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'Cobra Kai' Season 4: Can Daniel and Johnny bury the hatchet for good?

Old rivalries have a way of sticking around, Netflix showrunners tease.

By Benjamin Bullard
Cobra Kai IV on Netflix

The battle lines are drawn, forces are uniting, and there’s about to be a serious rumble in the Valley. Yep, Season 4 of Cobra Kai is just around the corner at Netflix, as two sides of a decades-old feud finally set their differences aside to take on a new common enemy.

That, of course, begs the question that’s on everyone’s mind: Can Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) really bury the hatchet and come together for the greater good? With sinister sensei (and Johnny’s ex-mentor) John Kreese (Martin Kove) now running things his way at Cobra Kai, there’s a new generation of aspiring fighters set to pick sides in the age-old Karate Kid conflict of good versus evil…and finding common ground between old nemeses may be the good guys’ only fighting chance.

Exploring the lingering tension between Daniel and Johnny — a tension that dates back to their childhood — is a big theme of the new season, according to Cobra Kai EP and co-showrunner Jon Hurwitz. Speaking recently with TV Line, Hurwitz said the two may finally be pulling for the same team, but they definitely still have very different ideas about how to win.

“You’ve seen Johnny and Daniel’s relationship now for over 30-some-odd years, so to expect completely smooth sailing would probably be a mistake,” Hurwitz teased. The two “have very different ideologies, and it has caused conflict throughout their lives…now it’s the two of them trying to teach a bunch of students together, so you can expect there to be some challenges, and the question that we’ll answer this season is how they respond to those challenges.”

The 1980s blockbuster movie that launched The Karate Kid franchise kept things relatively simple: Daniel might’ve had his ups and downs, but he mostly represented the good side of all that’s worth fighting for. In adulthood, though, Daniel and Johnny each bring fresh nuance to Cobra Kai’s good-versus-evil stakes. Sure, their old childhood enmity might resurface as they team up to help a new squad topple Kreese. But Hurwitz believes it’s important to show that good and evil aren’t always simple, clear-cut choices.

“One of our favorite parts of writing this show is that we switch points of view quite often, and we try to never present anyone as the villain or the bad guy,” he explained. “Everyone’s kind of a protagonist and everyone is kind of each other’s antagonist. Our goal is always to take you into these moments of intense confrontation where you really feel the motivations of both sides and at least [get] a mindset toward understanding what brings it to that moment beyond just a bloodlust or rivalry.”

Not that rivalry isn’t still a big part of what makes Cobra Kai tick. Co-showrunner and EP Josh Heald teased to TV Line that Daniel’s daughter Sam (Mary Mouser) and Tory (Peyton List) still have plenty of bad blood to wade through as the new season gets underway. “…[A]s with any relationship, you have ebbs and flows in terms of who’s pissed off, who’s angry, who’s willing to bury the hatchet, and who needs to hash it out,” Heald teased. “We are living with that rivalry as much as we ever have before.”

However things shake out, it definitely won’t be the end of the story. Cobra Kai been green-lit for a followup fifth season, which has already wrapped. But can Daniel and Johnny make it that far with their fragile new alliance intact? The answers are coming soon: All 10 episodes of Cobra Kai’s 4th season are set to kick off at Netflix beginning Dec. 31.