'Cobra Kai' 's Cast and Creators Tease Season 5: 'Always Looking for Ways to Surprise'

"We're just always looking for ways to surprise. Maybe there's some surprise appearances in store," executive producer and showrunner Jon Hurwitz tells PEOPLE at PaleyFest

cobra kai season 4
Photo: netflix

Fans of Cobra Kai know that the series' recent fourth season was jam-packed with all kinds of thrills, relationship drama, and intense karate showdowns that were first laid out in The Karate Kid series of films that inspired the Netflix series.

But while attending a showcase panel at the 39th PaleyFest in Los Angeles on Friday, the cast and creators teased an even more eventful and unpredictable fifth season ahead after the All Valley Karate Tournament.

Executive producer and showrunner Jon Hurwitz told PEOPLE that after a fourth season finale that was tightly plotted down to every moment of the tournament — which saw Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) and John Kreese's (Martin Kove) brutal Cobra Kai dojo emerging victorious over the students of both Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), even after the two long-sparring senseis mended their fences — season 5 will be loaded with surprises.

"The fun with season 5 is you don't know where it's headed, because season 4, you knew a tournament was coming — season 5, it's a wide-open canvas," revealed Hurwitz, 44, who said he and fellow creators Josh Heald and Hayden Schlossberg and the writing team never tire of mining the Karate Kid source material for new inspirations.

"We're all super nerds and super fans," he continued. "We're all obsessed with the characters. This is our high-end fan fiction! We're just always looking for ways to surprise. Maybe there's some surprise appearances in store. Always looking for ways to draw from the past in fresh ways. And also do things with our characters that people fall in love with on Cobra Kai that maybe people wouldn't expect."

cobra kai season 4

One of the most interesting dynamics poised to be addressed is Johnny's newly mended relationship with his long-estranged son Robby (Tanner Buchanan), who seems ready to put Cobra Kai behind him and forgive Johnny for his shortcomings as a father.

Zabka said that after playing Johnny as Daniel's reformed, misunderstood antagonist who's now an often clueless but well-meaning underdog throughout the series, it's refreshing to see Johnny beginning in a relatively promising place despite the loss of his devoted student/foster son Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), who took off to Mexico to find the biological father he's never known.

"Johnny is in a good place because he got the one thing back that's been missing from his life, and that's that embrace with his son," Zabka told PEOPLE. "So even though he lost a tournament and he doesn't get to be a sensei, he did get the prize of his heart, which is his own blood."

Zabka continued, "But he's also lost his top student, and he doesn't know why. He doesn't know he messed up and said the wrong things, said, 'I love you Robby' when he should have said, 'I love you, Miguel,' which sent Miguel into a spin and now he's off looking for his father. So Johnny, as far as the karate world and all that, I think he has some peace. I don't think he cares that he lost The All Valley. He gained his son, but he lost his student, who was his other son."

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Zabka said that the start of season 5 will see Johnny both trying to deepen his bond with Robby and reconnect with Miguel. "He's going to try to make amends and make things right with Miguel, and we'll see how hard or easy that is to do," he told PEOPLE. "Also he is come full circle with [Miguel's mother] Carmen, and now he has a relationship."

"He has a woman who loves him and accepts him for who he is and as he is, and that's set him free in a lot of ways," the actor added. "So the evolution of Johnny is very, very, very, very good, comforting, and he is in a good place."

How long that lasts may be debatable. "We've seen Robby all over the place," said Buchanan. "Now I think he's really, really confused, and he knows that his life isn't necessarily the way it needs to be, and I think he's going through a little crisis right now trying to figure out what his life is going to look like. Because I think he feels as though this is a defining moment for him … There's a lot of stuff to unfold there, in his mind and personally."

The season finale left several other juicy plot threads dangling, most notably that the returned Karate Kid Part III villain Terry Silver framed John Kreese for assault in order to get him out of the way as Silver plots to take over and expand the nefarious, win-at-all-costs Cobra Kai schools across the Valley.

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"We are in overtime of the story – not the story of what we have [planned], but the story of what happens when the ultimate darkness comes over the Valley," Heald told the PaleyFest audience. "[Silver] drops that microphone again, and this time he's making good."

Silver also poisoned the tournament victory of Cobra Kai's female karate champ Tory Nichols (Peyton List), who discovered that he paid off the referee to ensure her victory, even as she was beginning to feel a pull toward the more altruistic and fair-minded approach of Daniel's Miyagi-Do philosophy.

List said Tory's journey will continue with "just having that heartbreak of realizing the ref was paid off, having to deal with that and to deal with that heartbreak and her relationship with Silver."

Meanwhile, the season's closing moments revealed that Daniel had decided to forge a tougher, more aggressive incarnation of Miyagi-Do, having summoned his former Karate Kid Part II rival Chozen Toguchi, with whom he forged a new, adult friendship with in the third season of Cobra Kai, with original actor Yuji Okumoto confirmed to again reprise his role in season 5. "Chozen is back!" declared Heald.

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka

And fans of the original film franchise have long been waiting for an answer to a particular burning question: will Cobra Kai finally find the right moment to include "Glory of Love?" by Peter Cetera, the uber-popular pop song from the second film, which the producers have admitted they previously planned and then had to scrap in previous seasons.

"I'll just say we own the soundtracks to every movie in the franchise and we look at it very thoughtfully and we carefully dole out the music that's in the series, whether it's something Bill Conti put as a piece of score or something that was a needle drop," Heald told PEOPLE.

"And when a song from the original movie does show up on our show, it has to be a moment that earns it and feels big enough and it is the ultimate moment, because you get one swing of that bat to hit a home run," he continued. "We intend to milk that whole thing until there's nothing left because it's so enjoyable to us as well, but you'll just have to wait and see when we finally get to it."

The first four seasons of Cobra Kai are currently available to stream on Netflix.

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