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Cobra Kai's Martin Kove Digs Into Kreese's Big Prison Scene With Johnny Lawrence And Daniel LaRusso - Exclusive

This article contains spoilers for "Cobra Kai" Season 5.

There's a classic scene in "The Karate Kid" where Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) explains to his girlfriend, Ali (Elisabeth Shue), that "what goes around comes around" before he gets sweet revenge on his bully Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) by dousing him with water at the high school Halloween dance. Johnny and his Cobra Kai dojo buddies started beating on Daniel for the stunt until he's miraculously saved by Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita).

That fateful showdown led to Daniel being trained by Miyagi, with the "karate kid" eventually winning the All-Valley Karate Tournament over Johnny and his wicked sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove). As "The Karate Kid" spin-off series "Cobra Kai" has shown, Johnny came to his senses and confronted the failings of the past — but Kreese has not. In fact, since Kreese became a regular character in "Cobra Kai" Season 2, he's been relentless in his quest to destroy Daniel and eventually, Johnny; it's a particularly harsh move considering Johnny's the closest thing to a son he's ever had.

The tide turned on Kreese at the end of "Cobra Kai" Season 4, when his longtime friend and dojo business partner, Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), betrayed him and framed him for a vicious attack on a Cobra Kai student. Season 5 finds Kreese behind bars and desperate for any help he can get, and he believes his adversaries Daniel and Johnny can provide it in exchange for any information he can give them on Silver's motivations. Kreese sincerely believes Daniel and Johnny will help him since Silver also has made their lives hell, but instead, the villainous sensei finally discovers that the time-honored phrase is indeed true: What goes around comes around.

No mercy for Kreese

When Daniel and Johnny visit Kreese in prison, Daniel promises Kreese that he will give him his attorney's number but requests the information on Silver first. After Kreese explains Silver's motivations to his adversaries, they slide him a note that gives the ruthless sensei a taste of his own mantra. The note simply says, "No mercy, mother f***er."

"When they lay that note on me in the jail with that piece of paper and that conspiratorial effort, I expected it from Ralph's character, but what I played was sadness, since I did not expect it from Johnny Lawrence," Kove told Looper in an exclusive interview. "I did not expect that kind of venomous betrayal from someone that you care about, even though he truly feels that I violated him a multitude of times taking away his dojo. But honest to God, the only time Kreese ever took the dojo was because he violated the integrity of Cobra Kai and Miguel got hurt and he was preaching, 'Be merciful.' It's not what Cobra Kai is about, so he had to be removed."

Actions speak louder than words

While the sight of the expletive-laced note no doubt made viewers burst into chuckles, Martin Kove said it was no laughing matter to Kreese because he was being betrayed by Johnny.

"It was not a matter of humor — it was a matter of, 'My God, you too?' A lot of stuff goes on [in that scene]. Billy [Zabka] and I, because of the 35 years of history, we don't even have to have dialogue. There's so much for the audience to read [about what's going on] between us. It's so fascinating," Kove explained. "In fact, I think I had one line in that scene — and he said, 'You're going to rot in jail.' What really hurt Kreese was that Johnny betrayed him, rather than telling him, 'Rot in jail.' He went along with Daniel LaRusso, and by going along [with] Daniel LaRusso, he's vermin. He's as bad as Terry Silver, as far as John Kreese is concerned."

All five seasons of "Cobra Kai" are streaming exclusively on Netflix.