Following an intense cliffhanger driving the rivalry between two of pop culture's most iconic characters to a wedge well beyond the beloved Karate Kid movies, Cobra Kai star William Zabka admits when he thinks of Season 3, "fireworks keep coming to mind." In an exclusive with PopCulture.com just days after the former YouTube series premiered on Netflix, Zabka dished on what fans can expect from the hotly anticipated Season 3 when it returns in 2021, revealing it's going to be a good one.
"It's not going to disappoint," Zabka told PopCulture. "But it's also unexpected. The one thing that the writers are so great with is that if you tried to track this from Season 1 from episode one, you couldn't because there are so many twists and turns and ups and downs, and it continues in Season 3."
With a lot to clean up after the Season 2 finale that left one character's life in the balance and another now missing, all the characters at this point are, in some sense, broken with a lot of storylines that will assuredly continue. One of the storylines Zabka refers to is the shocking return of Johnny's hard-hearted sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove), to the Cobra Kai. Working to restore the dojo's "no mercy" credo, Kreese has served as an unforgivable antagonist since first appearing in the iconic three-film franchise. Sharing how there are a lot of options of where the show can go with Kreese's return, Zabka admits it will be interesting to explore in Season 3.
"Playing Johnny and Kreese again at this level and in this show has been a dream," Zabka said before sharing how the two actors are great friends off-screen. "Johnny gave Kreese a chance, and he's a father figure in many ways. [But] he downloaded a lot of not good advice to Johnny and Johnny is trying to work that out, so it's like when you love somebody, but they're not good for you. It hurts to push away, and I think the end of Season 2 kind of says everything of the result of this kind of father-son dysfunctional relationship, semi-abusive, but through each of their points of view is good intention."
Adding how he thinks that "mirrors life in many ways," Zabka says fans will see everybody's point of view in the next chapter too. But when it comes to his character, Johnny, there will be a lot of ground to cover. "Johnny's going to come into Season 3 [as] a man without a home at the moment. So, he's got a lot of working things out to do," he said. "It'll take a lot for Kreese to earn him back in any way, and that's just clear on his face at the end of Season 2, so we'll see what happens. A lot of options of where it can go, but I can guarantee it's going to be exciting with where it does go."
Zabka is not only humbled by the journey that the show has helped bring more than 35 years later but is amazed by how well-received it is among first-generation fans and new — especially following its move to Netflix on Aug. 28 and trending in the No. 1 spot in both the U.S. and Canada.
"I couldn't be more happy with the move," Zabka said, humbly sharing his respect for the show's former home on YouTube. "We loved YouTube — they were great to work with, and they gave us wings. We're forever grateful for them and Susanne Daniels, who connected with it from the beginning. We feel super excited to be at Netflix because obviously we have a global stage that we didn't really have at YouTube. And just the idea of moving to Netflix, which is just incredible, was thrilling in itself to know that the show would go on because we had no guarantees and to go on with such an amazing platform."
In addition to reaching more people, Zabka believes it's the perfect addition to the mega streamer due to the pandemic keeping so many of us home and itching for the next best show. "I think it's a timely release right now," he said, also expressing his appreciation to fans who had watched the series' initial run on YouTube. "The audience for the show is kids to grandparents and families, and so there's all these actors and all these young characters in the show, kind of are speaking for their own. Everybody has something they can hang on to with these characters and learn from and grow from and be entertained by."
Cobra Kai Season 1 and Season 2 are currently streaming on Netflix, with Season 3 arriving sometime in 2021. For more on the affable Billy Zabka, Cobra Kai, The Karate Kid, and all of your favorite shows, keep it locked to PopCulture.com for the latest!