'Cobra Kai' Season 2 on Netflix: Ralph Macchio's Daniel LaRusso may strike the much-needed 'balance' he seeks
Spoiler alert for 'Cobra Kai' season one
Brave, heroic, easy-going, and a wee bit panicky. These are terms that best describe 'The Karate Kid's protagonist, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). The first time we see LaRusso, he's a kid who is quite unhappy at the prospect of moving from Newark to California, but he quickly puts the disappointment behind him and goes on to make new friends, until he runs into the mean and Mr.Popular Johnny Lawrence, an aggressive character who would punch first and ask questions later. What follows is fear and resentment from Daniel until he comes across Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki Pat Morita) who not just teaches him Karate as a mode of self-defense, but also a way of life.
Throughout 'The Karate Kid' series, LaRusso is seen as your quintessential good boy. A character with a lot of heart, that seldom puts him in trouble. Therefore, it doesn't come as a surprise when we all root for LaRusso to win the All Valley Karate Tournament and walk away with the trophy and the prettiest girl in school.
To better understand LaRusso as a character, let's look back to 'The Karate Kid' (1984). He is shown as a boy who is easy-going, honest, funny, yet has a hard time dealing with bullies. Under Mr. Miyagi, he slowly begins to learn about balance — a trait that doesn't just help his karate but also acts as a life-lesson. In the second part, while there are no dojo fights, he learns the value of mercy. The third and final installment sees Daniel learn the value of relationships and the importance of not giving up in the face of insurmountable odds.
Now, 34 years later, LaRusso is shown to be successful in life with his car dealership business. He's married and has two children. But has lost his sense of balance without the guidance of Mr. Miyagi (It is revealed in the series that he passed away in 2011).
In 'Cobra Kai' season 1, while much of the onus is on Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and his past that he starts to come in terms with, LaRusso is shown to also play a key role in shaping the life of his ward, Robby Keene (who is also Johnny's estranged son). The 10-part series also sheds light on LaRusso's life and his struggle in the absence of Mr. Miyagi.
But things start to get better for him once he takes over the role of mentoring Robby (Tanner Buchanan). Not only does he teach Robby how to fight, but also tries his best at instilling the same lessons that Mr. Miyagi had taught him. This gives him a sense of contentment and by the end of the series, LaRusso has bigger plans in store, with one of them being opening a dojo, where Robby would continue to learn karate along with a few more kids in the town.
Talking about LaRusso's character, Hayden Schlossberg, one of the creators of 'Cobra Kai', said that when the character's storyline was conceived, he had to stay true to the image he portrayed. "LaRusso is trying to stay true to his character. He's still trying to come to terms with Mr.Miyagi's absence and later, he's trying to impart his wisdom that he learned from his mentor."
While LaRusso does play a little underhanded at one point in the series, he quickly realizes that even his ultimate passion is karate and that he would try and uphold the true message of the art, which is stark in contrast to what Cobra Kai's views about the sport are.
It's fair to say that by the end of season 1, LaRusso is going to devote much of his time at the Miyagi-Do karate. But the final episode showed his archnemesis back in the fold and how LaRusso goes about trying to deal with him remains to be seen as we gear up for 'Cobra Kai' Season 2 which will premiere on YouTube Premium on April 24 this year.