“Big shoes to fill.” That’s what Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) whispers to himself as he stares at the line of photographs of all of the senseis who have practiced Miyagi-do karate. Naturally, Daniel is hanging up a photo of his mentor from The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), only now, in Cobra Kai Season 2, it’s Daniel who is leading the dojo, trying to live up to Miyagi’s standards.
The point is not lost on Macchio, who returns to the YouTube original series Cobra Kai to build on the success of the shows’ debut season. Macchio once again is joined by his Karate Kid foil William Zabka, playing misunderstood tough guy Johnny Lawrence. And perennial villain John Kreese joins the show in Season 2 to remind everyone that mercy is for the weak.
Morita passed away in 2005, but his legacy casts a bright light over all of Cobra Kai. When CinemaBlend sat down recently with the Cobra Kai cast, we asked Macchio how he wanted to honor his former Karate Kid co-star in this new season, and he explained:
In the earliest discussions [I had] with [showrunners] John, Josh and Hayden, it was always important to me. And I think, to everyone. How do you continue this world, even though the show is Cobra Kai, without having and just alienating [or] cutting out all of the Miyagi-isms? And the thing is, it’s important to have that. And it’s important for that to be a void in LaRusso's life, in which he has to refine, which we see in season one and certainly the second half of it. Season two, a big part of it, is opening up Miyagi-do. Trying to spread and teach a better way, in his mind, then Cobra Kai. But it's not as simple as he thinks. And it affects his work, it affects his marriage. It affects his parenting. It affects everything that all of a sudden, he might have bitten off a little more than he can chew, and he has to figure out a way to make that work.
Season two of Cobra Kai needs conflict. It was a major twist at the end of the first season of Cobra Kai that Johnny Lawrence’s dojo won the All-Valley. The bad guys shouldn’t ever win, but in Cobra Kai, it happened. That victory spurs a lot of the tension that occurs in this new season, available now on YouTube. Johnny (William Zabka) has to convince his Cobra Kai students that they aren’t the best in the Valley, despite their victory. And Daniel (Ralph Macchio) needs to come up with a way to counter the rise of his enemy.
His decision? He literally reopens Mr. Miyagi’s backyard training facility and takes on two students: his daughter, Samantha (Mary Mouser), and Johnny’s son, Robby (Tanner Buchanan). Daniel literally takes everything that Miyagi taught him in the original two Karate Kid movies and passes it on to a new generation to combat the poisonous ways of Cobra Kai.
Because season one of Cobra Kai pulled so heavily from the first Karate Kid, I did ask Ralph Macchio if the show planned to reference The Karate Kid Part II in future episodes, especially as that saw Daniel and Miyagi traveling to the teacher’s home land of Japan. Macchio’s answer was intriguing, as he told CinemaBlend:
I've always pitched us two pitches. I can't say what they are, because we have to see if they come into play. But in revisiting the characters and elements from those movies, I think anything that happened in those films is canon, and has the ability to appear, as long as it works organically into the story.
Now I want to know what those pitches are that Macchio made to his showrunners! You can start watching Cobra Kai right now on YouTube by following this link. The entire season is waiting for you. Strike first. Strike hard. And enjoy!