Cobra Kai Season Premiere Review: Miguel's Fate is Revealed!

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Miguel lives!

And Cobra Kai never dies, despite the Valley's complaints. The community all but disowned Johnny and Daniel on Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1, and they still hadn't bounced back by Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 2, so it's going to be a hell of a season for them.

Cobra Kai's willingness to challenge each of its characters after the West Valley brawl, which raised the stakes, shows that the third season isn't pulling any punches nor tapping out anytime soon.

Prayers for Miguel  - Tall - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

The fallout from the infamous high school brawl reduced to a gang war between warring Karate dojos easily could've been swept aside, and on most shows, it probably would've been. Instead, the fallout was far and wide.

And Cobra Kai wasted no time poking fun of itself in that way we love by having an angry mob of parents voicing the same complaints and observations we had.

If Cobra Kai doesn't know how to do anything, it excels at some tongue-in-cheek. Angry parents and community members assaulted the PTA board with umbrage and questions.

Where were the teachers during the brawl? The answer is that faculty members aren't permitted to interfere with students fighting.

PTA Meeting  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

It's good to know that your kid could get their ass kicked at school, get punished for fighting back, but the adults you entrust to watch over them stand back like ... wusses.

Why was the only adult who interfered kicking teenagers' asses? Well, the school refused to admit that ole' Stingray worked there, and he's probably somewhere in his mother's basement sulking with a probation order to stay 500 feet away from minors.

Good riddance! I haven't despised a stingray this much since the one responsible for our beloved Crocodile Hunter's death.

And what was the solution for the violence? Ah, counselor Blatt proposed a program similar to (but supposedly more effective than) DARE, called "Hugs Not Hits."

Councilor Blatt  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

Yeah, sure, Jan. At least she saw the error of suggesting such ludicrousy when she had to confirm that the kids are supposed to hug each other, not the adults.

In a month, they'll have another PTA meeting about consent if those are the type of ideas they're brainstorming.

Blatt: We have a new initiative called Hugs, Not Hits. It's like D.A.R.E., except it actually works.
Roger: So your solution is to hug kids? 
Blatt: Actually, they would hug each other.

In a pattern Daniel can't seem to shake, he butted in if anyone made a disparaging remark about karate. And, we know; it saved his life, but it also nearly ended Miguel's and Robby's, you know? The ire is warranted.

Johnny serving as the community's pariah for simply being Johnny is something we could anticipate. However, it's inspired that Daniel has fallen from grace, and his image, business, and family are suffering.

Johnny in the Slammer - Tall  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

Daniel started Miyagi Do to honor Mr. Miyagi, bring something he loves to youth who need and believe in it and help kids like Robby.

But in the public eye, Mr. Miyagi's legacy is tarnished now that Robby's near-fatal kick left Miguel incapacitated. Unfortunately, image matters; Robby isn't looking good at all, so Daniel isn't by association.

You know, it's a shame what happened at the school. Such a tragedy. But I don't really blame Robby. 'Cus you know what they say, there's no such thing as a bad student. It must really hurt to see the Miyagi name dragged through the dirt like that. Wish I could see the little bastard's face.


For the most part, Daniel's concern extends to Robby and his mentor's legacy. But Amanda is livid about the dealership suffering, and she's a dragon-breathing mom enraged at what Tory did to her daughter. All the while pissed that the school is also holding Samantha accountable for her role.

We're in the third season, and while they've softened Amanda's edges some, she still comes across as a total killjoy Karen. Nevertheless, she supported Daniel's mission to find Robby before harm came to him, so it balances it out a bit.

Annoyed Amanda - Tall  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

It remains unfortunate how all of this played out. Tory instigated a brawl because of Samantha's actions. However, it's Robby (who tried to break things up) and Miguel (who showed mercy) who are paying the price.

On the school front, we spent the most time with Sam, and they're treating the place like a public school in a crime-ridden area with extensive security measures.

Yeah, you can understand how returning to the scene of the incident could be traumatic for Sam. She was on the verge of panic attacks, everyone else whispered and gossiped about her, and she kept having flashbacks.

Tory publically assaulted Sam, and whether she knows self-defense or not, an attack leaves some lingering effects and scars far deeper than the ones Tory left on her arm.

Sam's Scar  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

Everything about what Sam endured and witnessed, right down to how she blames herself for everything -- it's ripe for a rich, sympathetic trauma survivor storyline.

I appreciate that they're not skimming past how traumatizing something like this would be regardless of how slick the fight-scene was at the time.

Sam: I thought we were the good guys.
Daniel: We are. At least we try to be. That's what's most important.

Sam is correct about the perception of her after the brawl -- how as a girl, things are different, and she's written off as "crazy" rather than "cool."

The sexism in that is real, and so is Sam's anxiety. All of this could help Sam continue to evolve as a character, but even knowing all of this and being aware of the double-standards and inherent sexism, it's still difficult to care.

Daddy/Daughter Talks  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

It's early yet, though, and Sam succumbing to her peers (again) by seemingly embracing the "crazy badass" image projected on her could lead to something of interest later, so there's that.

Johnny's predictable downward spiral was about a relentless sense of failure and his concern for both of his boys.

Woman: Welcome to Malibu Canyon Recovery. You're doing a very brave thing.
Johnny: What? No, I'm not checking in. I'm no quitter.

And that's what makes his position in this the most compelling. Excluding Sam, Johnny is the only person with a genuine investment in both victim and perpetrator.

He felt as though he let both his son and his mentee down. He can't bear the thought of Robby getting maligned and written off as a screwup like him, nor can he handle anything bad happening to Miguel.

Like Hell - Tall - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

And there's a chasm in both relationships. Johnny isn't the person Robby would turn to even as a fugitive, and Carmen blamed Johnny for what happened to Miguel, so he didn't have as much access to him either.

As usual, Zabka knocked it out of the park and is a real tour de force in every square inch of screentime he has here.

Hey, buddy. Sorry I haven't been here. Your mom hasn't wanted me around. Can't blame her. I thought I was helping you. You were learning so fast, getting so strong, but I failed you. I'm so sorry. I don't know if you can hear me kid, but I know you got it in you to pull through. You just gotta keep fighting. Never give up. You can do this. I know you can.


You couldn't even get upset at Johnny for engaging in his typical self-destructive behavior. He always edges toward self-improvement and then takes a few stumbles back, but that's what makes his journey so worthwhile. It's why we keep coming back for more and root for this man.

He struggles to get it together, but his positive impact is more significant than he ever wants to give himself credit. It's not lost that regardless of how Miguel lashed out at Johnny the next time he saw him, it was Johnny's heartfelt plea that prompted Miguel to wake from his coma.

Johnny Visits Miguel  - Tall - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

Miguel's outcome is about what most expected. My heart aches for the kid, and Maridueña perfectly encapsulated Miguel's hopelessness and confusion. He didn't ask for this, and yet his life is potentially irrevocably changed forever.

Karate is his life; it's the only thing he talked about from the second he woke up. What does he do if he can't fight anymore?

Miguel: Sensei, I did what you taught me. I showed mercy. Why did this happen to me?
Johnny; I don't know.Miguel: I trusted you. I did everything that you told me --
Johnny: Miguel-- 
Miguel: Look at me! Get out of here!
Johnny: Miguel. 

He doesn't have any of the answers, and suddenly, Johnny, the man he trusted most, doesn't have them either.

And neither of them knows what to do with that.

Miguel's Fate - Tall - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

Channeling all of his guilt and sadness into something useful is the exact thing Johnny needed to do, and it led to one of those Johnny/Daniel team-ups that are most enjoyable.

It's always fun when these two sworn enemies come together for a mutual cause. Their odd-couple buddy-cop shtick is comedic gold. Even when they inevitably f*ck it up in no time.

Shannon: All I know is whenever Robby got in trouble, those dimwits weren't far behind.
Johnny: What dimwits? 
Shannon: One looks like Chris Brown, the other looks vaguely Latin.
Johnny: Great Tweedledum and Tweedledumbass. How are we supposed to find those dirtbags?
Daniel: I know where they are.

Robby was practically begging to be found based on the stolen van, alone. And Daniel and Johnny working together to find him made the most sense.

Shannon was a good lead, and the jokes at the rehab facility were priceless. Johnny's line about not being a quitter when the woman assumed he was there for himself was laugh-out-loud funny.

Finding Robby  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

But these two human disasters can't get anything right when they're together, laughs aside. Their good-cop and bad-cop shtick at the prison while talking to Robby's loser ex-friends worked, but let's be real, Daniel let Amanda get in his head again, so by the time they got to the chop-shop, all hell broke loose.

When did Daniel become so insipid and green? Who stands in the middle of a chop-shop and exclaims that they're going to call the police?

The whole reason these kids suffered is because of us. We can't let them suffer because of our issues. The only way to end this is by working together. So what do you say? 


Every season he strays farther away from his roots. Weren't you a kid of the streets, Daniel-san? Do two decades of wearing khakis get a guy's street card revoked? You hate to see it.

The chop-shop fight was pretty damn epic, especially when Daniel and Johnny took out that one guy at the same time. Beautiful execution! It was great until these two idiots disagreed over Johnny's use of force.

Chop Shop Takedown - Tall - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

They could be such a force if they didn't trigger each other at every damn turn. And how many times can Daniel surmise that he and Johnny's 30-year vendetta has ruined the kids and others around them only to get sucked back into it all over again?

If Daniel loves to think of himself as the bigger person anyway, then when does he act like it?

They have to accept the fact that they have different skills and experiences that are of use. If Daniel stuck it out with Johnny long enough instead of reminding him that he's a shitty father, Johnny could've convinced Robby to turn himself in the right way.

Daniel was right about things being better for Robby if he turned himself in. Of course, Daniel wasn't factoring in things like Robby's previous record and reputation as a troubled kid.

Seeking Help - Tall - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

And he should've known the ideal way of doing that was taking Robby directly to the police station instead of calling the cops on Robby.

How else was Robby supposed to perceive Daniel's actions other than manipulation and betrayal? Daniel tries hard to do what he feels is the right thing and live his life in Miyagi's image, but he often misses the boat; bless his heart.

I'm sorry you've been stuck cleaning up my mess.


Out of touch, suburbanite Daniel strikes again.

Meanwhile, Johnny has pure intentions, but he always steps in it. He was so relieved to see Miguel awake, but he didn't have the right words for Miguel upon finding out the teen may not walk again, let alone fight.

Prayers for Miguel  - Tall - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

The revelation was heartbreaking for Miguel, and all he could think about was how he did what Johnny said and showed Robby mercy, and that's what he got in return for it.

It's the type of thing that could break a person or harden their heart, but what was Johnny supposed to say?

Diaz was one of our own. What they did to him, they did to all of us, and it will not go unanswered.


Bad things can happen to good people, and there's no getting around it.

It's something Kreese learned growing up and took to heart. It's what shaped him and made him the man he is today, good, bad, and ugly.

Kreese - Tall  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

Thanks to those flashbacks and his present storyline with Tory, we have better insight into the man behind the "monster."

Cobra Kai's entire premise revolves around a sentiment Kreese shared, that there isn't any good or bad. Within the series, there aren't good or bad characters, only complex, gray ones.

Life isn't always fair. Sometimes the world can be cruel, and that's why you have to learn to be cruel yourself.


Many of the characters swing wildly from likable to loathsome at any given moment, but it's so indisputably dynamic and intrinsically real --relatable even.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Kreese is no exception to this duality, and the series had no intention of reducing a traditional "big bad" to the dichotomy of good or evil.

But how do you feel about that? It's OK for a baddie to be who they are just because without the tragic background explaining why they're the way they are.

On the other hand, Cobra Kai loves to dangle a redemption arc in front of us. In this universe, anyone can redeem themselves. Kreese isn't exempt from that, or is he?

Kreese experienced a cruel world growing up, and his solution was to return it in kind. A young Kreese getting harassed by jocks was as cliched as it came, but the revelation that his mother committed suicide was heartbreaking.

He found a sense of purpose when he saw that Army pamphlet, and he met the love of his life too.

Young Kreese - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

It seems those flashbacks gave us insight into Kreese, but it was also a way to connect him to Tory. Hawk thought he would be the guy to take over in Miguel's absence -- stand as the champion and leader of Cobra Kai.

But Kreese has his eyes on Tory. When you consider his values and his way of thinking, she's the ideal person for him to take under his wing. He does have a knack for honing in on those broken types who are rough around the edges and exploiting them.

I've been fighting my whole life. I sure as hell ain't afraid of you. 

Young Kreese

Kreese has a type. And they feed into his narcissism. Tory is the perfect new pet project and mentee for him, and there's no doubt he'll work to build her in his image.

Tory is ruthless and a real scrapper. Life has kicked her too many times, and she has no choice but to be a fighter.

Tory  - Tall  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

As the eldest kid, she's working multiple jobs to take care of her younger sibling and her sick mother. She has a lot on her plate for a teenager -- too much, and Kreese saw himself in her.

It's evident that Tory is angry at the world, and it's misguided and misdirected. And she has to keep a leash on it as best as she can to keep her household afloat.

Amanda: I can't believe they have the gall to suspend Sam for two weeks! I'm going to tell the school board how incompetent they are. Heads will roll!
Daniel: At least they expelled the girl who started it.
Amanda: Expelled?! That bitch should be in Shawshank!

Tory's landlord is a scumbag, and the only thing better than her nearly breaking his wrist after his disgusting proposition was Kreese almost cutting off his finger with the cigar cutter.

With foot soldiers like Tory and Hawk, Kreese is about to take Cobra Kai to new heights. If Johnny and Danny don't get their shit together, then everything they feared may come to fruition.

Assembling His Crew  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1

Shooting the shit:

  • Amanda is an acquired taste, but only she could pull off "that bitch should be in Shawshank."
  • The only thing more tragic than Robby's situation was his Oliver Twist haircut. Please, no. It's the 90's heartthrob luxurious locks, or it's a bust!
  • Aisha is gone, and I am sad about it.
  • What dumbass doctor would keep a straight face in the room with Miguel but then take his mother outside of the room and tell her about his potential paralyzation IN FRONT OF THE WINDOW WHERE HE CAN SEE IT?! Moron!
Chop Shop Takedown  - Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1
  • Danny and Johnny kicked some SERIOUS ass, no doubt, but my favorite fight scene has to go to Young Kreese taking down a bunch of jocks and bagging Betsy in the end. He was gutsy.
  • How long before we get another Demitri and Hawk fight? Hawk's badass reputation took a serious enough hit that he can't even impress Freshman, and he'll be in his feelings about Tori. He'll be looking for a fight, and Demitri is target number one.
  • If Daniel gives up teaching, then what happens to all the others who joined Miyagi Do?
  • Um, what happened to that Ali friend request notification? We need answers!

Over to you, Cobra Kai Fanatics. What are your thoughts on the first two episodes of the season? Will Miguel regain sensation and fight again?

Have your feelings changed about Kreese after learning more about him? Hit the comments below.

You can watch Cobra Kai online here via TV Fanatic.

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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

Sam: I feel so guilty. 
Daniel: It's not your fault. All this started before you were even born. If not for me and Johnny there wouldn't have been a fight in the first place. This is my fault. 

Amanda: I can't believe they have the gall to suspend Sam for two weeks! I'm going to tell the school board how incompetent they are. Heads will roll!
Daniel: At least they expelled the girl who started it.
Amanda: Expelled?! That bitch should be in Shawshank!