Cobra Kai Season Finale Review: Redemption



F*ck yeah, we finally are getting the Johnny and Daniel team up we’ve wanted! 


New allegiances, a little redemption, and nostalgia were the name of the game for Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 9 and Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 10.


It was a wonderful crescendo, which make the third season feel like a warm- up for a truly epic fourth season.


With the knowledge that they were renewed for a fourth season, Cobra Kai could take their time building up the story at a preferable pace with the comfort and assurance of knowing they have time.


These days, there isn’t certainty, but since they’re already filming the next season, hopefully, Netflix won’t sucker punch us like with other series. Things are getting interesting.


We got our Ali payout. Just when it was seeming as though she wouldn’t make a physical appearance, Ali came back in town for the holidays.


For some reason, the timeline was confounding, so the sudden Christmas theme came as a bit of a surprise.


Initially, it seemed as though Ali had real interest in rekindling something with Johnny, and it was a bit stressful given the progress Johnny made with Carmen.

What’s the matter, sensei? Can’t let your guard down or too scared?

Carmen


Carmen and Johnny spent a glorious night together, and their morning after scene was one of the sweetest they had. Carmen has a way of seeing right through Johnny and rather than assuming the worst of him, she called him out on his fear of failing in a relationship.


Johnny is always afraid he’s going to screw up a good thing, and that’s what he considers Carmen. He also knows that if he messes up, it affects his relationship with Miguel too.


In some ways, it’s a good thing that Ali came into the picture when she did. Johnny spent the day reconnecting with her and feeling young again, but as she mentioned, the past should remain there. They can’t go back.


For nostalgia’s sake, it was fun. They had a few heated moments and a near-kiss, but overall, they were two old friends reconnecting.


And the double date with Daniel and Amanda at the holiday party was the best. We got both Daniel and Ali’s perspectives on why they parted ways, and Ali didn’t mind taking a few jabs at both of her exes.


Ironically, Ali is what it took for Johnny and Daniel to let bygones be bygones. She was right. They both have their version of whatever happened between them, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.


She’s also right about how similar they are. They have more in common than either of them care to admit.

Ali: This is exactly the problem. You say one thing, and then you say the opposite. You both think there’s only one side to the story.
Johnny: I know. There’s two.
Ali: No, there’s three. There’s your side, and there’s your side, and then there’s the truth. And the truth is maybe you to recognize parts of yourself in each other, and maybe you always like what you see. I guess it’s possible some small part of all of this is my fault.
Daniel: Yeah. Me too.


I love how the parallels also extended to Daniel and Miguel. Miguel couldn’t reconcile Johnny as the rich kid because of who his sensei is now. And it surprised him how much his life story mirrored that of Daniel.


Ali could’ve been a hurricane — one more thing that got between Johnny and Daniel, or she could’ve caused issues in either men’s relationships too, but she was a blessing.


It’s such a refreshing take to have first loves return and not cause needless drama. Ali and Amanda had no tension between them and hit it off nicely. They’ll probably remain friendly.


Daniel and Kumiko had some sweet moments, but there wasn’t a point where his marriage was jeopardized. It’s all very mature and far from the traditional drama most shows resort to using.


The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as Kreese and his little minions upped the ante with their villainy.


At the end of the day, it seems the kids who faced a rough lifestyle are the ones who connect no matter what.


Hawk can get as many tattoos as he likes and dye his hair whatever he chooses, but he’ll always be Eli, the middle-class suburban kid.

The enemy of your enemy is your friend.

Kreese


It pales in comparasion to the “wrong side of the tracks” characters like Kreese, Tory, and Robby. Hawk couldn’t understand how easily they welcomed Robby into the fold.


Sadly, Robby fits in with Cobra Kai perfectly right now.


It’s absurd that Robby and Tory participated in Kreese’s cobra challenge when they’re both on probation, but they drank the Kreese Kool-Aid.


Daddy issues are a bitch. He gives them all the attention they think they need, and so they’re moldable.


Hawk saw that Robby was Kreese’s new pet, and he was no longer the best thing at Cobra Kai.


It was critical for his eventual moment of redemption.


Sam and Miguel rekindling their little romance is neither here nor there. Daniel was a mood and a half, trying to figure out what the hell Sam was doing with her revolving door of karate kicking boyfriends.

Sam: Come on, Dad. It’s not 1984.
Daniel: Look you’re growing up now. You’re a young woman, I get it. It just feels like in this past year it’s been Kyler. Miguel, Robby, and back to Miguel. You’re adding more drama in your life than you need.


It does bring more drama into her life than she needs. Somewhere out there, Miguel and Sam ‘shippers are celebrating, but the romantic entanglements tend to distract and drag.


Nevertheless, Sam and Miguel do work well together. They were right about getting the two dojos together to fight Cobra Kai.


They could only defeat the Valley’s legion of assholes if they worked together.


At least Demetri saw the necessity of allyship, and he had the best speech, referencing how they’ve all got sucked into Cobra Kai before.


We needed another grand-scale brawl to heighten the stakes again and drive everyone to their respective sides.

Heard you were throwing a party. Hope you don’t mind if we crash.

Tory


But must it always hinge on Tory being a hot-headed, overly-emotional bitch with no boundaries? Starting a fight at the high school is one thing, but Cobra Kai coming to the LaRusso home and destroying property while fighting people is absurd.


Who does that? In the real world, every single last one of those little pendejos would be sitting in jail.


For that alone, the fight was engaging more than anything else.


Cobra Kai requires a conversation about the one-dimensional writing of the young female characters on this series. They can and should be just as compelling as their male counterparts.


Tory is more often than not reduced to, if I’m putting it bluntly, an uncouth hoodrat. Not even the brief glimpse of her home life is enough to hold or garner sympathy. Moon and Yasmine are underused teen girl caricatures, and I suppose they don’t know what to do with them.


And fandom has certainly made their sentiments known about Sam, who is truly bogged down by the weight of a cliched love triangle that doesn’t serve her well. Ironically, this is another reason it’s unfortunate that Aisha vanishes without much of a second-thought.


We have male rivalries and bromances, and the complexities that come with them, but the same isn’t extended to the female characters, and you can trust and believe there are just as many women tuned in and just as invested in all, including the women, kicking ass and having character development.

Hey, pussies! This is exactly what those assholes at Cobra Kai want. Since you were one of ’em, you’re an asshole. So are you. So was I, at least I was trying to be one. But now, Cobra Kai is the worst collection of assholes in the Valley, run by the King of all Assholes.
So if by merging with Eagle Fang, weird name by the way, can keep us all from being shit on anymore, then we’d all be assholes not to do it. I’m sorry for all the “assholes.” I usuallu take pride in my grandiloquece, but it’s an emotional time.

Demetri


Sam’s ongoing struggles facing Tory would’ve been a perfect opportunity to showcase the friendship between her and Aisha, for example. And Aisha could’ve just as easily been Eagle Fang or Miyagi Do’s first recruit from Cobra Kai after the brawl.


Instead, we have the beef between Tory and Sam, over a boy no less.


As Hawk wavered, Tory has emerged as more villainous than ever. She was even rocking a skeleton hoodie.


Tory smashing Mr. Miyagi’s photo irked, and it’ll be a beautiful day when she gets her ass kicked.


Fortunately, Sam overcame her panic enough to face Tory and gain some ground. No, she didn’t beat her, but she’s no longer afraid of her, and that’s a start.


Tory is too far down the rabbit hole, and she’s angry. She feels betrayed by all of them, and now that includes Hawk.


Finally, we have some Hawk redemption, though. It both took way too long and happened faster than expected.

Look, man. I’m sorry. For all of it. Do you wanna help me win this thing?

Hawk


He stood in the middle of the LaRussos living room and took in his surroundings. He thought about all of the things people have said to him over time.


And he made a choice.


His fellow Cobra Kai members were calling to him to break Demetri’s arm again.


Hawk’s come to Jesus moment, so to speak, was a damn relief, and every second he spent fighting his former mates and working alongside Demetri to do so was satisfying.


Miguel gaining the strength to fight back harder was another great moment. In that sense, the subtle time jump was necessary to realistically capture Miguel’s healing journey.


Meanwhile, the adults were certainly holding their own.


We had no idea how the LaRussos reacted when they got home, but we did see the exact moment Johnny had a murderous gleam in his eye.


He was on such a high, headed to tell Carmen that he loved her, to a low when he saw Miguel’s face.

Carmen, I- what happened?

Johnny


And if what happened to Miguel wasn’t enough, Johnny was livid when he saw Robby at Cobra Kai wearing a uniform.


Johnny often showed hesitation whenever he went to blows with his mentor, but he wasn’t holding back this time.


It was another moment among many all season that highlighted how much Johnny has grown and how far he has come from the drunken guy lying on his living room floor in a heaping mess.


Johnny has people he cares about and a sense of purpose. He has a new confidence and maturity, too.

Sometimes it’s good to visit the past to know where you are now, but you can’t live in the past.

Ali


I’m so proud of him and his journey. It’s one of the most captivating aspects of this series, and again, Zabka works magic with his nuanced performance of this sneakily complex character.


Despite subjecting to this recurring theme of legacy, Kreese had no qualms about killing Johnny, and it’s disturbing. The man has gone mad.


But it was Robby who kept Johnny from harming Kreese any further, and the standoff between father and son was painful.


Robby has chosen to focus all of his anger and hatred toward Johnny. You hate to see it, but it’s also something that was a long time coming.

You know all these years you weren’t there, I blamed myself. Sensei Kreese is right. I can’t be my own worst enemy. But you can be!

Robby


For all of Johnny’s improvements, he has struggled the most with Robby. He screwed up in the past, and he has a lot to make up for with him.


He still hasn’t done the best job now, and the chickens are coming home to roost because of it. Of all the kids, Robby’s position is the most understandable. 


Where has he resided since his release? As far as we know, he’s homeless, so he’s staying at Cobra Kai. How much of an effort do either Johnny or Daniel put into getting him back on track? Not as much as with Sam or Miguel.


Yeah, Robby puts up a fight, and he pushes people away, not unlike his father, but they give him space when they need to double-down. All he wants is someone to fight for him as hard as they do everything else, and sadly, no one ever does. 


He’s a monster of their own creation, and only now will they fight like hell to not only take Kreese down, but also get Robby back.


You can’t help but feel for the kid, and Kreese gives the impression that he understands him. Another issue is a constant one for Johnny. He does not communicate well at all. 

Kreese: What took you so long?
Johnny: Robby, what are you doing here?
Kreese: He’s exactly where he belongs. As are you. Three generations of Cobra Kai working together. We won’t just dominate the tournament. We’ll melt this whole snowflake generation.


Miguel had no idea that Johnny was a former rich kid, nor did he know about many of the things that Johnny dealt with growing up. It’s something you would expect Johnny to share. 


Johnny hasn’t shared any of his past with Robby either. Maybe if he told Robby about Kreese years ago, then Robby wouldn’t be susceptible to Kreese’s influence now. 


If Johnny shared more about himself with those close to him, his relationships would be a lot stronger. And yet, I eagerly anticipate the day when the father and son can get on the same page.


They both have to meet each other halfway, and as much as I love Johnny, he has to try harder. But he’s taking the proper steps now. It’s too bad Robby was knocked out and didn’t see or hear how much his father was fighting for him.

Daniel: You keep your cobra kais away from our kids.
Kreese: It’s a free country.
Johnny: Not for you. Cobra Kai’s gotta go, for good.


No way does he want to see his son in the clutches of the same man who corrupted and ruined him. The ongoing cycle of mentors/students and fathers and sons, legacy — it’s truly poignant. 


It was also big of Johnny that he didn’t bat an eye when Daniel swooped in and essentially rescued him. I love that both men had a go at Kreese, and they got some good licks in too.


Daniel putting those pressure points to use was a highlight of the finale.

Macchio gives us stuffy surbanite and sitcom dad well, but damn it’s hot and thrilling when the badass comes out. If not for Sam and Miguel’s arrival, both Daniel and Johnny could agree that Kreese needed to be finished. And with the callback to that famous Miyagi/Kreese scene, Daniel’s transformation to a new version of him is complete.


Daniel and Johnny are a formidable team, but Kreese took advantage of the teens’ presence, and he proposed they take it to the tournament instead. 


Ali helped Johnny and Daniel put their past behind them, at least until they find another reason to bicker. I doubt the rivarly is dead for good. 


But much like Kreese himself said about allegiances, the two fathers have a common enemy in Kreese, and he brought them together in a way that no one and nothing else can.


Kreese has gone too far. 

Daniel: You ready?
Johnny: Let’s begin!


Did anything get you more hype than former Cobra Kai members Hawk and Mitch reuniting with their friends Demetri and Chris at Miyagi Do?


Better yet, were you as pumped as I was when Johnny walked into the Miyagi Do dojo, bandanna wrapped around his head, and he and Daniel bowed to each other and assembled their mishmash group of students?


It had some serious “Avengers Assemble” energy, and I’m living for it! All they need is a new name, which they’ll probably introduce when the newly aligned dojos hit the All Valley Tournament to compete with Cobra Kai.


It’s going to be a hell of a fight, too. There are so many match-ups that’ll have us on the edge of our seats: Hawk versus Kyler, Miguel versus Robby, and Sam versus Tory, too.

Daniel: You sent them to my house! You came after my daughter, you son of a bitch! You wanted a fight, you got one.
Kreese: I told you this was inevitable. You can’t keep up this defense only shit forever.


The problem is we don’t know what Kreese has up his sleeve next. Martin Kove is spectacuarly devilish and having a blast here. Kreese is an incredible villain and advesary for this series.  


It seems the flashbacks not only gave us insight into how he became who he is now, but it also led us to the moment when he called Twigs, decades later, to call in a debt. Does this mean Twigs is Terry Silver, and was that the origin story of their friendship?!


Kreese was responsible for his unit’s capture in Vietnam, and his Captain wouldn’t let him forget it. Their captors had a sadistic way of entertaining themselves with the American POWs.


They made them fight to the death with the loser ending up in a snake pit filled with cobras. And there we have the origins of Cobra Kai.

I owe you man. You saved my ass. Anything you need. I’m there for you. Your whole life, you hear me Johnny? Your whole life. I’m here for you.

Twig


Kreese took Twigs’ place against their Captain, and it was then that his mentor told him about Betsy’s death. It was foolish of him to think it would weaken Kreese. Instead, it made him ruthless without nothing else to live for, and the sociopath we know was born.


Kreese didn’t have to kill his Captain. Their rescuers were there, and all he had to do was pull him back up. Instead, he used the man’s idealogy against him and tossed him in the pit instead. 


No mercy. Kreese hasn’t shown any of that ever since. 


It’s a hell of an origin story, and it did make him a more fascinating character than expected. 


Twigs promised him eternal gratitude and a lifetime’s debt because of what Kreese did. Assuming Twigs is Silver, then this puts their entire relationship in perspective and provides more context. Cobra Kai has pulled out all of the stops bringing back classic characters, and if Terry Silver is one of them, then this truly is a game-changer. 


The anticipation is too much, and the fourth season can’t come fast enough! 


Over to you, Cobra Kai Fanatics! 


How are we feeling about that Johnny and Daniel team-up? Did Hawk’s turnaround happen too fast? Can they save Robby from himself and Kreese? 


Hit the comments below with all of your thoughts and reactions! 

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.





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