Why Xolo Maridueña Feared for His Role in ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 3

Xolo Maridueña in 2020.

Getty Xolo Maridueña in 2020.

As many fans of Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” will remember, season 2 of the acclaimed show ended in a cliffhanger, with young Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) sent into a coma at the hands of Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan). As it turns out, fans were not the only viewers of the show who might have been worried about what Miguel’s injury meant for the character moving forward. Shortly before the season aired, Maridueña shared his fears about how his – and Miguel’s – roles in the series might change.

Here’s what the actor had to say.

Maridueña Was Worried He Might Have No More Stunts

Miguel Diaz wakes up from coma in "Cobra Kai" season 3.

YouTubeMiguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) wakes up from his coma in the third season premiere of “Cobra Kai.”

As fans of the series know, the injuries Miguel sustains at the end of season 2 are felt by Miguel well into the season, unable to regain feeling in his legs at all until his mentor Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) takes him to a Dee Snider concert in episode 5.

It was because of Miguel’s injury that the then-19-year-old developed fears of what might become of his role. Maridueña explained in a December 2020 Zoom roundtable, as per CheatSheet, that, although he was excited to shoot Miguel’s dream sequence in episode 1 of season 3 (while Miguel is still in a coma), he soon realized his role in the season would likely be very different than that of previous seasons. “I was like ‘oh dang, I’m not going to be able to do stunts for a while’,” he explained. “That’s going to be a bummer, but in that first episode, I got a chance to re-enact some of the All Valley tournament fights which was pretty fun and they put a new spin on it so I really enjoyed that.

Luckily for Maridueña, however, the filming for the scenes where Miguel was incapacitated was able to be shot quickly, likely in part due to all the hospital scenes being filmed together:

I feel like up until maybe the fifth episode, it feels like a lot of my scenes were filmed kind of in the same chunk… When you see it on screen you’re like, ‘Oh crap, he’s in the hospital for a couple of episodes,’ but I feel like having all of the scripts beforehand allowed us to take a big chunk of filming and just clump it together.

Maridueña Was Worried About Miguel & Johnny’s Relationship

Miguel and Johnny in "Cobra Kai" season 3.

YouTubeMiguel and Johnny watch as Miguel stands for the first time since his injury in season 3 episode 6 of “Cobra Kai.”

As fans might remember, part of the reason why Miguel showed Robby mercy before Robby threw him over a balcony is because Johnny tried to instill the values of mercy in his students. In the Zoom roundtable, Maridueña also discussed how Miguel’s relationship with Johnny might be strained as a result of this:

I think just like any role model, Miguel instilled a lot of trust into Johnny with his word. Having it backfire at the most crucial moment really is going to be a test on their relationship. Fortunately, I feel like they have been through enough already to move past it, but I don’t think it’s going to come without its challenges.

He expounded on this point, relating how Miguel’s faith in his old mentor might be shattered after what happened with Robby:

He wants more than anything to make Johnny proud. Because of that, one of the hardest decisions he made was showing mercy to Robby. Having him get kicked off a balcony for it, I think he will resent Johnny a little bit, just as anyone would. You’re the person I trust most and I did what you said and this still happened to me, so how am I supposed to trust what you say anymore? … I hope it’s nothing that Miguel and Johnny can’t figure out.

In an interview with Looper after the third season premiere, Maridueña also spoke about the psychological damage done to Miguel after the second season finale:

I really think the battle with Miguel is less about the physical aspect of it and more about the mental aspect of having something taken away from you. And I think both karate and Johnny are two things that mean more than anything to Miguel, so having those two things taken away from him, I think, is almost worse than being paralyzed.

Throughout season 3, Miguel goes through a long journey of emotional and physical recovery alongside Johnny, finally culminating with a unification of Daniel LaRusso’s Miyagi Do with Johnny’s Eagle Fang. Robby, however, is still under the tutelage of the malicious John Kreese (Martin Kove), and has yet to make up with Miguel or the rest of the teenage cast. How far this rivalry will extend will only be seen in season 4.

Be sure to catch the upcoming season on Netflix when it is released December 31.

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