The following story will contain spoilers for season one of Cobra Kai, so please stop reading if you haven't yet seen the season. And go watch it, now!
YouTube Red's Cobra Kai was a pleasant surprise, rewarding nostalgia-seeking audience members with a peek into the current lives of former rivals Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and John Lawrence (William Zabka). But in addition -- thanks to some fantastic writing by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg -- viewers got invested in the story of the trip of new characters, played by Xolo Mariduena, Tanner Buchanan and Mary Mouser.
During San Diego Comic-Con, Mariduena stopped by CinemaBlend's video suite to discuss season one of his hit show, and we asked him if there were versions of the script where his character lost the tournament. Interestingly enough, Mariduena explained:
The directors... knew exactly where they wanted everything to fall into place. So there wasn't necessarily a question with who was going to win the tournament. There was a question about how whoever was going to win was going to win the tournament. So because of that, we did film variations of the last couple of fight scenes, depending on how violent they were, depending on how brutal the beating was. Just because we didn't know how much we wanted a character to be disliked or where we wanted to set it up for next season.
Because of that, we had a couple of scenes where [the directors would say], 'OK, we want you to be more intense right here. Especially in one of the last lines that I deliver, where I'm like, 'No sensei, no mercy. You taught me this.' And I walk off. We did a couple of takes of those where one was not as serious, then a little bit more serious, then dead serious. So because of that, we did have a couple of variations, but we knew who was going to win since day one.
The fact that Miguel (Xolo Mariduena) defeats Daniel's protégé, Robby (Tanner Buchanan), sets up some very interesting avenues for season two. Miguel wasn't lacking in confidence at the end of Cobra Kai, but I love hearing that they shot a number of different takes to amplify how much the producers and showrunners wanted audiences to dislike Miguel, because he's definitely being set up to be one of three heel villains in the second season.