|Season 1, Episode 2|
|Air date||May 2, 2018|
|Written by||Josh Heald |
|Directed by||Jon Hurwitz |
- "Cobra Kai isn't just about karate. It's about a way of life. Take that first lesson. Striking first is the initial step towards victory."
- ―Johnny Lawrence to Miguel Diaz[src]
Strike First is the second episode of the first season of Cobra Kai.
Present day Daniel LaRusso lives a charmed life. That is, until he sees that the Cobra Kai dojo, the source of his teenage angst and rivalry, has been re-established by Johnny Lawrence. Struggling to launch the business, Johnny starts teaching karate to his teenage neighbor Miguel. Daniel faces his former opponent and old offenses are quickly reignited.
The opposite of Johnny's morning, we see Daniel start his day in his mansion while "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" by Dean Martin plays. He wakes up happy next to his wife Amanda, gets dressed with a smile on his face, and makes breakfast for his son Anthony, and his daughter Sam. We also see that he drives an Audi S7, and is well-liked by his staff, and customers. However, it seems he hasn't left the past behind, either, and it all comes flooding back when he drives past a strip mall and sees the sign for Johnny's newly re-established dojo on his way home from work.
We fade to an empty studio and Johnny, clean-shaven and apparently sober, gives Miguel his first karate lesson, and it becomes clear that Miguel hadn't expected to take it so seriously. Johnny attacks Miguel unexpectedly to show the first lesson of Cobra Kai: Strike first. When Miguel uses his inhaler to catch his breath, Johnny throws the inhaler against the wall, saying weakness does not exist inside this dojo. He also tells Miguel that these lessons aren't just for Cobra Kai. They're for everything in life. A health inspector then shows up and tells Johnny that he will need to get the place in order before he can open an "exercise studio." Luckily, Johnny convinces the inspector that Miguel is "an illegal," not a student. The inspector gives Johnny a list of requirements before he can open for business, and notes that this place is going to need a lot of work before he can get the certificate to get the insurance he needs to open.
Daniel and Amanda attend a party at the Encino Oaks Country Club. Daniel bemoans to Amanda the fact that he would have loved to be invited to such an event, but neither of their kids is the least bit interested. Sam stayed home, while Anthony is more interested in his video game. Aisha Robinson, Sam's best friend from school, asks about her presence, but Amanda lies and tells her she is visiting her grandmother to avoid hurting Aisha's feelings. Amanda senses Daniel's mood and asks him what's wrong. Daniel confides in her his concern about Cobra Kai re-opening. The LaRussos leave the party earlier than Sam expected, and when they pull into the driveway, they are surprised to see a lot of cars. Amanda and Anthony go inside, while Daniel puts the car in park, and heads straight for the backyard, and discovers that Sam is throwing a pool party for her new friends. It is clear that Yasmine had convinced Sam to throw the party. Daniel sends everyone home, and Amanda tells her husband that he's overreacting, and there is nothing wrong with Sam wanting to be popular. Daniel somewhat agrees but expresses concern that his daughter will turn into a privileged Encino brat. Amanda says she doesn't want that either, but warns him that if he continues to react the way he did, it could only push her further in that direction. He pictures when Sam was young and he taught her karate.
Johnny has Miguel clean mats, and even fix some dangerous exposed wiring, but unlike Mr. Miyagi, Johnny doesn't have hidden karate techniques in the chores. Miguel sees Johnny's old All-Valley championship trophies and is impressed. Johnny tells him that he won the All-Valley tournament twice, and brags that he didn't lose a single point his Junior year, but quickly changes the subject when Miguel inquires about what happened his Senior year(when he lost to Daniel). Miguel's mom calls, and Miguel lies, telling her that the debate tournament is running late, because his mom doesn't approve of violence. Johnny calls Miguel's ringtone lame, and says he should change it to Guns N' Roses, but Miguel doesn't know what that is.
Sam is video chatting with her friends Yasmine and Moon. Yasmine says that her dad felt bad that she ‘hit a deer’ and messed up her car, so he's buying her a new one. Sam says that she still feels guilty about them rear-ending that guy and driving away. Yasmine thinks the man was on meth and stopping would be a danger to themselves. Daniel comes in to apologize to Sam, but Sam apologizes first for not asking permission. Daniel asks if there's anyone in her friend group he should ‘worry about,’ and Sam tells him that she's been texting this guy, Kyler. Daniel suggests that she invite him over for dinner.
School begins, and Miguel makes friends with the nerdy kids, Eli and Demetri. He attempts to talk to Yasmine, the attractive leader of a group of rich bullies (who Sam is currently friends with) only to be undermined by Kyler and the other kids who roughed him up in the previous episode. Back at the Dojo, Johnny gets a call from the school regarding his rebellious son, Robby Keene. Robby's mother, who has custody of him, did not answer the phone because she was at the bar. Johnny learns that Robby has been picked up for possession of a drug called "Molly" (Ecstasy). Johnny is confused, thinking that "Molly" is a girl's name, and not an illegal drug. Johnny then attempts to tell Robby to clean up his act, but Robby is not the least bit interested in what his estranged father has to say, and hangs up. While back at the Dojo, Johnny gives Miguel a lesson in how to picture his enemy while punching the training dummy.
Daniel invites Kyler to dinner, where he made “his famous LaRusso ponzu toro” with fresh tuna, preparing it with a ceremonial knife that he bought on his "first trip to Okinawa". Kyler declines it, saying that sushi and fish gross him out. This greatly upsets Daniel, who worked hard on it, but he reasons that he did not like fish either, until "a good friend" had him try different Japanese foods. Trying to make small talk anyway, Daniel finds out that Kyler was in a fight with "some guy at a mini-mall" who used karate.
Deducing that it was Johnny, Daniel goes to confront Johnny about his methods. The two argue, and Johnny tries to warn Daniel about the kind of friends his daughter has. In turn, Daniel warns Miguel not to listen to Johnny, or else he will end up just like him, and informs Johnny that their rivalry is not over. Johnny then challenges Daniel on the spot, but Daniel waves him off with a smirk and walks out of the dojo. As the two men stare each other down through the window, Johnny offers a smirk of his own.
- The episode takes its title from the first rule of the Cobra Kai Dojo.
- Daniel directly references the events of The Karate Kid Part II during his dinner with Kyler.
- For promotional reasons, the episode can be watched without a YouTube Premium subscription, and is available worldwide, including in markets where the YouTube Premium service itself is not yet available. Click here to see the full episode.