By Saidat Giwa-Osagie
As fans eagerly await the third season of Netflix’s hit Karate Kid spin-off, RadioTimes.com caught up with the Cobra Kai cast to find out what lies ahead for the karate-busting characters.
The show’s popularity skyrocketed this summer, following the series’ move from YouTube to Netflix. Now the hotly-anticipated third season will stream exclusively on the streaming platform. “It’s been massive; it’s been a huge shift,”says Jacob Bertrand, who plays Hawk in the series. “I know social media-wise, everyone’s numbers jumped up a ton.”
On social media, the extended trailer for Cobra Kai’s upcoming season racked millions of views within a day of its release. Bertrand says the move to Netflix has changed the public’s perception of the series. “ Everyone’s been calling it this sleeper hit. Now you talk about Cobra Kai and most people know about the show.”
The new season picks up in the aftermath of the massive Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai clash that sent Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) to A&E with life threatening injuries. Under the tutelage of Cobra Kai sensei Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) he forms a rivalry with Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) – Johnny’s son, who also happens to be mentored by Johnny’s Karate Kid rival, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio).
The feud between the two resembles the bitter conflict between their mentors, showing audiences the good versus evil dichotomy of the original film is somewhat greyer for the younger foes. There are many parallels between both sets of characters.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Xolo Maridueña who plays Miguel says the show’s blend of the past with the present makes it successful. ““I think something that our show does really well is to incorporate nostalgia without making it cheesy And without making it very on the nose.”
Cobra Kai reverses the fortunes of the original Karate Kid characters: now it’s former bully and can’t-catch-a-good-break Johnny versus occasionally smug and successful Daniel. The evolution of these characters in Cobra Kai often prompts fan to debate whether Daniel or Johnny is the real villain.
Maridueña points to less obvious choices as the true villain of the show.“I think in terms of the characters that we see, as, like a narrator, or a third person, Kreese (Martin Kove) probably has the most questionable morals, but I don’t think any one of our characters has any trouble getting themselves into a mess.”
Despite pinpointing Kreese as public enemy number one, Maridueña is quick to hold everyone, including his character accountable. “While everyone can unanimously agree that Kreese is probably the worst person in the valley., I think a lot of the time, the characters themselves are their worst enemies. Miguel gets himself into a lot of troubles on his own. And I don’t think he needs Kreese to kind of get him in trouble.”
Cobra Kai’s blend of typical teenage drama and karate hijinks has attracted fans far and wide.
Netflix has already greenlit a fourth season, but Mary Mouser who plays Sam LaRusso, says she’s still trying to piece what the future holds for her character.
When asked how much she knows about the fourth season and beyond, Mouser tells us, “Not much at all. We have three amazing creators, writers, directors, showrunners – the little machine that makes this show go. I’ve been tugging on their sleeve, but they’re smart enough to keep me waiting, and not telling me anything.”
Despite not having the full picture of what lies ahead for every character, Mouser says she knows Sam’s trajectory for the season. “I’m sure they’ve guessed this, but they give each of us a breakdown of our character. Before we go, they’ll sit us down and be like, ‘Alright, so your personal arc this season…’
“They purposely try to leave out any other character’s storyline. I’d be like, ‘But how does that happen? How does she interact with him? How do they end up there together?’ [They tell me], ‘Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it. They just they get there.’”
Unsatisfied with the official line of response, Mouser and her castmates have devised their own system to piece their storylines together. “So almost immediately after, this is how it goes: Jacob calls Xolo and the two of them discuss their arcs, then Xolo calls me and the two of us discuss our arcs. I call Tanner and the two of us discuss our arc. Then all together, we brain create this what we think the seasons going to look like. So maybe they stopped doing that now!”
As the cast and audiences look ahead to the next seasons of Cobra Kai, Maridueña says it will be clear when it’s time to close curtains on the Karate Kid revival. “I think we’ll know when the show should end and when we’re purely relying on nostalgia.”
If the current fandom and appetite is any indicator though, it looks like Cobra Kai could be around for a while. That’s not a problem for the cast. “It’s pretty weird to be a part of something that’s gotten so big,” Bertrand says, “But it’s an awesome opportunity just be in The Karate Kid universe with juggernauts like Willy and Ralph. It’s honestly been great. It’s been a really, really fun ride.”