Karma came for Terry Silver at the end of Cobra Kai season 5, which was released September 9 on Netflix. After brutal face-offs with Daniel and Chozen, Silver was exposed for rigging the All Valley in front of everyone and framing Kreese for Stingray’s attack. In the final moments of season 5, Silver is in handcuffs.
So, what’s next for Silver? Is he gone for good? Thomas Ian Griffith spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about what he knows about Silver’s future, the finale showdown with Chozen, and his “fulfilling” experience reprising the character. Read our Q&A below:
Silver seems to be down for the count for now. He’s been arrested. Knowing Silver, do you think he’s gone for good?
Thomas Ian Griffith: I have no idea. Truthfully, I don’t know. But all I can say is it’s been an incredible ride. It was a great arc for this character. I think if I step back as an audience member, it’s really fulfilling. It was a final mano a mano with Daniel and Terry. It just felt right in so many ways. Who knows what the future is?
Do you think Silver has any regrets about the way he handled things?
Thomas Ian Griffith: Why would I have regrets?
I mean, with Kenny, at least…
Thomas Ian Griffith: Look, at the end of season 4, it was such a huge betrayal. He got drawn back into this world because of his loyalty to someone that saved his life. You see the goodness in him and the bad, how he’s battling those inner demons, and he’s slowly brought into the world. And then, as I said, this betrayal just had such a great impact on him to realize, oh, the guy who we’ve lived our life by this philosophy, there’s a weakness, and he’s really not true to it. The weight fell on Terry’s shoulder to say, okay, I’m going to go back to my original dream and open all the dojos. He goes in saying — and this is the truth — what he’s teaching he believes is something kids in the world need right now. He’s going to bring it into the new dojos, and the new style and everything. Does it all backfire because these little things that just keep pulling the string at him bring out that inner demon at the end? He’s probably sitting in prison or waiting to go to prison or wherever he ended up, and probably looks back and says, “Wow, was I wrong?” Because there is that touch of humanity that we saw in season 4. He had perspective in season 4 looking back at what he did 30 years ago and saying that was absurd. He’s likely now saying, “How did I get drawn back into this world? Why did I do this? How many lives did I destroy or almost destroy?”
That showdown in the finale between Silver and Chozen was visceral and very bloody. There were swords, water, everything. What was that tough to film at all?
Thomas Ian Griffith: Well, at the end of season 4 we were watching the tournament, and the creators had said they were going to bring back Chozen. We’re going to have this big confrontation. I was talking to our fight choreographer, Don Lee, and he’s a weapons expert. With my stage training, I’ve done a lot of sword, rapier, dagger stuff, and I was like, what if we put that together? I was looking for somebody to say when these two men come at each other, the ultimate villain from Karate Kid II to the ultimate villain from Karate Kid III, how do we make it look not just another karate fight? How do we elevate these two masters? We ran the sword idea by them, and they jumped at it. I’ve been a martial artist my whole life, and I have control on set, it’s all good, but now we’re working in a danger factor. We’re bringing in a weapon. It really elevated the stakes and you go, wow, we need a little more rehearsal. We have to really protect each other. And like I said, the stunt coordinator and Don Lee, the fight choreographer, did an amazing job. Yuji [Okumoto], who plays Chozen, is just so wonderful because he works the same way I do. It’s not just about a fight. It’s about what is the psychology of these masters? What are they going for? How do they play chess with each other and one-up each other? That was all a part of what we wanted to do. And then, of course, you don’t factor in that you’re shooting through the night, it’s freezing cold, you’re in water. It was so easy in the rehearsal room. But again, it all adds to that just visceral feeling on set. I think the creators when we first squared off, it was just electric. They’re fanboys from the franchise, and they’re shooting on their phones through rehearsing these two guys just coming together. There was something about it that I felt this is just going to work on so many levels.
Honestly, I had no idea who was going to come out on top in the end at the beginning of the fight. Just when Chozen thinks Silver’s down, Silver gets the last laugh in a sense and slices the heck out of Chozen’s back. Do you think Silver could have killed him? Do you think that was ever in the cards?
Thomas Ian Griffith: I think it was presented when Chozen says, “I’m not afraid to kill.” And Terry says, “I’m not afraid to die.” You feel that these two true warriors who have devoted their lives to this. Now, in that moment, are they thinking about life, or are they just thinking about the purity of the combat and the art? I think that’s where they’re caught up. When Terry’s lying in the water and Chozen has the opportunity to kill him, he’s like, “Let me go out this way, Be honorable. Do it that way.” Would he have done that if he wasn’t distracted? I don’t know. Did Terry really mean to kill him, or was he just saying, “I’ve got to focus on what’s going on and save the dojo?” The writers just laid in so many layers and so many complexities that the audience would say, “Oh, what would have happened?” And the beauty is, you don’t know what’s going on until the very end.
Silver had Kreese framed at the end of last season and sent to jail. In the finale, Kreese escapes from prison. Considering all that baggage, I feel like they have to have one more faceoff, right?
Thomas Ian Griffith: I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t know what that would be or what that would look like, but I don’t put anything past these writers. They give you what people expect, and they twist it up. So there could be something, or Terry’s off to prison. I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s been an incredible two seasons for me. I was so blessed to be able to come back to this franchise. This is the first film role I ever did at 29 years old, and for that role to be what brought me back to acting was really such a full experience. It was just great.
Do you think that there is still more to be explored with Silver? Listening to that finale monologue, I feel like there’s still stuff on the table.
Thomas Ian Griffith: When I read it and when we were doing it, it felt Shakespearean. He did not waver on what he believed. He went out fighting for what he believed and, as a character, that’s all you can really ask for. As an actor playing someone, you go, “Yes, I’m going out with that passion of, I have a belief. And if I go down swinging, I do.” I thought that was a great ending. Where will that take Terry? Will he be a different person? Will look back on that moment like he looked back on the moments 30 years ago when he said, “Oh, that was crazy. What was I thinking?” Will we have that epiphany? I don’t know. I really don’t.
I do think that Silva had an affinity for Kenny. I felt like he saw a lot of himself in Kenny, and I do think he genuinely wanted to give Kenny an outlet. How do you think Silver felt when Kenny was the first one to take off his jersey and throw it at him? I feel like that was a pretty monumental moment.
Thomas Ian Griffith: When Terry looks back, those will be the devastating moments because he felt like he was trying to help this young man. He knows Kenny’s going to go out into the world and at times fight for what he believes. I feel like those will be the moments that really impact Terry looking back. First of all, I just loved those scenes because that young actor is phenomenal. He has a future that I’m really going to look forward to watching. There was a great relationship on set, and there was a great relationship in life and in our roles. It was really that true mentoring where you saw Terry at his best and, unfortunately, when you see the flip side at his worst as well.