While much of the Netflix Cobra Kai series (releasing on Sept. 9) is focused on male characters like Daniel LaRusso, Johnny Lawrence, Miguel Diaz, Robby Keene, John Kreese and Terry Silver, Season 5 of the show really showcases the women in the cast, including a new character joining the Karate Kid legacy.
With Cobra Kai now being run by Terry Silver, following John Kreese’s arrest at the end of Season 4, this season he’s bringing in reinforcements as he tries to expand the dojo. Most notably, Sensei Kim Da-Eun (Alicia Hannah-Kim) flies in to work with Silver, who has a connection to Silver's karate master from South Korea, who taught American soldiers. Sensei Kim Da-Eun has a particular affinity for training the women in Cobra Kai, notably the All Valley Tournament champion Tory Nichols (Peyton List).
“That was huge and I'm really happy that they continued with that from Season 4, because it was the first time there was even a women's division at the All Valley tournament,” Peyton List told Yahoo Canada. “So having such strong females to work with in more stuff, that just means more stunt women and even more women in the workspace, and it's really cool.”
“I think it’s super exciting,” Mary Mouser, who plays Ralph Macchio’s character’s daughter, Samantha, added. “It's just more interaction we get to have…with other women in the space.”
“This last season was the first time where we had a couple of training sessions where we outnumbered the dudes and that was really cool, that was super fun… I love the idea of creating characters and stories that I, at that age, could have really related to and maybe gotten excited about karate at a younger age.”
Devon (Oona O'Brien) has moved on from her Eagle Fang days and has joined Cobra Kai, particularly interested in learning from the woman champ Tory, but Sensei Kim Da-Eun has her eye on the young talent as well.
“It was an all female team doing it together and it was amazing,” Oona O'Brien told Yahoo Canada. “Miss Alicia, she's fantastic, she's so good.”
“Peyton and Mary,…they're so talented and they pick up choreography so quickly, and I think it's great because…we're all friends off screen. So it really helps with the kind of dance of karate.”
'I think there needs to be some answers'
Aside from the cast of fantastic women on Cobra Kai, there are several emotional journeys that take place throughout the season. Right at the beginning, we start with Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) on a journey in Mexico to find his biological father, after disappearing the All Valley Tournament at the end of Season 4.
“I never really expected them to get into the whole Miguel and his biological father [story],” Xolo Maridueña told Yahoo Canada.
“One of my favourite things was the fact that he didn't necessarily need that biological father to have this figure in his life, but I think it's important. When you have these big looming questions around you, or these desires to find yourself or figure out your identity, I think sometimes you have to make some really big decisions. Whether or not it goes the way he wanted it to, I think there needs to be some answers.”
'He's struggling with his home life, he's struggling with a lot of mental baggage'
Another character on a personal and emotional journey is Kenny, played by Dallas Dupree Young.
“For me, personally, I loved the emotional aspect of my character this season,” Young said. “Of course, he went through a lot of trauma in Season 4 with being bullied, and also being the new kid at school, but in Season 5 you get to see a different side of Kenny that you're not really used to.”
“He's struggling with his home life, he's struggling with a lot of mental baggage and that's what's special about this character.”
A core aspect of the upcoming season is also the rivalry between Kenny and Daniel LaRusso’s son Anthony (Griffin Santopietro), which heats up significantly in Season 5, to the point where there are moments that are almost painful to watch.
“Being able to play that side of our characters is so much fun,” Young told Yahoo Canada. “We have so many great moments, and intense moments at the same time, but we're really good friends in real life so it makes the scenes a lot more fun.”
“I think the fan reception to it has been great because after Season 4, I was blown up with edits of us and fan-made posters of us fighting,” Griffin Santopietro added. “People love the rivalry we have and I think at this point in the show, everybody has to have that of a rival, so I'm glad that Anthony and Kenny really have this great one.”
“It was really fun to play that switch in Season 5, where I went from bullying [Kenny] to [Kenny] bullying me, especially since we are good friends. I think it made it a lot easier. But I think it made it a lot of fun just to kind of play around with it, switch it up from what we did last time.”
Anthony is certainly someone to watch in terms of someone really trying to hone his karate skills this season.
“I was really happy to start to do all this physical stuff and it was really a lot of fun just to play around with,...it was just nice to see what I can do with it,” Santopietro said.
“Somebody…described that I have very good frantic energy... I think Season 5 was mostly that and also my relationship with the dojo in general, that I was really excited to get to explore.”