If you have not finished Season 3 of Cobra Kai, go and do that before reading this article. If you have finished Season 3, it’s likely you’ve probably also re-watched at this point and have a plethora of opinions. Well, I decided to break down the 5 Biggest Winners from this season, as well as noting some honorable mentions.
Daniel LaRusso: It’s a weird season for Daniel because most of the positives for his season, are in reality, mostly just averting complete disaster. I think Daniel will be one of the biggest winners of S4, and some of the lumps he had to take from the end of S2 to now will pay off. They also ended the season with his house getting trashed.
Demetri: He did technically say he’d kill both Miguel and his binary brother Eli to get Yasmine to spit in his face. Thus, a broken arm in exchange to have her as his girlfriend/FWB seems like a fair trade. Plus, he and Eli are friends again!
Chozen: The man waited 30+ years to get his “honk” back on Daniel and got it. He can now live in peace.
Louise LaRusso: Got his job back and had some hilarious one-liners. One of the most surreal comebacks.
Ali Mills: Daniel threw her under the bus at the end of the Karate Kid 2 by saying she dumped him for a UCLA guy and that she crashed his car; glad to see her tell the other side of the story, and those on the Team Daniel Sucks train get some extra ammunition. She also gave Johnny a push in the right direction.
Kumiko: Still an icon.
Sam LaRusso: Overcame her PTSD by defeating Tory in the final episode and offered the olive branch to merge Miyagi-Do and Eagle-Fang. The only things keeping her off the top five is that the written lines for her character are still at times tone-deaf, and the over-reliance of putting her in romantic storylines that then create drama is feeling a bit repetitive.
Carmen: An absolute gem. Her son can walk again! She also got to hook up with Sensei Lawrence!
Tory & Robby: Both are essentially under the control of a predator now. Robby not getting a single hit on his dad was a bit disappointing; I mean, Johnny isn’t particularly known for defense.
Amanda LaRusso: Amanda is a queen, and nobody in this world deserves her. Sadly, John Kreese got the best of her multiple times, her house got crashed, her business was in jeopardy, and she had to rehire Louie. Typically, Amanda bats 1000, and this season, it was more like 350, which for most people would be an absolute win; for her standards, it was sub-optimal.
Onto our top 5!
5 Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz
Watching Hawk turn back to the “good side” was an all-time Cobra Kai moment. I know some people were frustrated that his turn came seemingly out of nowhere, but if you watched the season closely, you’d notice that almost every decision he made had some hesitance to it, or the old Eli would come out. When he broke Demetri’s arm, you could feel that internal struggle within, where if the Cobras had not been there egging him on, and had the last Cobra who chose not to break someone’s arm almost gotten killed and sent into a coma, he would not have gone through with it. Even when Mitch recalls the story the next day in the dojo, you could see on Hawk’s face that he is not incredibly proud internally about what he did.
When Miguel first mentions to Hawk that Johnny is teaching again, you could see the inner Eli come out and asks with a voice of curiosity/optimism, “Sensei has a new dojo?” Likewise, Kreese’s actions keep pushing Hawk away, starting by kicking out Bert and Mitch, two of his closest friends in Cobra Kai. Kreese then invites “natural athletes” to join, the antithesis of what Hawk was, and the same people who terrorized his life before joining Cobra Kai. Hawk eviscerating Brucks in their sparring match was ugly, and at the same time, was both a statement he was trying to make to Kreese that he disagrees with his choice, and in doing so, strayed to the dark side that Kreese wanted. Inviting Robby to join Cobra Kai was a massive tipping point for Hawk as they were doing so much of their most vial deeds in the name of revenge for Miguel, and now suddenly, the person who almost killed Miguel and who he’s been at odds with since the 50th All-Valley is getting welcomed with open arms was a massive slap in the face.
The real come to Jesus moment is during the LaRusso house fight when Kyler high-fived him. His biggest bully was now acting like his comrade, and as he looks around, he sees all his real best-friends getting beaten up by these random people who don’t care for him. Hawk makes the right move, saves Demetri, turns the tides of the fight, and now he’s going to be learning Karate from Daniel LaRusso. Considering Hawk is one of the pure offensive fighters in the Karate Kid franchise, the fact he will finally be learning self-defense should turn him into one of the best. I wonder if he will lose the mohawk in S4 and becomes Eli again as part of his character’s rebuild. Or possibly, he will have his mohawk taken away from him (by Cobra Kai).
4 John Kreese
John Kreese felt more like a cartoonish bad guy in the original Karate Kid movies, whereas Terry Silver was the more calculated and intelligent one. This season, even more than last, we saw him shine as an evil sociopathic genius. His ability to use his war credentials as a suit of armor, getting Amanda LaRusso slapped with a restraining order, gaslighted his existing students, and also displayed creepy elite levels of grooming when it came to Tory, Robby, and the new Cobras. When the trailers came out with Kreese visiting Robby in juvie, I refused to believe he’d be able to lure him in. Then like the Cobra he is, he strikes hardest when Robby is at his weakest, and it scares me what he is capable of while under Kreese’s umbrella. Pray for Robby because he is going to channel all his hatred into the Kreese Cobra Kai lifestyle.
On Cobra Kai, we’ve seen his character get fleshed out with a more in-depth origin story where we find out about his mom, his first love, and his experiences in the war. They have painted a full picture for this character, and he’s gone from a Tier 2.5 Villain to a Tier 1 Villain.
3 Johnny Lawrence
Last season ended on a complete low-note for Johnny. This season, he mostly comes out positive. I mean, yeah, Robby is drinking Kreese’s kool-aid and all, but his relationship with Robby has never been great, and being under Kreese’s roof is a slight hair better-case scenario than almost murdering his surrogate son Miguel.
That aside, Johnny proves to be a shaman again, as if curing Miguel’s asthma wasn’t enough; he taught him how to stand, walk, and fight again. He also hooked up with the super hot babe Carmen, and by merging with Miyagi-Do, Johnny gets a new rent-free dojo. You also have to think given Johnny’s car expertise, Daniel might throw him a job as a salesman. Considering he lives in Southern California, where the rent on his apartment has to be at least 1200–1500 a month (I know it’s a dump, that’s So Cal for you), a job would come in handy. His biggest win of the season was finally getting closure with Ali. Their date/meetup was adorable to watch, and I feel as though she helped send him down a good path going forward. We also no longer have to deal with Johnny having flashbacks about his seventeen-year-old girlfriend.
2 Miguel Diaz
OUR BOY CAN WALK AGAIN. NOT ONLY CAN OUR BOY WALK AGAIN, BUT HE CAN KICK ASS STILL!
I was a bit scared that Miguel would never fight again in the Cobra Kai series and be permanently in a wheelchair for the rest of the show’s duration (similar to Jason Street in Friday Night Lights or Wheel Chair Jimmy in Degrassi). The speed of his rehabilitation was super unrealistic; however, for our watching experience, watching him end the season by defeating Kyler was 1000% worth it. Part of me wishes that after his final hit on Kyler, he said something like, “I was paralyzed a couple of months ago, what’s your excuse?” Maybe that’s a little too evil to say for good guy Miguel, although, when it comes to Kyler, he is asking for it.
Miguel has a new stepdad (Johnny), a new old girlfriend (Sam), reunited his buddies Hawk and Demetri, and a new rich step-sensei (Daniel)!
1 Cobra Kai Writers and Creators
It’s gotten reported that the Cobra Kai creators have a general story outline mapped out up to six seasons. Those reports seemed a bit optimistic, especially since most shows with as many high school-age characters as Cobra Kai generally dip in quality precipitously as the years go on and fans become less interested and engaged. I’m not currently sure where Season 3 ranks with fans, and I think I might even rank it 3rd out of the 3. Despite that, Season 3 was formatted and built in such a way that the season finale made me want more Cobra Kai than ever before.
The shows took a few steps back this season to ultimately jump farther than forward and raise the show’s ceiling. They had Daniel return to Japan and get some introspection, gave Kreese a more detailed backstory, Johnny helped rehab Miguel physically to rehab himself in a way, Sam had PTSD, Robby turned heel, Hawk turned Face, Tory dug her heels in deeper, and then you have a whole load of supporting and minor characters stories getting built up. The way this story has gotten built, you know that in Season 4, it’s going to culminate in one epic All-Valley tournament. To Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald, I say bravo, and please give us more. Also, shoutout to the most crucial contributor, Will Smith.