Welcome to episode 110 of Cobra Kai, the season finale! Just a reminder, please do not discuss anything further than this episode (including actors who will be in the show in the future) without putting it under the SPOILER tag.
Well guys, gals, and non-binary pals…this is it. It’s The Day.
Queens ‘I Want It All’ plays as we see the All Valley Arena being prepared for the contestants, the new mats laid out, t-shirts folded and placed neatly in the concession stands, banners unfurled, popcorn popped. The All Valley Arena is ready!
The question is…is everyone else? Especially Johnny.
Miguel, Aisha, and Hawk, Bert and the other Cobra Kais are waiting outside the tournament for Johnny. Everyone is waiting outside the arena for Johnny, with Miguel looking particularly grim, as Sam has broken up with him (can’t blame her). He’s practising some punches with an aggression that has even Hawk worried. But there’s more than enough worry to go around, as it’s getting late and there’s still no Johnny. Bert (the tiny and angry one) has some inside information on that. He says that when he buying a ‘carton of milk’ from Nestors last night…
….He saw Sensei Lawrence. Who was…not at his best. (I mean, drunk in public, pissing on your new old car, yeah.)
The others question if Johnny’ll even make it (or if he drove his car off a cliff).
But just then, he shows up! ‘I may not always win, but I’ll never back out of a fight.’
He gets the Cobras to huddle up for a Pre-Game speech.
‘You’ve all learned to strike first, to be aggressive, not be losers. I taught you to strike hard, to put every ounce of your power behind everything you do. But I haven’t taught you the third rule of Cobra Kai. “No mercy.” The older you get, the more you’re gonna learn, that life isn’t fair. You wake up one morning feeling great, and then life throws a spinning heel kick to your balls, takes a big steaming shit in your mouth.
That’s a real WTF metaphor.
‘You get an ‘F’ on a test, you get suspended. You fall in love with a girl, and some other dude comes and steals her away. (focus is on Miguel for that part). Car gets set on fire. Just when you think things are going good, everything falls apart. That’s how it goes. Life shows no mercy, so neither do we. (his students all nod) We do whatever it takes to keep moving forward. We do whatever it takes to win! (and Hawk smirks) Remember who you are. You’re badass! You don’t give a shit! You kick ass! You’re Cobra Kai.’
‘Cobra Kai!’ Miguel yells out, and all the other students cheer, and start to pull out their white uniforms, only to be stopped by Johnny. ‘No. You’re not wearing those.’ he says, a cocky smile on his face.
While Sam and Daniel originally weren’t going to go, but Amanda talked them both into it (I can see why LaRusso car sales are so good now!) As they arrive, Daniel gets a warm welcome, folks around him clapping and smiling, though he looks pained accepting it.
Rosa and Carmen Diaz, Miguels grandma and mom arrive as well. Carmen is worried for Miguel, but Rosa is pretty chilled out. When her daughter asks her how she can be so calm, Rosa confides ‘Because whatever happens, he’ll learn from it. Also I smoked a joint before we came.’
Rosa is officially cooler than me y’all.
The LaRussos find their seats, Amanda seated next to a, in her own words, ‘scary karate mom’. I mean, the woman is in sparkling blue face paint like she’s at a football match, with a blue gi to finish off the look, standing up and screaming at her kid to ‘kick some ass!’ when her sons group (Topanga Karate) is announced. That is…pretty intimidating.
‘From Reseda, returning the tournament, we have-‘ says the announcer, but doesn’t finish, as he’s interrupted by a chant of ‘Cobra Kai! Cobra Kai!’
The Cobras jog onto the mats, looking sharp in their new (to them, but not to us), black uniforms.
Everyone is impressed! Except for Daniel. He and Johnny lock eyes for a moment, then both look away. Same with Miguel and Sam. Well this isn’t at all awkward and I’m sure everything will be fine.
‘And finally, fighting unaffiliated from North Hills, we have, Mr. Robby Keene!’ says the announcer. Robby jogs onto the mat, giving a his dad a long look (and receiving a glare from Miguel. This is not good.)
Miguel is first up, receiving some whispered instructions from Johnny as he does. He gets into a familiar position, the crane kick, and takes his opponent out easy. Seems like Johnny isn’t against it if Cobra Kais using it, hypocrite. He smirks at Daniel, who is aggravated that this is even happening.
A montage follows, showing both the Cobras and Robby doing well for themselves. When Hawk finishes his first bout (having to be told off by the ref), he pulls of his gi top, turning his back to show off his tattoo, flexing as he shouts in victory. I am impressed with how Jacob Bertrand manages embrace the cheesiness of that scene and make it work. It’s still cheesy, but in a ‘we’re laughing with you, not at you’ sort of a way.
Aisha, Miguel and Robby are going strong, winning all their matches. Well, until Aisha goes up against Xander from Topanga (who’s scary karate mom we already met). Getting up from the mat, she sneers ‘Eat shit asshole’, and storms off.
Sam tentatively follows her, complimenting her on her fight. ‘I don’t want your pity’ snaps Aisha. But Sam isn’t giving up, and apologizes. She shouldn’t have been hanging out with Yasmin in the first place (finally!). She was impressed by the front wedgie though, and Aisha’s surprised she’s seen it. ‘Everyone saw it, it’s all over youtube.’ says Sam. ‘You really tore her a new…vagina?’ The two girls chuckle, and she compliments Aishas cool uniform (even if the snake is kinda evil). Aisha suggests that she join..they could definitely use another girl. Agreed Aisha, agreed.
I gotta say, I’m so glad that these two reconciled, the moments that they had together were nice. Let’s have some more girl friendships on this show please!
(While this has all been going on, Xander from Topanga has been giving some sort of speech. I’m not really sure what he’s saying, something about thinking of those less fortunate and a moments silence? Which…dude…know your audience, know your moment. Do not Bono this.)
Quickly followed by Miguel taking him out. I mean, it wasn’t easy, but Xander is obviously the kind who is very concerned with how cool he looks rather than how good he fights.
Next up…Hawk vs Keene.
Johnny..you seem tense…everything okay? I mean, it’s not like you’re worried about your son, right? Right?
Even Hawk notices and asks him what’s up.
‘Show him what you’ve got.’ he answers. Take a look at father of the year over here, wow.
Hawk exchanges a cool handshake/fist bump with Miguel before jumping onto the stage with a smug smirk. Robby is doing poorly until Daniel stand ups shouting ‘Remember what you learned!’ he says. Robby stares at him. A father figure, who cares about him, what? But then nods, picturing himself back at the lake as he does a kata, slowing his breathing. Now he moves smoothly, crisply, landing a point of his own. Hawk does not like that. At. All. After some posturing from both of the boys, Hawk gets riled up and kicks Robby in the back, causing everyone watching to boo him. Hawk is disqualified, and Johnny rushes over to his son, kneeling down to check on him, but Robby tells him to get away. Nice effort Johnny, but it’s too little to late.
Daniel has followed Robby to the changeroom (wow it sounds awkward when I write that out) and says that getting a job and becoming his student just to get back at Johnny won’t help him find balance. That he has to reconcile with him because ‘he’s your father’. I mean, there are plenty of people who do not have to do so, and just because Daniel feels sorry for him isn’t a good enough reason for Robby and his Dad to make up. That being said, I do think that if Johnny made the effort, he and Robby could have a better relationship.
‘He’s not a monster.’ Daniel continues. ‘He’s just a guy with a lot of demons.’
As he speaks, we see Johnny walking by old tournament photos, pausing in front of one of his old sensei Kreese (you know, the child abusing cult leader who tried to kill him in a parking lot?).
This whole season, Johnny has struggled between what he’s been told by Kreese, and finding his own way. And it seems he thought he found a compromise. But that’s the problem with the Cobra Kai creed (try saying that three times fast!) There is no room for compromise in ‘Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy’. It’s looking at the world like you’re constantly looking for a fight. And a philosophy like that…won’t get you anywhere. Except working in a job you hate, being a washed up has been, and reliving your high school glory days on repeat.
‘You don’t have to go down that path, you don’t have to become like him.’ Daniel says to Robby. ‘If you let go of that anger, trust me, no matter what happens, you’ll go home tonight feeling great.’ After the medic pops Robbys shoulder back into place, Daniel tells him he doesn’t have to fight, but Robby disagrees. ‘I’m going to have to face him sooner or later, might as well be today.’
Now which ‘him’ is he talking about? Miguel, or Johnny? I love how ambiguous that line is.
Miguel goes over to Sam to apologize, but Sams still angry at him, understandably so. He hit her trying to hit Robby, and there was no reason for him to be hitting anyone. ‘Well just wait.’ Miguel says, looking grim. ‘See what I do to Robby in the finals.’
Well that’s a totally normal thing to say all right. Where’s that sweet boy from episode two? The one who looked like some lost Dickensian orphan, who needed nothing more than a friend and a better school life? This is what Cobra Kai does. Takes normal people, and messes them up.
Understandably freaked out, Sam tells her mom she’s going home, and Amanda, seeing how shook up she is, says she’ll drive her there. That’s some good parenting, well done Amanda.
Daniel says he’ll coach Robby for the final match, causing the crowd to burst into cheers. Scowling, Johnny approaches him.
So this is where it ends up, LaRusso and Lawrence on the mats across from each other, just like it was foreshadowed (prophesied even?) in episode 2. But not how we expected. Not facing each other, but their proxies fighting instead. Nice choice show, nice choice.
Johnny’s angry and confused. In his head, Daniel has always been the cocky upstart who takes things from him. He’s not generous, he’s not helpful. He can’t be. Because if he isn’t well.
That means Johnny was wrong about him. And if he was, then what else is he wrong about?
‘You’re gonna regret this when it’s over.’ Johnny says. ‘Yeah, right. Like this’ll ever be over.’ Daniel shoots back.
That could be the tagline for the whole series honestly.
Miguel and Robby face each other on the mats.
I’m so conflicted. I love Miguel. He’s a good kid (most of the time)
But I feel for Robby too. He started out a mess, but he’s made vast improvements. Different but same.
Robby is looking good, getting in his first point against Miguel, who punches the mat in frustration.
‘Remember the pitching machine!’ Johnny yells at Miguel.
(Daniels face: Remember the what now?? Pitching machine?? What????)
Miguel goes on the offensive, hitting Robby in his bad side again and again.
Robby doing pretty decently considering, and even manages the two legged kick, balancing on his good arm!
The crowd loves it! But Johnny doesn’t love any of this. His favorite student and surrogate son is fighting his biological son. He gets more and more tense, more and more miserable as the fight continues.
‘Look, I know we want to win, but it’s gotta be the right way.’ he says to Miguel during a pause in the action. ‘We don’t have to fight dirty.’
Admirable, but it’s too little to late for Miguel, who looks confused and angry. ‘Dirty? There’s nothing dirty about winning Sensei, you taught me that. No mercy.’
Are you getting it now Johnny? Are you getting it? Do you see that what you’ve taught your kids has hurt and warped them? Do you??
Back on the mat, Miguel grabs Robby’s leg and punches him in the shoulder, over and over, even as Johnny shakes his head, mouthing ‘No’. Robby falls to the mat, and the Cobras all cheer!
All except for their sensei, who hangs his head in shame.
As soon as he can, Johnny breaks away from the kids, and follows after his son and Daniel.
He has no words except a very weak ‘I’m sorry.’
‘It’s okay Dad.’ says Robby. The look the kid gives him is so weary, older than his years. ‘Let’s go Mr. LaRusso.’
Daniel turns to Johnny, looking biter and angry. ‘You got what you wanted Johnny. Congratulations.’ he spits out, before turning away.
Daniel consoles Robby as they drive away from the arena. ‘That may be second place,’ he says, nodding to the trophy. ‘but as far as I’m concerned, you’re a winner. You fought with honor, he didn’t.’ Daniel takes him to a place with some very old looking cars as Mr. Miyagis flute theme plays.
‘We’re going to have to fight back, and to do that, we’ll need more students.’
He turns on a light, bathing the whole area in a soft glow, as we see we’re at Mr. Miyagis house.
‘Welcome to Miyagi do karate.’
At Cobra Kai dojo, Johnny is sitting in his office, getting drunk by himself as he glares at the first place trophy. I can’t blame him, considering what kind of a day he’s had. He certainly won. All it cost him was his self respect, and his relationship with his son.
Hearing the door open, he gets up, looking hopeful. ‘Miguel?’
But the figure in the doorway is definitely not Miguel.
The mystery man congratulates Johnny winning, something he ‘always knew Johnny could do.’
‘Everyone closed the book on us, but now they see-‘
The figure steps into the light and OH MY GOD IT’S KREESE!!
‘That the real story’s just begun.’ Kreese says, grining at his former student.
Wow. That was everything I ever want in a Cobra Kai episode.
Great music! Cool fight scenes! Call backs! Consequences!
So good. So so good.
I tried to get all the callbacks in there, but I’m sure I missed some, there were a lot
-The Cobra Kai uniforms of course.
-Hawk and Miguel have a cool fistbump/handshake thing like Dutch and Johnny have in TKK
– Daniel seems as if he’s about to give Robby a reiki massage like Mr. Miyagi did, but instead calls for a medic. Nice psych out show.
-‘Daniel LaRusso is gonna coach!’ mirrors ‘Daniel LaRusso’s gonna fight?’
-Daniels yellow car from Mr. Miyagi
-Mr. Miyagis home
No Snake Bytes this week, and no recap next week. What I will have up is some cool interview bits and ‘things you may have missed’ from season one.