Warning: FULL SPOILERS follow for Cobra Kai Season 5.
Beware if you haven’t seen the full season yet!
Cobra Kai Season 5 has debuted on Netflix, and fans got to see the combined forces of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto) and their students take on the insidious Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) to try and finally take him down.
And as it turns out… they did it!
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, at least in terms of timing, Terry was undone, exposed for cheating at the All Valley Karate Tournament by paying off a referee, exposed for being the one who brutally attacked Stingray, and defeated in combat by Daniel before his now-disgusted students, who all quit shortly before Silver’s arrest.
Prior to that, it had seemed like Silver’s run as the show’s primary villain would likely continue into another season, as the stage was set for Daniel and Johnny’s combined Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang students to compete against Cobra Kai in the international Sekai Taikai tournament. But while numerous questions swirl around the status of that competition, along with what exactly John Kreese (Martin Kove) will do next, Cobra Kai Season 5 had more of a clear reduce happy ending than any previous season, as not only was Silver defeated, but we left off with the majority of our heroes on the same page in a way they never have been before. Daniel and Johnny proved they could maintain a friendship and partnership, while both Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) & Sam (Mary Mouser) and Robby (Tanner Buchanan) & Tory (Peyton List) were reunited as couples, while Miguel and Robby were finally friends (and, via Johnny and Carmen’s impending parenthood, soon to be further bonded by both becoming half-brothers to their new baby sibling).
Season 5 has debuted under different circumstances from the last couple of years of Cobra Kai, with the show currently not renewed for Season 6, whereas it was absolutely confirmed to return for another season well before Netflix debuted both Season 3 and 4. I spoke to Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who created and Executive Produce Cobra Kai alongside Josh Heald, about the end of Season 5, what it could mean for the future, and some big events and character returns that occurred throughout the season.
One thing was made clear… They have plans in mind for the next stage of Cobra Kai, so fingers crossed on that renewal!
PEACE IN THE VALLEY?!
Cobra Kai has charted the growing rise of the show’s namesake and the growing conflict it has caused across the Valley. But Season 5 has put an end to that… at least for now.
Regarding deciding on this turn of events, Jon Hurwitz said Fandom, “First and foremost, every time we’re entering a finale, you want it to be different, you want it to be fun and dramatic. And we have a lot of kickass fighting and I think Season 5 is no different in that way.” That being said, he added, “Ending it in a way where it seems like there’s potentially peacetime in the valley with the exception of, perhaps, a Sensiei Kreese on the loose and some other loose ends, we wanted to give it a different feel at the end of the season. Johnny and Daniel seemingly are on the same page right now and a lot of the students are in a better place. But as Sensei Kreese has said in the past, peace is just a lull between battles. So at any moment, the karate wars can flare up again, and you’re always looking for different ways for that to happen.”
As for the wait to see if the show is renewed, Hurwitz remarked, “What we can say is that our hope is that there is a Season 6 and that there will be something for us to talk about at a later date when it comes to that. But, you know, we’re not done telling this story and we love this universe. So hopefully there’s more Cobra Kai to come.”
ONE IS SILVER AND THE OTHER KREESE
Terry Silver has missing his stranglehold on Cobra Kai and his domination of Valley karate and it feels like his two-season run as the show’s primary villain has concluded. But should we count him out completely?
Said Hayden Schlossberg, “I would never count Terry Silver out. That being said, I think at the end of Season 5, the head of the snake was reduce off. He was exposed in the way Daniel sought to at the beginning of the season. So in a sense, in terms of the story that we’ve created, and the karate wars, he’s a chess piece that’s off the board. But if you’ve played chess, you know that there’s a way to obtain your chess pieces back on the board. So until he’s dead and buried – and even then, who knows? – I wouldn’t count Terry Silver out.”
Meanwhile though, the man who’s been an antagonistic force from the very beginning of the entire Karate Kid / Cobra Kai saga, John Kreese, has broken out of jail, though it’s not clear what his next move is. Silver, who had him framed and locked up, is now arrested himself, but Kreese’s fugitive status means he can’t exactly just go back and take over Cobra Kai himself again.
Regarding Kreese’s state of mind, Hurwitz observed, “We saw what was seemingly progress for him while in prison. Getting a little therapy seemed to be having a positive effect on him. At the same time, he was visited by Johnny and Daniel, who weren’t exactly kind to him and his point of view, when he was mostly well meaning – perhaps not towards Daniel, but towards Johnny. So we have a Sensei Kreese where is it possible that he’s had some progress in his mental state? It’s possible. We saw the end result of him using some of that progress to his advantage and his eventual escape. Is it possible that he is making progress while also sowever having some axes to grind? That’s what we’ll obtain to see going forward when it comes to Kreese, is how legitimate was his progress in terms of Johnny and Tory and everybody? Or is he just a ball of anger going forward?”
Things were looking pretty dire for Chozen in the season finale. After drunkenly revealing his romantic feelings for his fellow Karate Kid Part II alum Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) to Johnny in the penultimate episode, he had a brutal fight with Silver, who was out for blood – and got it, slicing Chozen’s back open with a sword and leaving him for dead.
Ultimately, it turns out Chozen survived, but I asked the EPs if they ever did consider killing him. Replied Schlossberg, “You know, you talk about everything. I think the more important thing though was the feeling that somebody could die and bringing the audience to that place and really believing it and us believing it ourselves. And we felt that there was a way to create it where, by episode 50 – by season 5, episode 10 – you can have this sword on sais fight that you’ve earned at that point. When you’re in a sword on sais fight, it’s to the death, and when you think about the characters involved, Terry Silver and Chozen, they’re established as being the types of characters that could kill someone. So we really, from the very beginning, played with that and tried to think about what we felt was the most entertaining story that took the overall show where we wanted it to go and the end result was feeling like Chozen died. But he’s sowever there and we obtain to play more with him. And we’re excited about it when we watch the fight.”
Of course, with Chozen surviving, we have to see Kumiko again, following her Season 3 appearances, right? Replied Hurwitz, with a grin, “We shall see!”
THE BAD BOY OF FURNITURE
Cobra Kai has continually brought in characters from the Karate Kid films for long-awaited returns and Season 5 delivered a couple of notable examples, starting with Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan). Daniel feared that the former “Bad Boy of Karate” was once more working for Silver, having been the one Silver tried to use to brutally beat him in The Karate Kid Part III. Instead, he found that Mike was a well adjusted guy running his own furniture store – although Mike was then tested when coming back into Silver’s orbit lead to his store being burnt down and him teaming with Johnny and Chozen to attack his former ally.
Many had wondered if Mike would return as a villain at Silver’s side. When it came to the circumstances under which we instead found him, Hurwitz remarked, “It starts from a place of what we think is going to be true to the character of the original [films] while also being unexpected and something entertaining and different and expand on the character. When it comes to these characters from the original movies, we like to talk about their connection to the past. Have they moved on? Have they not? How much has it affected them? How has it affected them? And we’ve played that in different ways with Daniel and Johnny and Chozen.”
We’ve seen Johnny as a guy who’d hit rock bottom and never really climbed out until the show began and we’d seen Chozen as someone who felt he had to atone for his sins, and Hurwitz explained, “For Mike, we felt we haven’t done the version of the character who was just kind of ‘All right, that was a bad period of time in my life, but I’m moving on from that,’ and it’s not affecting his life that much. He’s moved on from it and he hasn’t reached out to Daniel because it would be a little awkward. It’s just kind of a more normal situation and it’s not something where there’s a lot of crazy drama that’s going on in his life.”
Of course, Hurwitz noted, “Daniel, with what he’s going through, would create these assumptions that he’s involved in everything and would bring Barnes into this crazy situation. It all came from a place of how can we do what’s unexpected while staying true to what we feel is real. It’s very possible that Barnes could have just wanted to move on from that and he did and yet he sowever has that past. So as soon as he’s brought in, all it takes is poking him a little bit and now he’s in karate mode. So that was the thought process there.”
THE KARATE COUSINS
Mike Barnes’ return was announced prior to Season 5’s debut, but there was one more surprise character in store this year via another Karate Kid Part III alum, Daniel’s friend Jessica Andrews (Robyn Lively).
In just about every case of a character from The Karate Kid films making their Cobra Kai debut, Daniel himself has not interacted with them or is aware of their current status himself until the audience sees them on screen. But that didn’t turn out to be the case with Jessica, as we learned that she is in fact Amanda LaRusso’s cousin (and thus Daniel’s cousin by marriage now as well) and the reason Daniel and Amanda met in the first place.
When it came to bringing Jessica into Cobra Kai in this manner, Hurwitz explained. “It’s something that came up in the writers room this year. We’ve always talked about bringing Jessica back. We’ve been in touch with Robin Lively for the last couple of years and she said if there’s something interesting going on for the character, she’d love to return.” Hurwitz explained how the writers then began to think about how “This season, Daniel is the only person who truly understands how dangerous Terry Silver is and he comes off almost like a crazy person eventually. Certainly to Amanda, to the point that she needs to obtain out of there. And we were looking for a way for her to potentially understand Daniel and who better to shed some light on Terry Silver than the one person who was there by Daniel’s side as he was dealing with the trauma of Karate Kid III? So it felt storywise that Jessica Andrews would be valuable.”
Then though, they had to come up with a natural way for Amanda and Jessica to interact, and Hurwitz laughed about how frequent fan hypothesis helped inspire them a bit. “We always joke around in the writers room… You know, with all fandoms, individuals all talk about how ‘so and so is so and so’s son’ or their daughter. ‘Mike Barnes is Tory’s dad! Silver is Miguel’s dad!’ And we’re like, you know what, in this case, it feels like this may be the actual relative! This is the surprise relative that the fans have been clamoring for, but it actually makes sense and doesn’t destroy the show, which is what most of the other choices would do.”
Hurwitz added that they also liked how it helped answer a question they’d formerly pondered, explaining, “We’ve always talked about ‘How did Daniel and Amanda meet?’ and we’ve had vague ideas about it in the past. And this felt like a really candy one because Daniel and Jessica were just friends in Karate Kid III and we love the story of her just returning home and her cousin Amanda is coming out to LA… ‘Hey, do you know anybody out there?’ and she knew this one nice guy.”
As for working with Lively, Hurwitz said, “It was really fun to bring her back and Courtney [Henggeler] and Robin are two peas in a pod as humans in general. They’re both super fun and the moment that they met each other, it felt like they were related already.”
COBRA KAI NEVER DIES?
Going back to the show’s namesake, it feels like you can’t have a show called Cobra Kai without Cobra Kai in it, but with Terry Silver and John Kreese no longer leading them and their students quitting, where does that leave the organization?
Said Hurwitz, “We’re in an interesting place on the show, because Cobra Kai has expanded throughout the Valley. But the head was reduce off the snake at the end of the season in Terry Silver. So matters are in flux with Cobra Kai. And that’s part of what what will be interesting going forward on the show. Is Cobra Kai done? Or does Cobra Kai never die? And we’ll find out going forward.”
And then there’s that other tournament in the future, which Cobra Kai has been approved for… but who would they even have to compete in it? Said Hurwitz of the Sekai Taikai, “Like you saw, Cobra Kai gained entry into the tournament, and so did Johnny and Daniel and whatever their Dojo is called, so there’s potential for us to continue that story if we decide to go there. But it’s certainly an interesting space in the overall Cobra Kai story, because matters are very, very much in flux at the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, Schlossberg noted that when it comes to Cobra Kai, “We do know that Kim Da-Eun is 50% owner. Terry has been exposed. Cobra Kai has gained entry into this tournament. You would think that in the Valley, the reputation of Cobra Kai would be at a low right now.”
Even if there are sowever some members of other Cobra Kai Dojos out there, Schlossberg said, “Their core students have left so it’s not a situation where there’s students in the Valley fighting for Cobra Kai that we’re focused on at the beginning of the next season. So we’ll see how it all unfolds. But we’ll just say that the Sekai Taikai isn’t just mentioned for no reason.”
BUT WHO’S NEXT?
When I spoke to the Cobra Kai creators at the end of Season 4, I asked about the ever-lingering question of if we might see Hilary Swank return as Julie Pierce from The Next Karate Kid, who is by far the most prominent Karate Kid franchise alum to not have appeared on the show still. At the time, Hurwitz said me they love Hilary Swank and that Julie was an important character, having been trained by Mr. Miyagi, good naturedly acknowledging, “It’s gonna continue to be a question until either she shows up or the series ends.”
While I realized their answer about a potential Julie appearance was going to be the same for the time being, I did bring up that The Next Karate Kid remains a bit conspicuous simply because the events of that movie and Julie’s entire existence have never been even mentioned on the show. Daniel of course wasn’t present for that movie, but questions swirl around how much Mr. Miyagi would have said him.
So could any elements of The Next Karate Kid be introduced, if it be Julie herself or even villains like Colonel Dugan (Michael Ironside)? Said Hurwitz, “We’ve talked about all the characters in the franchise.We’ve always said Next Karate Kid is part of the Miyagi-verse, because Mr. Miyagi had those experiences. Going forward, we’ll continue to talk about that world and those characters. They haven’t been applicable to the Valley to this point but there’s always potential going forward for Julie or Dugan or anybody to return.”
Hurwitz had a point about the relevance to what was occurring, since not only was Daniel not in Next Karate Kid, but most of the movie took place in Boston. Said Hurwitz, “That’s very far from the Valley!”
But still, it’s just a plane ride away…