Cobra Kai Season 3 saw the official return of Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue) to the valley, but her inclusion wasn’t fully joined until the last minute. The saga initially began with 1984’s The Karate Kid. Written by Robert Mark Kamen and directed by John G. Avildsen, the film told the story of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). New to California, he found himself at the (lack of) mercy of a local gang, led by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). Finally, taken under the wing of a local Karate master, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), Daniel learned to defend himself and defeat his torturers. After working its way into a cinematic legacy, the film was followed by two direct sequels and a spin-off.
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As Johnny’s old love and Daniel’s new girlfriend, Ali Mills was unknowingly central to their conflict. Although established more than thirty years later, Cobra Kai established that Ali has remained a persistent factor in both men’s minds. This was especially true in the case of Johnny, who repeatedly evoked her as “the girl who got away.” This long-standing affection eventually blossomed into a virtual reconnection at the end of Cobra Kai season 2. This immediately sparked theories that she would make an appearance in Cobra Kai season 3, potentially with her as the doctor who would save Miguel (Xolo Maridueña). . That turned out not to be the case when Johnny himself helped restore Miguel. However, Ali did return for the last two episodes.
Related: Karate Kid & Cobra Kai Timeline Explained
The idea of Ali’s return had long been an idea that Cobra Kai showrunners wanted to pursue. So much so, a story for her was included in the scripts, which is when the cast found out. Regardless, in an interview with Collider, Macchio revealed that it all only came true at the last minute. Here’s what he said:
“It was pretty close to when we were shooting. We knew everything was in the works, but the t’s crossed and the i’s were dotted not long before she arrived, so it was during the season. There was always a backup plan and a backup ending. There was a difficult date when they needed that decision and it was around 12 o’clock. But it was a great relief and we all returned to play tango together «.
In a separate interview with Polygon, he delved into the aforementioned backup plan. If Shue had not returned, it would have been revealed that her husband had been fishing for Johnny through his account. Fortunately, the plans were combined in a much more appropriate and audience-friendly way. Macchio went on to emphasize that Shue was “very protective of the character” and that she “had a good story” rather than “just being thrown on the show just by saying ‘there is Ali.’ Both Macchio and Zabka also revealed their favorite moments with her during filming, choosing their parting moment at the Christmas party and the Golf N ‘Stuff scenes, respectively.
It’s safe to say that there was indeed a great story for Ali that went beyond fan service. Although she was not the one who healed Miguel, arguably she did something even better. After sitting down to dinner with Johnny, Daniel, and Amanda (Courtney Henggeler), Ali further healed the gap between his two former loves. Based on the lessons Daniel had learned from Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) from Karate Kid 2, he pushed them to see that they can even be two sides of the same coin. His words and a final confrontation with Kreese (Martin Kove) served to finally bring them together to oversee a newly combined dojo. As such, fans have him to thank for the epic ending scene and interesting avenues set in motion for Cobra Kai season 4.
More: What to Expect From Cobra Kai Season 4
Source: Collider; Polygon
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John Atkinson (707 articles published)
John Atkinson has been a feature and news writer. since the end of 2018. Before that, he had published articles in several different outlets. A graduate of the University of London, John was raised on a small island for television and film. As such, he pursued a career in screenwriting and film journalism when it became apparent that becoming Spider-Man was impossible. John’s greatest wish is to one day produce his own movie. Until then, he’s more than happy to spend countless hours talking about them. John’s love of film and television defies genre and sometimes even logic. Nothing is out of the bounds of his passion, be it Marvel, DC, Rian Johnson’s Star Wars, or Tommy Wiseau’s latest cinematic offering. Away from the screens, John can often be found in a park reading mystery and/or fantasy novels, jumping up and down at various musical events, or overthinking Keanu Reeves’ career and why Edgar Wright doesn’t have an Oscar.