Miguel is back on his feet, technically!
It felt more balanced after spending a significant amount of time in Okinawa with Daniel or with Johnny floundering with the adults in his life as he tried to do right by the teens.
These two installments took us back to some of the things we love most about this series, the Johnny and Miguel dynamic, in particular.
Johnny's attempts to help Miguel have often led him to do things around the kid, but he wasn't spending the most time with him.
And Johnny isn't Johnny if his methods aren't unorthodox, lowkey ableist, and politically incorrect AF. I mean, what more do we expect from Johnny, though, right?
In his defense, Miguel's therapist with his new-aged mumbo jumbo was irritating as hell. He sounded absurd even though working out Miguel's legs and such is perfectly acceptable and recommended.
Perhaps it was the dorky Spanglish he was using and the wimpy man-bun or whatever. But Johnny had it stuck in his mind that Miguel could simply will himself to walk again.
He made it seem as though Miguel needed the right motivational factors, like checking out a porno magazine would inspire him enough, or he could trigger Miguel's flight or fight response by setting his foot on fire.
Tell your brain to tell your legs to get their asses moving.Johnny
Johnny's a mess, but he meant well. It wasn't until his moment of providing some comfort to Carmen that he decided on simply treating Miguel as he would've any other day and taking him out for a good time.
Ironically, without the pressure of thinking about his leg paralysis and worry about whether or not he would walk again, he made some progress.
It was hilarious when Johnny snuck Miguel into a Dee Snider concert -- under the guise of Miguel being a Make-A-Wish kid. Nothing was more satisfying than watching the two rock-out.
Man, I missed their friendship. Classic Rock music, babes, and beer -- it was the perfect night for those two.
But Miguel got to return the favor in kind by helping Johnny out with his Ali message. Finally, they remembered that they left us hanging with the Ali thing.
Go figure, Miguel's condition and Johnny looking for ways to help him are what led the Luddite to crack open the laptop, and he got to see and message Ali and learn about her life.
She looks gorgeous! In a John Hughesian spin, she asked him what he's been doing in the past 30 years and who he was now, and he couldn't figure out how to answer the question.
Ali, you're right. It's crazy how things change. For a long time, I didn't have much direction in my life. But then things got better. I met a kid who needed some help. So I got back into karate and became a sensei. There were ups and downs. I even gave up for a while. But I can't give up anymore. I have a long way to be a better man, a better father, a better teacher. But I can make a difference in these kids' lives. It's a tough world out there, and I can help them be ready for it. That's what I've been up to. That's who I am. I'm a sensei.Johnny
A hell of a lot has happened to Johnny in the past 30 years. However, not all of it is worth sharing with an old flame. Miguel tried helping Johnny out with new pictures for his page and so forth. I mean, no one takes the person who still uses old photos from high school seriously, you know?
But Miguel was right to call Johnny out on giving up. Johnny is a good guy now, and even though he's still on his path toward getting his life together, he's making progress.
But it's easy to understand Miguel's position. It does feel as if Johnny gave up on Cobra Kai as he envisioned it and rolled over and let Kreese take it from him.
Miguel's hard truths got overshadowed by the fact that he was officially standing on his own for the first time, but all of it was something Johnny needed to hear.
Miguel: You're the one who is giving up. You let Kreese take your dojo. You let Hawk, Tory, and everyone else think you're weak.
Johnny: Because it was a mistake, to begin with. I should have never bought back Cobra Kai. Look what happened!
Miguel: What happened is you helped a bunch of people then walked away like a pussy. You're a sensei. It's who you are. If you can't see that you're blind.
It lit a fire under him, much in the way he did for Miguel, and his initial response to Ali -- something inspired from The Breakfast Club-- outlined his path beautifully. It was honest and inspiring, too.
Of course, he didn't send that one, but the sentiment remains. Will Ali show up in person, though? On the one hand, it's nice that he's reconnecting with her, but on the other, it seems as though he worked himself back into Carmen's good graces again.
Carmen is good for him now, and she sees him for everything that he is and can be, too, so forgive a girl for rooting for them over the more nostalgic choice. Bender and Claire were cute and all, but we all know Bender and Allison would've been the shit, just saying.
As for Miguel, his love life seems uncertain. It wasn't until Hawk brought Miguel up at Cobra Kai that it registered that Tory hadn't so much as spoken to Miguel since the incident.
Tory: I know I should've come to see you, I just didn't know how to help.
Miguel: So you did nothing.
Tory: I felt guilty about everything, but we're doing everything we can to get back at Miyagi do for what they did to you. It's like what Sensei Kreese says, if one of us gets hurt, we all got hurt.
Miguel: Nobody else got hurt, Tory. I'm the one in a wheelchair.
Tory: Yeah, I just meant-
Miguel: I know what you meant. I never cared about Miyagi Do or Kreese. I cared about us.
Tory: Did you? Or were you just going out with me to get Sam's attention?
And yeah, that's pretty fucked up. Miguel and Tory's scene at the restaurant was awkward. Miguel spoke from a position of almost moral superiority when he reminded her of all of her actions.
He sure as hell wasn't wrong about Tory's choices -- initiating the fight at the high school the way that she did is how many of them ended up here in the first place. But Miguel bypassed the part he played in kissing Sam, and it's funny that Tory had to remind him of that bit.
Tory is right to feel as though she was some rebound. Isn't it the same question most of the fandom have been asking the whole time?
Tory's idea of helping Miguel is waging this war between Cobra Kai and Miyagi Do. As she said as much to Miguel, and he was unimpressed, it highlighted how stupid it is.
Tory: I saw you with her. I didn't have a choice.
Miguel: Yeah, you did Tory. I know you're helping your mom, but you need help.
Tory: You think I'm crazy?
Miguel: I didn't say that.
Tory: No, that's okay. Everyone does. I don't give a shit because all that matters is who wins in the end.
If Robby is the one who directly did something to Miguel, then why does the rest of Miyagi Do have to be dragged into it?
Robby's in juvie because of what he did, so shouldn't that be enough? Or how about, if Robby injuring Miguel was retaliatory for Miguel kissing Sam, how does that differ from Tory, herself, initiating a brawl with Sam for kissing Miguel?
With Miguel out of commission, it only highlights how distant he and Johnny are from Cobra Kai and what's happening. Neither of them would condone the ongoing beef between the dojos or how ugly things have gotten.
Cobra Kai came up to Chris' job to mess with him and be general nuisances to everyone around, and Sam thought showing up to have another smackdown would prove that they would no longer allow Cobra Kai to bully them.
Hawk: What do you want?
The problem is the tit-for-tat has gone on for so long without either of them letting shit go, and it's hard to imagine either of them resolving their issues by now. The divide has gotten so much worse.
Miyagi Do did have the upper hand in the Arcade fight until Tory showed up. But Tory's presence triggered Samantha something fierce, and I appreciate that they're showcasing this, and Sam's anxiety hasn't disappeared. She went into a full-blown panic attack, rendering her useless.
The girl who took down three guys from Cobra Kai (she kicked ass, no?) was suddenly cowering in a corner at the mere sound of Tory's voice.
The fight was entertaining as hell until it got all too real. Hawk breaking Demetri's arm is a game-changer. The other Cobra Kai members were calling for blood, Demetri was pleading with his friend, Eli, but Hawk did it anyway.
Sam LaRusso, where are you bitch?Tory
We saw a glimpse of shock and regret across his face, though. I don't think Hawk expected to go that far, and that incident may be the start of Hawk's slow-coming redemption arc from the victim, to bully, to a fighter with honor.
Ironically, Hawk and Sam face similar situations -- their tormentors triggering them -- and it's manifesting in different ways.
We're used to the two "f's" of fight or flight, but there's also "freeze." Sam freezes in the face of her bully, but Hawk fights.
Hawk has found a home and purpose with Cobra Kai, however misguided it has become. But he sees the writing on the wall with Kreese. Displacement is a reality with Kreese recruiting actual athletes for his army of hellraisers, including Kyler.
Now, Hawk has invaders in his home, and Kyer, the very person that led him to Cobra Kai in the first place, has replaced one of his best friends on the team.
I understand why Hawk and Kyler couldn't face off this soon, but if Hawk was going to beat someone to a bloody pulp, you kind of wish it was Kyler, right?
Hawk taking down Brucks was badass and satisfying until it wasn't. Midway through the beatdown, when Hawk pulled away with blood-soaked fists, even Tory reached a point where Hawk's brutality disturbed her. It was shocking, and Kreese lived for every second of it.
Amanda: Look, Sam, I don't know what's going on with you.
Sam: No. You don't. And if you really think that Karate is the problem, then you haven't been paying attention.
Kyler's reaction was that of horror and fear, and you could tell the exact moment when he probably realized his role in creating Hawk. Something tells me Kyler will experience the same shame as Chozen.
Hawk snapped, but it's hard to say if this is a sign of him being too far gone right now or if it'll lead to him distancing himself from Cobra Kat at some point.
If he's this way with Kyler, then what would things be like if Robby accompanies them?
Robby wasn't a fan of Kreese at their meeting, but he did look into the man and Kreese's past with Johnny. And as much as he dismissed Kreese, he heeded his words about striking first.
Robby: You're wasting your time, old man. The last thing I need right now is another sensei.
Kreese: Fair enough. I don't think there's much I can teach you right now anyway. Except maybe this. All that Miyagi do mumbo jumbo, that might score you points in a tournament, but now, you're in the real world, kid. You might want to learn to strike first.
Robby kicking his bully's ass was long overdue, and that flying kick to the face was pretty damn awesome. Finally, he held his own and kicked some ass. Hell yes!
The approach seemed to work for him in juvie. Given how he left things with the other teen, the bullying may be over because of their mutual lack of snitching. But what does that mean for Bobby when he gets out?
Was that enough to lure him into Cobra Kai? Once again, as much as I love the Johnny and Miguel moments, it remains disheartening that Johnny can't seem to pull off any of that with Robby no matter how much he tries.
Robby may be susceptible to Kreese's influence and mechanizations, too.
Captain: You got a death wish kid?
Young Kreese: Not wishing for it, just not afraid of it. Some people can't tell the difference.
We're getting better insight into how Kreese became who he is and his time in Vietnam shaped him. His fearlessness and drive are what prompted Captain Turner to recruit him to his Special Ops, but it seemed Kreese wasn't heartless from the beginning.
The incident with the bombing was awful. Kreese thought he was saving his friend by not blowing up the camp, but they all got captured, and his friend was executed anyway because of his hesitation.
And from the looks of things, something happened to his beloved Betsy, too. Kreese lived a tortured life, but he doesn't have to be this way now. His methodologies and way of life were shaped by those days, and you can see it.
But he's going to be hard for the LaRussos to take down. The Kreese and Amanda standoff was everything I didn't know I needed, right down to Amanda smacking him, and it was one of her best scenes of the series to date.
Kreese: You're a feisty one, but I like that. I like it-
Amanda: I don't give a shit what you like. You're a sociopath. And I'm shutting you down if it's the last thing I do.
Sadly, she convinced herself she could Karen her way through destroying Kreese, and he outplayed her and raised the stakes. The restraining order was ingenious, and the snake at the dealership was damaging.
Did Amanda really think Kreese would accept Armand's eviction and go on his merry way? She, herself, called the man a psycho. The situation could only end with Kreese beating the hell out of Armand and his goons.
The secret to beating Kreese may lie in what Daniel took away from his time in Okinawa. He had a gratifying experience with Chozen, and they were able to understand each other better.
Kumiko was right to urge the two of them to spend time together. Kumiko was correct on a lot of things.
Any outsider can see that Daniel's real conversations with another rival apply to Johnny.
Daniel understood that Chozen was a product of his terrible teacher and accepted how he had changed in 30 years, so why can't he do the same for Johnny?
Chozen: Your sensei is a man of great honor. I can only hope to be like him.
Daniel: Hey, you only did what your teacher told you to do.
Chozen: After our fight, I felt great shame. I wanted to die. But my uncle saved me. He gave me a chance to prove myself. I spent my life trying to do just that but regret is sometimes difficult to overcome.
He has yet to extend Johnny the same grace no matter what Johnny says or does.
Chozen did give Daniel a bit of the runaround, put off by the White American who walked into Okinawa feeling entitled to the sacred Miyagi-Do secrets.
It's true; Miyagi did regard Daniel as a son, and therefore as his student and family, he should have rights to them as much as any other Miyagi student/descendant.
But you can't fault Chozen one bit for giving Daniel a run for his money. He kicked Daniel's ass, and the addition of pressure points intensified their fight to new heights -- enough to have you on the edge of your seat since the quiet Chozen still wasn't giving away his real sentiments.
Chozen and Daniel had such authentic moments of addressing their feelings, their experiences and putting their past behind them.
And in turn, Chozen's parting gift for Daniel was the sacred scroll. Hopefully, whatever he learns from that, he can apply to what's happening in the Valley with Kreese.
If an enemy insists on war, then you take away their ability to wage it.Chozen
Daniel's trip was a success all-around, as even a good deed he did 30 years ago (helping Yuna) led to him saving his dealership, for now, thanks to the fact that Yuna is the head of sales at Doyona.
But Kreese has declared war on the LaRussos, and he's using everything, including Cobra Kai, to do it.
Ideally, if Daniel and Johnny can get on the same damn page, they can put an end to Kreese. They'd be a hell of a force.
Shooting the Shit:
- How hype was Dee Snider to come onto this show? Honestly, I can't think of another series streaming that has won over so many demographics including classic rockers.
- Anthony lives! Thankfully, they've figured out the formula for the perfect amount of Anthony which is very little or not at all.
- Is it just me or was Daniel and Kumiko's goodbye anticlimactic? I'm not advocating for an affair or anything, but after all that flirting, I expected a final close-call moment.
- How long is Robby supposed to hang out in juvie? We're halfway through the season now, and he's been mostly alienated from everything and everyone.
- Kreese's quip about how he just got all the blood out of the floor before he presumably kicked the asses of Armand's nephews killed me. Sir, when you say things like that, I can't NOT like you.
- Speaking of that ass-whooping, is anyone else bummed we didn't get to see it?
- Chozen and Daniel's fight scene was fantastic. The cut between Robby and the dojos fighting each other was good, but they needed to do a better job at making the hits and kicks look as if they actually connected.
Hey, Danny boy. Nice try, but you can't win a war with diplomacy. So I suggest you prepare your students for battle because now it's open season on them and you.Kreese
Over to you, Cobra Kai Fanatics.
Should Johnny reconnect with Ali? How did you feel about Daniel's run-in with Chozen? Are you shocked by how far Hawk went with Demetri? Do you think he's prime for redemption?
Hit the comments below to discuss, and circle back for some more reviewing.
You can watch Cobra Kai online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.