Warning: Contains spoilers!
This episode of Yuri!!! On Ice broke from the intense bouts of ice skating so far, narrated by Victor as we follow all of the participants in the Grand Prix Final. Is it a lull, sorta-filler in the series? Is it not? I swung between the two interpretations, but mainly opted for the latter. I thought it was a nice, relaxing, well-deserved break that subtly (and yet very overtly) pushed the Victor+Yuri relationship and gave us great insights into all of the characters off the rink, instead of sort of showing us everyone’s motivation as they skate. A few times I thought, hm. Please stop stringing me along!
I’m not sure if I enjoyed this as much as previous episodes except for the very last reveal after the credits, but I thought it was a really great look at the characters. Below, I’ve listed some observations I had during this episode.
Narration as a break and a means of distance
Rather than devoting part of the episode to Yuri + Victor as in the past, this episode featured mostly Victor narrating everything about each skater, whether or not he was actually present at the scene. It’s something to be accepted as-is, much as how everyone speaks fluent Japanese. Since Victor’s pretty calm in general, this set the tone for the entire episode.
It’s interesting that though Victor is narrating a lot of the episode, I still find his thoughts pretty mysterious. The focus on exposition for the other skaters served to distance us still from Victor himself—or rather, really show his understanding of the skater world. The times that I felt were close to what he was actually thinking didn’t involve words at all.
The only other time I remember someone else narrating was, notably, when Yuri buys a matching pair of wedding bands for him and Victor as a “good luck charm.”
Going along with the faux wedding between Victor and Yuri that happened in this episode, there was so much hand imagery. I think many paragraphs can be written on the hands or lack thereof in this episode.
Here are some examples, with a bit of speculation for some of them.
- Yuri’s hand in a dark-lit bedroom, stretched towards Victor’s empty and still kempt as a conveyance of Yuri’s loneliness
- Yuri paying for the rings
- To put a ring on his finger, Yuri grabs Victor’s with his own hand, no gloves, which reminds me of just how much Victor can understand him
- Victor first grabs Yuri with a gloved hand (perhaps emphasizing concealment of a sort), then puts the ring on Yuri’s hand with his ringed finger
- Yuri in a bedroom, with a very clear emphasis on his ring. This image also contrasts #1 with the brighter lighting and lack of a stretch towards Victor’s bed. Rather, the hands are going inwards. They may even be gravitating towards the ring.
- Right after: Victor, normally a calm guy whose mind I still can’t ascertain, stretches his ringed hand towards the ocean. The light, furthermore, is both emphasizing and partially blocking the ring.
- Victor hiding his hands and his feelings again right after Yurio finds him. Even though only one is shown here, he turns around to show that both of his hands are now in his pockets
- Yurio making friends with Kazakhstan skater, who is wearing a partially gloved hand—prior to this scene, Victor had noted that his past wasn’t very well known, yet he tells Yurio that they are much alike and they become friends. He’s starting to show his true self?And more!
Awesome side characters
Even balance was given to all of the side characters, and I have become more enamored with Phichit in particular: what a nice and supportive guy!
Yurio again brings us down to earth from budding Yuri+Victor romance when he asserts that Victor Nikiforov is dead after seeing him looking at the wedding bands. He also shows us some more of that surly, tough-guy exterior that reveals a much sweeter personality underneath.
JJ, sadly, is the only one not invited to dine with the other skaters, though he makes an embarrassing appearance anyway with his grandiose self-aggrandizement.
Lack of usual ending sequence
Last time we got something else instead of the usual ending sequence, Yuri!!! On Ice pushed the storyline ahead and showed Yuri’s declaration to the entire skating world about his love. This time, we got many embarrassing flashback screenshots that have been on people’s phones but don’t seem to have made it to social media yet, contrasting the usual Instagram pics.
It’s opening up in a whole other kind of way for Yuri–a side that he didn’t even know about.
Past and present
There are quite a few undercurrents that tie to past Grand Prix events. Yurio has been competing with Yuri (and losing) for at least a year at a dance-off, and there’s a little fluttery surprise about the real inspiration for becoming o coach. Yurio in particular has also been motivated by the “life and love” of Yuri, even though he’d be the last one to admit it.
Victor, aw, now has absolute faith in whatever Yuri does. Based on his breakdown from episodes past where he just wanted Victor to believe in him, Yuri is now prepared to handle what’s coming next. Victor might not be “the model coach” that prescribes his athletes to bed rest and lots of water, but it looks like he’s become the right coach for Yuri, one that knows how to spur him on to his best.