"There's your side, and your side, and then there is the truth. And the truth is, you guys are more alike than you want to admit. And maybe you recognize parts of yourselves in each other, and maybe you don't always like what you see."
Ali Mills

December 19 is the tenth episode of the third season of Cobra Kai and the third season finale.

Summary

Old wounds begin to heal at a country club holiday party, but a brutal assault by Kreese’s students leads to new betrayals and alliances.

Plot

This episode begins with a flashback of North Vietnam in 1969, in which John Kreese, as a POW, is being forced by his captors to fight to the death against his compatriots on a platform above a pit.

The action cuts back to present-day at the Encino Oaks Country Club, where Daniel LaRusso, after ordering drinks from Bartender Brett, is surprised and excited to see Ali Mills next to him at the bar.  Daniel and Ali exchange pleasantries and reminiscences between each other, but Daniel is soon miffed upon realizing that Ali is there with Johnny Lawrence, and that they have been spending time together. Daniel and Johnny verbally banter with each other, and as Amanda LaRusso enters the scene, she becomes playful when she learns that Daniel and Ali used to date each other.

At the LaRusso house, Sam’s attempt at achieving a union between Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do is greatly aided by an emotional speech from Demetri. Cobra Kai violently raids the meeting, however, and another karate war ensues. Initially, the fight appears to be even. At one point, Tory singles out Sam in the fight, and though Sam initially runs away scared, she is able to find her strength and determination after Tory smashes a photo of Mr. Miyagi.

Back in the house, Cobra Kai is taking control and winning the fight, but Hawk starts to suffer a crisis of conscience as he realizes he's fighting alongside the bullies who once made his life a misery. When two of them have Demetri in a hold and offer him a free shot, Hawk makes his choice and attacks his fellow Cobra Kais after reminiscing the statements made by Johnny, Miguel and Kreese. He apologizes to Demetri after saving his best friend, an apology Demetri is happy to accept, and together they attack and defeat several Cobra Kai's. Miguel is seen bloody and near defeat, but he manages to regain his confidence and turn the tide of the fight against Kyler. After defeating the Cobra Kai's in the house, Miguel, Hawk and Demetri head to Miyagi Do, where Sam has just disarmed Tory with her bow-staff. Hawk convinces Tory to stop the fight, which she begrudgingly does.

Back at the Encino Oaks Country Club, Johnny and Daniel continue to banter as Ali shares stories from their past and Amanda gleefully absorbs it all. Ali helps Daniel and Johnny see that they are more alike than they'd like to admit and that both are equally responsible for the events leading to their rivalry. The two men accept the truth of this, allowing them to begin moving on. At the end of the evening, Daniel and Ali share an emotional parting in which Ali reflects, “we were so young, and the good times far outweighed the bad.”

Johnny and Ali exchange parting words at the valet, at which point she asks him about Carmen. Ali proclaims that she has been enjoying reliving the past, but they must now look to the future. After an emotional hug, Johnny departs in his 1993 Dodge Caravan with the intention of confessing his love to Carmen. Instead, at her apartment, he finds Miguel badly beaten and bruised.

The action returns to the flashback in Vietnam. Captain Turner is lined up to be the next fighter, and the Vietnamese soldiers choose the terrified Terry Silver to be his opponent.  However, Kreese stands up and volunteers to fight the captain in Silver's place. The captain, hoping to gain a psychological advantage, reveals the contents of a letter that he had previously kept hidden from Kreese; Betsy was killed in a car crash. As the captain taunts a devastated Kreese about this, it is revealed that the pit over which the Americans are fighting is full of snakes.

Back in the present day, an enraged Johnny arrives at the Cobra Kai dojo, kicking in the door and finding Kreese training Robby. Kreese insists that three generations of Cobra Kai will “melt this whole snowflake generation,” but Johnny rejects Kreese’s offer to join forces and aggressively attacks Kreese, causing Kreese to fight back. The two have a big fight, as flashbacks of Kreese battling the captain in Vietnam are interspersed. Johnny and Kreese fight and both fight for the upper hand. Kreese sometimes has the upper hand, but Johnny has it for most of the fight. Eventually Kreese kicks Johnny in the stomach and sends him against the wall. Johnny gets one of the weapons and thinks about stabbing him, but drops the weapon when Robby shouts "Don't do it!". Johnny then slips Kreese onto the ground and starts repeatedly punching and battering Kreeses face making it bleed badly until Robby intervenes, trying to fight his father. Johnny tries not to retaliate, but easily blocks and ends up accidentally throwing Robby into a locker knocking him out in extremely brief momentary anger. Johnny regrets it immediately and then tries to help Robby. In the flashback, Kreese beats his captain, while in the present day, he attacks Johnny from behind with a Sai and then after Johnny kicks the Sai away, Kreese puts him in a chokehold once Johnny's down.

The timelines continue to intersperse. As U.S. forces raid the camp, Turner is seen dangling precariously over the snake pit. Just then the US forces arrive, causing the Vietnamese soldiers to flee. Turner tells Kreese to pull him up, but Kreese decides to embrace his captain's mantra of 'No Mercy' and instead sends him plummeting into the cobra pit which results in Turner, falling to his death. Meanwhile in the present-day, Daniel saves Johnny from Kreese’s chokehold. The fight spills outside and Kreese tries to stab Daniel with a large shard of broken glass, but Daniel employs the pressure point techniques he learned from Chozen and disables Kreese. He and Johnny give each other a nod of approval, meaning it’s acceptable to finally kill Kreese, but Sam and Miguel arrive in time to stop Daniel from going too far. Kreese proposes they settle this long-standing grudge the old fashioned way: with a tournament. Robby stays with Kreese, while Sam and Miguel gather behind Daniel and Johnny.

In a final flashback, we see Silver promise Kreese lifelong loyalty, while in the present-day, Kreese looks at his photo and makes a phone call, presumably to his old war buddy.

The final scene shows both Eagle Fang, Miyagi-Do, Miguel, and Hawk assembled, ready for training, as Daniel and Johnny both bow to them and each other.

Trivia/Episode Discussion

  • This episode marks the reunion of Ali Mills with Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. She also meets Amanda LaRusso for the time.
  • The truth behind Daniel and Ali's breakup, only briefly mentioned in The Karate Kid Part II, is revealed.
  • This is the second time Johnny Lawrence has been saved by Miyagi-Do.
  • This episode marks the first time Daniel and Kreese engage each other in a fight.
  • This episode marks the first time that Johnny calls Daniel by his first name. It also marks the first time both Johnny and Daniel respectully bow to each other. The only other time they bowed to any degree was when the referee told them to bow at the start of their fight at end of the first film. Daniel bows, but Johnny only gives a slight nod.
  • After seeing the errors of his ways, Hawk finally redeems himself by defending Demetri (and regaining his friendship back) from his former Cobra Kai teammates. Furthermore, he ultimately defects from Cobra Kai to join Miyagi-Do with some other former Cobra Kai students/rejects.
  • Johnny and Daniel finally choose to put their differences aside with the help of Ali and together they both combine their Dojos to become co-senseis over their joint dojos training. While both dojos still exist outside of the merge, they train together to prepare for the tournament against Cobra Kai.
  • The episode’s title is a reference to the date of Daniel’s first All Valley Karate Tournament in 1984.
  • The ending of the episode mirrors the ending of William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
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