Cobra Kai Keeps Forgetting Who Its Main Character Is
Cobra Kai season 5 proves that the show has forgotten who its main character is. Arguably the Cobra Kai season with the highest stakes yet, Cobra Kai season 5 saw Daniel, Chozen, and Johnny facing the power of Terry Silver’s expanded Cobra Kai dojo. Even without a tournament, Cobra Kai season 5 managed to deliver several great action sequences and changed the balance of power in the show – but it did so at the cost of sidelining one key Cobra Kai character. With Terry Silver and Daniel LaRusso at the center of season 5, Cobra Kai has made The Karate Kid’s legacy characters the focus of the show – which is a problem.
Between enemies from Daniel LaRusso’s past and the many original Cobra Kai characters, Cobra Kai has lost track of who its most important character is – Miguel Diaz. While Cobra Kai has always focused on a relatively large set of characters, the show was built on Miguel’s story and how the “new kid” changed Johnny Lawrence’s life forever. Cobra Kai season 1 is very much a Miguel story, and a similar thing can be said about Cobra Kai season 2. However, from Cobra Kai season 3 onward, Miguel was sidelined. That is not to say Cobra Kai has completely forgotten Miguel, only that his role in the story now seems small compared to the early seasons of Cobra Kai.
Miguel Was Clearly The New Karate Kid In Cobra Kai
Cobra Kai has mirrored The Karate Kid since its very first episode. In a genius flip of expectations, Cobra Kai season 1 made Johnny Lawrence the new Mr. Miyagi – a reluctant sensei whose life takes a turn after a new neighbor moves into his building. Cobra Kai season 1 was not subtle with its Karate Kid references, and the moment Miguel meets Johnny plays almost exactly like when Daniel met Mr. Miyagi. Miguel was the new kid in school who was being bullied and had no friends, meaning that he was clearly the “karate kid” of this new generation. More than making a thematic callback, Miguel’s entire arc in Cobra Kai season 1 mirrors Daniel’s in The Karate Kid.
Just like Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid, Miguel Diaz found karate a positive way to deal with the struggles of being the new kid in a school. Johnny’s improved Cobra Kai teachings made Miguel more confident, it helped protect Miguel from Kyler and the rest of the bullies, and gave Miguel the opportunity to become a karate champion. The Cobra Kai season 1 finale very much repeated The Karate Kid’s tournament, and it saw Miguel and Robby settling their differences in a fight just like Daniel and Johnny had done 30 years ago. Miguel’s victory in Cobra Kai season 1 is more bittersweet than Daniel’s in The Karate Kid, but still, Miguel was Cobra Kai’s main character.
Cobra Kai Didn’t Know What To Do With Miguel After The School Fight
Miguel’s personal journey, his relationship with Sam, and his rivalry with Robby all culminated in Cobra Kai season 2’s school fight. Arguably the best fight sequence in the whole show, Cobra Kai’s school fight took the characters’ rivalries to a dangerous level and made their clashes personal. More than a great fight scene, Cobra Kai season 2’s school fight served as a conclusion to Miguel’s story. After diving deeper and deeper into Cobra Kai and absorbing John Kreese’s teachings, Miguel had become too different from that kid Johnny had helped a few months ago. Miguel showed mercy to Robby, which tragically led to Miguel’s critical injury in what was Cobra Kai’s most shocking cliffhanger.
The problem, however, is that Cobra Kai didn’t know what to do with Miguel after the fight against Robby in season 2. The shocking cliffhanger was easily resolved in just a few episodes of Cobra Kai season 3, meaning that Miguel’s injury did not have as much of an impact on his story as expected. By the time Miguel was fully recovered and ready to fight again, Cobra Kai had already expanded its set of characters and had many different storylines going on at the same time. Aside from the never-ending rivalry with Robby and the relationship with Sam, there was not much left for Miguel in Cobra Kai seasons 3 and 4.
The Cobra Kai Universe Has Grown Too Big
Cobra Kai sidelining Miguel is a reflection of how big the “Cobra Kai universe” has become. Instead of a story about Johnny Lawrence and his student, Cobra Kai has grown into an ensemble-cast type of show in each several characters get their time to shine. For example, an argument can be made that Robby Keen and Sam LaRusso are now just as central characters to the series as Miguel was in Cobra Kai season 1 – and that is not to mention other names like Tory and Hawk who also receive a lot of screentime. Each of those Cobra Kai characters has its own arcs and rivalries, and there is just so much time available in a 10-episode half-hour series like Cobra Kai.
Cobra Kai’s cast of original characters, which grows larger with each season, is also joined by several returning Karate Kid characters like Chozen, Terry Silver, and Mike Barnes. Whereas Cobra Kai season 1 only had Johnny and Daniel as key returning Karate Kid characters, Cobra Kai season 5 felt like a celebration of the entire Daniel LaRussso Karate Kid trilogy. For example, Terry Silver’s plan in Cobra Kai season 5 was a continuation of his Karate Kid 3 story, and Mike Barnes’ return only works for those who had seen Karate Kid 3.
Cobra Kai Season 6 Should Make Miguel The Focus Again
After three seasons in which Miguel’s story seemed like an afterthought, Cobra Kai season 6 should make Miguel the focus again. Granted, Cobra Kai season 5 dedicated its first two episodes to the long-awaited Miguel’s father reveal, but other than that, there was not much for the character. With Terry Silver now defeated and most of the rivalries settled, Cobra Kai can reduce the scale of the story and go back to basics in the next season. Cobra Kai’s Sekai Taikai will obviously be bigger than the All-Valley, but with Kreese and Sensei Kim as the only villains left, Cobra Kai can dedicate more screen time to Miguel.
If Cobra Kai season 6, which hasn’t been officially announced by Netflix yet, turns out to be the show’s last, then it would be even more important to make Miguel the focus again. There is no better way for Cobra Kai to end than for Miguel’s story to come full circle, as the entire show was built on the dynamic between Miguel and Johnny. That is not to say Miguel’s character development should be reversed and that he should go through all the same challenges from season 1, only that Cobra Kai season 6 could mirror the show’s early seasons as a way to deliver a satisfying ending. One easy way for that to happen is having Miguel win the Sekai Taikai, which would cement Miguel as Cobra Kai’s best fighter and would chime with both The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai season 1.