Less than a year after “Cobra Kai” Season 4 hit Netflix, the karate series is already back and aiming to outdo the crazy, kung-fu action of the 51st All Valley Tournament.
In the two-part Season 4 finale, Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) defeated Robby (Tanner Buchanan) to win the boys tournament for Miyagi-Do, but Cobra Kai walked away the ultimate winner after Tory (Peyton List) beat Sam (Mary Mouser). However, Tory later realizes her victory was rigged after she sees Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) bribe the referee. Meanwhile, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) runs away to Mexico to find his father, and Terry frames Kreese (Martin Kove), landing him in jail for a crime Terry committed.
After agreeing to close Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang after losing the tournament, Johnny (William Zabka) and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) must finally put aside their differences and join forces to take down Terry, as he begins to open more Cobra Kai dojos in Southern California. They’ll also have some help in Season 5 from Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), who’s joining forces with Daniel after appearing in Season 4. And Chozen isn’t the only classic “Karate Kid” character who’s returning: Sean Kanan’s Mike Barnes is also back and joining the battle for the Valley.
Cobra Kai won’t go down without a fight, however. Terry recruits some new senseis to teach the ways of striking hard, striking fast and no mercy. One of them is Alicia Hannah-Kim’s Kim Da-Eun, the first female karate teacher in the show. She will mentor Tory, who’s more conflicted than ever at Cobra Kai in the new season.
With Variety, List previews Tory’s new position in Season 5 and ponders how much longer she’ll be able to play her high-schooler character as she ages in real life.
How is Tory feeling going into Season 5?
All Tory wanted was to win the All Valley to prove herself worthy. She wanted to feel worthy to herself. I’d never really seen Tory lose her fire and her passion, that was the first time I had seen that. She’s very conflicted, doesn’t know whether or not to go back to Cobra Kai. Silver is making Cobra Kai bigger than ever and into something that Tori doesn’t necessarily agree with.
How much longer do you think she can stay with Cobra Kai? Would she ever flip sides to a new team?
Tory seems to be the only person that has been loyal to a dojo on this show. I don’t see her really ever leaving. Her loyalty is to Kreese at the end of the day because Kreese is such a father figure to Tory. Or I guess grandfather figure, but I just can’t see her betraying him in any way.
How does Season 5 go bigger than the previous seasons?
With the All Valley tournament, I thought, “Season 5 is going to be a lot more relaxed on the fighting. I’m probably not going to be with stunts at all.” And then of course the writers just completely turned that around. Especially for the big guys, the older guys, there are just some intense fights. And so many returns of characters from the past that we haven’t seen that are very surprising.
How do the young and old cast get along? Are you guys sharing fighting tips with each other?
I feel like I wouldn’t dare give a tip to any of the older guys. After “The Karate Kid,” a lot of them started training in martial arts, so they’re all martial artists and their kids are martial artists. Ralph is very self-deprecating. He loves to pretend, “Oh, I’m the old guy. I can’t do this anymore.” Billy is definitely not that way, he will never be self-deprecating with his fighting. When I first came in, I was the one that needed some tips and Marty was giving me so much shit. He was like, “We wondered why you were cast as Tory when we saw your first fight scene.”
There were a few scenes with Tory and Amanda LaRusso last season, and it was so good seeing the female characters come together in this male-dominated show. How does that continue this season?
With the new sensei Kim coming in from Korea, she’s such a badass in her own right and really pushing Tory too. Everyone is kind of questioning the champ this season. Sensei Kim pushes me to be better when I want to give up so badly. I love that storyline with Amanda and Tory. Amanda is another person besides Kreese who has given Tory some slack. I still am mindblown that Amanda could still be kind to Tory after everything she’s done to Sam and her family.
Who’s winning round two of Tory vs. Sam?
I think Tory because she’s been training even harder and with all the best senseis in the world now, and Silver is really pushing her. I feel like Sam is kind of taking a break. When you take a break, you pay the price.
A lot of the characters are still in high school, but the cast is getting older. How much longer do you think you’ll be able to play that age?
When we first started, Xolo was still in high school and a couple of the other kids were still in high school, but now all of us are basically out of college. That’s one that I’m really curious about. With the writers I’m like, “What grade are we in now? What semester are we in?” We’re just taking it season by season, but we all look so drastically different each season. I have no idea. I don’t know what they’re gonna do. I would say by next season we graduate, but I don’t know if they would take it past that.
And there has to be a graduation karate fight…
I mean, how could we have any big event and have it end peacefully? I feel like that’s not “Cobra Kai.”