Warning! The following contains spoilers for Cobra Kai Season 3. Read at your own risk!
When Cobra Kai Season 3 revealed that Elisabeth Shue's Ali Mills was back in town, it seemed like things were getting pretty sticky for Johnny Lawrence's love life. William Zabka's Johnny shared a big spur-of-the-moment evening with Vanessa Rubio's Carmen, and it appeared as if the two were back on track for long-term romance. But then Ali messaged Johnny, and things got a lot more complicated. And fans know by now that Johnny doesn't tend to do too well with complicated situations.
As a fan, I was waiting for Cobra Kai to establish a love triangle in which Johnny would end up scorning both women by audaciously playing the field, but the Netflix drama surprised me with how things played out. I spoke with William Zabka about his thoughts on Johnny's relationships and how he interpreted the complicated feelings his character has in the big Season 3 episode.
The timing of that couldn’t have been worse. Here Carmen comes and they have this amazing night, and she says where does it go from here? He’s not quite ready, but there’s some depth happening with Carmen and you find out at the end that he’s got deep feelings for her. At the same time, Ali’s been the wound he’s been nursing and he’s got the scars from so long ago. He needs that. It left such brokenness in him. So when he goes and meets Ali, he’s not necessarily making a choice of one over the other; he’s going to explore this.
While there could be some Cobra Kai fans out there who felt Johnny linking up with an old flame (and only hours after hooking up with Miguel's mom) is a bit snakey, William Zabka makes some excellent points, character-wise. While Johnny and Carmen had been on a "will they or won't they" storyline path for the past two seasons, their impulsive hook-up didn't immediately denote that the two are a solidified couple.
Plus, Johnny has needed closure with Ali ever since The Karate Kid, and had he not reached that emotional precipice, there's a possibility he would've never been able to move on with anyone romantically on a serious level. To that end, William Zabka talked about what he liked about Johnny's scenes with Ali and how that closure ultimately propelled Johnny into his decision with Carmen in Season 3.
What I loved about that is it brought him back to a younger time, a happier time. A lot of the struggles Johnny went through kind of fall off maybe for a second. But in the end, Ali gets wind of where Johnny’s life is at the moment and she gives him the opportunity to make a choice. It wasn’t like Johnny and Carmen were in a deeply committed relationship; this is a one-night thing that happened after a passionate moment and he’s trying to figure it out. Sometimes you have to knock on the doors and see which one’s the right one, and he ended up where he belongs, I think, for now.
Johnny seemed set on making his relationship work with Carmen, but he unfortunately didn't get the opportunity to profess his love as he intended to. That outcome leaves the question of whether the two will get together in Season 4 and what Miguel may have to say about it if it happens. Also, one can't help but think that Robbie will be pretty pissed to learn his absent father is dating the mother of his rival Miguel, only further solidifying his switch to Kreese's Cobra Kai at Season 3's end. There are certainly positives that came out of Ali's one day back in town, but Season 4 will likely show viewers the negatives that may have spawned from it as well.