Happy summer, and welcome back to the Valley! It’s only been a little more than eight months since the last season of Cobra Kai, our shortest gap between seasons yet. And “Long, Long Way From Home” continues up just where we left off, promising another high-stakes season. More than ever, Cobra Kai is the Goliath to Miyagi-David Do’s — though this time, David isn’t even allowed to practice his karate skills to defeat Goliath.
The previous season began with a bang, giving fans exactly what they expected with Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso’s new united dojo. Season five, on the other hand, has a lot of housekeeping to do, with both Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do forced to disband after their defeat to Cobra Kai at the All Valley. This makes for a slightly less exciting opening than last time, yet the premiere concludes with a really promising story thread.
So far, Daniel has kept his promise to Terry Silver: Miyagi-Do is closing because continuing to operate would endanger the lives of countless children. If it wasn’t already, the competition with Silver has matured. It’s understandable for Daniel to want to fight back; Silver has a monopoly on karate, and the children under his control deserve to be protected. However, as Amanda points out, they must be concerned for the basic safety of their own children. It’s a “karate miracle” that no one was seriously injured during the event. (Amanda LaRusso remains the show’s funniest voice, reflecting on the complete insanity of this community’s karate infatuation.)
Of course, Daniel has no intention of letting Silver win, and he now has a new ally: Chozen Toguchi, his former nemesis who nearly killed him in The Karate Kid Part II in 1985. Daniel saw how much Chozen has to offer as a sensei during Daniel’s journey to Okinawa in season three, and now he needs his help in exposing Silver and proving to everyone in the Valley that he isn’t the selfless philanthropist he pretends to be.
When Chozen visits the flagship Cobra Kai dojo, he identifies Silver’s moves as the teachings of Kim Sun-Yung, the South Korean sensei Silver referenced when he first presented himself to Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid Part III. Daniel assumed Silver made up that story but did you really think the Cobra Kai authors would leave a name from the original films unused? Besides, we already knew Kim was the real deal; during Kreese’s Vietnam War flashbacks in season three, Captain Turner noted that Kim had trained him in Korea. Daniel doesn’t need to tell Chozen how dangerous Silver is; deception was a cornerstone of Kim’s training, and Silver used the same tactics. “To catch a serpent, you must think like a serpent,” says Chozen. “We’ll use his personality against him.”
We see exactly what that means at the end of the episode: Chozen is ready to become a sensei at Cobra Kai and take it down from the inside as a mole. (And hey, if he gets a huge Cobra Kai payday from Silver while he’s at it, that’s a bonus.) It’s an exciting development: characters in Cobra Kai are always switching sides, but we haven’t seen a true mole storyline, nor have we seen someone deceive Silver and beat him at his own game.
The rest of the show revolves around Miguel’s unplanned voyage to Ceuta, Mexico, in search of his father, Hector Salazar. Everything seems a little too predictable: There’s a tiny local threat in the form of a few Australian boys who steal virtually all of Miguel’s money, followed by a case of mistaken identity when Miguel encounters the incorrect Hector, followed by the moment when he unintentionally runs into the real Hector. This Hector appears to be much nicer than the first: he has a wife and a child and appears to be recognized for his charity, though I wouldn’t trust him just yet. When Hector’s son throws a ball into the street and rushes after it, Miguel grabs him before he is hit by a truck.
Unless Hector decides to act as a parent and accompany Miguel back to California, it appears that there are only a few viable choices for wrapping up this story line. Regardless, I hope Miguel returns soon. Without him, the Valley isn’t the same.
Fortunately, Johnny and Robby are on the run. When Robby discovers that their father-son bonding time is actually being used to find the kid with whom he is constantly fighting for Johnny’s attention, he is furious. But he swiftly changes his mind as Johnny explains that he owes Miguel the same way he owes his own son. Robby decides to stay and assist, most likely recalling that he, too, has some wrongs with Miguel that he has to right (you know, when he broke his spine after kicking him over a railing at school). When the Australians who robbed Miguel try the same tactic on Johnny, he and his kid easily manage the situation, resulting in the season’s first major brawl.
With all of this time devoted to the immediate aftermath of Season 4, there’s no time to check in with many of the other characters. We’ll have to wait and see how Tory handles the knowledge that her All Valley victory was a hoax, as well as how Kreese handles incarceration — as well as check in with Demetri, Eli, Kenny, and Anthony LaRusso, who receive no attention in this premiere. Even if the season doesn’t get off to the same rousing start that season four did, the components are in place for a fantastic follow-up.