Apparently, Netflix Cobra Kai sounds like a pretty amazing, albeit completely crazy show. Continue to Karate Kid franchise he fired his fourth season on New Year’s Eve, continuing the adventures of Daniel LaRuss (Ralph Maccio), Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and their martial arts protégés. After returning John Kreese and Cobra Kai dojo at the end of last season, Daniel and Johnny decided the only way to bring down the old villain was to unite and train their students together.
However, as with all team hopes, the path from enemy to ally can be quite bumpy. Talking to Entertainment Weekly for a spoiler-full speech on the fourth season, Macchio and Zabka discussed the arc of their relationship during the season. Danny and Johnny agree that Kreese and Cobra Kai have to go, but method how their greatest source of conflict. Both actors felt it was important for their characters to clash over their approach to martial arts: Danny’s defensive Miyago-Do style versus Johnny’s aggression-based Eagle Fang style. Zabka especially believed that it would have been “unfair” if there had been no conflict in the beginning: “They both come with their luggage, so of course there will be landmines.”
That baggage is partly owed to their children. Danny learns that his son Anthony (Griffin Santopietro) is a bully, and his daughter Sam (Mary Mouser) teaches Eagle Fang from Johnny. Both are bitter pills to swallow, but Sam’s acceptance of his opponent’s teachings may be the greatest, according to Macchiu. He considered Danny a “caring parent, if not a perfect parent,” and seeing Johnny effectively replace him as a father caused little resentment. But Johnny also has similar feelings for Danny, who teaches Miyagi-Do Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), a student whom Johnny loves as a son now that Kreese is teaching his real son Robby (Tanner Buchanan). At the moment, the former bully is trying his best not to lose another son, which is manifested in some not so great ways. “He corrects too much,” Zabka admitted, “he nurtures Miguel and is afraid of losing that connection.”
Despite their problems, both men soon realize they need to switch styles and see where the other person is coming from. While filming the sequence in which Johnny grinds the deck, Zabka realized “how great it was as an evolution of the character … It was very important that Johnny opened his heart and saw that there was something to learn here.” He found it just like important to himself, because he realized that the scene showed how far Johnny had come since Miyagi saved his life in Karate Kid II.
However, that peace between the two is short-lived. In the fifth episode, two fighters confront each other to decide whose method will be taught to their students. Excited as the two of them read the script, they were surprised to see that the fight would end in a draw. Anticlimactic, perhaps, but co-showrunner Josh Heald explained how the equalization had to happen. Both Danny and Johnny are both so “passionate” about who has better karate, but the show’s philosophy is “research [how] it’s not better, it’s just different. It keeps coming back to the subject … after coming so far with their research into each other’s karate and their own interpretation of their masters’ karate – it would feel inauthentic. ”
During the peak of the All Valley Championship, Danny is the one who realizes that their students can become better fighters by learning more styles. He made a surprising move to apologize to Johnny, and even gave their partnership a new name, “Miyagi-Fang.” Macchio openly admitted that he should be sold on stage and wanted to reduce it, but Heald put forward strong arguments to keep it. Now sold, Macchio has decided to stay true to Danny and make it sound weird at the moment. “It simply came to our notice then [’Miyagi-Fang’] out loud, ”he said,“ and then I label it ‘just for today.’ ”
As for Zabka? He loved it and considered it a “moment of surrender and growth” for Johnny. “I think he’s started to accept that the work is going on … Admitting you’re wrong is probably one of the hardest things you can do as a person, especially when you’re so determined.” But how will things shake for both men now that they are finally friends? That will have to wait until the fifth season.
Cobra Kai now coming out on Netflix.
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