- "You've trained hard. You've gotten stronger, tougher, faster. You've done your best. You're ready for this tournament, am I right? Wrong! Your best ain't shit! If you wanna win the All Valley Under-18 Karate Tournament, you gotta give me better than your best. Which is why from now on, you're gonna get my worst."
- ―Johnny Lawrence[src]
Johnny prepares his Cobra Kai students for the next All Valley Karate Tournament and in turn, he is inspired to clean up his life. Daniel is still unaware of his new pupil's background. But as events unfold, it seems nothing has changed between Daniel and Johnny in 30 years.
In an automobile junkyard, Johnny rallies his students with a speech before putting them through a training from Hell montage set to "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister, culminating with Johnny unleashing a pack of hungry German Shepherds upon the kids. At the LaRusso house, the family greets Daniel's mother Lucille, who has come to visit from New Jersey. Over a family barbecue, Daniel fumes about the committee's decision to reinstate Cobra Kai. His mother denounces them as a bunch of bullies (including telling everyone about how the Cobra Kai gang pushed Daniel down a hill.), but knowing Miguel as she does, Sam is not convinced. Nevertheless, Daniel advises her to stay away from them, while his cousin Louie suggests getting even by force. Eventually, a huge quarrel erupts between Amanda and Lucille over Louie's unprofessional behavior and his use of Daniel's name to make his own deal involving luxury motorcycles.
At Cobra Kai, Miguel trains with Johnny alone, as Johnny believes he is the only student with a chance of winning the tournament. Miguel then receives a selfie of Sam on his phone, and Johnny immediately recognizes her as Daniel's daughter. He proceeds to tell Miguel his version of the events of 1984, painting Daniel as the cocky new kid who stole Ali from him and himself as the innocent party just trying to get him to back off. He advises Miguel to watch out for the LaRussos.
After returning home for the night, Johnny is invited to have dinner with Miguel's family. Miguel is excused from the table to take a call from Sam, who is taking a break from her own family. Eager to keep their relationship going, she suggests that he join another dojo in the valley, but Miguel declines out of loyalty to Johnny. Miguel's mother reveals to Johnny that she left Ecuador due to a husband she describes as "a very bad man", unwilling to let the mistakes of the past determine her future. Inspired, Johnny returns home and begins to clean up his apartment and his life.
Robby arrives at the LaRusso house for a training session and meets Sam for the first time. Daniel invites her to come and train with them, but she has already agreed to go to the mall with her mother and grandmother. Daniel drives Robby out to a wooded area where they engage in another training montage. When Daniel shares a lesson about balance in life, Robby nearly tells him the truth about who his father is, but ultimately decides against it. His training is capped off with a balancing exercise in which he tries to execute karate techniques atop a horizontal tree trunk without falling. Upon succeeding, he finds Daniel perched upside down on one arm trying to perform the most powerful kick in Miyagi-Do karate, a double-footed kick that he has never done before.
At the movies, Miguel vents to his friends about not being able to see Sam due to Daniel's hatred of Cobra Kai. As Hawk throws Milk Duds at the girls sitting in front of them, he tells Miguel to just go over to her house and talk to her, which he describes as an "alpha move." Meanwhile, Johnny visits his stepfather Sid and gives back all the money the old man ever gave him, telling Sid that he no longer needs him in his life.
Daniel returns home to find that all is well between his wife and mother, thanks to Sam's mediation. As the family sits down to dinner, Miguel arrives unannounced and unseen to see Robby talking to Sam. Heartbroken and angry, Miguel walks away.
As Johnny composes a letter of atonement to Robby for his past mistakes, he is startled by the sound of shattering glass and goes outside to witness Louie and the two biker thugs vandalizing his car before soaking it in gasoline, allegedly in Daniel's name. Johnny makes short work of the bikers and subdues Louie, but one of the thugs manages to set fire to his car. Enraged, Johnny demands Daniel's address from Louie before riding away on one of the bikers' motorcycles to confront his enemy.
- Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso
- William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence
- Courtney Henggeler as Amanda LaRusso
- Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz
- Diora Baird as Shannon Keene
- Courtney Henggeler as Amanda LaRusso
- Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene
- Vanessa Rubio as Carmen Diaz
- Mary Mouser as Samantha LaRusso
- Gianni Decenzo as Demetri Alexopoulos
- Jacob Bertrand as Eli/Hawk
- Nichole Brown as Aisha Robinson
- Griffin Santopietro as Anthony LaRusso
- Randee Heller as Lucille LaRusso
- Ed Asner as Sid Weinberg
- The episode's title, Molting refers to a snake shedding its old skin to make way for a new growth.
- This episode is the first return of Randee Heller as Lucille LaRusso since The Karate Kid Part III in 1989.
- Lucille references a moment in the original, when Johnny and his goons attack Daniel on their motorcycles, forcing the latter off his bike and into a ravine.
- Irony: Here, Miguel calls Daniel an "asshole". However, in Lull, 9 episodes later, Miguel defends Daniel, by fighting Hawk, after the latter ravaged the Miyagi-Do dojo.
- Johnny tells Miguel that Tommy got brain damage from the fight with Mr. Miyagi. However, Miguel has no idea who Tommy is, as the former was born in the 21st century, and never met the latter.
- Johnny, similar to when he told John Kreese about the fight with Miyagi, nonobservantly tells his story of him and Daniel to Miguel, in a way that puts himself (Johnny) on the victim's end, and Daniel on the aggressor's end. Namely, Johnny does not admit to being the actual aggressor in a lot of situations:
- Ali had already broken up with Johnny, before she knew Daniel existed.
- "LaRusso kept butting in"--Actually, Daniel was defusing what would have turned into dating violence...Daniel was actually defusing a fight, and it is anyone's business to stop a fight like that.
- "I defended myself"/"Daniel attacked me"--Even though he stopped Daniel from rushing at him, Johnny was actually the real attacker during the beach fight, as the fight really started, when Johnny shoved Daniel to the ground. Ending the fight with Daniel on the ground, as well as the stomach kick, was Johnny's attack.
- "Out of nowhere, the guy sucker punches me"--The punch was not out of nowhere, as the fight had already started, and Daniel did it, as Johnny approached the latter, attempting to hurt him on the ground.
- Johnny does not mention attacking Daniel on his motorcycle, and making the latter fall into a ravine; that was clearly Johnny as the real aggressor.
- "Try to put an end to things"--Johnny did not need to chase Daniel down and beat him up.
- Johnny's gang could have been charged with gang-assault.
- "Guy comes out of nowhere, jumps us, and assaults me and my friends"--Actually, the fight with Mr. Miyagi started with the Cobras attacking Miyagi, after the latter grabbed Daniel (whom the Cobras have been savagely beating) out of the way of Johnny's would-be crippling and/or fatal flying kick. The Cobras attacked Miyagi, who only defended himself. In other words, Johnny and his friends jumped Miyagi.
- "You gotta watch out for the LaRussos"--Johnny is first of all, not considering Daniel's perspective, and second of all, making an oversimplified generalization of the LaRusso family, without actually meeting them all.
- Lucille saw Daniel's eye injuries, after the latter fell down the hill. However, Daniel never told Lucille that it was Johnny's gang who did it...So how could Lucille know that it was Johnny's gang who pushed him down the hill?
- Despite being somewhat a plot retcon, it could heavily be implied that Daniel told the truth to his mother about his experience being bullied by Johnny following the events of the first film. One fact is that Daniel could've told the truth to his mom offscreen after the bike accident from Johnny and his gang and when he decided to hide the truth about his experience being bullied from her.
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