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Have you binge-watched the entirety of Cobra Kai Season 5 over on Netflix yet? What are you waiting for? A good crane kick in the pants?
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers below for the entire 5th season of Netflix’s Cobra Kai!**
Now that you’ve presumably reached the end of that mayhem-filled season, let’s get into it. A whole lotta karate warring went down, and this time the winner wasn't decided on the mats. Nope, crane kicks and drum techniques have given way to swords and psis; that Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) just doesn't fight fair. While most everyone survived the family-friendly show, no one came out unscathed, and some even have a few more holes heading into a hopeful Season 6.
To sort it all out, SYFY WIRE has your spoiler-filled interview below with creators and executive producers Jon Hurwitz, Josh Heald, and Hayden Schlossberg, where we get into everything from how Maverick stole Cobra Kai’s playbook, to Kreese and Chozen’s near-death experiences, to Daniel-san emitting serious Johnny energy there for a minute.
Let’s talk volleyball. Did you guys know Top Gun: Maverick was going to be a huge hit before tackling that “Playing With the Boys” montage?
Heald: We kind of celebrate the ‘80s, and Top Gun is a movie that we’ve referenced before, and Johnny has some choice opinions about the original Top Gun and Tom Cruise’s character. So we wanted to continue that.
Everyone’s known that Maverick is coming out for about 15 years now as it got so incredibly delayed. We had no way of knowing exactly when it would come out in relation to Season 5. And the amazing thing is, with how well it’s doing and how well it’s been received, that it’s still going to be playing in theaters when the show comes out, so it feels even more relevant. I mean, we filmed those scenes almost a year ago.
We just exist in our world of ‘80s references and Top Gun in general, and that was just kind of a happy accident that they’re coexisting.
Schlossberg: I gotta say, Maverick, having seen it, was very reminiscent to me of Cobra Kai and the way the filmmakers approached the original and brought in new characters. It gives you that original Top Gun vibe, it really feels like a continuation of that, and introduces new characters through Maverick and through the characters that we love. It’s definitely, they’re kindred spirits in a number of ways.
Is that the way you’re approaching the Ferris Bueller spin-off?
Schlossberg: All our projects are a little different in different ways, but at the end of the day, we love movies. But there has to be a story that we’re interested in. With the Ferris Bueller idea, which is Sam and Victor’s Day Off, we’re focusing on the valet drivers from the original movie, and seeing that perspective of an ‘80s comedy. So there’s something original about it and different about it, where it’s not just, "Okay, we’re just retreading things and trying to cash in on nostalgia." We’re all about telling a modern story but bringing back old-school vibes, so that’s the goal of that.
How come you couldn’t bring yourself to killing off Kreese or Chozen, when it looked as though you had?
Hurwitz: It doesn’t mean that because they’re not dead now that they won’t ever die on the show. [Laughs] It’s almost Karate Kid and Cobra Kai tradition for Kreese to fake his own death… that’s a thing he likes to do. So we thought it was really impactful at the end of this season where Kreese has seemingly arced in a lot of ways, in his experience in prison, and it felt like he was becoming a better man and trying to make up for the past, and there was this irony of him seemingly breaking up a prison fight to try and be a better man, and getting killed as a result of it.
We knew where we were headed at the end of the episode, and that Terry Silver was going to be taken down by Daniel and the group, and we liked the idea of having Kreese out in the wild again, and having absolutely nothing to lose. Johnny and Daniel certainly weren’t kind to him when they visited him in prison, and they double-crossed him; Terry Silver has put him in prison; and he’s got a lot of anger built up. So having him out there in the world, when it seems like it’s peacetime in the valley, but as Kreese always says: "Peace is just a lull between battles." So we’ll see what Kreese has in store going forward.
And as for Chozen, back in the Karate Kid II days, it was life or death, and having that life or death battle, he’s the kind of character who could have it. Early on we dreamed up this sword vs psis fight, and when you’re fighting with weapons like that, someone could die, and we thought it would be a really impactful moment for us to feel like Terry and his team … basically defeated our guys, our villains from Karate Kid I, II, and III — Johnny, Barnes, and Chozen — all coming together and losing, seemingly, and it’s looking like the most dire situation possible: that Chozen, who’s seemingly able to beat anyone, for him in this moment where he has the upper hand to get distracted and potentially killed, we thought that that was an impactful moment. But we think there’s more story to tell with Chozen, and we’re excited to tell it.
What about that heart-to-heart between Daniel and Johnny in Johnny’s apartment? It was really heartfelt, take us behind the scenes of that if you would.
Heald: That’s a scene that was so fun to imagine, and really fun to be there on the day as the actors are working through it as to how they’re going to play it. It was created specifically to bring Daniel to this fever pitch in this karate war, where he’s paying an actual, tangible price for dealing with Silver. Meanwhile, Johnny has kind of left it all behind, because he had bigger fish starting with Mexico and now continuing with Miguel and Robbie’s relationship with each other. So by the time they’re in each other’s space for the first time this season, Daniel’s been through so much on the karate side, and Johnny’s been through so much on the family side, that they’re not on the same page. And Daniel is kind of leading with that Johnny energy, where he’s coming in a little unshaven, a little bit drunk, and Johnny is kind of the straight and narrow one, and is the one to say, ‘What’s going on, man?’
Even when Ralph [Macchio] goes to sit down, we intentionally have him sit in Johnny’s seat, because he’s embodying more Johnny energy there, and Johnny takes a seat that’s normally reserved for the guests. So it had a different feel to it. It’s always different but the same, how can we continue to tell a story with these two characters and evolve their relationship while not drifting too far away as to what makes their relationship so fun and so combustible?
Schlossberg: You just want to make sure that you’re not treading on the same territory. And sometimes it’s like, "Did we have this dialogue before?" And the truth is that in real life you repeat things over and over again, and probably repeat the same joke to someone that you forget, or whatever. But on a show, it’s there to see. So it’s always about finding like, "What is the twist this season? What makes this conversation different from every other Daniel/Johnny conversation?" We’re always looking for that new thing. And that scene in particular, we hadn’t seen that role reversal scene. And I think for all the characters on the show and the relationships, that’s what we’re looking for. It’s like Johnny with Miguel and Robbie, he’s like, "Okay, just fight each other right now." We haven’t seen him do that. We’re always trying to find new relationships, but every now and then there are the moments where it’s like, "Okay, wait a sec, this line sounds familiar, I feel like Johnny’s said this before." So we catch ourselves.
How does all that hullabaloo in the season finale set us up, hopefully, for a Season 6?
HS: Well, Cobra Kai is finished, it’s over, the good guys won, and that’s it… In Johnny and Daniel’s minds, it may be over, in the karate wars, like the battle seemingly is done. But of course we see in the very end that John Kreese is escaping jail and he has reason to seek revenge on everybody right now. So it may be peacetime, but as [we] said, peace is just a lull between battles, and we know that there’s a world tournament out there, and we know these kids are getting older, and at some point, they're going to graduate high school and all the life challenges that come with that. But as we said earlier, we’re going to stay true to the roots of The Karate Kid, and continue to tell the stories of these characters, these kids who are on the verge of being young adults but still have lessons to learn, and at the same time were going to find a way to go even bigger, and crazier, and more explosive.
All 10 episodes of Cobra Kai Season 5 are now streaming on Netflix.
Looking for more butt-kicking action? The Northman, Self/Less, Upgrade, The Mummy trilogy, Haywire and more are streaming now on Peacock.