There's been a central conflict at the heart of Cobra Kai that has made the show so compelling, and even though things will be changing with a surprise team-up in Season 4, fans shouldn't worry too much about Daniel and Johnny completely burying the hatchet (or, umm, crane kick) when the show returns. Even when they're on the same side, they'll still be butting heads.
The executive producers and cast of Cobra Kai continued to show "No Mercy!" to spoilers during the 2021 Paley Front Row panel presented by Citi program, as the hit Netflix series is currently shooting in Georgia and Los Angeles, continuing to document the San Fernando Valley exploits of life-long karate rivals, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka).
The sequel series picks up 30+ years after the events of the first Karate Kid (1984) film, and features many of the original cast from the entire film franchise, plus an ensemble of next-generation cast navigating the ups and downs of being the current students of LaRusso and Lawrence.
Participating in the virtual panel were executive producers Macchio and Zabka, along with fellow cast Xolo Maridueña (Miguel Diaz), Mary Mouser (Samantha LaRusso), Courtney Henggeler (Courtney LaRusso), and executive producers and writers Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg with moderation by Perri Nemiroff.
Macchio confirmed that everyone on the panel was actively working on Season 4 of Cobra Kai. Heald added that everyone was also exhausted because the new season has, again, been extremely ambitious with more of the same mix of emotional moments and epic battles ahead of them before they wrap. But he did tease that the season starts with the same "Yeah!" feeling that ended Season 3 as Daniel and Johnny came together to train their students against the increasingly dangerous Cobra Kai dojo founder, John Kreese (Martin Kove).
"We want to deliver on that feeling and generate the dopamine, goosebumps, tears and belly laughs," Heald says the fans have come to expect from their show. "Season 4 is the same recipe with different tastes but even bigger. We're really proud of what we’re making so far."
Asked how the uneasy truce between LaRusso and Lawrence will continue to inform each of the men on their paths to more emotional maturity, Macchio says the two men are ultimately connected by their good intentions. Macchio cites Johnny's interest in doing right by Miguel and Robbie (Tanner Buchanan) as Daniel being able to see beyond Johnyy's constant screw ups. "In those moments, they are learning something from one another. But they are each other’s Kryptonite too, which is fun as well," the actor laughed.
Zabka added, "They need each other because they are opposites. Their bow at the end of Season 3 was cathartic. There will always be landmines for these characters and they are different, but apply what they know in moving forward. And there will be a lot more of learning from one another in Season 4."
Addressing arguably one of the greatest return actor gets of the whole franchise which happened towards the end of Season 3 — Elisabeth Shue reprising her role as Ali Mills for two episodes — executive producer Jon Hurwitz confirmed that was the result of a last minute aligning of the stars that they teased as happening back at the end of Season 2.
"That was us willing into existence," Hurwitz confirmed. He and the writers know in order to make it worth Shue's time, they had to give her something "interesting to do". He adds that they never shared a worst-case scenario "Plan B" on how to resolve the Ali issue if it didn't work out because they really wanted the studio to make it happen.
"We always say that Cobra Kai is Karate Kid fantasy camp for us," Hurwitz laughed. "And watching Ralph and Elisabeth reunite for the first time in decades was a moment I will never forget. Watching them all work together within these new dynamics, you could see their chemistry on and off camera. It felt like an actual reunion on the show."
To watch the entire Cobra Kai Paley Front Row panel available today on the Paley Center’s dedicated channel on Verizon Media’s Yahoo Entertainment May 13, starting at 10:00 am ET/7:00 am PT, check out the Yahoo Entertainment Paley page.