Cobra Kai season 4 brought plenty of twists, turns, and shocking moments with it – but one of the biggest changes was the team up between Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio).
The duo have been at odds ever since the original Karate Kid movie, but season 4 sees them go from enemies to frenemies. While the joint-dojo effort doesn't last for long, with Daniel and Johnny going their separate ways partway through the season, they eventually reunite at the All Valley Tournament.
We sat down with Cobra Kai co-creators Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg to break down all of season 4's surprises, and discussed Johnny and Daniel's tumultuous journey.
"There's a natural commonality and conflict between the two of them that we can play with at all times," Schlossberg says. "They are more mature, and where they are in the course of our show, at the start of season 4 and definitely at the end of season 4, is at a place that's more advanced and mature than where they were at the end of Karate Kid. And yet, the events of The Karate Kid are always going to be there, those memories are always going to be there, things can always be triggered. And they're also, unlike these kids who are learning both sides – their whole lives were taught one way. So even though they can appreciate the other side, it's much more difficult for them to merge or take on the other side."
The difference between Daniel and Johnny's styles is explored throughout the season – but it isn't the only source of conflict between them both.
"We wanted to really get to the debate over philosophies," Schlossberg says. "We love talking about being aggressive versus being passive. We think that there is a yin and yang to life, and there is an argument to be made for both… You get this natural odd couple banter with them that's great and we want to take advantage of that. At the same time, we want to grow the relationship, and it not feel repetitive.
"We did that this season, the conflicts that go on between them, we're always trying to make it feel like we haven't seen yet," he continues. "So in season 4, it wasn't like, 'Okay, they don't like each other's styles and they get into an argument.' It was, 'Well, they start teaching each other's students and Johnny sees that Daniel's forming a bond with Miguel, and Daniel sees his daughter is starting to act more like Johnny.' And that triggers something in them that we haven't really seen before that leads to conflict, so it feels fresh. And yet, it's giving the audience what I think we want in this dynamic, which is clash, come together, clash, come together. The hope is that we can keep that entertainment value, but while not feeling repetitive, and advancing toward something."
Cobra Kai season 4 is streaming on Netflix now. If you're all caught up, check out our guide to the best Netflix shows to fill out your watchlist.