It doesn’t feel that it might have taken that much convincing to bring Ralph Macchio back into the fold when creating Cobra Kai, but it does appear that the different perspective made it too appealing to pass up since he enjoyed thinking about what might have happened in the three decades following the movies. As those of us that have watched the show already know, Cobra Kai is indeed back and it’s successfully enlisted several students to its cause since Johnny decided to take on the task of recreating the dojo and taking to heart the lessons his old sensei, John Kreese, taught him when he was younger. But it was also interesting to see that there is no well-defined good guy or bad guy in the first season since Daniel has become a bit of a jerk and still hasn’t let anything go when he sees that Cobra Kai is being reborn. The moment he sees this he’s firmly against it and appears to go back to the past when the Cobra Kai were merciless to him and didn’t let up. Stating that Daniel didn’t do anything to keep the feud alive back then is stretching it a bit since he did play a tit for tat kind of game with Johnny as if anyone needed to be reminded of the bathroom incident with the hose. But it’s definitely true that painting Daniel as the bad guy in the movies is a huge stretch of the imagination and kind of lets Johnny off the hook a little too much.
But in the first season of Cobra Kai, it’s established that not only is Johnny not the villain, but his life has also seen better days since he’s living in a rundown apartment and spending his time as a handyman that makes very little money, and he’s firmly stuck in the 80s when he was still cool and life made sense to him. During the first season, it’s seen that Johnny is just trying to get by and survive, but is pretty down and out since the only tie he still has to his past is his stepfather, who is essentially the reason that Johnny turned to karate in order to gain some control over his life. His stepfather is still a jerk that tries to bring Johnny down and repeatedly reminds him of his mistakes, but this is also part of how we get to find out that Johnny wasn’t born a jerk, and he wasn’t exactly the worst sort of person in the movie either. He was a product of an unhappy home and a sensei that took advantage of that and made him into something he felt was cool while giving Johnny the tools to become both popular and tough. The only downside is that Kreese turned him aggressive by drilling into his head the need to punish those that would stand in his way or attempt to break him down. It’s a wonder that he didn’t break his stepfather in two at some point, but then again he was still a kid during the movie, and it’s likely that his stepfather could still wound him with words.
As season 1 came to a close it was easier to like Johnny since he was coming to learn that the way his sensei had taught him was wrong. It was even getting easier to like Daniel, but there were several people that were still on the fence about this since Daniel went into full-jerk mode a couple of times given that he had a great life and didn’t trust Johnny in the least due to their sordid past. But as season 2 rolled along it became obvious that Daniel just couldn’t let it go that Johnny now had a dojo of his own, and it only got worse when it was revealed that John Kreese was alive and back in town, ready to help his former student continue his legacy. As the second season kept going though it was a bit evident that the sins of the teachers were starting to transfer over to their students, and eventually everything boiled over and the fight at the beginning of school became the huge explosion that people had seen coming. With Cobra Kai being snapped up by Netflix now it’s much easier to watch each episode and binge the entire two seasons in anticipation for the third season, which should be coming out sometime next year. So far there have been plenty of theories on what’s going to happen such as Chozen from the second movie coming back, the fact that Mr. Miyagi was keeping secrets from Daniel, and the idea that there could be another surprise on the way if things keep going the way they are. It’s even thought that we might get to see Allie, played by Elisabeth Shue, but we’ll have to wait and see.