The third season of Cobra Kai has now been out four days. How many times have you watched the whole thing? Six? Seven? We’re kidding of course but you’d better have finished it if you want to read what’s below. io9 did a Zoom chat with creators and executive producers of the Karate Kid show, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald, and we talked about everything you are curious about once season three is over.
That said, if you haven’t finished Cobra Kai season 3 (or, God forbid, watched any of it) go do that now. If you have, continue below as we get to the bottom of those burning questions.
Germain Lussier, io9: What were the big things you wanted to hit going into season 3?
Jon Hurwitz: We wanted to bring Ali back. We wanted to go into Kreese’s past and do a whole Vietnam storyline. We wanted to go to Okinawa. Those were three big tent pole kind of elements of the season that we talked about. Also, our hope was to bring Johnny and Daniel by the end together and tease the audience along the way.
io9: When you teased the return of Ali at the end of season 2 was Elizabeth Shue already signed on and did you know what you were going to do with her if she did?
Josh Heard: She was not signed on when we did that. That was an example of us leading with our confidence and our faith that the Karate Kid gods will smile upon us and and make it happen. But we were actively engaged in speaking with Elizabeth even before then, trying to to share the love of what this show is, where we come from as fans who get to be the stewards of The Karate Kid and wanting to carry that character forward into this universe and find the right way of doing it.
But at that time, there was literally no knowledge or path to whether or not it was going to happen or go south. And we said, “You know what? We’re still ending the season that way. We are going to have to always be optimists about this.” And it was just very special. A special process and special rearrival for Ali into the universe of the show and really onto our set. I mean, when Elizabeth Shue walked there, it felt like, “Here’s this missing piece of the puzzle that might help Johnny and Daniel fit a little better together.” And there were real goose bumps and real smiles plastered on our faces. I’m sure the behind the scenes photos just show the three of us on a monitor smiling ear to ear watching them act together again. The series just wouldn’t be complete without beginning to tell Ali’s story as well.
io9: Tell me about how you developed the role a trip to Okinawa would play on the show
Hurwitz: We’re always looking for a surprising way to bring characters back. And we felt like it would be interesting to have Daniel on that side of the world for another reason and for him to be at a relative low point where he’s kind of lost and finds the draw of Okinawa to be too strong for him to not make that extra little trip to return to Miyagi’s homeland, which was a special place in his past, the birth of his karate and the birthplace of his mentor. To bring him there in that context where he’s just sort of lost and searching and then find what he’s looking for, but in unexpected ways.
And we knew that we wanted Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) to be involved in a way that’s meaningful, that ties into the relationship from the past and the actions from the past. And for there to be some wisdom to impart on to Daniel. To bring Mr. Miyagi back into the story in a different way than we’ve ever had before. And, for us, that letter reading scene is one of our favorite scenes we’ve ever done on the show. It was such a powerful, powerful moment.
Then to bring Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) back....Together we crafted the story that we thought allowed these characters and these actors to shine, but also, allowed Daniel to learn new layers of Mr. Miyagi and new layers of karate. To do those types of scenes that you knew fans were going to go nuts for, but were meaningful to our present day story.
io9: How did you come up with the Kreese back story and was Martin Kove involved?
Hayden Schlossberg: Going into season two, we had already been thinking about it and we’re planning to to delve into it. And when we talked to Marty...about the character and his backstory, he had this whole backstory planned out that was different on the surface, but at its core was very similar in terms of the trauma of Vietnam and being a POW. So we those were always our ideas. What we wanted was to understand how this guy we grew up with as the most evil character of all-time could have been a human being once that you might feel bad for....[Also] we wanted him to be in the heart of darkness and really learn “No mercy” as a must in life. And the way to do that is to show mercy, and it really not work out for you.
io9: Was it in fact Terry Silver on the phone at the end of the show and could his return also mark the return of Mike Barnes?
Schlossberg: Listen, we’re hardcore fans of all the movies. And let’s just put it this way. We spend time giving Terry Silver a back story in season three. You get to see the past Terry Silver. We treat all these characters from those original movies like they’re really important in the universe. And we don’t want to say anything official yet about season four right now but Kreese looks at a photo of young Terry Silver and he dials a number and makes a phone call. And you could imagine who’s on the other end. So we’re not making any official statements but, hypothetically, there’s a lot of interesting soap opera left to tell that we can’t wait to tell.
io9: Well, can you say anything at all about season 4? It sure seems like at least we’re at least getting another All-Valley Karate tournament.
Schlossberg: That we can say about season four. The stakes have never been higher at the All-Valley.
Cobra Kai seasons 1-3 are now on Netflix. Season 4 is in the works.
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