Scene Breakdown: Robby Keene’s Realization in Cobra Kai’s “The Rise”

Cobra Kai “The Rise” Spoilers Ahead

Still of Robby Keene in Cobra Kai "The Rise"

Cobra Kai continues to go strong for four seasons now, but it begs the question—when will it end? We ask this because there’s a reason The Karate Kid trilogy remains iconic, and it’s primarily due to quality over quantity. We never need (or want) it to become a franchise like The Fast and Furious films, and that’s not to say there’s something wrong with those, but in some cases, the shorter, the better. And for Cobra Kai, for these characters especially, it’s easy to wonder how far is too far when each season amplifies the drama in a way that’s actually terrifying. (The school brawl isn’t something I’ll ever recover from now that I think about it.) 

But the final scene at an abandoned Cobra Kai dojo between father and son proves that the changes can be more permanent this time. This time, when forces are combined, Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang can put their issues aside in favor of defeating the true villain of the story.

While we don’t know if this equates to Robby leaving behind Cobra Kai or if he’ll be a double fighter of sorts, but Tanner Buchanan’s performance tells us that he’s reached his wits’ end. He’s at a place where his pain and anger are too much to bear, and he realizes that this rift does more damage than good. The tearful confession and the hollowness in his eyes allow viewers to see that right now—he’s just a kid. He’s always been a kid. They all are, and this is too much. It’s been too much since the 80s, and it has to end at some point. It has to stop for the adults too. 

Still of Robby Keene and Johnny Lawrence in Cobra Kai "The Rise"

Cobra Kai’s “The Rise” makes it clear that if nothing else, father and son will at least try. Johnny’s grown significantly since we reunited with him in the TV series, and William Zabka does a remarkable job of showing us those necessary changes through subtle displays of vulnerability throughout the episodes. And in this scene, we’re looking into the eyes of a father who wants nothing more than for his son’s pain to subside. 

Both Zabka and Buchanan broke me in their means of encompassing just how much adoration and lost time lies between them, making it clear that if they were to go through this together, there’s nothing they wouldn’t successfully do. Robby’s journey has effortlessly been my favorite of the kids’ because his demons have been stronger than anyone else’s, and watching him navigate through them as best he could without substantial parental guidance has been heartbreaking. And there’s nothing more I’ve personally wanted than to see him and Miguel patch things up. The two have so many similarities and can understand each other in ways no one else could, so collaborating could truly work wonders. I’m talking about Nathan and Lucas Scott levels of greatness. Make it happen, Cobra Kai.


Robby realizes how toxic and misguided the teachings of Cobra Kai are, and he understands that if he doesn’t help himself right now, there’s no turning back. Kenny’s turn frightens him, but more than anything, it’s who he’s become that makes him question who he wants to be. Robby’s journey has always been about finding a place to belong, and for the first time, in the arms of his father—he does. It’s a brief scene but colossal in what it showcases. Robby Keene is home. He might not stay here for long, he might bounce back and forth a few times, but he knows he’s safe here.

Still of Johnny Lawrence and Robby Keene in Cobra Kai "The Rise"

It’s also worth noting how much growth Johnny exhibits by admitting that Robby and Daniel’s relationship was a good thing. In vocalizing that he got in the way of it, he distills that teenage rivalries are nothing compared to his son’s well-being. And Robby knows that despite his father’s mistakes in the past, he loves him with everything he is. This conversation opens the door for better prospects as it focuses on vulnerability in a space that once harped on “no mercy” as a motto.

Showing us the flashback of Johnny writing the words on the wall then ending the scene by panning out to two men hugging in the place that was once marred by hatred is a concrete exhibition of the fact that they’re stronger at this moment than ever before. The symbolism and heart that this scene showcases thus pay tribute to the episode’s title. Together is how they’ll truly rise.

What are your thoughts on this scene in Cobra Kai’s “The Rise?” Let us know in the comments below.


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