The Top Scenes from Cobra Kai Season 3

My 2021 started with a bang in the form of a total binge of Cobra Kai, season 3. Fever for the Cobra Kai and Karate Kid fandom is at an all-out fever pitch ever since the series switched from YouTube Red to Netflix in June of 2020. Anticipation for season 3 ran hot, and anxious viewers were rewarded with the knowledge that the entire series would drop on January 1, 2021, a full week earlier than expected (A sneak peek trailer originally listed the release date as January 8, 2021). The big question remained: would the big three - show creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg -- be able to maintain the hype and remain "the best around?"

This fan happily reports that the champ lives on, and Cobra Kai has knocked out the competition with ten more episodes full of interesting character arcs, nostalgia for the original series, touching moments, happy surprises, and a tension-filled cliffhanger leading into season 4. While it's easy to look forward to future reveals, let's not miss the chance to savor the moments that made season 3 great. 

(Want to travel back to season 2?; read my top moments of season 2 here). 


Episode 3.1 -- Aftermath

Johnny visits Miguel in hospital
Johnny (William Zabka) visits Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) in the hospital

First Place, Johnny's plan to see Miguel

Johnny is a ride-or-die sensei, so he will do whatever it takes to visit Miguel in the hospital. Only family, patients, or doctors are allowed in the ICU. He begins by flirting with the staff member at the registration desk, asking her to "be a bad girl." But she's unmoved. He next manages to steal a lab coat and nametag, planning to impersonate a doctor. Only problem: his bruised face from a street fight gives him away. Johnny goes to the mat for Miguel and head butts a paper towel holder so he can check in as a patient. Now that's dedication!

Daniel and Johnny team up
Daniel asks Johnny to help him find Robby

Second Place, Daniel asks Johnny to team up

Well, everyone hoped the dynamic duo of Johnny and Daniel would share the screen once again, but no one expected it to happen this soon. Daniel shows up at Johnny's apartment to let him know that he has a lead on Robby and ask if he wants to come and help find him. With all of the pent up history between these two, both of them have to eat large doses of humble pie any time they share space. 

Episode 3.2 -- Nature vs. Nurture

Johnny fights some men
[L-R] Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny (William Zabka) defeat some men in the chop shop

First Place, Daniel and Johnny hunt for Robby

Daniel and Johnny continue to search for Robby, gracing the screen with their back-and-forth banter, matching Johnny's biting and bitter remarks with Daniel's outraged sarcasm. They begin their search by questioning Trey and Cruz, Robby's old mates from his scam days. The two play good cop/bad cop, with Johnny slapping the boys around for withholding evidence (and probably because it felt good). As the pair track down more leads, some funny moments ensue in the car. Daniel's concerned that Johnny will drop his bag of Corn Nuts in the nicely detailed car, and Johnny gets his first tutorial on learning how to use a bluetooth speaker (you don't have to lean forward to be heard, Johnny). Their scenes together culminate in a high-speed car chase and an exciting brawl in a chop shop against four burly dudes. It's the first time a Lawrence-Kreese physical team up has happened on screen, and -- we hope -- not the last. 

Two high schoolers eat at a booth
Varsity Captain (Jesse Kove) bullies a young Kreese while Betsy (Emily Marie Palmer) looks on

Second Place, Kreese's back story begins

Cobra Kai has given unusual insights into many colorful characters through its first two seasons, but no character's past has been more hidden than John Kreese, the originator of Cobra Kai. Well all of that changes in season three, starting with this episode, where we learn how Kreese learned to walk the path of "No Mercy." Before all of that, in 1965, he was a shy boy working at a diner in the San Fernando Valley, pushed around by jocks. In a few short scenes, we learn that Kreese faced down and fought off some bullies, winning the admiration of a cute girl. The scenes lend an air of nostalgia for the past, expand the history of our characters, and even provide extra doses of humor, since the events include some intentional misdirection. 

Episode 3.3 -- Now You're Gonna Pay

Johnny talks to Bobby
[L-R] Johnny (William Zabka) interrupts Bobby's (Ron Thomas) church service. 

First Place, Bobby sweeps Johnny's leg

One of the original Cobras, Bobby (Ron Thomas) grew up to become a pastor. After being rejected by Daniel as a good helpmate, Johnny decides to go to his clergy pal for some counsel. All well and good, but did he have to show up inebriated during a church service? Bobby's in the middle of sermon on forgiveness when Jonny walks in staggering and blitzed. Even though Bobby's now a man of the cloth, he needs to remind Johnny of his manners, sweeping the leg. Some habits never die. 

Daniel and Mr. Miyagi work on bonsai trees
[L-R] A young Daniel (Ralph Macchio) remembers a lesson Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) taught him

Second Place, Mr. Miyagi shows the way

Daniel's facing a new challenge at LaRusso Auto. The fight at the school has tarnished the dealership's reputation in the community. Tom Cole has leveraged this information to talk Doyona into pulling their contract with LaRusso Auto. With Tom Cole gaining an exclusive deal with Doyona for imported cars, Daniel and Amanda think they might have to accept his offer to buyout their business. I teared up at a well-timed flashback of Mr. Miyagi showing Daniel how to trim bonsai trees correctly, letting all other things fade away except the tree. The memory of Miyagi's patient methods seem to center Daniel and help him find a way forward.  

Episode 3.4 -- The Right Path

Kumiko is happy to see Daniel
Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) reads a letter Mr. Miyagi wrote to her Aunt Yukie

First Place, Reunion with Kumiko 

While this episode depicting Daniel's return to Okinawa is chock full of flashbacks and musical cues that will tug at the heartstrings of any OG Karate Kid fan, Daniel's reunion with Kumiko is swoon-worthy to the max. He lays eyes on her on a dance stage and remembers when she danced for him in their youth. The two have a nice chat and tea at a sidewalk café and catch up on each other's lives. The feels continue as the pair continue to bond over old memories, and Kumiko takes Daniel back to Yukie's house (Mr. Miyagi's first love). As Kumiko reads love letters that Miyagi wrote to Yukie, a part of Daniel is able to heal and know that Mr. Miyagi believed in him. He can now stand on his own two feet. By listening to this letter, Mr. Miyagi is able to guide Daniel beyond the grave. Kumiko was the only one who could have provided a way for that to happen. His arrival in Okinawa happened at just the right time. And Kumiko's return to the screen feels like a breath of fresh air.  

Episode 3.5 -- Miyagi-Do

Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) teaches Daniel (Ralph Macchio) some new tricks

First Place, Daniel's reunion with Chozen

While fans have longed for Daniel's reunion with Kumiko, in a surprising turn of events, his reunion with Chozen ends up being just as delightful. After an awkward round of drinks, Chozen takes Daniel to the dojo where Miyagi-Do was born. Daniel thinks he knows all there is to know about Miyagi-Do karate, but Chozen assures him his learning is incomplete. The two begin sparring, and Chozen uses some moves that take Daniel completely by surprise. This might be my favorite moment of the whole season, since it's filmed in a way that recalls classic kung fu movies. Chozen's lessons factor in an important way for the rest of the series, especially in the final episode. Daniel continues to learn lessons in humility and forgiveness from surprising places. 

Yuna meets Daniel
Yuna (Traci Toguchi) is able to help Daniel with his Doyona problems

Second Place, Yuna saves the day

Cobra Kai has a beautiful way of integrating characters from the movies into the TV series. Daniel took this trip to find a way to save his business. And while we expected Chozen and/or Kumiko might make an appearance along the way, a surprising friend from the past shows up. Daniel once saved Yuna during a typhoon, and now she is able to return the favor. It turns out Yuna now works for Doyona and is able to talk the company into working with LaRusso auto once again. Fun fact: I predicted in an earlier article that Yuna would return . . . albeit in a different way

Johnny on his laptop
Johnny is able to get the Dell laptop working again. 

Honorable Mention, Johnny enters the digital age, part II

We all know Johnny's real arch nemesis isn't Daniel or even Kreese -- it's technology. While the pawn shop manager isn't very nice, he does tend to direct Johnny in the way he should go. Johnny gets his laptop going again after charging it with a power cord. He then googles "how to make legs work," and finds the website WebMD, which he pronounces "webemmed." Johnny using technology in any form always creates cackle-worthy moments, and I'm here for it.  

Episode 3.6 -- King Cobra

Kyler attends Cobra Kai
Kyler (Joe Seo) is recruited by Kreese to join Cobra Kai

First Place, Hawk fights Kyler by proxy

While I'm not one that cheers at violence, I do enjoy when the underdog gets his day. Before Hawk joined Cobra Kai, he was Eli, bullied endlessly for his lip scar. Kreese has new recruits for the dojo, and Kyler shows up to audition. Even though he was defeated by Miguel in the school cafeteria, Kyler still feels privileged enough to make rude comments about Hawk. But truly, Hawk is tired of Kyler's abuse. Even though Hawk is all bravada now, a quick set of flashbacks remind us of what his life used to be like. By this time, we are all ready to see Hawk kick Kyler's ass. Unfortunately, Kyler is pitched against Mitch. Kyler ends up beating Mitch easily, but Hawk volunteers to fight Brucks, Kyler's bully pal. Brucks is no match for Hawk, and Hawk punches him until his knuckles are covered in blood. Although Brucks got the beating, Hawk stares down Kyler, and we know who Hawk was really thinking of during that fight. It's too bad Hawk didn't get a chance to fight Kyler, though. 

Johnny has a photo shoot
Johnny has a photo shoot to improve his Facebook photos

Second Place, Johnny's photo shoot

Johnny is still trying to impress Ali with the right Facebook profile, so Miguel takes him on a photo shoot to take some contemporary photos. Johnny poses doing all kinds of things he never does, like reading, going to eat museums, and eating sushi. 

Episode 3.7 -- Obstaculos

Daniel and Sam spar
Daniel and Sam spend some father/daughter time together, Miyagi-Do style.

First Place, Daniel and Sam bond on the fishing boat

Daniel has returned home to find a daughter who has shut down. After she froze during the laser tag fight, Sam is having panic attacks and feels afraid of everything. Daniel is able to get her to open up a little by going out on a fishing boat and gently pursuing his daughter with questions. It's a sweet father/daughter exchange. They finish out by going to the All Valley Sports Arena, where Daniel confesses he, too, was once debilitated by fear. 

Mean girl Yasmine is finally nice to Demetri
Mean girl Yasmine (Annalisa Cochrane) finally acts like a human being

Second Place, Yasmine signs Demetri's cast

In season 1, Yasmine the mean girl taunted Hawk and Demetri almost as ruthlessly as Kyler. Now, it seems she has grown a little and decides to be kind to Demetri by signing his cast in a way that flips the script on some cruel artwork. This season has been hard on Demetri, with losing his best friend and having his shoulder dislocated in a fight. It's nice to see him getting some attention from a girl for once.  

Episode 3.8 -- The Good, the Bad, and the Badass

Sam and Miguel reunite
Sam and Miguel reunite after a long separation

Episode 8 had no standout moments, but it nicely sets up the heavy romance in episode 9. Demetri and Yasmine are caught making out, Miguel and Sam reunite after a long separation, and Johnny and Carmen end up in an embrace in the episode's last moments. 

Episode 3.9 -- Feel the Night

Johnny and Ali finally meet up
Johnny (William Zabka) finally gets to reunite with his first love, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue)

First Place -- Ali and Johnny get lunch

Just like Daniel gets a chance to connect with Kumiko, Johnny finally gets face-to-face time with Ali, the woman he never really got over. After an ordering fail during which Johnny thinks he will look cool by ordering a vegan dish, the two bond over cheeseburgers and fries. Johnny gets a chance to apologize, and Ali admits that her life isn't perfect either. And the two have an adorable friend date at Golf N Stuff. 

Daniel and Miguel talk
Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) finally talk face-to-face

Second Place -- Daniel and Miguel hash it out

Although they belong to different dojos, Daniel and Miguel have many similarities in their stories. Now the two "Karate Kids", our zero to hero archetypes, get a chance to talk man-to-man. They come to an understanding of sorts. While Johnny will always be Miguel's sensei, Daniel has some wisdom to share, as well. 

Episode 3.10 -- December 19

Daniel faces Kreese
Daniel (Ralph Macchio) faces Kreese with calm fury

First Place, The fight in the dojo between Johnny, Kreese, Robby, and Daniel

When Johnny shows up at Cobra Kai dojo, he doesn't expect to find Robby there at Kreese's side. He's there to fight Kreese for the damage done to Miguel. Kreese and Johnny fight, and Johnny is finally winning, when Robby intervenes. Johnny must fight his own son, and for the first time, he fights with defense, trying not to harm Robby. Kreese takes advantage of Johnny's moment of mercy to attack from behind like the weakling he is. But just as Kreese is about to choke the life out of Johnny, Daniel comes just in the nick of time. It's there that we get to see Daniel employ the techniques he absorbed from Chozen, ending in a moment of temporary victory. 

Hawk gets ready to attack
Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) is ready to pounce on his prey

Second Place, Hawk turns and helps Demetri

The high schoolers have another huge fight at the LaRusso household while the parents are at the country club Christmas party. While the whole fight sequence is impressive, with the long takes Cobra Kai is now famous for, the moment that made me cheer is when Hawk finally turns and helps Demetri. Hawk finally realizes he is fighting alongside people he despises and ganging up on the friends he still loves. It's a moment we can finally cheer for Hawk. And seeing these two best friends reunite gives us hope there might be conversations happening about Dr. Who again.  

Ali, Daniel, and Johnny meet at country club
Daniel (Ralph Macchio), Ali (Elisabeth Shue), and Johnny (William Zabka) reunite

Honorable Mention, Daniel and Johnny double date

Just like in season 2, Johnny and Daniel meet up unexpectedly for another surprise double date, only this time, Ali is here instead of Carmen. The group talks over drinks, with Ali revealing stories from the past. Daniel finally realizes Ali wasn't cheating on him with a college guy back in the day. It's a humorous opportunity to relive and relearn why things panned out as they did. And Daniel and Johnny get a chance to see each other in a different light again, setting up nicely for the big finale. 

The season ends beautifully, with Johnny and Daniel training their dojos as one. What kind of training will they employ? Who knows what surprises season 4 will bring? 

Terry Silver in tub
Bring back Terry Silver, please!

Here are my hopes:
  • A return of Terry Silver
  • A return of Chozen
  • I believe season 4 will most emulate Karate Kid III. Kreese and perhaps Terry Silver will team up, with Robby as the star pupil. Silver will use the same head games he did with Daniel on Robby. It will all be a plot to get revenge on Johnny. At the last moment, Robby will realize he has been fooled, only it will be Johnny in the role of Miyagi, who helps him claim victory. Kreese will be defeated. 
But who knows how it will actually play out?