Spoilers ahead for the third season of Netflix’s Cobra Kai!
Ali Mills officially returned to the Karate Kid franchise in the third season of Cobra Kai. Portrayed by Elisabeth Shue, the erstwhile love interest of both Daniel and Johnny appeared in the final two episodes of the season to deliver a roundhouse kick of common sense to two of the most stubborn senseis in the San Fernando Valley.
Fans have been clamoring for the return of Ali since Cobra Kai’s inception. The fervor grew louder when the final image of Season 2 revealed that Ali sent Johnny a Facebook friend request. Shue’s involvement in Season 3 seemed likely — if not inevitable — but no casting announcement had been confirmed. Thankfully, the actress made her triumphant return to the franchise, and in a pitch-perfect example of narrative symmetry, the character who initially drove a wedge between Daniel and Johnny was the same character who helped bring the two together.
“You both think that there’s only one side to the story,” Ali says to Daniel and Johnny in the season finale. “The truth is, you guys are more alike than you want to admit. And maybe you recognize parts of yourselves in each other, and maybe you don’t always like what you see.”
Ali’s much-needed dose of reality helped set the stage for a franchise-altering alliance between Daniel and Johnny. But what if Shue wasn’t available for Season 3? How would Ali’s absence have altered the finale? Did production have a contingency plan? Decider posed that very question to Cobra Kai star Ralph Macchio during a recent virtual roundtable event.
“Yes, there was an alternate plan if she wasn’t available,” Macchio said. “It was the texting going back and forth on Facebook. It would have been that her ex-husband had her phone. If it all fell apart, that would’ve been what got us through to the end of the season … her husband was doing the Facebook back and forth with Johnny.”
Pretending to be Ali on Facebook? How dare you, Dr. Gregory Schwarber. How dare you. Your wanton tomfoolery would have hypothetically impacted a regional youth karate war!
“We were always confident that Elisabeth Shue would come on board once she heard our pitch for her character,” they said. “At the same time, you always have to be prepared for the possibility that things don’t work out. We briefly discussed the possibility that at the end of the season, Johnny finds out that it was Ali’s ex-husband who was using her Facebook account to send messages to Johnny, but it was more of a funny thought than an actual contingency plan.”
The third season of Cobra Kai is now streaming on Netflix.
Where to stream Cobra Kai