks his tray on the ground, Kyler tells the whole school that ‘sucking dick must run in the family’, referencing Daniels defaced billboard. Sam is one second from throwing down on him when Miguel interrupts.

‘Hey Kyler! Why don’t you shut the hell up and stop being such an asshole.’ ‘You want another beatdown ‘Rea?’ says Kyler, shoving him. (In the background Aisha gets up. She’s clearly ready to back up Miguel if he needs her. Bless.) ‘I’m ready for your lame ass karate this time.’ Kyler taunts, only for his punch to be blocked by Miguel. ‘It’s not lame ass karate…it’s Cobra Kai!’ Miguel counters as he counters. And we have a fight! A cafeteria fight, and he kicks Kylers ass! And Brucks ass! And…those other guys who also have names, but no-ones ever said them, so I have no idea who they are! But it’s awesome!

I’m really sorry it’s so blurry, I tried!

He delivers a coup de grace to Klyers face with a lunch tray, and gets a round of applause from the school. Well, from the kids, the principal is shocked and appalled and wow I do not care. And Sam is…impressed, and the two of them share a smile before Miguel is dragged off. Later, Miguel confesses he was in a school fight to Johnny, babbling excitedly that the traing all worked ‘I was blocking, I anticipated, I slithered!’ Proud and pleased, Johnny gives him his old Cobra Kai gi (the white one, not the black one). And they share a hug, it’s a touching moment. That Robby gets to see as he comes around the corner. Jealous and hurt, he leaves.

We finally find out where Mr. Miyagis been all this time. Sadly, he died in 2011, seven years before the show starts. Samantha would have still been a kid, Anthony would have been a toddler. Neither of Daniels kids had the chance to really know him like Daniel did. It hurts to see the grave, Mr. Miyagi was such a wonderful character and person.

Daniel looks sad as he cleans up the bonsai and the dead leaves around the gravestone. He confesses he feels lost. ‘When I was a kid I thought you had all the answers, and I guess I thought when I got older, I’d have it all figured out too.’

Still heavy hearted, he bows to the grave and starts to leave. But as he’s getting into his car, he suddenly remembers.

Sitting in the yellow truck that Miyagi gave him, the old man leaning over the window. ‘You need balance in life, in all things, not just karate.’ In the present day, Daniel smiles, looking calm and at peace for the first time in a while.

Johnny is driving up to the dojo, arguing about the rent on his phone, when he sees a whole HORDE of kids waiting outside, as well as Miguel, a big grin on his face. Turns out, when you kick the ass of the school bully, people want to know how. Especially when the video of the fight gets on youtube.

Who the hell holds their phone like that??

Johnny looks at the crowd, then returns Miguels smile.

‘Looks like we’re in buisness.’

Cut to LaRusso auto, where Amanda is very impressed with someones resume, though not sure why someone overqualified is applying here. She smiles at the person across from her, and he smiles back, all easy charm, saying he’s just taking some ‘time off to figure things out’. It’s Robby. Interesting.

Daniel is clearing out his at home dojo. He gets rid of all the junk, puts Mr. Miyagis picture on the wall, as well as the Miyagi rules of karate. Amanda peaks through the door, looking on with pride. The episode ends with Daniel and getting into his gi, as well as his famous headband. He begins moving through his katas, and the theme from TKK plays, and we end the episode, the trumpets trumpeting triumphantly.

Cobra Callbacks:

The headband that Ralph Macchio puts on at the end of the episode is the very same one from the Karate Kid movies.

Snake Bytes:

From an interview with Men’s Health:

MH: Johnny loves Banquet Beer. Do you share that love?

William Zabka: Ironically, Coors was the beer my dad drank when I grew up. I think my first sip of beer was a Coors Light in the backyard of the house actually scraping the fence. We used to paint our fence every year, funny enough.

I think it’s funny that they gave him a Coors Banquet. I love the bottle of it. I love the look of it. I love what it says. There’s a lot of things that it says. I think he could lay off the beer a little bit. I think that might be a good thing for his character. He might find some clarity in his life if he got away from the bottle. But, it’s a go-to crutch for him—that’s another blind spot in him, and he doesn’t realize it.

From an interview with ‘Looper:
According to [Ralph Macchio], the most important aspect of the show was the potential it had for honoring Pat Morita and his portrayal of Nariyoshi Miyagi in the first four films.

“To me, I wanted to explore those characters and we don’t have Pat Morita with us anymore, obviously,” Macchio continued. “So, but so I was like how to keep … Miyagi alive throughout the entire series. And it informed the show and informed the LaRusso character.”

Mr. Miyagi’s absence has certainly been a factor in the Cobra Kai story, and for good reason. As the stern-but-affable father figure of the series, Pat Morita’s character enchanted audiences in the original films, earning the actor a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination and turning “wax on, wax off” into pop culture shorthand overnight. In 2005, Morita passed away at age 73 from natural causes. Cobra Kai’s stories have been mindful of the loss, killing off the character off screen while also paying tribute in the form of an episode dedicated to Morita’s memory.

Considering the way Miguel and Sam looked at each other, and how he defended her honor, I’m thinking these two are gonna date for sure.