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"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 is the season 3 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. Two soldiers in Kreese's group are chosen to fight. During their fight, Kreese asks Captain Turner for guidance, but the latter says there is no rank here and it's every man for themselves. Then, one of the soldiers throws the other into the pit, making Kreese uncomfortable. The soldier that won is brought back into the cage, where he reveals to Terry Silver that the depth of the pit isn't the worst part of the battle zone.

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. However, Cobra Kai violently raids the meeting, and yet 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 has the upper hand, but after Hawk sees Kyler beating Miguel, as well as Mitch being repeatedly hit, Hawk starts to suffer a crisis of conscience, as he realizes he's fighting alongside the bullies who once made his life a misery and remembers the statements made by Johnny, Miguel and Kreese. When Doug and another Cobra Kai have Demetri in a hold and offer him another free shot, Hawk makes his choice and attacks his fellow Cobra Kais after realizing that Johnny and Miguel are right, Kreese's methods are wrong, and coming to terms with his reluctance to be on Cobra Kai with Kyler and Robby and how Cobra Kai made him a ruthless individual. After saving Demetri, Hawk apologizes to Demetri for all the bullying he put him through, which Demetri is happy to accept; together they attack and defeat several Cobra Kai's. Miguel is seen bloody and near defeat, but regains his confidence and proceeds to defeat and knock out Kyler.

After defeating the Cobra Kais in the house, Miguel, Hawk and Demetri head to Miyagi-Do, where Sam has just disarmed Tory with her bo staff. Hawk and Miguel convince Tory to stop the fight, which she begrudgingly does while calling Miguel and Hawk traitors. She tells Hawk to watch his back; Demetri replies that Hawk has friends who will watch it for him.

Back at the Encino Oaks Country Club, Johnny and Daniel continue to banter as Ali shares stories from their past, and Amanda gleefully processes their stories. 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, much to the horror of Silver. 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 laughs at and taunts a devastated Kreese about this, it is revealed that the pit over which the American soldiers were forced to fight is full of Cobras and many other venomous snakes.

Back in the present day, an enraged Johnny, who learned of the LaRusso house fight, 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 losing to Turner in their fight in Vietnam are being 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 Kreese's 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 is on the verge of being thrown into the pit by Turner, and the latter berates him for being unable to shed his humanity. However, Kreese manages to regain his footing after stabbing him with a bamboo stick. Kreese then proceeds to overpower Turner, leading to Turner dangling over the pit and barely hanging on the edge. Back 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, mirroring the beginning of The Karate Kid Part II and what Johnny did to Kreese at the beginning of the second season.

The timelines continue to intersperse. Turner is seen dangling precariously over the snake pit and Kreese is one move away from killing Turner. When Kreese is about to defeat and murder Turner, the U.S. forces arrive, causing the Vietnamese soldiers to flee. Turner orders Kreese to pull him up, but this is when Turners' lessons come back to bite him, as Kreese tells him that while he did not follow his lessons, he won't make that mistake again. His final words to his Captain are "No Mercy", before stomping on Turners' left hand, which sends him plummeting into the cobra and venomous snake pit, ultimately leading to Turner being killed by venemous snake bites.

Meanwhile in the present-day, Daniel, enraged that his house got raided, saves Johnny from Kreese’s chokehold and scolds Kreese for sending the Cobra Kais to attack his and Johnny's students. 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. At Daniel's mercy, Kreese is shocked that he was able to learn techniques Mr. Miyagi never taught him. Johnny appears at the broken glass area and witnesses a disabled Kreese to which he gives a nod of approval to Daniel, meaning it’s acceptable to finally kill Kreese. Sam and Miguel arrive in time to stop Daniel from delivering the heavy blow. Kreese proposes they settle this long-standing grudge the old fashioned way: with a tournament. Kreese promises that if they win the upcoming All Valley tournament, he'll leave. Robby stays with Kreese, while Sam and Miguel gather behind Daniel and Johnny.

In a final flashback, Kreese frees the rest of the soldiers and Terry promises him that he owes him for the rest of his life, while in the present-day, Kreese looks at his photo and makes a phone call to a cruel friend of his.

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

Trivia/Episode Discussion

  • This is the first finale episode to be directed by Josh Heald instead of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg.
    • This is also the first finale episode to not be written by Heald or Hurwitz or Schlossberg.
  • The song "Duel of the Snakes" is a nod the the Star Wars track "Duel of the Fates".
  • This episode marks the reunion of Ali Mills with Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. She also meets Amanda LaRusso for the first time.
    • Ali was the sole reason behind Daniel and Johnny's rivalry.
  • The waiter nearly spilling spaghetti over Johnny at the country club is a reference to the original movie when Daniel was spying on Ali and got spaghetti over him after bumping into a waiter.
  • During the dinner with Johnny, Daniel and Amanda, Ali references the events of the Halloween dance from the original movie.
  • 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.
    • However, the difference is that Mr. Miyagi spares Kreese but in this case, Daniel was about to end him but did not after Miguel and Sam arrived at the second before Daniel was about to kill Kreese.
  • 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, instead of "LaRusso" or "Danielle". It also marks the first time both Johnny and Daniel respectfully 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 conduct, 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/Eagle Fang with some other former Cobra Kai students/rejects.
    • Most notably, Miguel, Demetri and Hawk's friendship from Season 1 is also restored.
  • Kreese makes a phone call to his old ally.
  • Terry is confirmed to appear in Season 4.
  • 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 training merge also ended rivalries with their respective students, most notably Hawk and Demetri, Chris and Mitch, and Bert and Nate. However, Johnny and Daniel's dojos would still go against each other in the next All Valley Karate Tournament due to a failed merge attempt.
  • 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.
    • The similarity is that all four main characters ended rivalries with one another, but the difference is that Daniel and Johnny survive, but Romeo and Juliet faced death.
  • Among the Cobra Kai's that participated in stealing the snake, Robby is the only one not to participate in the LaRusso house fight.
  • Under California Criminal Code, all of the Cobra Kai's whom participated in the attack on the LaRusso family house have committed CPC Section 459, a felony, and could face up to 20 years in prison.
    • Since Kreese is the one who ordered the attack, he would face a lengthier sentence. Fittingly, he would be arrested for aggravated assault and attempted murder in the next season when he is framed by Terry Silver for attacking Stingray. In fact, unbeknownst to Silver, his crimes allude to his fight with Daniel and Johnny as he both nearly killed them only to be defeated by both of them.
  • This was the last episode of Cobra Kai to operate under a YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red) budget. When the first and second seasons were moved to Netflix, it became a Netflix-budgeted show and and Season 4 would be the first season to operate under a Netflix budget.
           The Karate Kid Franchise

Films
The Karate Kid | Part II | Part III | The Next Karate Kid | The Karate Kid (2010)

Cobra Kai
Season 1
Ace Degenerate | Strike First | Esqueleto | Cobra Kai Never Dies | Counterbalance | Quiver | All Valley | Molting | Different but Same | Mercy

Season 2
Mercy Part II | Back in Black | Fire and Ice | The Moment of Truth | All In | Take a Right | Lull | Glory of Love | Pulpo | No Mercy

Season 3
Aftermath | Nature Vs. Nurture | Now You're Gonna Pay | The Right Path | Miyagi-Do | King Cobra | Obstáculos | The Good, The Bad, and The Badass | Feel The Night | December 19

Season 4
Let's Begin | First Learn Stand | Then Learn Fly | Bicephaly | Match Point | Kicks Get Chicks | Minefields | Party Time | The Fall | The Rise

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