Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald’s Cobra Kai introduced Karate Kid fans to a reformed Johnny Lawrence, a broken man searching for redemption the only way he knew how: through karate. 34 years later, the man has mellowed considerably, taking on bullied teenagers as his esteemed students and taming the cobra inside that used to drive his life straight into the gutter. However, the original cobra has returned, and he’s determined to take Johnny along for the ride.
Season 1's cliffhanger showed Vietnam War veteran and disgraced sensei John Kreese coming to celebrate Cobra Kai’s win at the 50th Under-18 All-Valley Karate Championship, and in a promo clip for the show’s second season, seeking to take back the glory he’s owed.
Presumably following their reunion at the dojo — and a quick battle that ended with Johnny crashing against a glass wall — Kreese invites his prized former student to join him for brunch at a local diner. It's immediately apparent that Johnny is none too happy to see his former mentor — the same karate teacher who tried to choke him half to death for coming in second place in 1984 next to Miyagi-do’s Daniel LaRusso — acting all chummy as if nothing ever happened between them. Kreese is surprisingly blithe and friendly, and hits on a disgusted waitress while he orders corned beef hash and a “red hot” cup of Sanka.
Still remaining painfully blasé, the former United States Special Forces captain reminisces about the women he’s met in between battles before giving his former karate student a quick lesson about the difference between hibernation and brumation. Brumation is for cold-blooded animals seeking to hibernate during the winter, but unlike warm-blooded beasts who sleep the rest of the way, cold-blooded animals like the snake stay awake for the remainder of the cold season. Kreese likens this to Cobra Kai, which all this time has simply “been waiting for the right moment to emerge.”
“And that moment is now,” he whispers.
Kreese was the hidden antagonist of the first and third Karate Kid movies. He taught young Lawrence to “strike hard, strike first,” and to show enemies “no mercy,” causing Lawrence to eventually lose his way. Kreese had asked fellow war veteran Terry Silver to manipulate and blackmail young, impressionable Daniel LaRusso, paying off karate prodigy Mike Barnes to face LaRusso at the tournament. Now, Kreese has presumably returned to California to make a mess of Johnny’s life — and in turn, Daniel’s — upsetting his grand redemption.
Starring William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Mary Mouser, Tanner Buchanan and Martin Kove, Cobra Kai returns to YouTube Premium (previously YouTube Red) on April 24.