[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Karate Kid Part III and through the Season 3 finale of Cobra Kai.]
Cobra Kai Season 3 brought back Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) and Yuna (Traci Toguchi) from The Karate Kid Part II and, of course, we also got the big return of Elisabeth Shue as Johnny (William Zabka) and Daniel’s (Ralph Macchio) Karate Kid love interest, Ali Mills, but the series most certainly isn’t done bringing back familiar faces. In fact, one of the final scenes of Season 3 teased a big one, The Karate Kid Part III’s Terry Silver. Then again, technically, Terry was on the show all season long, but going by a different name, Twig (Nick Marini), one of the soldiers fighting alongside young Kreese (Barrett Carnahan) in the Vietnam War flashbacks.
Who exactly is Twig/Terry Silver? Let’s start by revisiting his Karate Kid Part III introduction. This is when we first meet Terry played by Thomas Ian Griffith. At this point, he’s extremely wealthy and also quite skilled at karate. Turns out, Terry is the one who bought the Cobra Kai dojo. Even though Kreese does pay him rent, Terry insists it’s not about the rent money and tells Kreese, “I bought it for you.” While that might have been a solid arrangement for some time, due to the epic loss at the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament, Kreese hasn’t had a student walk through the Cobra Kai dojo doors in nine months. He can’t pay that rent, he can’t pay his bills and he’s planning to give up. But Terry and his bottomless pockets won’t let him.
Instead, Terry sends Kreese away for a luxurious getaway in Tahiti while he hatches a plan to restore Cobra Kai’s status in the valley. Terry is going to make Daniel and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) pay for ruining Cobra Kai’s reputation by manipulating Daniel and then sending him back to the All-Valley Karate Tournament to get demolished by Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan). Why exactly does Terry go out of his way to back Kreese to such an extent? It’s because, as mentioned in Part III, Terry owes him from Vietnam. What exactly happened there? That’s what Cobra Kai Season 3 reveals in detail.
When young Kreese is selected for a special team, he brings along his buddies Ponytail (Seth Kemp), named for his hairstyle, and Twig, named for his lack of muscles. While on a mission, Kreese refuses to sacrifice Ponytail in order to take out their targets. They’re captured, Ponytail is killed and Kreese and Twig are imprisoned. While being held there, they watch as their captors force two prisoners to fight to the death over a snake pit. When a weak and terrified Twig is selected to go next, Kreese steps in for him. After Kreese wins the fight and the prisoners are freed, Twig tells him, “I owe you, man. You saved my ass. Anything you need, I’m there for you. Your whole life.” From there the show cuts to present day Kreese who just lost a fight to Daniel and Johnny. He picks up the phone and calls someone. All we get is, “Hey,” and “Long time,” but it’s easy to assume that Kreese is calling in a reinforcement, Twig/Terry Silver.
What exactly could Terry be up to at this point in his life? We don’t know for sure, but can return to the events of Karate Kid Part III for more context to speculate. As Terry planned, Mike Barnes easily makes it to the finals of the All-Valley Tournament to fight Daniel for the title. Before that match, Terry announces to the packed house that he’s partnering with Kreese to open a chain of Cobra Kai dojos, promising a bunch of BS through their teachings – honesty, compassion and fair play. A whole lot of nonsense coming from the guy who wants to rig the match and force sudden death so that Daniel can experience pain before losing. But, Terry’s plan blows up in his face anyway. Mr. Miyagi’s words of wisdom are just what Daniel needs to defeat Barnes. And that right there is the last we see of Terry Silver.
Given the reaction to the 1984 tournament defeat, one can assume that this loss ruins their plan to reopen the dojo. Plus, in Season 1 of Cobra Kai, it’s revealed that Kreese, Silver and Barnes’ behavior led to Cobra Kai being banned from the tournament all together. But, it does seem like Terry continued to do well enough outside of the karate business. In Season 2 of Cobra Kai, Johnny follows Kreese to a homeless shelter. During a heart to heart, Kreese tells Johnny that after Cobra Kai went under, he tried to reenlist and was denied. After that, a war buddy offered him a job, but he refused to take it because he “felt like it was a handout.” I’m willing to bet that that war buddy was Terry Silver. Could that phone call at the end of Season 3 be the first time the two have spoken since? It’s possible. After all, Terry does tell Kreese that he’s there for him for his whole life.
Assuming Terry Silver does swoop in next season, he’ll likely continue to back Kreese and Cobra Kai financially, but there’s also a good chance he’ll use his karate skills and his vicious manipulation tactics to make this dojo war an especially vicious mental game for all involved, just like he did to Daniel in Karate Kid Part III.
You’ll learn all about the world’s greatest curses when the series premieres on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
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