“Let’s Begin” finds Daniel and Johnny struggling to work together as Kreese attempts to recruit an old ally from his past.
This recap of Cobra Kai season 4, episode 1, “Let’s Begin”, contains spoilers.
The essential, central relationship of Cobra Kai has always been the one between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence, but one of its most enduring characteristics is that they can’t get on. They’re incompatible. They see the world, people, and karate totally differently. So, given the lovely ending of the third season that saw them unite Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang for the greater good, it’s no surprise really that the fourth season premiere, “Let’s Begin”, devotes a lot of time to them figuring out that their new alliance isn’t going to go as smoothly as they first thought.
Cobra Kai season 4, episode 1 recap
Amongst all of this, we’re also catching up with the state of the various dojos and their students. Things aren’t looking good for Cobra Kai, for instance, since half of the previous students have quit, but Tory and Kyler are still holding down the fort, and Robby is seeming to be a likely candidate, despite some initial reticence. But with Johnny and Daniel having teamed up, Kreese decides that he, too, needs an ally, and attempts to reunite with an old one — Terry Silver.
So, for the uninitiated, Silver was Kreese’s rich psychopath buddy in The Karate Kid Part III, and he remains rich here in “Let’s Begin”, though he seems to have the whole psychopathy thing under control. He’s living a swanky New Age life with a vegan girlfriend and makes a point of reminding Kreese how ridiculous it was that he spent so long terrorizing a teenage boy. It’s a conversation that shows why Cobra Kai has been successful; it’s a continuation of a story that refuses to pretend the three intervening decades didn’t happen. Terry is older, has made something of himself, and isn’t interested in returning to his old ways. We’re reminded, too, that Cobra Kai was initially founded as a response to public sentiment around American servicemen following Vietnam. Times have changed.
Little has changed with Johnny, though. He’s still attempting to be progressive — he makes Miguel’s family fajitas, despite them being Ecuadorian — and progress things with Carmen, which proves a bit more difficult when Miguel, who doesn’t know about their relationship, let’s slip about Johnny’s meeting with Ali. He’s obsessed with being more macho than Daniel, even at the expense of the students — especially Hawk, whom he’s determined to punish, despite him having switched sides — and can only really relate to the dynamic as a re-do of Rocky and Apollo teaming up in Rocky III. It’s a funny idea, but it’s also a bit depressing to see a man suffering from such arrested development trying to figure out how to do what’s best for kids that he genuinely loves but doesn’t know how to relate to.
Of course, it’s the kids who come through in the end, with Hawk leading the charge in building an Okinawan sparring deck from a painting he saw in the Miyagi-Do dojo, and that brings the team together as one, rather than two divided units training independently. It seems, though, that they’ll need to become that united front in order to take on Cobra Kai, especially since Robby is intent on teaching them the deeply-held secrets of Miyagi-Do’s defensive style. You have to know your enemy, after all. And since Terry Silver seems to know Kreese better than anyone, it isn’t much of a surprise that he seems to make the decision to follow him as the episode ends.