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Recap / Cobra Kai S1E4 "Cobra Kai Never Dies"

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Robby Keene is working at an electronics repair shop where a customer approaches him with a laptop. Robby obtains the man's password and takes the laptop out back, where he meets with his delinquent friends (having traded places with one of them who actually works at the store) and proceeds to sell the laptop to the highest bidder online. As they leave, Robby picks up a discarded Cobra Kai flyer and reacts with disdain at his father's image.

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After returning a badly beaten Miguel home to his distraught mother, who demands that he stay away from her son, Johnny walks the streets in a drunken haze. Vexed at the sight of a LaRusso billboard, Johnny encounters a man spray-painting graffiti on a wall and offers to trade his beer for the man's spray can.

As Daniel drives to work the next morning, he is livid to see that someone has defaced his billboard by painting a giant penis in his mouth. He discusses the matter with his wife who tries to downplay its importance, but they ultimately agree to paint over it. Later, the two of them meet with some marketing executives who show them the latest television ad from Tom Cole, a rival auto dealer whose ad is a blatant mockery of Daniel's own, and who also ordered 100 sausages delivered to LaRusso Auto as a way of poking fun at the billboard. Suspecting that Cole is responsible for the vandalism, Daniel confronts him at his dealership, and their war of words culminates with Daniel spin-kicking a drink out of Cole's hand.

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As Miguel recovers from the beating he suffered from Kyler's gang, his mother confronts him. Despite Miguel's protests and his grandmother's unwavering support, his mother forbids him to train with Johnny anymore. Meanwhile, Johnny receives yet another call from the school claiming that Robby has been absent for an entire month and could be held back if he does not return. Johnny travels to his ex-wife Shannon's house to convince Robby to go back to school, but Robby adamantly refuses. Johnny then tracks down Shannon at a local bar, but she is extremely bitter and rejects his appeal to help their son at this point in their lives, telling him it is too late and that there are "no do-overs."

At school, Kyler and Sam agree to a movie date. Though still angry with her father for embarrassing her at the dance, she is disturbed when she witnesses Kyler and his gang bullying Miguel and his friends. She questions Kyler about his conduct during the movie, but he dismisses her concerns before attempting to grope her. Sam easily fends him off and storms out of the theater, ending their relationship. She then reconciles with her father.

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Seeking the forgiveness he could not attain from his son and his ex-wife, Johnny returns to Miguel's home and pleads with his mother to let Miguel train with him again. The next day, Miguel reappears at the dojo having finally received his mother's blessing. Surmising that Miguel was defeated because he lacked defense, Johnny vows to teach him that "the best defense is more offense." Back at LaRusso, Daniel learns that Johnny was responsible for defacing his billboard.


This episode contains the following tropes:

  • Adults Are Useless: Brought up by Miguel when Carmen suggests he turn to the school for protection.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Johnny method of teaching Miguel proper defense resolves around teaching more offense.
    Johnny: And the best defense... Hai! Is more offense.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Johnny looks at the camera as he begs someone for a second chance. Much of what he says is meant to suggest he's talking to his ex-wife (especially "I know there's no do-overs", which is a call-back to a previous conversation between them). However, as soon as Johnny states "That kid is the only person in the world who's never given up on me" (which definitively rules out Robby), the viewpoint switches to reveal the mom to whom he's pleading his case isn't Robby's, but Miguel's.
  • Blatant Lies: Shannon Keene says that she was looking for a bar-tending position at one of her usual bars. One of the bartenders blows her cover right away.
  • Calling the Old Man Out : When Johnny tries to make him go to school, Robby makes a very good point about Johnny never being there for him.
  • Curse Cut Short: Daniel, when he spies the defaced billboard.
    Daniel: MOTHERF-
  • Darkest Hour: Cobra Kai does nearly die in this episode, both Johnny and Miguel are at their respective low points, and Robby goes further down the path of being a career criminal.
  • Downer Beginning: The episode opens with Johnny delivering Miguel to his home after getting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Kyler and his gang during the Halloween dance in the lockerroom. As a result, Carmen, Miguel's mother, forbids him from practicing Karate, and Cobra Kai is nearly shut down.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: What Johnny is doing after carrying a badly beaten Miguel home.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Even if the episode spent a lot of time going over the aftermath of Miguel's beat down, the lewd graffiti on Daniel's billboard, and Robby's continued downward spiral, the episode ends with the graffiti wiped off of Daniel's billboard, Cobra Kai back on its feet and Miguel able, ready and eager to resume his training.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Even if it was done as part of a stupid marketing gimmick, Tom Cole has a point when he says that owning a drought-resistant cactus is a responsible plant to own, especially since California is currently going through a long drought.
    • Even if they are trying to dodge responsibility for the role in their son's downward spiral, both Johnny and Shannon are right about each other's failings as parents. Especially Shannon when she points out that Johnny gave up on day one.
  • Kid Has a Point:
    • When Carmen is caring for her injured son, she suggests turning to the school for protection. Miguel says that would only make things worst. Considering how useless the school has been to take care of the rampant bullying problem, Miguel has an excellent point here.
    • Also, Robby pointing out that neither of his parents give much of a crap about him.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Daniel's, to Amanda trying to cheer him up.
    You'll blow the competition away!
  • Not Big Enough for the Two of Us: Inverted in the conversation between Tom and Daniel.
    The Valley's big enough for two auto kings! Right, Danny?
  • Pet the Dog: One of the first clear glimpses of Johnny's Hidden Heart of Gold is when he watches a father bonding with his young son at a diner where he was eating supper. The bittersweet look on his face shows that he's deeply regretful of how he's let his relationship with Robby fall apart, and it spurs him to appeal to Miguel's mother for a second chance at training the kid.
    • Robby's Hidden Heart of Gold is much, much deeper, but there's an inkling he was once an honest kid. When his friends suggest taking money from all the buyers, then giving the stolen laptop to the person who shows up first, Robby's question is "What about the other two?"
  • Precision F-Strike: Robby gets one.
    It's my fuckin' dad.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • After Miguel comes home beaten senseless, Carmen forbids Miguel from doing Karate with Johnny, and regards him as a loser. Bringing somebody's kid home badly hurt and basically admitting you were at fault will not endear you to them. Miguel was also Cobra Kai's only paying customer at this time. As a result, Cobra Kai nearly had to close.
    • Johnny comments to Miguel "You got your ass kicked because you didn't have any defense" towards the end of the episode. Having good defensive skills is critical to being a skilled martial artist. You will get your ass kicked if you have no defense.
    • Being an asshole bully is a sure way of putting an end to your relationship. Which is what Sam did when she discovered that Kyler's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing all along.
  • Title Drop: Miguel gives it when Johnny leaves depressed and dejected so he can keep training.
    Cobra Kai Never Dies!
  • Underestimating Badassery: Cole's assumption that Daniel doesn't actually know karate is instantly proven wrong when Daniel roundhouse kicks Cole's drink out of his hand.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Not shown in this episode, but Sam's blocks of Kyler's grab hands show she's had the Miyagi classic drilled into her muscle memory. It's later revealed she trained with Daniel when she was 8.

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