Cobra Kai is just as heavy on the drama as it is on the punches and kicks, and it does so with all the fun and charm of the 1980s flick The Karate Kid, which the show is based on. A lot of that drama centers around Daniel LaRusso’s young daughter Samantha, and her tempestuous relationship with Miguel Diaz, the first of Johnny Lawrence’s Cobra Kai students.
Miguel was a great kid led astray by Lawrence’s “strike first” training policy, and it seeped into his normal life outside the dojo. This led him down a dark path where audiences were left wondering whether he and Sam were actually friends at all. Thankfully, the events of season three show that the tide might be changing.
Updated on September 27th, 2022 by Amanda Bruce: With the events of Seasons 4 and 5 of Cobra Kai, Miguel and Sam’s relationship has gone back and forth from romantic partners to friends. The two have a lot of love for each other, but never seem to be able to decide just where they stand. That adds to the show’s storylines, but it can make their friendship a little shaky.
Ways Miguel & Sam Aren’t Friends
Sam And Miguel Give In To Awkwardness Every Time There’s A Hiccup
Every time Sam and Miguel decide to take a step back from one another, they appear to forget that their friend groups largely overlap. Miguel’s closest friends date Sam’s closest friends, and the rest of the people they know are almost all exclusively in karate with them. That means even when they decide to stay away from each other, their paths are going to cross.
Every single time that happens, both Sam and Miguel give in to the social awkwardness of the situation. This is especially true when they decide to go from romantic partners to friends. They seem to forget how to behave as friends instead of two people dating, demonstrating that their friendship might not have the best foundation.
Miguel Doubled Down On The Damage
While Miguel started out not just as a friend, but also as a romantic interest for Sam, it quickly devolved once he began allowing Cobra Kai’s aggressive training to seep into his head. His win-at-all-costs approach started a trend of him alternating between hero and villain several times throughout the series.
Though he wanted to change, his ruthlessness took over, and he ended up using a dirty move at the All Valley Karate Tournament to injure his opponent Robby Keene, winning him the day. It was a very immoral act that further ruined his friendship with Sam, and it would take a while for it to recover.
Miguel Got Together With Tory
While it could be argued that Miguel had nowhere to go with Samantha following his behavior in season one, he clearly cared about her. That’s what makes his relationship with Tory so much worse. It could be viewed as a cathartic rebound, especially since Tory had been indoctrinated into Cobra Kai’s ways as well.
Nevertheless, Miguel clearly didn’t love Tory the way he did Sam, and that wasn’t fair to either. Tory would end up getting the raw end of the deal, while Miguel used the relationship as a means to hurt Sam. Tory was in on the latter part, but she clearly didn’t see their relationship going out the window as time passed.
Sam Rebounded With Robby
Despite everything that happened with Miguel, Sam didn’t seem to have much of a problem moving on from him. She viewed newcomer Robby Keene as an excellent substitute, which was fed partially by her anger over Miguel’s actions. In her eyes, it was a form of revenge, as well as a pleasant distraction.
Though she undoubtedly had feelings for Robby, it’s evident that she never really got over Miguel. Her mind was still on him, but rather than accept his olive branches, she rebuffed him outright. It was one thing to back off of a toxic relationship, but quite another to use a new flame to spite an old one.
When Miguel Hit Sam
Johnny Lawrence was not in his right mind when he decided to open Cobra Kai back up, and he clearly needed a lot more centering and balance in his life before he began teaching students. Miguel was his first, and by all accounts, a normal and very nice kid who would never have hurt a fly under normal circumstances.
His training turned him from a passive guy into a raging fighter with years of pent-up aggression bubbling to the surface. As he changed, so too did Sam take notice, and when she tried to intervene during one of his fits, he struck her in the face. That was a tremendous faux pas, and it nearly cost him his friendship with Sam, permanently.
Miguel Openly Embarrassed Miyagi-Do
Johnny Lawrence used Cobra Kai largely as a tool to get back at Daniel LaRusso, who’d gone on to achieve great success as a luxury car salesman. That meant using his own students to try and one-up LaRusso, who learned of Cobra Kai’s resurgence and opened Miyagi-Do karate to counter its teachings.
When Daniel tried showcasing Miyagi-Do’s karate at a local fair with Robby and Sam as his demonstrators, Cobra Kai rushed in and upstaged them with a show focusing heavily on aggression, rather than the philosophy of karate. Both Daniel and Johnny acted like the bad guys throughout the show, but Miguel allowed himself to be used as a pawn, for which there’s no excuse.
Ways Miguel & Sam Are Real Friends
Even At Odds, Sam And Miguel Can Work Together
Because Sam and Miguel belong to different dojos during most of the series, they tend to spend a lot of the show competing with one another – both on and off the mat. Their friends are always competing to get the best spots at recreation centers, for points in karate tournaments, and for the best reputation at parties.
Even though Sam and Miguel can be awkward around one another when they aren’t dating and are competing, they also have no problem immediately setting aside the awkwardness and whatever differences there are between them to work together. It’s Sam and Miguel, after all, who decide that Miyagi-do and Eagle Fang karate need to team up, convincing their friends that the two dojos are stronger together than they are apart.
Miguel Defended Sam’s Honor
While Samantha LaRusso certainly had enough karate training to hold her own in a fight, she was the victim of a much more insidious attack at her school. Her then-boyfriend Kyler decided to spread rumors about her, which didn’t go down very well. When things got heated, Miguel came to her defense, beating Kyler and his crew.
Not only did this net him some respect among his former bullies, but it also showed that he had what it took to stand up for Sam’s honor. This was the catalyst that brought the two together, allowing Miguel to conquer his own insecurities and become not just a ladies’ man, but a more centered kid all around.
They Became Friends Again After Miguel Recovered
Miguel’s super-fast recovery is one of the things that doesn’t make a lot of sense in Cobra Kai, but it was necessary to force the story forward. The two of them did seem to be back on track, with Miguel even meeting Daniel LaRusso on good terms, and learning about his side of the feud with Johnny.
Miguel seemed a calmer, kinder person. He possessed a knowledge of karate that allowed him to hold his own in a fight, but he was no longer looking for an outlet to sate his aggression. Old Miguel was back again, and that was good news for his friendship with Sam.
Miguel Returned Miyagi’s Medal Of Honor
Cobra Kai took things way too far with their rivalry against Miyagi-Do, and it culminated in a potentially jail-worthy offense when they ransacked Mr. Miyagi’s dojo and stole his Medal of Honor. This was no small act, and it made tensions with Daniel and Johnny that much worse. Miguel was deeply engaged in Cobra Kai training at the time, but he still knew right from wrong.
He ended up bringing the medal back to Daniel’s house where he hoped to give it to Sam, but he was met at the door by Robby. He explained the situation and gave it back, which was a very honorable thing to do. Unfortunately, Robby hid that fact from Sam, as he didn’t want her thinking that Miguel was a good guy.
Sam Supported Miguel’s Recovery
Sam felt awful for what happened to Miguel at the end of season two, so much so that she tried setting up a car wash drive in order to help pay for his surgery and recovery. At the same time, she was publicly vocal about the fact that she wanted Miguel to get better, which didn’t exactly do much for Robby’s morale at the time.
Still, despite all that happened, and for all of Miguel’s mistakes, Sam realized that he was a good guy. She saw how he’d changed, and stuck with him because of it, turning the pair into one of the best friendships of Cobra Kai season three, and hopefully beyond.
Miguel Tried To Save Sam From Tory
Season two of Cobra Kai was explosive, right up until the very last episode. It ended with a massive fight breaking out in the middle of school between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do students, which was ignited after Tory attacked Samantha. Miguel attempted to intervene but was forced to fight Robby due to a misunderstanding.
As Sam fought Tory, Miguel managed to break away and try to stop the fight. Tory responded by kicking Miguel to the floor, effectively ending their relationship. Even though Miguel was against Miyagi-Do, he was greatly concerned for Sam’s health and safety.
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