Cobra Kai season 5’s third episode, “Playing With Fire”, ended with a tribute to one of its crew. The message, which appeared on screen prior to the credits, read ‘In Memoriam Jeff Kay 1965-2021.’ Kay died of a heart attack in October 2021, partway through the production of Cobra Kai season 5.
Cobra Kai has paid tribute before – most notably to Tommy actor Rob Garrison – but Jeff Kay may not be a recognizable name to many thanks to his work behind the camera instead of in front of it.
He was, as per IMDb (opens in new tab), the third episode’s first assistant director. He also had credits on the season’s fifth episode “Extreme Measures” and on shows such as Numb3rs, NCIS, and American Housewife across a career that spanned decades.
Actor Jewel Shepard paid tribute to Jeff Kay on Twitter (opens in new tab)while also giving fans a peek behind the curtain on one of TV production’s most thankless and unheralded positions: the assistant director.
“Directors set the tone for the project, but a 1st AD is the pulse of a production,” she wrote on Twitter about her friend. “A beloved AD is one who can via his energy and enthusiasm as well as knowledge can keep people invigorated to continue a 15 hour day going 5 days a week, through, pandemics, problems, etc. on budget.”
For more on the latest season, be sure to check out our complete breakdown of the Cobra Kai season 5 ending. Plus, there’s a full spoiler breakdown with co-creators Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg and talk of their new Netflix show Obliterated.