Since debuting on the Netflix streaming service, scores of new viewers have been exposed to the first two seasons of Cobra Kai, which picks up 30 years after the first movie in the Karate Kid franchise. Those who have watched the show, which originally debuted on YouTube Premium, have witnessed the role reversal between the characters Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), which was a surprising change at first. As the series has gone on, though, Johnny's quest to make something worthwhile of his life has become incredibly engaging.
In the original film, Daniel is cast as the hero, with Johnny being his nemesis. As adults, though, that's not quite the case. Instead, Johnny is an antihero, trying his best to survive and thrive while his old opponent is living in the lap of luxury as a used car salesman, seemingly with the world at his fingertips.
For Zabka, the role reversal is a gift he never expected. "To get a chance to do that after living with being the bad guy from Karate Kid for 30 years and to have this new stage that's like this, it's a dream come true," he told GameSpot.
Of course, with that reversal comes a new set of challenges. Now, everyone who watches Cobra Kai becomes invested in the man Johnny has become--and the situations he finds himself in. "He's a broken man. This is a guy that was already gun shy to interact with the world, living on his own and you and odd jobs. He was very much a loner," Zabka said. "And this kid came into his life, played amazingly by Xolo Maridueña, that lifts Johnny up and gives him a little seed of hope. He taps back into himself and he puts his best foot forward with everything that he knows."
Of course, everything he knows was taught to him by his former sensei, Kreese (Martin Kove), and might not be what's right. Consider this your warning that the following contains spoilers on the end of Cobra Kai Season 2. If you've yet to watch the series, you should do that right now.
At the end of Season 2, Johnny's students and Daniel's students battled in what can only be described as a high school karate riot, violently attacking each other. It came to a head when Miguel (Maridueña) was knocked off of a balcony, causing him to fall to the ground floor of the school, landing spine-first on the railing of a staircase. When viewers last saw Miguel, he was in a hospital with his fate unknown, with Johnny barred from seeing his prized pupil.
"[He] loses everything," Zabka explained. "That's a tough spot to be in, especially for a character like Johnny. What's he going to turn to? What's he going to do? Those are all the questions that I had at the end of Season 2, going into Season 3. Our writers knew exactly where that was going and you won't be disappointed."
What Zabka couldn't share, though, is how this particular cliffhanger will be resolved. Speaking to GameSpot previously, though, Maridueña knew how he wants to see the story play out in Season 3. "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 explained. "So, personally, I would love for him to stay on that side."
You'll find out the next chapter in this story when Cobra Kai Season 3 arrives on Netflix in 2021.
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