In the eighth episode of the first season of Yuri On Ice, Yuri must re-create his performance from the last competition in order to advance, but then THE WORST HAPPENS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Yuri On Ice.
So, I might joke about being gay and not being into sports, but I think it’s more that I’m not into the performative masculinity that often comes with the more popular sports here in the United States and elsewhere. I grew up in a family that jumped from one season sport to the next. We’d go from basketball to baseball and then, more important than all the others, football. (We were a 49ers household for many years, if that matters.) I watched these sports because I had to. I didn’t get much out of them directly, except for developing an intense appreciation for how all the butts looked in those uniforms. (STILL MAINTAIN THAT THIS IS THE CASE.) I collected trading cards, but that’s because I loved the idea of having the entire set. Hell, you can see that same behavior in the construction of Mark Does Stuff or in my deep love for Pokémon Go. It really didn’t have anything to do with sports; sports were a means to an end.
And then I started competing in junior high after I discovered that I was a pretty decent runner. I did some long distance stuff then and then moved on to cross country and track as a freshman. I was always solid and dependable as a runner, and I often made varsity, but I was never the best. That being said, it’s where I learned just how fun it can be to compete. There’s something addicting about the feeling you get when people are watching you, cheering you on, urging you to push yourself harder, faster, quicker. And while defeats can be disappointing and crushing, those victories? Whew, it’s euphoric. That’s not even addressing how that feels when you’re part of a close-knit team either! Ice skating—at least the portion of it that Yuri does—can be pretty solitary, but I’m used to teams of 50-100 people at least, all trying to support one another through… well, I’ll be honest. Mostly inside jokes. And weird homoerotic behavior. Like… lots of it. In hindsight, I kinda can’t believe how far mostly “straight” men went for jokes and friendship?
WHICH IS WHY THIS IS SO INTENSE TO WATCH. I’m used to being baited, and Yuri and Victor are one step away from outright proposing to one another. Their love for one another absolutely motivates and fuels them. I admit I could use a bit more confirmation of this from the text, but otherwise? This is unfolding like all the dreams I used to have about teammates I developed unrequited crushes on. THIS IS WHAT I WISHED HAD HAPPENED WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER! So it holds a different meaning for me to watch it unfold, you know?
Anyway, let’s talk about this competition, because WOW, there’s so much going on here! Like the previous two-parter—and I’m assuming there is AT LEAST another episode dealing with the Rostelecom Cup—this story delves into both Yuri’s mindset as he prepares to skate while also showing us why the other skaters want to advance to the Grand Prix. I’ll get back to Yuri in a bit, as I wanted to address the new characters that we meet in this episode. Which is an impressive feat, I might add! We are getting new characters every other episode, and they all feel so different. So, here’s what we get this time around:
Seung-gil: Honestly, this is how my mind works a lot of the time. I don’t particularly like math, but I can do it very well. I also intricately plot out my own future using numbers just like Seung-gil does. I LITERALLY DO THIS WITH REVIEWS, especially if I’m operating under a time crunch. I calculate exactly how many words I need to get done, I factor in recording time and come-downs from recording, and I plan my schedule for a day accordingly. I always get asked how I’m so prolific and while it comes from my journalism/non-fiction background, the truth is that I plan out my days to the minute. WHICH IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD FOR MY ANXIETY, FOR THE RECORD. And in the case of Seung-gil, he approaches his skating in a similar analytical manner, so much so that he doesn’t convey the emotion of what he’s doing. Everything is numbers, which is… far too relatable??? Just ask anyone how I deal with splitting checks at dinners. Or how I deal with multiple events in the same day. I BECOME A HUMAN COMPUTER. So, deeply relatable character, 9/10, would love to see again.
Emil: Probably the skater in this batch I know the least about. A little full of himself, dedicated to his skating, but still put on a solid performance!
Michele: Or was it Mickey? Both? Anyway, WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK WAS THAT. I feel? Like? This? Was? REALLY? INTENSE??? Y’all, this boy is in love with his sister, isn’t he? AND SHE KNOWS. She knows that he can’t win without her there, that he dedicates his ENTIRE life to her, and it’s so endlessly uncomfortable!!! MAY I NEVER SEE MICKEY AND HIS UNHEALTHY ATTACHMENT TO HIS TWIN SISTER EVER AGAIN.
JJ: Is he based off someone? Because his whole characterization felt like a satire of someone real. I say that because THIS WAS TOO REALISTIC. Oh my god, he’s easily the most arrogant skater on the show so far. He teamed up with a rock band to make an anthem about himself. He has weird hand gestures for his initials. HE SPEAKS IN THE THIRD PERSON ABOUT HIMSELF. Y’all, he is doing The Most all the time, and it’s no surprise that he wins. All that confidence has to be channelled into something, right?
Which leaves us with the two Yuris. Y’all, let us all take in the knowledge that before going out to skate, Yuri tells Victor that he’s going to show all of Russia his love for Victor. Like? Hi? That’s gay? And amazing? YES, THANK YOU, SKATE YOUR LITTLE QUEER HEART OUT, FRIEND. And holy shit, Yuri kills it. I can’t get over that his love for Victor is what gets him over his stage fright, y’all. TWICE. THIS HAS HAPPENED TWICE.
And I addressed Yuri’s performance first because Yurio’s is absolutely a response to it. Y’all, Yurio was PISSED. Why wouldn’t he be? Victor was “his” before! He allows resentment to affect his performance at first, too, and that’s why he falls after his triple axel in the beginning. He’s not at all trying to immerse himself in his theme, though he eventually adjusts and focuses, clinching a solid second half. But what this also does is ramp up the rivalry between these two characters. Well, it’s more of a one-sided thing, I should note, because Yuri still tries to act friendly toward Yurio. But now, more than ever, Yuri is dedicated to winning the Grand Prix and taking Victor back to Russia.
Which is why that last plot twist is so surprising. Look, Makkachin better be okay, and THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THIS, OKAY. However, how the hell is Yakov supposed to coach his competitor??? Perhaps he will because he feels an affection for Victor, but this seems like a mess waiting to happen. Who knows if he’ll do it fairly or if he’ll try to sabotage Yuri so that Yurio wins?
WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN ON THIS SHOW???
The video for “Yuuri vs Yuri! The Horror!! Rostelecom Cup, Short Program” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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