Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” is known for bringing back actors and characters from the original films. Indeed, Elisabeth Shue, who portrayed Ali Mills – love interest to Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and ex-girlfriend of bully Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) in the original “Karate Kid” (1984) – even re-entered the Miyagi-verse in season 3 of the show. There, she got re-acquainted with Daniel and Johnny, and corrected the record on some of their stories.
But does her storyline continue into season 4 of the hit show? Here’s what you need to know:
Ali Does Not Return for the Season, Though She Does Play a Role
Alas, for fans of Elisabeth Shue and her character, Ali Mills does not come back in season 4. However, her role in season 3 is mentioned in a fairly significant scene involving Johnny, Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña), and his mother Carmen (Vanessa Rubio).
In the season premiere, during a Diaz family dinner with Johnny, the topic of relationships comes up. Miguel mentions that Johnny is “getting back together with an ex,” referring to Ali. This comment throws Johnny off guard, given his secret love affair with Carmen.
When Johnny truthfully denies that it was a romantic date, Miguel pushes him, saying it was a “date with the love of his life,” also referring to Ali as “the one that got away.” Unaware of his mother’s relationship with Johnny, and confused why he is being so modest about it, Miguel proceeds to describe Johnny’s sushi date with Ali in detail.
As a result of this unexpected turn of events, and perhaps a bit unnerved by the conversation, Carmen later proposes that she and Johnny take things slow with their relationship, to which Johnny agrees. However, it becomes clear that she and Johnny are unable to contain themselves, and as a result end up sleeping together at least once. It is after this sexual escapade that Miguel Johnny’s headband in Carmen’s bed, forcing them to reveal their relationship to him – something which they had talked about doing for a long time but never got around to.
Ali’s Presence Is Still Felt in the Show
Zabka has also spoken of the importance of Ali Mills in a number of interviews. In an August 2021 Deadline panel, Zabka remarked on the significance that Johnny and Ali’s “date” in season 3 had on Johnny, saying:
That was the big plot device/character turn for Johnny that he could revisit his youth, go back to when he was young, revisit his old love. So she unlocked him in many ways. Johnny starts off the beginning of Season 3 in the dumps…She comes back and kind of rehabilitates him and puts a little piece of his broken heart back in its chest, which is empowering for [him].
Zabka also said that he loved how Ali pointed out the similarities between Daniel and Johnny, given how neither of them can see it for themselves. “Put together and working correctly,” he said, “they’d be a force, and she sees that, so that’s a big deal.” This is indeed reflected in season 4, when both Johnny and Daniel’s fighting styles are used by their students to maximize their fighting potential. This integration of different techniques is key to Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz’s (Jacob Bertrand) success in the Tournament, and the near-victory of Daniel’s daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser) against Tory Nichols (Peyton List).
Although Ali did not appear in season 4, it is clear that her presence in the show is still palpable, and it is probably safe to say she will return in some capacity in a future season. You can currently watch all seasons of “Cobra Kai” on Netflix. Season 5 will likely be released in late 2022 or 2023.