For fans of The Karate Kid and newcomers to the franchise, Cobra Kai has managed to blow everyone away as a major unexpected hit. The series shifting from YouTube to Netflix has garnered the series an even larger following with millions of households watching each new season, including the recently released Season 5.
With a large cast of entertaining and relatable characters, emotional storytelling, strong comedy, and impressive fight choreography, it’s no wonder why the show has been so successful.
Updated on October 3rd, 2022 by Amanda Bruce: Once Cobra Kai made the move from Youtube to Netflix following its second season, the writers upped the ante for both the drama and the action. A larger cast, shifting relationship dynamics, and bigger fight sequences were just small pieces of the puzzle to make the show so successful. As IMDb allows fans and critics alike to rate episodes in perpetuity following their release, ratings from the first two seasons of the show continue to fluctuate even with the additions of episodes from the seasons that followed. One thing is for sure, Cobra Kai fans love a good finale episode.
10/10 Season 1, Episode 5: “Counterbalance” – 8.8
Everyone loves a good training montage and this episode gives fans one of the best ones in the series, as Johnny shapes Miguel into his best student. Fans also enjoy the well-done storytelling in “Counterbalance” involving Aisha joining Cobra Kai to gain some confidence and push back against the bullying she faces. This also makes Johnny question his own biases after briefly considering denying Aisha as a student because she’s a girl.
However, the highlight of this episode is Miguel finally fighting back against Kyler, while also catching Sam’s affection.
9/10 Season 1, Episode 9: “Different But Same” – 8.8
Watching Daniel and Johnny come together for the first time as non-enemies is a joy, as their feud as nemeses begins shaping more into a friendly rivalry. This doesn’t last long once Johnny discovers Daniel has been training Robby, although he doesn’t know that Daniel has no idea that Robby is his son.
Fans love seeing Aisha finally give Yasmine what she deserves for her cruel bullying and harassment. “Different But Same” also features a nice crossing of worlds when Moon and Hawk begin their relationship.
8/10 Season 4, Episode 9: “The Fall” – 8.9
If there’s one thing Cobra Kai does well, it’s a ramp up to a finale. In the penultimate episode of Season 4, Miyagi-do and Eagle Fang are taking on Cobra Kai at the All Valley tournament.
The episode features a lot of very interesting match-ups. Tory fights Devon, Sam fights Piper, Kenny fights Robby, and Eli fights Miguel. They mark pivotal moments in the season as Tory and Sam’s victory leads to their eventual face-off. Robby beating Kenny on the mat also sets up the conflict for their relationship for the next season as does Miguel hurting himself in his match against Eli. Eli’s victory comes after his own struggle with his confidence, setting him up to overcome his bullying past.
7/10 Season 3, Episode 5: “Miyagi-do” – 9.0
Smack in the middle of the third season, Daniel takes a trip to Japan and reunites with Chozen while Robby is trying to find a way to survive a juvenile detention center. The big event of the episode, however, is when things come to a head between Miyagi-do and Cobra Kai students at the Golf N Stuff.
Sam plans to defend her friend as he’s been bullied by Cobra Kai members while working there, but Sam and her teammates find themselves outnumbered by Cobra Kai. It’s a brutal standoff that demonstrates that Sam’s trauma is still front and center when she can’t confront Tory, and that Eli has fully embraced his Hawk persona when he allows his teammates to goad him into breaking Demetri’s arm. It’s a huge character episode for the two of them.
6/10 Season 5, Episode 5: “Extreme Measures” – 9.0
The big through line of Season 5 is Daniel and Johnny trying to find a way to bring Terry Silver down. While that’s what Daniel is preoccupied with in this episode while Amanda takes the kids to pay a visit to her family (bringing in a fan favorite Karate Kid 3 character as Amanda’s cousin). Johnny, however, spends the episode trying to find a way to make Miguel and Robby put aside their differences, which is where the episode really shines.
Robby and Miguel have spent most of the series hating each other up to this point, and when the two finally fight things out at the apartment complex where they live (under Johnny’s supervision, of course), they realize how much they’ve been holding onto, and how much they actually understand one another. It’s a very cathartic sequence for the audience.
5/10 Season 1, Episode 10: “Mercy” – 9.1
This episode gives fans the excitement of the All-Valley Karate Tournament, and it certainly does not disappoint. Drawing obvious parallels to the tournament in The Karate Kid, “Mercy” brings viewers exactly what they want, and it holds nothing back from the fights.
Bonus points for the hilarious The Karate Kid easter egg when Daniel seems like he’s about to perform Mr. Miyagi’s pain suppression technique, but instead calls for a doctor. “Mercy” gets such high marks because of the satisfying conclusion it provides to the season while also setting up the introduction of Kreese and Miyagi-Do dojo for season two.
4/10 Season 4, Episode 10: “The Rise” – 9.3
The best rated episodes of Cobra Kai are all season finales. That’s with good reason. Just like the first season-ender, every season finale of the series ties up the major conflicts of the season, but sets up a lot of new story threads for the next one.
In Season 4, most of those conflicts are resolved on the mat at the All Valley Tournament. Eli beats Robby in a match-up after Miguel disappears from the venue. Tory and Sam finally have their moment on the mat, but Sam is surprised when Tory beats her. All four of the fighters are at their best in combining the different styles of karate rather than simply sticking with the teachings of Cobra Kai or Miyagi-do, foreshadowing Daniel and Johnny truly committing to combining their techniques as they attempted to do earlier in the show.
3/10 Season 2, Episode 10: “No Mercy” – 9.3
The incredibly exciting and well-choreographed school-wide brawl between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do is enough to boost this episode to the top, as watching fan favorite characters fight each other is as intense as it is heartbreaking.
But where this episode shines is the emotional gut punch it hits fans with when Robby kicks Miguel off a second-floor railing and potentially paralyzes him. Every character is shattered by this and fans spent the time between season speculating just what would happen next.
2/10 Season 3, Episode 10: “December 19” – 9.4
The end of Season 3 takes place during the winter holidays. While the adults are away at a holiday dinner, Johnny and Daniel’s students decide to try to come together, putting their differences aside to work to take Cobra Kai down.
Unfortunately for them, that leads to Tory bringing the Cobra Kai students to the LaRusso house to confront the other teens. The brawl at the LaRusso house is one of the best to watch, not just because of the great fight, but because of the huge character moments the episode provides. Eli and Demetri reconcile, Sam confronts Tory, and Miguel overcomes his fears of being injured in a fight. The brawl isn’t even the season-ender as Johnny and Daniel go on to fight Kreese and Robby to close out the episode, bringing the two former enemies together.
1/10 Season 5, Episode 10: “Head Of The Snake” – 9.7
Rivalry is really the name of the game in Cobra Kai. Every season reminds the audience of how the rivalry between Daniel LaRusso and Cobra Kai members have affected his life even decades later. That all comes to a head in Season 5 as Terry Silver seeks to expand Cobra Kai and Daniel wants to stop him once and for all.
The conflict doesn’t end with Daniel though, and this episode allows for so many of the teens who have developed rivalries of their own over the five seasons to settle their scores. Miguel, Robby, Eli, Demetri, Sam, and Tory are all able to unite and be on the same side, despite their differences. A break-in to the Cobra Kai dojo, as expected, leads to an epic fight between the students, but even better is getting to see Chozen, Johnny Lawrence, and Mike Barnes team up, and getting to see Daniel LaRusso and Terry Silver have a rematch. It’s an epic conclusion to a season that manages to blend the nostalgia with the new generation pretty seamlessly.