In the ninth episode of the first season of Yuri On Ice, the free skate program brings out the best and worst in the competitors. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Yuri On Ice.
Oh my god, how am I going to survive the end of this season if this show is already this intense? I’m also impressed at how epic this feels when the storyline for season one is condensed down to just the competitions at this point. One of the ways the show manages to do this is by giving us such an emotional, intimate look at these characters’ lives and their motivations. Broken record, yes, I know, but it’s true! Every competition episode has loosely followed this format, and it is fulfilling to experience every time. SO LET’S TALK ABOUT OUR SKATERS, FRIENDS.
Out of all the skaters, he’s the only real “flaw” here, as the show doesn’t delve too deeply into… well, anything about him at this point. He’s not sketched with as much detail, and while he starts out strong, he falters towards the end of his free skate, and I knew then that he wasn’t the skater to worry about. Not to discount his performance! But at that point, I figured that at least Yurio and JJ would make it a point to skate as flawlessly as possible.
Wow, this continued to be way more intense than I expected? It’s such a strange plot in the midst of this show, but once I look at Yuri On Ice as a whole, it makes sense. This show addresses love; obsession; the motivations these men have to keep them skating their best. Michele’s creepy obsession with protecting and “loving” his sister fits within that framework. However, Sara drops a surprise in Michele’s lap just before his free skate: she cannot allow her twin brother to use her as he has. It’s not just a rejection; it’s a chance for her to exist separately from her brother. I admit that as a twin, I come at this differently. My twin and I, while incredibly close, were always desperate to be seen as separate people. We never had this specific problem. Hell, we had the opposite one! But I still get it! I still deeply understand why she felt as she did. Of course, I wondered if Michele would be able to skate, knowing that she’d broken the image of her in his mind. Was he even able to perform without this creepy attachment to her?
OH BOY, WAS HE EVER. I still thought his approach was a little unnerving, but at the very least, it was clear that he knew he couldn’t be protective of her, that the best way he could love his sister was to just let her go. AND I LOVE THAT SHE CONGRATULATED HIM WHEN HE DID SO WELL BUT THEN IMMEDIATELY LEFT HIM TO GO WATCH SEUNG-GIL. She didn’t regret forcing him into this, and she was happy to be free!
Okay, wow, I felt really bad that he lost his chance to advance? Once Yuri saw him crying, I HURT. I HURT, Y’ALL. In that one moment, the show reminded me of the immense price paid by these competitors. Most of the time, you don’t win.
I honestly thought he had it, y’all. I mean, I should have considered that JJ would sweep the competition, given his history and what I saw in the previous episode. However, Yurio’s performance, the best of his career, was motivated by SO MANY FACTORS. Resentment. Spite. Ambition. His own attachment to Victor. (I would love if in these final three episodes, that was explored more because… is there something there, too?) He approaches his own free skate knowing that there’s only one way he can place in the top three. He commits to it, no matter how exhausting and difficult it is, because he has to. That’s what goes through his mind, too. He knows JJ “took” first place from him before, and he knows that Victor left Russia for Yuri. Thus, this is Yurio’s attempt to take back what he sees as his: first place. Victor. Glory.
Which… y’all. THIS ALL MANIFESTS IN SUCH A SHOCKING MANNER. I absolutely did not expect Yurio to cheer Yuri on. Why? Why would he ever express genuine concern for someone he believes stole Victor from figure skating and from Russia? Well, I hypothesize that in some quiet way, Yurio respects Yuri, at least enough to understand what Victor sees in him. And if he’s going to be coached by the best skater in the game, then Yuri better give the best performance of his life every single time, regardless of whether Victor is there or not.
Still, I am so proud of how well Yuri did skate despite the setback of Victor being in Japan. That’s why I agree that this was his hardest program so far. He had to overcome a new issue on top of all the other ones, and he did his best while accomplishing that. So, maybe there’s a chance that Yurio won’t hate him at the end of all of this. (He did give him his grandfather’s pork cutlet bowl pirozkhis!) How much will Yurio change because of this experience?
yawn YAWN, THIS GUY SUCKS, I DON’T LIKE HIM.
First of all: MAKKACHIN IS ALIVE AND WELL, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. Okay, that’s not true, because holy romance, I was not prepared for the emotional and intimate ending to this episode, y’all. The devotion! The hand kiss! The declaration that they’re going to win gold TOGETHER! Holy shit, this isn’t subtle at all, and I’m so blown away by how this show frames it all like a romance. Their foot placement, the way they touch, the look in their eyes… IT’S ALL RIGHT THERE.
I’m fine. I’M FINE.
The video for “Yuuri vs Yuri! The Horror!! Rostelecom Cup, Free Skate” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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