‘Cobra Kai’ Season 3: Kreese’s Backstory Still Leaves Questions About His Endgame
From the first season of Cobra Kai, things have been serious. By the close of season 2, viewers were holding their collective breath when Miguel fell over that railing. Season 2 is also where Kreese was brought back into the fold, and with that came his sinister energy and hidden agenda.
As Johnny Lawrence’s former teacher, Kreese already had a reputation as someone with a penchant for violence and a “no mercy” attitude. He likes to make ominous threats and really has no boundaries.
After the latest installment of Cobra Kai on Netflix, the audience learned a little about Kreese’s backstory, but is anyone closer to understanding his motives and ultimate goal? These are some questions that need to be answered heading into season 4.
[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Cobra Kai, Season 3]
Does John Kreese have a family?
Season 3 revealed Kreese experienced some hardships with his mom while growing up. Before joining the military and heading to Vietnam, he was getting picked by one of town bullies before standing up for himself and stealing the girl. Learning about his girlfriend’s death via a cruel taunt from his unit’s captain set him off.
He fell to his knees upon hearing the news, but it’s unclear whether Kreese moved on at any point with anyone else. Did he spend the last 40 to 50 years alone? Does he have children? Friends? An ex? Current love? Who’s around to keep him grounded?
It may explain why he has all this time on his hands to pick on Johnny and Danny and indoctrinate a new batch of kids with his violent ways.
Is Kreese’s sole purpose to rule the world with his own karate empire?
When one of the parents in town complained about karate gangs in the school, some may have dismissed the commentary, but it’s become a reality. Kreese’s presence is upping the havoc levels among the kids and no one knows why.
They’re kids (mostly minors). Why is he so hellbent on molding them into mayhem-causing fighting machines? Again, they’re kids who are committing criminal acts. Kreese has no qualms about risking their freedom, safety, or that of anyone else’s. What gives?
On Reddit, one fan summed it up best with this question: “So.. what exactly is Kreeses plan? Turn the kids into Karate Street gangs. Lose a 3rd time in a row. Smile smugly while Terry Silver cancels the next few weeks meetings, because now he’s strictly about revenge?”
Some viewers noted he has PTSD from what he experienced during the war, but what’s changed about him and his villainy since all the Karate Kid movies?
‘Cobra Kai’ creators offer a small hint about Kreese
Kreese’s backstory was meant to demonstrate the origins of Cobra Kai and its message. He clearly went through some pain and trauma, but does that justify his maliciousness?
The series’ co-creators spoke with Entertainment Weekly and even they acknowledged he’s a menace, with Hayden Schlossberg describing him as special kind of gray area.
“One of the central themes on Cobra Kai is redemption and looking at these black-and-white characters and trying to find the gray. Now with Kreese, he’s a shade of gray that’s almost black [laughs],” Schlossberg told the outlet. “So really you have to understand how a person could come up with the Cobra Kai philosophy, and really, truly believe it.”
He added that showing Kreese before and during Vietnam enabled them to illustrate how he adopted his mentality. “What we find is that Cobra Kai is a philosophy born out of somebody who feels the life is attacking them. If life shows no mercy, neither should we — it’s what Johnny says in season 1, and it reflects what Kreese taught him,” explained Schlossberg.
It may not make fans more empathetic toward Kreese — he is encouraging kids to dole out bloody beatdowns after all — but this glimpse into his story could foreshadow that a peaceful ending isn’t in the cards for Kreese’s character.