After restoring peace in the Valley by settling all dojo rivalries, Cobra Kai risks not having the perfect ending by avoiding one character’s death.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Cobra Kai season 5.
John Kreese’s surprising fake death reveal in Cobra Kai season 5’s closing scenes instills enough excitement and intrigue to look forward to season 6, but it also holds Cobra Kai back from bringing a perfect closure to its five-season run. Following the results of the All Valley Tournament from Cobra Kai season 4, Silver leverages Tori’s win and grows from strength to strength throughout season 5. His pursuit of dojo domination becomes almost impregnable while Daniel fights a losing battle against him.
When desperate times call for desperate measures, Daniel and Johnny visit Kreese in prison to seek his help. However, Kreese’s ego gets the best of him, and, as a result, he burns all bridges with Johnny and Daniel. Cobra Kai season 5’s second half portrays a somewhat reformed Kreese who seems regretful about pushing Johnny away, and in an attempt to find redemption for his mindless acts of violence, he gets stabbed while stopping an altercation between two prisoners. Just when it looks like Kreese got the ending he seemingly deserved, a climactic Cobra Kai season 5 twist reveals he is alive and only faked his death to escape prison.
Kreese’s masterful season 5 finale prison break is a scintillating depiction of his relentless “no mercy” philosophy, but the red herring surrounding his death is a letdown because it avoids bringing a well-rounded conclusion to his long-standing villain arc. Since Kreese is Cobra Kai‘s primary antagonist from the very beginning, his initial guilt towards his past actions implies a proverbial death of his old self. This symbolism becomes his tragic reality when he dies redeeming himself for his sins and proves that no matter what he does to turn his life around, the karma of his bad deeds had to catch up with him someday. Both literally and metaphorically, this would bring Kreese’s Cobra Kai arc to a full circle, but the Netflix show seems to have other plans for him.
Kreese’s Fake Death Could Spell Trouble For Cobra Kai Season 6
By reinstating John Kreese as Cobra Kai‘s villain, the show wastes the opportunity to give him a bittersweet swansong. Cobra Kai seasons 4 and 5 are rife with backstories that make viewers empathize with him and justify his evil deeds. His final walk toward redemption further balances the negatives with the positives in his overarching storyline and makes him a flawed yet somehow likable anti-hero. His fake death dismisses all of these potential prospects for his character and risks stretching his antagonistic narrative. Furthermore, considering how Cobra Kai season 5 resolves all karate rivalries and bad blood, Kreese’s unexpected return only comes off as a forced setup for Cobra Kai season 6.
While the significance of Kreese’s role in Cobra Kai season 6 is yet to be known, he could possibly be one of the main villains, given his history with Kim Da-Eun. With the potential Sekai Taikai in Cobra Kai season 6, Kreese could team up with Kim and raise another Cobra Kai army for the competition, but his outlaw status presents some grave challenges for the collaboration. Cobra Kai‘s strong five-season run suggests that the show’s writers will still find a plausible way to reinstate Kreese in the mix, but only time will tell if his return will be as narratively poignant as his redeeming season 5 arc.