Warning: Review contains spoilers!
“I was drawn to you because of the music, the way you skate like your body is creating music.” – Victor Nikiforov, on becoming Yuri’s official coach last episode
Musicality is sensitivity to what makes music music—things like rhythm, melody, lyrics, and emotion. It’s something that many dancers make use of as they improvise their own dance to a song they’ve never heard before. Yuri is a genius at musicality. He isn’t just aware of the rhythm of the song; he’s passionate. He tells a story. Throughout his free skate program, he glides to the tune of the story of his life, seducing the audience, his biggest fan Minami, and perhaps even Victor.
In this episode, the music was the focus. Just as Yuri was sensitive to the music, so too was the music sensitive to him. There were little nuances that I really liked, and just the evocative melodies throughout. What I’m going to focus on today is intrusions. Characters that intrude into the lives of others, or us intruding into the thoughts of characters, supported in subtle and powerful ways by the music.
Minami and Yuri: Parallel as Contrast
After the opening, the episode begins with the music normally used when Yuri is putting himself down and/or trying to explain things to us. Usually reserved for interactions between the audience past the fourth wall and Yuri, it instead focuses on introducing the character Minami, a younger kid who idolizes Yuri.
Through the episode, Minami is presented as a mirror to Yuri’s past, except much less self-denigrating. Every time he sees his hero, he instantly blushes. Contrary to past Yuri, though, who avoided Victor because he set him on such a high pedestal, Minami makes many efforts to talk to him.
Yet even though Yuri’s life is changed, he doesn’t seem to believe it himself in the first half. Though Yuri again entrances the audience and everyone else with his eros, we don’t even hear any of the other skaters’ performances (a fact which is rectified in the second half, where Minami’s full performance is highlighted, and the songs for a few of the others help heighten the current scene).
Minami’s muted performance is particularly notable, since he as a reflection of Yuri’s past was wearing a mirror of the exact outfit Yuri wore to the same performance. In fact, he insists that Yuri didn’t have a dark past as he claims he did—but Minami is immediately shut down. Nope, that past was definitely dark, Yuri insists. But Minami, perhaps indicating that Yuri will see that it really wasn’t all that bad, still denies it.
One more aside. I don’t claim to know anything at all about opera, or if this is at all relevant, but I looked up “Lohengrin,” the song that Minami and Yuri danced to at one point. A skim of the brief description on wiki seems to indicate that the story’s about a woman who has seduced a god, who then comes to her in human form. Very nice choice if we think about Yuri seducing the ever-avoided Victor through his social media performance.
Yuri is Eros, and Eros is He
Yuri’s eros performance sets the basis of the episode again, where he wears the same costume and convinces himself that he is the most alluring katsu don-lady-something in the planet. There are some incredibly cheesy lines, but by this point it seems to fit with his personality. With this, he captures the attention of everyone and sets a personal best.
The second song, “Yuri on Ice,” shows us just why Yuri is so captivating. Victor cries that Yuri is much too impatient and tries all these technical jumps and doesn’t listen to him, but that passion is exactly why you can’t look away.
What you’ll notice though, is that during the first performance Yuri was the one whose thoughts we followed, as per usual, but the second half is entirely Victor’s interpretation of Yuri’s story through dance. Victor still marks a tough read for me, but I think this episode marks the first time we hear his actual thoughts instead of hearing a flirtatiously coy remark as he talks to Yuri, or hearing what Yuri thinks Victor means when he says something. To mention the title of this post again, we’re finally starting to intrude into Victor’s thoughts, and officially see him as a human—something that was built up incredibly during the last episode. And, as another parallel with the first half, where Yuri’s thoughts are showcased—Victor mentions offhand that Yuri’s pointing toward him at the very end of his dance is something that he would have done.
I know Victor’s probably spot on with his comments, but it does make me wonder if he’s actually spot on, and/or just a huge influence to Yuri, who makes an abrupt turnabout for his second performance after some choice scolding. Minami’s character in particular becomes more interesting than it did in the first half. Minami’s cheerfulness and idolization, for example, may indeed represent something for Yuri. During the first part of “Yuri on Ice,” Yuri begins to change the program representing when he was alone, perhaps showing that he intends on breaking that past version of him. Furthermore, he wears an outfit that is similar to the old Yuri outfit Minami wore for his first program yet is fully uncovered, further baring himself for all to see. As for the rest of the sequence: Yuri becomes angry during the part when Victor becomes his coach, which may indicate his frustrations at himself for so many things. But finally, he starts thinking about his love for Victor and just has fun. He will be the one that everyone adores.
Lack of ending credits.
Yuri’s growth as an artist was so much the focus of this episode that his proclamations of going forward spilled into the ending credits. Instead of showing a bunch of pictures with the ending credits, Yuri seems to have found something that will outlast his short, and almost ending career: love. Love in the abstract way for his family, his passion, and his yearning to hold onto Victor. The only snapshot we see is Yurio’s, who quickly throws his camera at a window to get the image of Victor and Yuri out of his sight.