It’s the best around and it’s coming back to town. And by “town,” we mean “Netflix.” Cobra Kai season four debuts in a few weeks and io9 talked to its creators about where things are going next and what the ride has been like so far.
Unless you’ve been living under a bonsai tree, you probably know that Cobra Kai is the hit Netflix (formerly YouTube) show that continues the story told in The Karate Kid movies. Creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald have led a stellar show that reveals how Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) have fared in the years since the original films, along with a whole new cast of karate kids, including Daniel’s daughter Sam (Mary Mouser), Johnny’s son Robbie (Tanner Buchanan), and many others.
Season three ended with a huge ultimatum. As Cobra Kai’s original sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) began to bring more students to his side, longtime rivals Johnny and Daniel decided to team up, along with their feuding karate dojos. A deal was made: the winner of the All Valley Karate Tournament can stay in business, the loser must quit. And for a little extra help, Kreese called in Terry Silver, the villain from The Karate Kid Part III, played by Thomas Ian Griffin.
“We had a pretty clear sense of where we were headed [going into season four],” Jon Hurwitz told io9 over video call. “We knew that season four was going to be this battle with Johnny and Daniel trying to work together and see how that’s going to turn out. And on the other side, with Kreese, we knew that he was going to be bringing in Terry Silver, and we knew the type of journey we wanted. We may not have known all the details of how the season was going to end specifically, but the shape of the season was it was certainly, firmly in our heads. And, some of the matchups in the [climactic All Valley] tournament, we knew, but some were discovered along the way.”
One of the most welcome surprises going into season four—and it’s one that fans have been clamoring for—is the expanded role of Anthony LaRusso, played by Griffin Santopietro. For three seasons, the story has largely followed his older sister Sam, all but ignoring the fact that Daniel also has a son. That changes this year, with a modern twist.
“Anthony has been hiding in plain sight since season one,” Josh Heald said. “We always talked about the the fun of Daniel kind of unintentionally raising this kid who is a little bit, probably, how Johnny grew up. Having too many toys, too much access to things, [and not being able to] figure out his own social dynamic. And as Anthony has grown up, we always knew it would be fun to experience what is his social life like? Who is he hanging out with? He’s not a bad kid, but middle school is that time where kids can be real pieces of garbage if you leave them unchecked. It’s a rough time for any kid to figure out themselves, and peer pressure is never a bigger thing than when you’re that age. And having this kid who’s been spending his entire series on iPads and PlayStations and devices, it felt very natural that that he could fall into something akin to cyberbullying.”
We won’t spoil exactly what Heald means by that, but you’ll find out very early in the season. And after that’s revealed, chances are most fans will probably finish Cobra Kai season four rather quickly, since Netflix is releasing the entire 10 episode series at once. That means talk will invitably turn to season five, which has not only been greenlit, but is well into production. However, Hurwitz admitted the next season after this one will not have as clear a roadmap as the show did going from season three to four.
“As we ended season four, we had a sense of what season five would be. But you know, it was a little bit more of a blank canvas in certain ways,” Hurwitz said. “Partly because we quickly got into season five. It was one of those things where we weren’t expecting to be writing it this soon, but we were already in that Cobra Kai headspace. We had just written a season, filmed a season, we were in the midst of editing as we started writing again. Our team of writers, we were all sort of in it.”
“So it’s not like we didn’t know where [season five] was headed in certain ways, but certainly less had been figured out,” he continues. “But it’s been a fun adventure making season five on the heels of season four and just living in it. Just being in this zone for such a long stretch has been exhilarating and full of fun surprises.”
And you are certainly in for a ton of surprises when Cobra Kai season four debuts December 31. After you watch it, check back here for a discussion about some of the season’s big spoilers.
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