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Cobra Kai season 4 trailer sets up a clash of styles

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Can Johnny and Daniel combine forces, as well as their karate teachings?

Cobra Kai season 4 is shaping up to be a clash of styles as much as substance. Can Johnny and Daniel teach a combined version of their karate principles? Will Cobra Kai co-opt, and corrupt, Miyagi-do’s approach? Can Karate Kid Part III heel Terry Silver lure Daniel-san back to the dark side?

It all culminates in the 51st Annual All-Valley Under-18 Karate Championship, whose organizers have, evidently, made some controversial change to its format. Whatever that is, we’ll have to find out when Cobra Kai season 4 premieres Dec. 31 on Netflix. It’s a safe assumption they’re not voting to give out participation trophies. This is a karate dojo, not a knitting class, after all.

Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) is season 4’s big callback character, whose origin story with Kreese (Martin Kove) was revealed through a series of flashbacks in season 3. Older fans might remember Silver as the big-bad from the 1989 picture, who steps in to corrupt and discredit Daniel (Ralph Macchio) by inviting him to join the Cobra Kai dojo. Thursday’s trailer suggests those two still have unfinished business from 32 years ago.

Also, it’s a welcome sign that Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) plays a more central role in season 4’s story. He spent most of season 3 getting his ass kicked in juvie detention. Of all characters in Cobra Kai, Buchanan’s has most earned the anger and resentment he’s brought to his scenes. And Daniel, as Robbie’s father figure, and Johnny, as his actual dad, have earned whatever payback is coming thanks to their multiple failures with him.

But let’s not forget Tory (Peyton List), who showed some substantive fear and vulnerability in season 3, which she covers up with relentless aggression on the mat. After their scarring battles in seasons 2 and 3, Tory and Samantha LaRusso (Mary Mouser) are on deck for a tiebreaker, likely at the All-Valley.

All 10 episodes of Cobra Kai season 4 become available Dec. 31 on Netflix. In addition to everyone mentioned above, characters returning to the ensemble cast include Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), Hawk (Jacob Bertrand), Demetri (Gianni DeCenzo), Amanda LaRusso (Courtney Henggeler), Carmen Diaz (Vanessa Rubio), and Kyler (Joe Seo).