‘Cobra Kai’ Stars Tease Dark Backstory In Upcoming Season

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka

Getty Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in 2019.

Fans of Netflix’s hit series “Cobra Kai” are anxiously awaiting the release of the show’s fourth season, and with it, a number of intriguing storylines. Season 3 left off with co-leads and longtime frenemies Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) teaming up to defeat longtime villain John Kreese (Martin Kove), who has recruited a number of angry and battle-hardened teenagers to his Cobra Kai dojo, including none other than Johnny’s son Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan).

On Saturday, Macchio and Zabka spoke with TV Insider and gave some insight as to the development of their characters’ dynamic, as well as an ominous backstory that viewers will finally get to see.

Here’s what you need to know:

The ‘Cobra Kai’ Stars Teased Their Characters’ Relationship

Johnny and Daniel have been known for their rather tumultuous relationship. Their experience in the ’80s was defined by their rivalry; upon their reunification 34 years after their showdown in the All Valley Karate Tournament, Johnny felt so resentful of Daniel that he ended up re-opening Cobra Kai in part to spite him.

Although they showed some moments of friendship over the next few seasons, their friction was always evident and occasionally couldn’t help but bubble up to the surface. The last we saw of Johnny and Daniel, they joined forces to battle Johnny’s old sensei John Kreese, then united their respective Eagle Fang and Miyagi Do dojos to form a battle-hardened fighting force of students, a plotline which will lead into season 4.

When asked by TV Insider whether they think Johnny and Daniel can ever truly become friends, both actors notably hesitated. Zabka said that although it was possible, he believed that “there’s so much in between them.” He explained how the two may be too different to ever truly become friends:

They were just built completely different. They have a lot of conflict between them. I think at their core maybe they’re more alike than different, but their worldviews are opposed, and their interests are opposed, so its gonna take a minute to get through all those weeds. But I think it’s possible.

Macchio said that their volatile relationship made for the most interesting story, comparing them to Tony and Carmela Soprano on HBO’s “The Sopranos:” “You love to see them in love, and you also enjoyed watching them at each others throats, so I think there’s an element to that.”

He added that their “will they, won’t they” dynamic kept the audience on their feet, comparing it to the relationship between Ross and Rachel of NBC’s “Friends,” a comparison which Macchio has made before. He added that one of the show’s three creators pitched their relationship that way “from day 1.”

Given how inspired the “Cobra Kai” co-creators were by “The Karate Kid,” elements of the positive side of the Johnny-Daniel relationship could also be seen in the film. For one, Johnny reacts with visible shock upon Kreese asking him to unethically “sweep [Daniel’s] leg” near the end of the film. Furthermore, Johnny even congratulates Daniel upon his kicking Johnny in the face and winning the Tournament.

Viewers Will Get To See More of Kreese’s Backstory

Although viewers got to see a bit of Kreese’s past through flashbacks to the late-’60s Vietnam era in season 3, Macchio and Zabka revealed that season 4 will dive even deeper into his history. Macchio, calling his backstory “one of the highlights” of the upcoming season, said that getting to see the origins of such a “[dark villain]” is “really very compelling.”

Zabka gave some more insight to the character by explaining that Kreese truly believes “in his heart” that the “strike first, strike hard, no mercy” mantra of Cobra Kai is “the right way.” He added that Kreese “loves” Johnny, which is why it is so hard to see him go “off track.” Zabka continued:

We get to see where that [worldview] originated and why, and what he’s about…and thats an exciting thing to explore. At least it could help [viewers] understand the character a little bit more. But Johnny’s not ready to forgive him yet anyway, and neither will you be.

Be sure to catch season 4 of “Cobra Kai” when it is released on Netflix December 31.

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