Welcome to episode 201 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.
Welcome to season 2! Some people say that this season is to serious or whatever. I say that it’s good because we set up things in season 1 (actions) and then we see the results in season 2 (consequences). And that wanker Ben Shapiro doesn’t like it, which is a plus in my book.
We start where we left off in ‘Mercy’, Johnny coming out of his office, only to be confronted by Kreese.
‘I thought you were dead.’ Johnny says flatly, walking towards his old mentor.
‘Kid, you’re not the only one.’ says Kreese, which honestly, he can fuck right off with. Last time I checked, Johnny was a fully grown adult capable of making his own (bad) decisions.
‘It’s good to see you.’ says Kreese, reaching out to shake his hand, but Johnny smacks it away. Good for him. Kreese just laughs. ‘Still got that hot temper.’ he says, smiling condescendingly. Yeah, a temper you cultivated. Asshole.
Martin Krove does a great job as Kreese because Jesus H Christ, I can’t remember an onscreen villain I’ve hated more.
Quick aside, like Johnny, I was emotionally and verbally abused. So let me just say, once again, with full certainty: Kreese is an abuser. He’s manipulative, narcissistic, and controlling. And he’ll do anything to get his way.
Just like now, with him goading Johnny into a reaction.
Kreese goes on to compliment how well he trained Miguel, which wow guy. You really like playing with fire.
‘Just like I taught you.’ says Kreese. Gloating. The man has the nerve to gloat, to the student he traumatized and tried to murder. The fucking. Gall.
Johnny finally does what Kreese has wanted him to do this whole time, and punches him, only for Kreese to easy counter, knocking him to the ground.
‘I taught you everything I know.’ the man says smugly as he takes a pull from his cigar, looking down at his former student.
‘Not everything!’ and Johnny kicks him in the face with a modified version of Robby’s one armed kick, knocking the cigar out of his mouth.
But they just keep fighting and kicking and fighting and god come ON Johnny! Kick his ass! Come on!!
There’s a pause in the action as Kreese pushes Johnny into one of the dojo mirrors, shattering it.
‘Look, I don’t want to fight, I just want to talk.’ says the older man.
‘About what? How you taught me to fight dirty? How you broke my second place trophy? How you tried to kill me?’
‘I never tried to kill you.’ says the lying liar who lies.
And there’s more punching until Johnny has Kreese in a headlock, at his mercy. But as he does, he flashes back to when Kreese did the same to him in the All Valley parking lot, and lets him go, not wanting to become like his old sensei.
Instead of backing off, Kreese chides him for showing mercy, knocking him to the ground. As both men are lying there, gasping in pain…
The sprinkler goes off, since the cigar caused a small fire in the garbage bin. Great night, great night.
At Miyagi-do, Robby and Daniel are cleaning the place up. Daniel even shows Robby the old ‘knock the nail in in one hit’ trick (I have tried this, not as easy as it looks). It takes them all day, but it’s worth it. Mr. Miyagis old place looks beautiful as the sun sets, as good as new.
As Daniel grabs a well deserved beer from home, Amanda tells him that she’s proud of what he’s doing, but she’s not sure he can balance work and running a dojo. ‘Balance is my thing.’ Daniel assures her, smiling winningly. Hmm.. I’m not convinced, and neither is Amanda. ‘I can beat Cobra Kai.’ says Daniel. ‘I did it thirty years ago, and I can do it again.’
Uh…but then you were fighting back against bullies your own age. Now you’re a grown man, and most of Cobra Kai are teenagers.
At his apartment, Johnny is icing his hand and watching tv, when there’s a knock on the door.
Cautiously, he looks through the peephole, but no worries, it’s Carmen! With a Tres Leches cake (yum!) for him to celebrate.
‘Miguels lucky’ he says to her, smiling.
‘In more ways than one.’ she answers.
She says she’s glad that Miguel went from a kid being bullied to a kid who had an arena cheering him on.
Though she wasn’t too fond of the aggression he showed, she brushes her doubts away.
No Carmen! You’re right to be worried! Don’t second guess yourself!
Johnny tells her he won’t let Miguel go astray (too late I think), but their friendly chat is interrupted by a phone call. From Kreese.
‘Meet me at the diner at 8am.’
AM? The morning? What? That’s cruel and unusual sir!
The Cobra Kai kids and friends are celebrating with some victory nachos. Demetri says it’s nice to be celebrating a victory for a change, only for Hawk to smugly point out that he didn’t win anything. So Demetri says he’ll consider it a belated celebration of the coding competition that he and Eli (Hawk) won. This bring a scowl to Hawks face. Clearly he doesn’t want to remember his ‘old life’ as Eli.
Miguel is off to the side, brooding as he realizes that Sam has blocked him on social media. Hawk and Aisha try to comfort him (okay Aisha tries to comfort him, Hawk is too busy bro-ing it up to be of any use).
The next morning, Johnny goes to meet Kreese at the diner. Kreese takes the time to hit on one of the waitresses (she is disgusted and unimpressed). Kreese launches into this speech about how he was in ‘brumation’, which is when snakes burrow in the earth for the winter, but stay awake. How he threw himself back into being a soldier, but all the time lying in wait for his moment.
Okay dude…so you were in snake hibernation/brumation whatever, for thirty something years to wait for the right time…to take back a karate dojo in a strip mall. That’s not healthy.
You know, Johnny puts all this time, energy, and money into making this business work, and he’s not perfect, but hey, at least he’s not Kreese. At least he gives a damn, and puts in the hours.
‘I’m just saying I can help you.’ says Kreese. ‘I don’t need your help.’ Johnny counters.
‘You may not think you need my help, but those students-‘
Nope. Johnny slams his fist down on the table, leveling a finger at the old man. ‘Stay the hell away from my students, you understand?’
Good for you Johnny.
‘I remember you doing back then what you’re doing right now. Trying to find my weakness. But I’m not a kid anymore. And you’re not my sensei.’
He gets up to leave. ‘The world may need Cobra Kai, but we don’t need you.’
This really is the best way to confront an abuser. Johnny has shut him down at every turn, telling him unequivocally that he doesn’t want or need him in his life. Let’s see if Kreese listens.
Robby and Daniel are putting some of the finishing touches on Miyagi-do, hanging photos and putting up shelves and Mr. Miyagis medal of honor from WW2. Daniel tells Robby the first two rules of Miyagi-do.
‘The first rule, karate is for defense only. Second rule, learn rule one.’ Mr. Miyagi is the one who finishes the rules in a nicely placed flashback.
Gleefully, Robby says he can’t wait for his dad to find out about Miyagi-do, and that the first rule doesn’t matter when it comes to Cobra Kai.
While that’s similar to sentiments Daniel was voicing to Amanda earlier, it’s clear he feels shaken hearing it from his student.
The kids arrive at Cobra Kai, delighted at the new potential recruits lined up inside, one of whom is wearing a WWE Warriror shirt (and thus ends my WWE knowledge, so please don’t ask me any questions about it! I’ll probably panic and say ‘Panama!’ or something.)
The students are giddy and joking after their win, only for the mood to be dampened by a grim faced Johnny. He calls out Hawk and Miguel for attacking Robby when his back was turned, and for attacking his injured shoulder.
‘Cobra Kai is about being a badass. And the badest badass is the one who beats his opponent when he’s at his strongest.’
He busts them all back to white belts, and has Hawk do fifty pushups on his knuckles. It’s clear from his face that Hawk did not like any of that. At all.
Miguel goes to talk to Johnny in his office, confused about what just happened. Johnny tells him that at his age, he didn’t learn the difference between mercy and honor, and paid the price. That he’s hard on them, Miguel especially, because he has the potential to be better than he ever was.
Aww, that’s so good! I’m getting the warm fuzzies right here, I love it when Johnny steps up and says or does the right thing, especially when it comes to Miguel. Now if only he was this good with his biological son..
Speaking of, Johnny is at the Home Hardware or whatever this is supposed to be, picking up stuff to fix the dojo mirror (and running into a very enthusiastic 80s fan dude), when he runs into Robby and Daniel. They’re there picking up some stuff to put up shelves in Miyagi-do. After the prerequisite Snarky Exchange tm between Johnny and Daniel, the later tactfully leaves so father and son can talk.
Johnny to his credit, is trying. But again, too little to late, and also he cannot seem to be at all fair about Daniel ‘You’re trying to torture me by training with that prick?’ says Johnny. ‘Hey, don’t talk about Mr. LaRusso like that, he’s a better man then you’ll ever be.’ says Robby, glaring.
Sidenote: I really don’t like this Metalica shirt Johnny is wearing. Nothing against the band, but it’s too long, it’s like he’s wearing a robe or something, I dunno.
Sam is trying out some karate moves in her home dojo (seriously, who has a home dojo? That is such a Rich People thing) when her Dad walks in, pretty pleased she’s gotten back into it. He then apologizes for not talking to her about Miguel, saying he knows what she’s going through.
(Is this going to be about Ali?)
‘Came to California, met a new girl, Ali.’
(Yup, called it.)
Daniel brings the point home by saying that everyone goes through this, and she’ll meet someone new.
‘Yeah but not everyone has to deal with an insane karate cult that’s brainwashing half the school.’ Sam retorts.
At the dojo, Johnny is putting the new mirror on the wall, when he has a flashback of his younger self (the amazing Owen D. Stone returning) getting his blue belt from Kreese, only for his sensei to put him down. Hearing this, young Johnny starts to cry.
‘Are those tears Mr. Lawrence? What’s the matter, can’t you handle the way I speak?’
Johnny protests, only to be interrupted by Kreese. ‘Let me tell you something, the moment those tears leave your eyes, you lose. And I don’t teach losers. Do you understand Mr. Lawrence?’
‘What are you?’
‘I’m a winner!’ says young Johnny, tears in his eyes.
That scene is amazing, and hard to watch, with both Stone and Zabka putting in amazing performances. Even though Zabka says nothing, just watches his younger self, the expressions on his face are heartbreaking.
Here we see toxic masculinity at it’s worst, teaching boys that showing emotion is showing weakness. It’s a terrible message for boys and men that can have long term negative effects, leading to depression, anger issues, and being emotionally numb, well into adulthood.
At Miyagi-do, Robby has finished his chores, and walks in on Daniel meditating (I have to say, Ralph Macchio always looks super chilled out in these scenes, and it makes me want to meditate more.) He tells his student that he’d lost focus, but the mediating helps him find it again. He’s figured out how to destroy Cobra Kai…by not destroying it. He says that they’ll show them a different way, a better way. ‘Sounds good’ says Sam, walking in through the dojo. Daniel smiles, welcoming her to Miyagi-do. ‘Not even 24 hours and I’ve already doubled my roster.’ he says. ‘You two should get some rest, because this summer, you’re gonna be spending a lot of time back here together.’
Sam and Robby exchange A Look. I may be reading this wrong (and I don’t think I am) but it looks as if Sam and Robby are having Feelings for each other.
Finishing fixing up the dojo mirror, Johnny turns as the bell over the door jingles, eyes narrowing as he sees Kreese with a large gym bag, looking apologetic and contrite.
‘I’m sorry. I realised I was too hard on you. You were young, and I went overboard.’
You tried to kill him.
‘I just couldn’t stand seeing you loose.’
Funny, it felt to me more like it was you who couldn’t stand to loose.
‘Just remember, I am the guy who always rooted for you.’
Not even remotely true.
Turning to go, Kreese says ‘Oh, I almost forgot’ and reaches into his bag, pulling out the repaired second place trophy, putting it on the ground.
‘This is for you.’ he says, then leaves the dojo.
But he hasn’t even made it past the car park before Johnny follows him out with a ‘Hold up’.
-Mr. Miyags rules of Miyagi-do
-Mr. Miyags medal of honor
-Johnny and Kreese face off on the mat just like he and Daniel did in season one.
-Kreese of course
-Kreese trying to kill Johnny
‘Whatever happens in its future, Cobra Kai has been home to the return of several iconic characters from The Karate Kid movies. Martin Kove is one of those people who have reprised their roles from the hit franchise for the sequel series, now on Netflix. If you thought coming back for Cobra Kai was an automatic “yes,” think again. In fact, Kove revealed that he was initially “leery” about returning.
Martin Kove thrilled fans when he appeared at the very end of Season 1’s finale as he entered the new Cobra Kai dojo. Kove did not miss a beat as he stepped back into the shoes of John Kreese. The role of Johnny Lawrence’s brutal sensei, who Daniel holds responsible for Johnny’s path in life, roared back into the middle of it in Cobra Kai.
John Kreese’s return [sets] up a powerful season 2 arc as Johnny is reunited with his former mentor. At first, Martin Kove was uncertain about reprising his iconic role from The Karate Kid movies. Kove explained what he was looking to hear from the writers when it came to their handling of Kreese’s Cobra Kai incarnation, telling THR he “wanted to come back” but in the right way, which happened to be a TV gig.
I wanted to come back to the role. I was quite leery to do it as written for the movies, but my basic insistence to the [Cobra Kai] writers was, ‘Are you going to write this character vulnerably? Are you going to give him some versatile situations?’ And they did, they had him coming off Episode 1, Season 2 as if he was a big shot. He portrayed that everything’s cool, and he’s coming back, and he wants to be in Cobra Kai, because it’s now big news.