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'Cobra Kai': Critics praise knockout baddie, narrative complexity of Season 4 ahead of Netflix return

Season 4 of the Karate Kid sequel series arrives on Netflix Friday, Dec. 31.

By Josh Weiss
Cobra Kai S4 PRESS

Critics are in agreement: Season 4 of Cobra Kai (arriving on Netflix this Friday) will sweep the legs out from audiences — both nostalgically and narratively. Described as a return to form for the Karate Kid sequel series, the latest batch of 10 episodes feature the return of Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry Silver, the manipulative villain who attempted to sabotage the sacred teacher-student relationship between Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi in 1989's Part III.

Silver is cited as a high point of the new season, mainly because the character is treated with more nuance, despite the fact that he hasn't really changed his obnoxious ways. He and John Kreese (Martin Kove) are now training up their own pool of students to take down Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence's (William Zabka) dojo of talent in the 51st annual All Valley Under 18 Karate with a revolutionary twist!

With a fifth season having already wrapped production, reviewers can't wait to see where the show goes next. Season 4 currently holds a rare 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes (Season 1 has the same percentage with Seasons 2 and 3 both sitting at 90 percent).

Head below to see what critics are saying...

"This new season of Cobra Kai most certainly has Netflix DNA for better and for worse. Still, the heart and soul of what makes the series what it is, is still present. A different kind of hokeyness is evident in Season 4, but it’s met by more complex emotional journeys and unexpected team-ups that will leave fans counting down the days until Season 5." -Amelia Emberwing, IGN

"There’s nothing quite as bonkers as Season 2’s high-school rumble (the Jets and Sharks have nothing on these warring dojos), but this fourth year is a glossier affair, capped with a show-stopping finale that somehow manages to raise the stakes yet again as it sets the scene for Season 5. Begun this karate war has." -James Dyer, Empire Magazine

"Although it meandered a bit on its way to the finale, I still ended the 10th episode feeling like the show had been reborn. That’s largely thanks to Terry Silver, as well as story-resetting scenes and chemistry involving Johnny, Daniel, and Robbie. And there’s not just a visual cliffhanger to be quickly resolved, like the end of season 2. There’s real ground, new ground to break, especially with Kenny and Anthony, next year." -Owen S. Good, Polygon

"The best addition to the Netflix show is Terry Silver, a fan-favorite from the original movies who becomes a much more fleshed-out character here. In Karate Kid III, Silver was pure evil and more than a little unhinged. In Cobra Kai, he’s a much more balanced character who initially resists returning to the world of high school karate before diving in fist-first and revealing himself to be eviler than ever." -Jake Kleinman, Inverse

"There are many more intriguing Cobra Kai Season 4 subplots that would constitute spoilers. There's a fight in pretty much each of the 10 episodes, as the cast and choreographers have had more training to pull off such feats. With Season 5 already wrapped production in Atlanta, Season 4 provides a satisfying conclusion while opening up compelling new story ideas." -Fred Topel, United Press International

"Despite the whiffed punches in its scripting, Cobra Kai remains highly entertaining. It’s a charming, easy binge with fun fights. Johnny and Daniel’s dynamic is disappointingly repetitive, but there’s still a lot to enjoy here. Hopefully season five adds some new moves to its katas." -Reyzando Nawara, The Spool

Season 4 of Cobra Kai premieres on Netflix this coming Friday — Dec. 31.