Warning: Contains spoilers!
This episode, like its counterpart in the China Cup, was executed extremely well. Like last time, I was so impressed by the heightening throughout the episode, to the very end. Also, I’m quite intrigued by all the interesting stories and characters in the world of Yuri!!! On Ice—ones we’ll probably never get to see up close, but nevertheless have at the very least peeked at as the skaters were dancing on the ice. I was especially moved by Michele and Sala’s story and the sadness of moving on from their relationship (he as an overprotective brother was affected more than she).
There were a few role reversals here between the two Yuris—Yurio gained his most beloved person, while Yuri lost his; Yurio was at the top of his form in both sequences, while Yuri didn’t execute his second program as well; and Yurio skated an intense second program contrasting Yuri’s elegant one. It seems like the atmosphere of their skating sequences swapped. Yet the episode was also sure to highlight parallels between them, too: the liking of katsu don, the yearning to win, the yearning to win even though they might not be at, or do, their best.
I think thanks to his grandfather’s presence and, most importantly, health, Yurio also went back to his usual grumpy, rebellious, yet still caring self. I took the sharing of the katsu don-Russian snack as a notable symbol of their friendly rivalry and admiration of each other, and their budding friendship. Yuri’s even wearing the same winter outfit he did in the very first episode when Yurio encountered him in the bathroom. The Yuri-Yuri relationship is definitely up there in the things I like about these series, and I’ve really liked following the evolution of their dynamic, much like I do Victor+Yuri.
Speaking of Victor+Yuri, the coach/skater veil seems to become thinner and thinner with each episode. Yet each time the relationship progresses, it feels more authentic and I just feel like I care about both of them more and more.
I’m not too sure about two things in the episode. Yuri received Yakov as a coach, but he may as well not have gotten a coach at all the way he was acting—although I guess he was given leeway to keep uh, hugging people. Perhaps it was just Victor trying to ease his and/or Yuri’s fears even though he knew Yuri would react a certain way, or to really show that Victor’s efficacy in a coach isn’t just because of his coaching skills, because we know Yakov’s trained at least three great skaters (Victor, Yurio, and Russian dude from China Cup). Actually, I’m not even sure Victor is a good coach, since we haven’t seen too much of Yuri’s training and since Yuri’s performance is so contingent on Victor’s presence.
Also, other than a contrast to Yuri’s love for his dog, the Makkachin emergency sort of just popped up at the very end of the last two episodes. I guess what I’m saying is: it looks like the whole point of Makkachin engulfing mochis the wrong way was to get Victor away for this episode and show if Yuri can still fare well even without him. So was there any other way to get Victor away other than having his dog be sick? I’m thinking about it, and maybe not anything too realistic. Sickness? I don’t know; I guess Yurio’s grandfather already wasn’t feeling well. Also whereas Yuri’s dog passed away, this dog still lives on. Perhaps it means something. What I do know, though, is that it was sure not to take away the spotlight from Yuri+Yurio.