Directed by Josh Heald
noun. A slight trembling movement or sound, especially caused by fear.
noun (obsolete). A group of cobras.
In a flashback to 1979 in Encino Hills, California, 12-year-old Johnny Lawrence goes on a bike ride where he discovers the original Cobra Kai dojo. In the present day, he observes the new crop of students drawn to his dojo, but denounces them all as "losers" and "nerds". He openly ridicules Miguel's friend Eli, who has an unsightly scar from a cleft lip surgery, which in turn draws an objection from his friend Demetri. After he challenges Johnny's authority, Johnny orders Demetri to hit him and quickly flips him to the ground as a lesson to the others. Demetri then quits the dojo, claiming that as long as he is friends with Miguel, no one at school will bother him anyway. As if to demonstrate the point, a battered and bruised Kyler spots the pair, but meekly turns and walks away.
Meanwhile, Daniel has resumed his regular training routine but yearns for someone to train with. He approaches Sam, but she is too dejected by having become a target of Yasmine's cyberbullying to participate. His wife and his young son Anthony are also uninterested. At the car dealership, Robby has seemingly become a model employee, but Daniel's loutish cousin Louie begins to haze him by suggesting that he move one of the cars in the crowded showroom closer to the front window, as a favor to Daniel. Robby obligingly enters the car and turns on the engine, but Daniel quickly intervenes and scolds him for the reckless act, causing Robby to quit. Upon realizing the truth of the matter, Daniel goes after him to apologize but accidentally startles Robby, prompting the boy to wheel around with his fists raised. Daniel talks him down and corrects a flaw in Robby's punching technique, and the two reconcile.
At school, Sam finds herself without a partner in science lab, but Miguel volunteers to take her into his group with Demetri. Sam thanks Miguel for standing up for her in the lunch room, but playfully points out a flaw in his fighting technique and the two begin to bond. Back at the dojo, Johnny is dismayed that there are fewer students than the day before, with many having quit due to his degrading teaching style. He points out Eli (whom he has nicknamed "Lip") as a positive example of a non-quitter, but when the boy objects to the name, Johnny encourages him to "flip the script" and do something to take the focus away from his scar. Instead, Eli walks out in humiliation. After class, Miguel stands up for his friends by telling Johnny "You don't know what it's like to be us." Later that night, Johnny returns home and has a flashback to his childhood where he asks his stepfather if he can take karate lessons, only to be mocked and berated.
At LaRusso, Louie is forced to apologize to Robby for tricking him, but gives Robby the task of hand delivering the company sales report to Daniel's house that night as a peace offering. When Robby arrives, he finds Daniel in the midst of a kata session, which intrigues him. Upon revealing that the sales report was in fact another prank by Louie, Daniel invites Robby to stay and learn about kata, and Robby accepts.
The next day at Cobra Kai finds even fewer students in attendance, but this time Johnny blames himself. Though he makes no apologies for his harsh methods, he tells his students that he used to be weak just like them, and that with training, Cobra Kai can help them find their true power. At that moment, Eli re-enters the dojo with a blue mohawk and a cocky new attitude, thus earning Johnny's approval and the new nickname of Hawk. After triumphantly reciting the Cobra Kai creed, Johnny prepares to lead his students in another training session.
- Anything but That!: Daniel invites Amanda to do some karate training together, as they have done it before. Amanda then reminds him the last time they got hot and heavy in the dojo, which resulted in Anthony, and the look on Daniel's face indicates he very much does NOT want another trip down that path.
- Bait-and-Switch: Towards the end, it seems like Sam gets another harassing message about the rumors about her. Instead, to her delight, it's Miguel sending her a pig Animoji about the dissection.
- Both Sides Have a Point: Miguel is correct calling Johnny out for insulting his new students, many of whom quit due to his bullying. However, Johnny is later proven correct in that it's shown to be effective at weeding the weaker ones out.
- Call-Back: Seeing Daniel's success, Robby assumed that Daniel came from money and was surprised to learn he grew up in Receda and Newark, NJ before that. Daniel's response: "Things aren't always as they seem."
- Cerebus Retcon: It turns out the reason Johnny always had his headphones and cassette player on his possession was so he could tune out his stepfather's verbal abuse when it became too difficult to handle. This detail was always intended by Zabka, who wrote a backstory for his character all the way back in 1984, to get a handle on Johnny for The Karate Kid.
- Coitus Ensues: Retrospective example; this was apparently how Daniel's son Anthony was conceived, after his mom and dad had gone to the mat while practicing some karate ten years ago...
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: How Johnny instructs his class. In the beginning, he frequently assigns degrading nicknames to his students and bullies them. Even after he softens up and takes a kinder approach, he is still quite a tough instructor.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Eli leaves the dojo and returns with a mohawk, signaling his transformation into "Hawk."
- Face Palm: Johnny does this out of frustration when his first class has no clue what he means by fall in/line up.
- Fake Shemp: "Kreese" is seen from the back in the flashback to Johnny's first sight of the Cobra Kai dojo.
- Godwin's Law: Demitri tells Johnny "The Nazis lost the war" when Johnny's belligerent method of instruction proves too much for him.
- Good Parents: Johnny's mother Laura was revealed to be have been, even if she spoiled him a little bit. She provided some much needed love, understanding and encouragement to her son. She also did her best to protect Johnny from his abusive and uncaring stepdad.
- Headphones Equal Isolation: As a child, Johnny used to wear headphones to isolate his stepfather's verbal abuse.
- Hypocritical Humor: Demitri. Mocking Eli's lip scar? Totally a Nazi move. Calling Sam the "blowjob girl"? 100% kosher.
- I Just Want to Be Badass: Turns out to be the reason Johnny joined Cobra Kai when he was 12 years old. He encourages this outlook on his students.
- Insistent Terminology: It's "Sensei" Lawrence, not "Mr." Lawrence.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Demetri's snarking to Johnny about how it's not okay to mock people is met with the reply that not everyone gives a damn about what he, or society is general, says is "okay" to do. When Demetri continues to mouth off, Johnny gets in his face and very forcefully proves his point.
- While this led him to getting hit by Johnny, Demetri is still correct that verbally and physically abusing clients isn't exactly a good business practice.
- Meaningful Name: "Quiver", as pointed out in the title sequence, means a large group of cobra snakes.
- Offing the Mouth: While Johnny didn't kill Demetri, the argument can easily be made that he brought Johnny's wrath upon himself
- Reality Ensues:
- A mutual case of when Poor Communication Kills: after the fight in the school cafeteria goes viral, a bunch of bullied kids rush to learn what Miguel knows. However, Johnny's degrading attitude towards them causes many of them to quit. It turns out disrespecting your students will not keep them around. On the same token, it is a bad idea to disrespect your instructor, especially when said instructor is a master martial artist.
- When Johnny tells his class to "fall in" during their first lesson, they have no idea what he means.
- Sam still has to face the consequences of the nasty rumors Kyler has spread about her, via stupid pranks and brutal cyberbullying.
- Bullies like Kyler typically rely on having an overwhelming power advantage to select their victims. Once Miguel beats the hell out of him in front of everybody, Kyler avoids Miguel like the plague.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: A lot of students quit Cobra Kai from Johnny's abuse.
- Take That!: Amanda says that Daniel once described her spin class as "a long sweaty ride to nowhere."
- This Is Gonna Suck: Miguel's reaction when Demetri keeps mouthing off to Johnny.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Miguel delivers a much-needed one to Johnny about how his style of instructing is driving students away, thus helping him become a better instructor."You don't know what it's like to be us."
- The Reveal: After Miguel accuses Johnny of not understanding what it's like to be an outcast like the Cobra Kai students, a flashback reveals that he actually was just like them before he joined the dojo.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Johnny starts the episode verbally browbeating and bullying the large collection of new students to his dojo, but gradually comes to realize he's doing it wrong and manages a more positive speech and style at the end of the episode. He is still a Drill Sergeant Nasty though.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Before joining Cobra Kai, Johnny was a meek social outcast who was abused by his stepfather but loved by his mother.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Johnny got the receiving end from Miguel for alienating potential students.
- Won't Get Fooled Again: Notably averted, as Louie manages to prank Robby twice.
Cobra Kai students: YES, SENSEI!