Cobra Kai took its message of "No Mercy" too far.
At long last, Cobra Kai has been released on Netflix, the top streaming platform. As such, many new people are seeing the show for the first time, getting invested in this rag tag group of karate teens--and their respective senseis--for the first time. Given what happened in the Season 2 finale's cliffhanger, chances are you're dying to know what's coming next. Luckily for you, GameSpot has some idea. After speaking to the show's producers and star Xolo Maridueña, it's clear they know exactly where the story will go next. Warning: The following contains spoilers for Season 2 of Cobra Kai.
In the final episode--"No Mercy"--what can only be described as a karate riot breaks out at the high school, pitting the Cobra Kai students against those from Miyagi-Do. This comes after tensions swelled between the two sides all season before this final blowout, which left Miguel (Maridueña) hospitalized after a kick from Robby (Tanner Buchanan) sent him over a guardrail and plummeting onto a flight of stairs below. As the season came to an end, Miguel's mom warned his sensei Johnny (William Zabka) to stay away from him, while it was left a mystery if he'd actually survive.
In many ways, it was the exact opposite of the Season 1 finale. Instead of a structured tournament with rules to work within, this massive battle was simply chaos where anything goes. And while Miguel bested an injured Robby in Season 1 to win the All Valley Karate Championship, he's now at his absolute lowest point as he simply clings onto life.
"We liked this idea of a cruel summer theme where it's the summer after dealing with the aftermath of what happened in Season 1 and the whole season was these dual rival dojos and he likes the rivalry from the 1980s between Johnny and Daniel to sort of trickle down to their students," executive producer John Hurwitz told GameSpot. "And in the tradition of an Outsiders or West Side Story, it becomes these kind of gangs in a school that leads to a big rumble and we always loved that idea [that] this give you what you want in terms of a climax, lots of karate, lots of kids going all at it, except there's no rules, there's no refs, and all they have is what their senseis taught them."
For both sides, though, the message was clearly muddled. Though he's been taught to fight honorable by Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), Robby's uneven temper and need to feel accepted by his dojo--and, since these are high schooler, because he's fighting over a girl--leads him to make some questionable choices, including the final kick to Miguel. And it simply leaves everything up in the air.
"There's power in everything being extremely unresolved and we don't love pain and violence, but we love where our characters are at the end of the season in terms of they're all at their most raw," Hurwitz continued. "Everyone has a nerve ending exposed and it's another powder keg waiting to explode but at the same time, it leads to a lot of 'Where do you go from here? What happens now?' And we like that it doesn't give you that immediate through-line."
What's more, though, is this situation will likely force both Johnny and Daniel to face the mistakes they've made in their teachings, despite their best efforts to bring good into the lives of these kids. "I think one thing we really loved about ending the season this way and it's a heavy ending, obviously, what we liked in a sense in season two both Johnny and Daniel are trying their best to do right," executive producer Josh Heald explained. "And sometimes in life, you can try your best, and you can be trying to do the right thing, and things don't always work out for you. We wanted to show that over the course of the season, and it leads us into a place when you're going forward that sometimes if you lived by a noble code and you're trying to do right in life and things don't work out for you, how do you respond to that? And I think that puts us in an interesting place going forward."
As for what that place is, Maridueña still isn't quite sure. However, after talking to the producers, he's confident in whatever their vision is. "I get to the very end, and I'm like, 'What the...? We never spoke about this.' Like, it blindsided me a little bit." he admitted. "And then talking to the three amigos, [producers Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg, after they explained to me like, 'This is what we're trying to do. We think it'll really work.'"
Personally, though, he knows where he'd like to see Miguel wind up, should he recover from his injury. "I would love to always stick by Johnny's side. I think he really has his head in the right place and I love it," the actor said. "So, personally, I would love for him to stay on that side, but I don't even know what they're gonna do for next season."
The first two seasons of Cobra Kai are on Netflix now, with Season 3 premiering in 2021. For more Cobra Kai goodness, make sure to check out our Season 1 and Season 2 Easter egg guides, as well as an interview with series star William Zabka about what's ahead for Johnny in Season 3.