“No Mercy” concluded the second season of Cobra Kai with a daring and downbeat finale, leaving things wide open for a third season. I hope it gets one.
This Cobra Kai Season 2 Episode 10 recap for the episode titled “No Mercy” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
In the true manner of modern parents, it takes Daniel and Amanda roughly five minutes to not just realize that Sam is missing, but to break into her laptop and trace her iPhone right to Johnny’s doorstep. Daniel turns up raging and gets into a fight with Johnny. Their face-off is intentionally underwhelming. At this point, Cobra Kai has long-since ceased being about the two of them, and they’re fighting for such petty reasons at this point that it’s difficult to be excited by their fisticuffs, especially since the brilliant previous episode brought them so close to being buddies.
Either way, it’s the first day of school after the summer break, and Sam and Robbie are both still in the bad books — the latter is even living with Johnny, which is a dynamic I hoped to see explored more. Alas, there’s no time; no time, either, for Sam to confess to having kissed Miguel at the party, even after Robbie opens up about why he lied about the Medal of Honor.
As it turns out, Robbie is about to find out anyway. Tory takes over the school PA system and announces she’s coming for Sam for what she did. Is this a bit overblown? Sure. But it’s awesome all the same. As the girls face off in the hall, their respective boyfriends hilariously sprint their hearts out to prevent a fight from breaking out. No such luck. A fight indeed breaks out. Then another. And another. Before long, virtually the whole school is scrapping.
For a relatively small TV budget, this whole sequence is incredibly well-choreographed. It’s full of long takes and slick camerawork. It’s rich in character and rife with comedy beats. It includes resolutions to virtually every major rivalry that has been established this season; the current and former new blood at Cobra Kai, Demetri and Hawk, Tory and Sam, Miguel and Robbie. Everyone gets a moment or several. It’s wild, and while it doesn’t have the built-in dramatic framework of a karate tournament, it totally works.
But what’s most impressive is how daring “No Mercy” ends up being. As Miguel and Robbie fight almost to a stalemate, Miguel is once again able to get the upper hand. As instructed by his sensei, he becomes the bigger man. He shows mercy. And then Robbie hits him with a cheap shot, sending him sailing over a balcony and spine-first onto a handrail. Just like that, an awesome final-episode blowout has ended in tragedy. Miguel is almost dead. He might never walk again.
I, for one, was totally shocked by this. I just wasn’t expecting the show to take such a pitch-dark turn, and apparently neither were any of the characters, who’re all beside themselves. Sam and the LaRussos are stunned that Robbie would do such a thing. Carmen blames Johnny, who the script continues to endlessly torment. And Johnny does, of course, blame himself, as do the remaining members of Cobra Kai. If Miguel hadn’t shown mercy, he wouldn’t be lying paralyzed in a hospital bed. When Johnny returns to the dojo and finds his students being coached by Kreese, who has renewed the building’s lease in his name, Johnny has had enough. He abandons Cobra Kai, handing it over to its original founder. His efforts have consistently done more harm than good. As he tosses his smartphone on the beach and walks away from his badass muscle car, the camera pans to the screen and we’re treated to one final tragedy. Ali has sent him a friend request.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.