"Life isn't always fair. Sometimes the world can be cruel. And that's why you have to learn to be cruel yourselves. Weakness is unacceptable. The fight at the school was an embarrassment. You lost soldiers and you lost the battle. But you will not lose again. Diaz was one of our own. What they did to him, they did to all of us. And it will not go unanswered. We will show no mercy. We will show no weakness. We will strike back and we will strike hard! Is that clear?"
John Kreese[src]

Nature Vs. Nurture is the second episode of the third season of Cobra Kai.

Summary

Daniel and Johnny team up to find Robby. Miguel faces an uncertain future. Kreese tries to bring Tory back to Cobra Kai.

Plot

In 1965 in the San Fernando Valley, two boys and a girl exit a car and go into a diner. The girl's boyfriend bumps a busboy without apology as they go to sit down, and when she expresses pity for the opposing team, her boyfriend tells her that football players don't show each other mercy. When the busboy sets the table, Betsy thanks him, and he smiles. Her boyfriend calls the busboy a loser after asking what he was looking at, and the busboy apologizes before leaving. The other boy in the group whispers to Betsy's boyfriend that the busboy's mother committed suicide, to which he laughs and calls him a freak. Betsy is uncomfortable by this, but he tells her that if she cares so much, she can start a circus. Both boys laugh until an Army officer approaches their table and gives them a pamphlet to recruit them to join the Army. They tell the officer that they'll consider it, but when he leaves, they laugh, and Betsy's boyfriend crumples up the pamphlet into a ball before throwing it onto the floor. The busboy picks up the pamphlet, uncrumples it, and is looking at it when his boss yells at him to get back to work. He quickly goes back to work, but as he passes the boys' table carrying a tub of dirty dishes and utensils, Betsy's boyfriend trips him, causing the entire diner to laugh at him.

In present day, Kreese gives a speech to assemble the Cobra Kai students, promising them they will strike back for what happened to Miguel. Meanwhile in the hospital, Miguel is now awake and he wants to know where Johnny is. Johnny is with Daniel as they are on a mission to look for Robby. They start the journey by going to meet a "mutual friend" at a New Age rehab facility where the staff think Johnny is checking in and he tells them that "I'm no quitter." The mutual friend is Robby's mother, Shannon - who seems to be doing a lot better - has some actionable info regarding her son and tells them about Robby's former friends and associates, Trey and Cruz.

At the Cobra Kai Dojo, Kreese introduces the students to Clarence, who is a mouse, and then insists that the most timid and animal-loving student feed it to a snake. This student is unable to go through with it, and Kreese asks for anyone who agrees with this student to raise their hands. Kreese then dismisses them and kicks them off the team. Hawk later questions Kreese about his plan, wondering if now is the time to lose students, but Kreese assures him that they need to strengthen their core if one of them wants to be the new champion in Miguel's absence.

Tory's absence from the dojo is explained by her struggling to keep the lights on while caring for her sick mother, all the while trying not to get evicted from her apartment by the landlord.

Daniel and Johnny go to see Robby's former associates in prison, which they then slip into the classic 'good cop, bad cop' that fits with their odd-couple banter.

Miguel is being fed by Carmen while a doctor checks up on him. Miguel confirms that he can feel his hands, and Carmen makes small talk about what his grandmother is doing at home while the doctor tests Miguel's leg and foot. Miguel does not feel anything, and confirms as such, even when the doctor presses a pen against the bottom of Miguel's feet. The doctor then takes Carmen outside his room to talk. The news doesn't look good, as Miguel watches through the window and sees his mom break down.

In the car, Amanda calls Daniel and Johnny and is faintly horrified when she hears what they've have been up to. After revealing to her that Johnny and Daniel went to prison, she tells the both of them to be careful. After the call, Daniel was disappointed at Johnny for revealing the prison part.

Kreese speaks to Tory at her apartment and insists that he will pay for her rent, as he to had similar complications as his mother was ill as well, but "with a different kind of sickness" from which she unfortunately did not recover from. Tory is a little skeptical about it, because she keeps looking at the landlord and acts that she does not need help and tells Kreese to not worry about her situation.

Back in 1965, Kreese was taking out the trash and then overhears girl from the diner (Betsy) having complications with her boyfriend David. Kreese sees David slap her and intervenes to save her. David and Kreese fight and Kreese wins, already having experience with fighting.

At a gas station, Johnny and Daniel fortuitously show up in the same place as the stolen Dodge Caravan give a car chase, eventually in pursuit the driver on-foot into a garage where they get into a fight with a different guy and his friends. Daniel and Johnny get into it too far and end up going different paths, with Daniel getting a call and telling the caller that he would be on his way.

In present day, Kreese approaches Tory's landlord, who believes that Kreese was another man she owed money to. Kreese only claims to be a neutral party looking out for Tory's best interests, to which the landlord responds that either Kreese pays Tory's rent for her or she can do something else to get on the landlord's good side. Kreese responds by threatening to chop off the landlord's fingers with his cigar cutter, where the landlord drops all of his bravado and begs to be spared. The scene instantly cuts to Miguel cutting a piece of sausage, implying that Kreese took the deal that was in his favor and leaving the landlord with one less finger on his hand.

Johnny goes to the hospital and sneaks in to see Miguel, who reveals to Johnny that the doctor says he might never walk again. Miguel asks Johnny what he did wrong, as he showed mercy and was rewarded with a broken spine. When Johnny is unable to console Miguel or give him an answer, Miguel, feeling betrayed, tearfully tells Johnny to get out, and Johnny leaves, leaving Miguel alone.

Danny arrives at the rehab clinic, where Robby is eating a meal with Shannon. Daniel attempts to convince Robby to turn himself into the police, but just as Robby considers Daniel's offer, the police arrive onto the scene. Betrayed and upset, Robby attempts to flee but the cop catches him before he can get far. Daniel attempts to get through to Robby, promising to do anything to help him along with visiting him, but Robby tells Daniel not to try.

Tory arrives at the Cobra Kai dojo, resuming her karate training now that her 'issue' is worked out. Kreese is pleased, and begins drills, starting with the forward strike back.

The final flashback is Kreese kissing Betsy good-bye before he boards the military bus. Betsy tells him that she doesn't know if she can handle this, with him assuring her that it is just basic training, to which she promises that she'll be waiting for him. She asks him to promise that he'll come back, and he promises to not only come back, but to come back as a hero.

In present day, Kreese tells his students that their whole life they are told to be good and that good is only a matter of perspective. He also tells them that they need to always remember that their enemies think that what they're doing is right, that their enemies think of themselves as the heroes and his students as the villains. He then states that they now know the truth in that there is no good or bad, there is only weak or strong, and tells them that they have now shed their weakness and it is time to show their strength. If they do that, he promises that he will make them unstoppable.

Trivia

           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

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