And so begins the humanization of John Kreese. After being the pantomime dame of the original films (especially Part III) and the series so far, we are finally getting some layers to Martin Kove’s Kreese.
The episode starts with a flashback to 1965 and we see a yellow car pull up to a diner and you think we are about to get some Miyagi backstory but out gets an aggressive, loud mouth jock. This jock is then approach by army recruiters so he must be Kreese. But no, he screws up an army leaflet and throws it on the floor. He then bullies the diner’s cleaner and knocks him to the floor. It turns out this young cleaner (Barrett Carnahan) is Kreese and it is he who picks up the recruitment papers. So is this going to be the classic case of the bully is the way they are because they themselves were bullied? No, it looks like it is going to be deeper than that.
Later in the episode we see the young Kreese witness the jock slapping about his girlfriend. Kreese is still a good man at this point and stands up for the girl. He fights the jock and his friends and starts a relationship with the girl before leaving to join the army and go to Vietnam. It is going to be the horrors of war that have broken Kreese, this is something that makes the character redeemable.
In the present day part of the story we see Kreese reaching out to Tory (Peyton List) who has been expelled from school following the fight. We get some added dimensions to her character as well as it is revealed that she is caring for her sick mother and raising her younger brother. She is also being sexual harassed by her buildings superintendent over payment of rent. Tory and Kreese bond over both having to care for sick mothers and Kreese says his didn’t recover. Kreese then solves Tory’s rent problems through intimidation and convinces her to return to Cobra Kai.
The other half of the episode we get a classic buddy cop team up as Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny (William Zabka) unite in their efforts to find Robbie. They visit a prison, get into a car chase, and fight some goons in car workshop. It’s all very Eighties and delivers on the promise of seeing the hero and villain of the original film fighting together.
We close out the episode with Johnny visiting the now out of a coma Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) in hospital and promising him that he will be able to walk again and Daniel tracks down Robbie (Tanner Buchanan) and makes him the promise that everything will be alright while he is being arrested.
We are now set for the rest of the season with three very different father figures who will need to make true on their promises to their surrogate children.