Is Terry Silver’s Dark Turn Daniel’s Fault?

[Editor's note: The following contains spoilers for Cobra Kai Season 4.]If you’ve seen The Karate Kid Part 3, you’re well aware that Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) can stoop to especially low lows. But when we reunite with the character in Cobra Kai Season 4, he seems to have changed. Not only is he spending his time with a very different crowd and living a completely differently lifestyle, but Terry also seems to truly prefer to solve problems using the wisdom he’s learned rather than resorting to violence and manipulation. At first at least.

After the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang students pull that sprinkler prank on the Cobra Kai students, Terry and Kreese (Martin Kove) visit their dojo. As one might expect, Daniel (Ralph Macchio) isn’t thrilled to see his childhood tormenter, but Terry offers up an impassioned apology. He tells Daniel, “My past behavior was inexcusable. If I could go back and undo it all, I would. All I can say now is I’m truly sorry and I’m not that man anymore.”

Given Daniel and Terry’s past, you can’t really blame Daniel for not believing the guy. But what if he had? What if right there at the beginning of Episode 5, Daniel accepted Terry’s apology? Would Terry have ever returned to the dark side? That’s one of the many topics I discussed with Cobra Kai creators Jon Hurwitz, Josh Heald and Hayden Schlossberg during our 30-minute spoiler interview.

During the portion of the conversation focused on Terry Silver, Heald explained how they came to the decision that Terry needed to be in a very different place when he returned to the franchise in Season 4.

“It’s probably the same way we looked at Johnny and Daniel at the top of the series. What are the colors we can show that call back to our memories and our feelings about these characters, but what are the colors we can also show that demonstrate a real grounded passage of time? And for some characters that led to more resentment, for some characters that meant more enlightenment. Terry Silver has always been coming. He’s always been looming just over the horizon for us so we’ve been thinking about it for quite some time. It’s hard to imagine an even more megalomaniacal version of Terry Silver than that that already existed in Karate Kid 3, so we went the other way. We went towards somebody who acknowledges the ills of their past and acknowledges their problems and has been through something of a healing and something of confronting their selves, but we all knew that there would still be something living underneath this character. There would still be these deep seeded feelings that didn’t go away, that weren’t dealt with, this mixture of PTSD and survivor’s guilt and all of the allegiance that he has to Kreese and to Cobra Kai really was under that kind of volcanic rock that had just covered the Terry Silver we once knew. That was the satisfying story to tell was kind of beginning to see how do we jackhammer away at that crust?”

From there, Schlossberg fielded the questions about Daniel and Terry’s Episode 5 exchange. Was Terry’s apology sincere? What would have happened had Daniel had a different reaction to it? Here’s what Schlossberg said:

“We like to think that that is the case. People can interpret it any different way. You know, Terry’s a complicated character, even for us, but I think we like to think that he was actually trying to go about this a little bit more levelheadedly and that Daniel LaRusso because of his PTSD and also, if you’ve seen Karate Kid 3, how can you blame Daniel for [not] trusting this guy? All he does is show up at Mr. Miyagi’s house with crazy lies. It makes so much sense for Terry to be bullshitting a change of heart, so it was the perfect kind of recipe of miscommunication and misinterpretation for Daniel to tell him to just get the hell out of here and be rude to him so much so that it kind of pisses Terry off a little bit and starts to fan that flame of bad guy in him. So yeah, had Daniel just left well enough alone and not been such a hothead, maybe the season wouldn’t have ended the way it did.”

Eager to hear about even more of Cobra Kai Season 4’s biggest moments from the showrunners? Be sure to check out our spoiler-filled 30-minute conversation in the video at the top of this article!

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Perri Nemiroff (2802 Articles Published)

Perri Nemiroff has been part of the Collider team since 2012. She co-hosts Collider FYC, The Witching Hour and hosts the interview series, Collider Ladies Night. Perri's a proud graduate of Columbia University's Film MFA program and member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Perri splits her time between Los Angeles and New York, but devotes every waking hour to her cat, Deputy Dewey.

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