Right from the start of its first season, Cobra Kai has been about not just celebrating the legacy of The Karate Kid franchise, but also examining the events of the movies through a mature lens with the benefit of hindsight. Season 3 of the show continued in that tradition with the return of Daniel LaRusso to Okinawa, Japan, the home of the late Mr. Miyagi, where the events of The Karate Kid Part 2 had taken place. In an interview with ComicBook.com, Cobra Kai co-creator and executive producer Josh Heald explained the significance of the return to Okinawa for Daniel.
“The way things end in Season 2, with such tragedy with what happened with Miguel and his injury, with Robbie running off, with Samantha being bruised and battered and called out at the high school and what went on with all those kids, shook everyone to the core, including Johnny and Daniel, especially as their senseis and mentors. So heading into Season 3, all these characters need to pick up the pieces and we see how they respond to it. With the path that Daniel ends up going on, he’s trying to put on the brave face, he doesn’t have all the answers. And I think that it was for us about, putting Daniel in a position where he’s reached the end of his rope, where he doesn’t really know exactly what to do next.”
While Daniel has always been seen as the hero of the Karate Kid franchise, Cobra Kai has shown he is a lot more complex and nuanced than being the black-and-white good guy who never does any wrong. Season 2 of the show in particular showed a Daniel who was struggling with the legacy and responsibility of becoming a karate sensei in his own right. According to Heald, the journey to Okinawa was Daniel’s method of trying to soak in the wisdom of his late master Mr. Miyagi now that his old mentor was no longer around to guide him.
“It felt like for [Daniel] to return to Okinawa at a time when he is searching for wisdom and searching for something, even if he doesn’t know exactly what he’s going to get there, the draw of going to Okinawa to clear his head, was something that was appealing to us. And we knew that when we wanted to go to Okinawa, that we wanted to bring back Kumiko and Chozen, who are characters that we fell in love with when we were young and that we wanted to explore going forward. We knew that they’d be fun for fans, but also had the potential to be impactful in Daniel’s journey as he sort of rights the ship.”
Cobra Kai stars William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridue&ña, Mary Mouser, Tanner Buchanan, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Peyton List, and Martin Kove. All three seasons are available to stream now on Netflix. This news originated at ComicBook.com.