With a massive cliffhanger at the end of Cobra Kai's second season catapulting the rivalry between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence to a level well beyond the Karate Kid movies, series star William Zabka teases there are big changes ahead for the YouTube original.
In an exclusive with PopCulture.com, Zabka, who plays Daniel's nemesis, Johnny from the first Karate Kid movie in 1984, reveals the show is going to "go much deeper and wider" with its story that has most recently outdone all of its streaming competition, according to data provided to Variety by Parrot Analytics.
"There's a lot to clean up," Zabka told PopCulture.com of the Season 2 finale that left one character's life in the balance and another now missing. "All the characters at this point in some sense are broken and there's a lot of storylines that need to be continued."
One of those storylines the 53-year-old actor is referring to is the return of Johnny's cold-blooded sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove) to Cobra Kai and restoring its original "no mercy" credo. Since his first appearance in the iconic three-film franchise, Kreese has served as an unforgivable antagonist, consistently instructing his students to show no compassion toward their opponents.
"I can tell you that Johnny's not done with Kreese," Zabka said, adding how he too as an actor was stunned by the turn of events in the Season 2 finale. "Having to sign the dojo to him didn't make me happy as an actor to do it, or Johnny, happy to do it. So, I'm sure there's going to be a struggle or a battle for the dojo a little bit."
Zabka adds though that at this point, he doesn't have the "whole view yet" of next season as the writers just started carving out the first episode of Season 3 this past Memorial Day.
"I wish I could tell you more," Zabka laughed. "But the writers are in the writing room right now. Jon [Hurwitz], Josh [Heald] and Hayden [Schlossberg] went to the Sony lot to start writing [and] they've told me a little bit here and there. But I can tell you, it's going to be a lot more of the fun that we've had so far, and it's going to go much deeper and wider."
The New York native adds that while the first season of Cobra Kai was "really coming into Johnny's eyes," there will be an evident addition in perspective.
"Now that we've zoomed back into the valley and picked up these young martial artists in Miyagi-Do, now we're going to track them all," he said. "It's going to be a fun journey."
Zabka is not only humbled by the journey that the show has helped bring 35 years later, but also astonished by how well received it is among first generation fans and new.
"It's been surprisingly amazing. I mean, we expected there to be an audience because of The Karate Kid audience, [but] I think everyone went into the show a little tentative, as we did, stepping into these characters again," he said. "We were very cautious and careful to do it right and serve it right. And we just put our hearts into it and really, it's a relationship and the fans have just leaped back."
Another aspect that the fans are leaping on with excitement is the possibility of Johnny's ex, girlfriend, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue) to return for Season 3. While there hasn't been any confirmation of her reappearance just yet, Zabka is optimistic.
"Yeah, there's no secret that there's talk about it," he laughed. "I believe she's been approached and hopefully there could be a couple spots with her where she's kind of open to the possibility, and that's as much as I know."
Zabka adds that while Macchio's character Daniel "took" Ali from him, he's rooting for the former couple to be an item again, especially after the last shot of the season reveals she has sent him a friend request via Facebook.
"She's been a huge part of Johnny, she's big part of Karate Kid, [Elisabeth's] a wonderful actress, and she'd be a great addition to the show, so I'm rooting for it," Zabka said.
He adds that if Ali does return though, things could definitely turn around for both Johnny and Daniel — who just so happens to be married to Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) and has two children, Samantha (Mary Mouser) and Anthony (Griffin Santopietro).
"If it works for him, then [Daniel's] got some deeper things to work through because he has a lovely family that Johnny wouldn't mind having," Zabka laughed. "But you know, he's kind of got it all right now, so if his ex-girlfriend from high school steps in and confuses him, then that'll be fun to watch."0comments
Stay tuned to more from PopCulture.com with Zabka as he talks about his relationship with co-star and friend, Ralph Macchio, his reaction to the show flipping the script on the iconic film, and much more.
Photo credit: YouTube Originals / Sony Pictures