Warning: Contains spoilers!
Wow! After not being sure about last week’s episode, I think this one turns almost the same elements on its head to produce an entirely different experience. In short: I loved it. Not only did we get to experience a more dynamic set of skating sequences, but they were ordered such that the episode kept on heightening through to the very end. The Chinese person starts, but unfortunately isn’t very memorable. Giacometti shows that he can’t take Victor back from Yuri with his mature eros. Phichit sets a record for Asia. During the American guy’s performance, we go behind the scenes to follow Yuri, but, mirroring Yuri’s breakdown in a rather bland fashion, it’s evident that the skater is sort of disappointed in himself. And then the episode begins to look at intensely personal heartbreak, with the other Russian skater telling the story of his romance even more than last episode. This all climaxes at the end with Yuri’s performance.
And, of course, there’s the entire Yuri storyline sprinkled throughout, which lent a lot of authenticity to the episode. I think during Yuri’s performances during the last two episodes, he was trying a little hard to embrace his innocent eros, which made the performances sound a tad inauthentic. This time, though, he lays bare everything for the viewer—from the crushing anxiety that’s intensified by his pressure to show that Victor is indeed the best coach in the world, to the story he’s been showing us through his skating, to the wonderful ending that’s probably all over Twitter right now. I know the series has been building this up, but the whole Victor-Yuri dynamic to me felt just right this time around; it didn’t seem forced at any point.
Finally, Yurio’s reaction at the end was such a concise but excellent contrast to everything that happens—bringing us back to reality, showcasing yet another psychological element, and also setting up excitement for the things to come.
What I appreciated most was that this episode played my feelings like a fiddle. It put me in anxiety and ultimately warmed my heart, AND it gave great performances from all of the skaters. I also love how Phichit won first place this time around, because it makes the show seem more selfless; the entire story encompasses other people rather than just Yuri. Bravo! I personally like to rewatch Yuri episodes, but this is definitely up there as one that I would recommend others to rewatch, too.
Judging by the Instagram pictures at the end of the episode, I guess we’ve already met most of the skaters? I’m looking forward to the next one, which looks like it’ll put the focus back on Yurio vs. Yuri.