Cobra Kai season 4, episode 10 recap – the ending explained

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: December 31, 2021
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Cobra Kai season 4, episode 10 recap - the ending explained


“The Rise” delivers a perfect finale full of unpredictable turns, emotional heft, and dramatic payoff, all while setting up an exciting foundation for the next season. 

This recap of Cobra Kai season 4, episode 10, “The Rise”, contains spoilers, including a discussion of the Cobra Kai Season 4 ending.

First of all, let me just say this: Cobra Kai knows how to do a finale. It always has, to be fair, from Robby potentially paralyzing Miguel at the end of the second season, to Johnny and Daniel teaming up at the end of the third, this is a show that knows how to resolve the right amount of plot points while also leaving just enough material for subsequent seasons to play with. “The Rise” is very much the perfect version of this strategy. It has all the stellar fight choreography, surprising turns, emotional payoffs, and lingering narrative threads that you could ever need, and it makes the already-confirmed fifth season seem distressingly far away. 

Cobra Kai season 4, episode 10 recap

Anyway, let’s get on with it. “The Rise” opens with hospital machines bleeping, and given the ending of the previous episode, it’s easy to imagine that Miguel is attached to them. But no, it’s Raymond, who has been beaten half to death by Terry Silver. Crucially, a detective is investigating the attack, and keep this in mind, because it’s going to be important later. 

Miguel, on the other hand, is going to be fine — he just has a pulled muscle. He has thirty minutes to recover and decide if he can continue fighting. While he’s waylaid, Robby beats Demetri in a closely contested match, the girls’ final is determined, predictably, to be Tory and Sam, and Kenny reaches the end of his season-long arc. What happens is that backstage, he’s licking his wounds after losing to Robby, and Anthony apologizes to him. Kenny doesn’t take it well, loses it, and beats Anthony up until Robby intervenes. You can see it in Robby’s face that he’s concerned Kenny has taken the whole Cobra Kai no mercy thing too seriously. Robby, who was supposed to be his mentor, has failed him. 

Backstage, Johnny runs into Kreese, and continuing another of the season’s themes, the older man tries to reframe his questionable coaching back in the day — forcing Johnny to fight dirty against Daniel in the final — as him trying to protect him; he knew a loss would cause him to spiral, and he knew a loss was coming, so he did what he could to try and protect Johnny. We’ve seen Kreese’s affection for Johnny manifest in a few ways throughout this season, and we’ll see it come up again in a couple more before we’re done.

Anyway, following this conversation, Johnny gets a little desperate and puts a lot of emotional pressure on Miguel, who he’s desperate to see win, but for the wrong reasons — to spite Daniel and Kreese, mainly. In yet another throwback to the original film, Miguel has one minute to return to the mat, and a countdown timer starts up for maximum drama, but he just… never shows. Hawk progresses to the final to face Robby on the back of this technicality. When Johnny goes backstage, Miguel is gone. He isn’t far away, though — he’s around the corner making amends with Sam, to whom he explains that he didn’t feel as if he was fighting for himself anymore. They share a kiss of reconciliation. 

But back to the tournament. Since Cobra Kai have so many points, they only need to win one match to win the tournament, so Miyagi-Do needs to leave with both male and female champions. Robby and Hawk get things started with an excellently choreographed fight that is almost entirely a showcase of martial prowess rather than a payoff to any particular theme or idea. Hawk does ask for a timeout and ask Daniel what approach he should take since Robby knows all his moves, and Daniel does concede that, since he’s more experienced than Robby in Cobra Kai he should use that, and there’s a very brief moment when a distraction from Kenny prevents Robby from taking the win. But for the most part, the fight is even, fair, and produces a clean winner without any controversy — that winner is Hawk. 

It’s a big fist-pump moment, this, especially after “The Rise” made such a big deal of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME and the two of them needlessly going topless for the final point. Of course, after Miguel “fell” at the end of the previous episode, it made sense that he’d be the one to do the rising, so our expectations are subverted again here. I like this outcome. 

It’s surprisingly the girls’ match where all the emotion is bundled up. Backstage, Amanda talks to Tory, who we learn is seeing someone on Amanda’s recommendation to get help with her mother and such, and the only thing Amanda wants in return is for Tory to play by the rules — which seems fair enough, even if a little foreboding. On the mats, Daniel talks with Johnny and politely requests his help. They both apologize to one another after spending all season believing that doing so shows weakness, and they’re announced together, both as two-time All Valley Championship winners, as Sam’s senseis. Honestly, I was pretty emotional at this point, and when Sam hugged her father after he finally admitted that he wanted her to be her, rather than another version of him, it felt like such a strong payoff to all this season’s development that I almost applauded. Just brilliant stuff. 

Anyway, the match. It’s pretty even all the way through. Sam nips back and forth to Daniel and Johnny a couple of times, but their advice is basically a reiteration of what they said earlier — she needs to embrace all of what she has learned and form her own style, guided by her own instincts. And then, of course, the shenanigans begin. When Sam scores what is clearly a match-winning point, Tory is ruled as being out-of-bounds, so the match continues. At two apiece, Tory lands an illegal elbow which she’s adamant was unintentional. Silver tells her to do it again, and he’s confident she won’t be penalized for it, but Kreese, of all people, recognizes that this is wrong, and stands up to Silver. He has a flashback to how he treated Johnny when he didn’t win back in the day, and this time, he tells Tory to do what she wants to do. She does, and she wins, seemingly fairly. She becomes the first female All-Valley karate champion. Tellingly, it’s Silver who gives the acceptance speech and announces they’ll be opening Cobra Kai franchises throughout the valley. 

Sam is devastated, obviously — they did everything right, and yet she still lost. How? Well, it turns out because of Silver. When Tory heads back inside the venue to retrieve her bags, she overhears Terry and the referee having a conversation that confirms Silver paid the ref off — hence the out-of-bounds call. Her entire win is delegitimized at that moment. 

Cobra Kai Season 4 ending

“The Rise” ends with a flurry of scenes that set the emotional and narrative stakes for the next season. First, Johnny goes to Cobra Kai, which has now been abandoned since they’re moving to a new location — Robby, who followed him, explains this. The reason Robby followed his dad is that he’s upset about Kenny. He realizes he screwed up. He breaks down about how he felt, the hate, the mistakes, and Johnny, not knowing what else to do, tells Robby to blame him. “I’m sick of blaming you, dad,” he whimpers, as Tanner Buchanan delivers an excellent burst of emotion that ends with father and son crying and holding one another in a hug that both of them probably need. 

Elsewhere, Silver and Kreese have a celebratory drink, during which the matter of Kreese’s supposed weakness comes up yet again. Silver confesses that he knows what his weakness is — Johnny Lawrence, thus paying off that earlier conversation and some of the other legwork the season has done in this regard. And at that moment, blue flashing lights turn up. As it turns out, Silver made a bargain with Raymond. He would allow him to become a Cobra Kai, only if he said that it was Kreese who beat him down. Just like that, Kreese is taken away in cuffs, and Silver takes over Cobra Kai. He has been a tremendous villain this season, and this is his moment to really shine. 

When Johnny finally gets home, Miguel has left Carmen a note explaining that he has gone to Mexico to try and find his biological father. Presumably, all of the season’s parental shenanigans have left him in need of real answers. The problem, though, as Carmen explains to Johnny, is that Miguel’s father doesn’t even know he exists. On top of that, he’s also apparently a pretty bad dude. Nevertheless, Johnny is going to look for Miguel. 

And that leaves Daniel. His final scene of the season finds him at Mr. Miyagi’s grave, telling the headstone that, despite the deal he made, he won’t be stepping down as a sensei. He won’t be closing the doors of Miyagi-Do. For once, he’ll be going on the offense to take Cobra Kai down once and for all, and he has a friend to help him do it — Chozen. 

You can stream Cobra Kai season 4, episode 10, “The Rise” exclusively on Netflix. If you have any thoughts about the Cobra Kai Season 4 ending, let us know in the comments.

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