For all the young adults who have encountered bullying in school, ‘The Karate Kid’ is the ultimate fantasy: the classic story of an underdog who defeats his tormentor at his own game. Set 34 years after the original film, the Netflix (previously YouTube Premium) series ‘Cobra Kai’ turns this iconic and yet quintessentially 1980s fare on its head by offering the so-called villain’s perspective and showing how his life was affected by the hero’s actions. Although they never actively wanted it, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) end up passing their rivalry on to their students by the end of season 2, with disastrous consequences. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1 Recap
The season 3 premiere, titled ‘Aftermath,’ picks up not long after where season 2 ends, depicting the school brawl’s immediate fallout between the students of Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do. Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) has been in a coma for a couple of weeks now, while Robby (Tanner Buchanan) is on the run, and Sam (Mary Mouser) will likely bear the scars from her fight with Tory (Peyton List) for a long time. Daniel has shut down Miyagi-Do, and Johnny has lost Cobra Kai to Kreese (Martin Kove). Deeply repentant for his role in what happened at the school, Daniel reaches out to Johnny, telling him that they should work together.
Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1 Explained: Why Is Miyagi-Do Closed?
After the fight in the season 2 finale, Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) tells Daniel that he must stop karate and close Miyagi-Do. Daniel is visibly reluctant to do that but eventually acquiesces. In season 3, the couple experiences further ramifications. Their reputation and that of their dealership are in ruins.
Several employees seemingly have left, forcing the LaRussos to rehire Louie, an obnoxious but fiercely loyal sales representative. During a parent-teacher conference, Daniel tries to object when the school administration announces that they have decided to ban karate, but his voice is drowned out by those of other parents, who blame him and Miyagi-Do.
Johnny Visits Miguel
After Miguel is hospitalized in the season 2 finale, Carmen (Vanessa Rubi) breaks up with Johnny. At the start of season 3, Johnny is right where he was at the beginning of the series: drunk, broke, and with no prospect whatsoever for a better future. He gets badly beaten in a bar fight and later thrown into jail. When he learns that Miguel has been in a coma for two weeks, Johnny gets out of the jail with a bail bondsman’s help and goes to see Miguel at West Valley General. However, he learns that Miguel is in the ICU, and only patients, family members, and doctors are allowed there.
Johnny initially comes up with the plan of pretending to be a doctor, but quickly realizes that his broken and battered face will not fool anyone. He takes the only option available at that point if he wants to see his star pupil. He injures himself further and goes in as a patient. When he finally sees Miguel, he is overwhelmed with emotions. His utter failure with his students comes back to haunt him. ‘Cobra Kai’ is not a simple show about the traditional hero and villain switching places. Instead, it painstakingly points out numerous times the fact that Daniel and Johnny are quite similar. Their lives went on such vastly different trajectories because of their choices over the years and the teachers that they had.
Sam Claims Back Her Space
After the fight, Sam has become reclusive and doesn’t want to go to school, knowing exactly what the other students think of her from the constant looks and sniggers that she receives. As she tells Daniel, winning a fight doesn’t have the same aftermath for the girls as they do for the boys, as the girls who fight are considered crazy.
With Miguel in a coma and Robby absconding, the only friend she had left at school was Aisha (Nichole Brown). But in the season 3 premiere, it is revealed that Aisha’s parents have moved her to a private school, leaving Sam all alone. After her poignant conversation with her father, Sam decides to embrace who she is and face her realities. She returns to school, confronting the students who were talking about her behind her back. She also takes off her jacket, having no intention to hide her injuries from the fight.
Daniel Asks for Johnny’s Help
Like Daniel, Johnny is deeply remorseful. He urges Miguel to keep fighting before he is forced to leave the hospital. Elsewhere, Daniel spends the entire day looking for Robby after discovering that he has fled with one of the used cars from the dealership. The intention of both him and Johnny was initially noble. They just wanted to help the children, but it quickly descended into a personal rivalry between them, and their respective students suffered. Realizing this, Daniel takes his own advice and goes to confront his problems, only to find that Kreese is now running Cobra Kai.
When he eventually finds Johnny, he asks for the other man’s help to find Robby and get the boy to surrender to the authorities peacefully. After all, Johnny is Robby’s father. Despite the estrangement, he must know a way to get through to his son and help him.
Miguel Wakes Up
While he is in a coma, Miguel dreams of a karate match. It is only when he wins it that he wakes up in the real world. No matter what the future holds for him, he is now unquestionably a winner, a true Cobra Kai. He has taken on a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and emerged victorious. Almost everyone, except for his family, friends, and Johnny, had given up on him, but they had no idea that the boy has an indomitable fighting spirit.
Read More: Cobra Kai: Season 1 Recap / Explained