After the massive brawl that served as the climax for season 2, it was always a given that the showrunners would try to surpass that in the season 3 finale of ‘Cobra Kai.’ A lot of things happen in this episode. Certain things finally get resolved. And the season ends by perfectly setting up the next one. With the reintroduction of Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue) in the franchise, Daniel’s (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny’s (William Zabka) enmity finally comes to a fitting end. Like in the previous season, there is a teen brawl that is both shocking and fun. However, the climactic fight in season 3 is purely for the nostalgia addicts. SPOILERS ALERT.
Cobra Kai Season 3 Finale Recap
Shortly after she arrives at the country club holiday party, Ali runs into Daniel. The fans of the original films have been waiting for this moment since ‘Cobra Kai’ started airing, and it doesn’t disappoint. After Johnny arrives, it doesn’t take long for Ali to figure out that Daniel’s and Johnny’s teenage karate rivalry has found its way into their adulthood. The show couldn’t have picked a better person to put an end to it finally. After all, it began because both the boys were in love with her. Ali and Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) become fast friends, quickly connecting over the ridiculousness of the man they both know. As the night progresses, old wounds start to mend, and Daniel and Johnny finally see how similar they are.
At Miyagi-Do, their students decide to form a united dojo, although issues like the name, the logo, and who will be the primary sensei remain unresolved. But all of them agree that they have to deal with Cobra Kai. It is then the attack happens. Tory, Eli, and others break into the dojo, which gets vandalized. The teenagers beat each other to a pulp, all for a man’s misplaced sense of urgency and outdated belief. As a villain, Kreese (Martin Kove) has a timeless appeal to him, predominantly because of his adamant refusal to change. When he returned to Johnny’s life, the latter sincerely hoped that things would be better this time. They weren’t, and the older man started to show his true colors soon enough. The finale takes the audience back to Vietnam once more and explains why Kreese has turned into a ruthless psychopath.
Cobra Kai Season 3 Finale Ending: Getting Closure
Both Daniel and Johnny finally get closure for their respective relationships with Ali in this episode. She broke up with Johnny during the first film. Not long after, she began dating Daniel. Ali and Daniel parted ways at some point between the first and second films. This conversation helps them know each other’s perspectives. As Ali says at one point, there are three versions of what happened between Daniel and Johnny: Daniel’s version, Johnny’s version, and the truth. She helps the boys find that truth.
When Daniel leaves the party with Amanda, it feels like it’s the end of an era. He and Johnny have become much more civil towards each other. While his and Ali’s story doesn’t have a happy ending, it now at least has a wonderful epilogue. As for Johnny, his story is heading towards a different ending as well, with Carmen and Miguel. As he and Ali part ways, they promise to always be there for each other.
Fight at Miyagi-Do
Kreese has handpicked all of his students and knows exactly how to manipulate each of them. He told his students about Miyagi-Do’s and Eagle Fang Karate’s possible alliance because he knew what Tory’s reaction would be. He is also aware that with Miguel still recovering, it’s the best time to strike. However, he didn’t foresee that Miguel and Sam would triumph over their personal demons and then defeat his students and that Eli (Jacob Bertrand) would change sides.
While Eli does have a certain propensity for violence, he becomes more and more uncomfortable with what Cobra Kai is becoming. Robby joining the dojo is the last straw. He realizes that unlike Johnny, who genuinely cares for his students, Kreese considers winning to be the only important thing. Although Miguel is making a rapid recovery, he is still far from the martial arts prodigy he used to be before the fall.
During his fight with his old bully, Miguel finds motivation in the insults that the boy throws at him and the sudden reconciliation between his two closest friends, Eli and Demetri (Gianni Decenzo). Sam learns to control her fear as well. When Tory breaks the picture frame containing a photograph of Mr. Miyagi, a man Sam considers her grandfather, her righteous fury wipes out her fear, and she easily defeats the other girl.
Showdown at Cobra Kai
In the aftermath of the brawl at the Miyagi-Do, Johnny and Daniel separately arrive at Cobra Kai. After defeating Kreese, Daniel prepares to hurt him seriously. But then, Sam and Miguel arrive, preventing Daniel from doing something that he surely would have regretted later. Kreese even takes advantage of that moment of mercy, truly embodying his “no mercy” motto, and proposes that they settle this in the tournament.
If Cobra Kai loses, Kreese will shut down his dojo. If it wins, then Daniel and Johnny will close theirs. It’s a last-ditch effort from a desperate man. But considering how resourceful Kreese is, he will definitely not go down without a fight. And now he has Robby with him. Robby is Johnny’s son and Daniel’s former student, making him Kreese’s most dangerous weapon against both of them.
A Friend from the Army Days
In the flashbacks, we are shown that during Kreese’s captivity by the Vietnamese rebels, the prisoners of war were forced to fight each other over a snake pit. When his friend Twig was picked, Kreese volunteered instead. He faced their unit’s captain. Likely to demoralize him, the captain revealed that Kreese’s girlfriend died in a car accident. He didn’t tell Kreese anything because he wanted the soldier under him to be focused.
According to the captain, it evidently didn’t matter either way, as they were captured because of Kreese’s weakness. The sudden sense of loss broke something within Kreese, and he transformed into the emotionless soldier that his captain had always wanted him to be. Despite knowing that the American forces had arrived to rescue them, he ensured that the captain died in the snake pit, just to show him how well Kreese had learned his lesson.
Kreese’s transformative arc is truly riveting. It also sheds light on why he has always been so uncompromising. During the rescue, Twig told him that if Kreese ever needed anything, he would be there for him. Twig is Terry Silver, Kreese’s billionaire friend and the founder of Cobra Kai. Kreese calls Silver in the closing moments of season 3, implying that he is reaching out to his wealthy and affluent friend for support. Silver will likely be the primary antagonist in the next season, just like in ‘The Karate Kid Part III.’
The episode ends with another major development. Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang Karate begin training together at Daniel’s dojo, with both him and Johnny serving as senseis. Although they believe that they now have a considerable advantage over Cobra Kai, they will soon learn about Silver. Daniel’s last encounter with the billionaire had been particularly unpleasant, and he is probably not looking forward to repeating it.