In the twelfth and final episode of the first season of Yuri On Ice, the Grand Prix brings surprises to everyone. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Yuri On Ice.
Wow. JUST… WOW.
It took me until much later in the episode to understand Yuri’s motivation for telling Victor that he planned to retire after the Grand Prix. It seemed like such a silly thing to do, particularly given everything they’d gone through as a pair. Yuri still had a chance at gold; Victor wanted to coach Yuri as long as possible. Even if Yuri didn’t win, there was still so much potential in them working together. So why stop? Why just give up? Look, I understood Victor’s reaction more than the initial issue. I’d be pissed, too! It felt insulting, you know? If Yuri brought out the best in Victor and vice versa, then retiring meant that Victor couldn’t be his best with Yuri at his side.
But it’s not until later that I recognized this as a (misguided) act of love. (Which is a repetitive theme in this season and ESPECIALLY this episode! So many decisions here are based on love!) Yuri believed that by keep Victor as his coach, he was taking away Victor from the rest of the world. It echoes a sentiment that we saw in Christophe, for example, as well as a variation of what Yurio felt, too. Victor was the best in the world, and Yuri “took” him from the figure skating universe. Of course, Victor doesn’t see it that way, and it takes a very dramatic, pulse-pounding finale for these characters to fully understand one another.
One aspect of “Final Skate” that I’d love to see more is further details on many of these skaters. I imagine that JJ will return in season two, and if that’s the case, then I want to see if he’ll truly overcome his own doubts. I feel like his persona was a means to overcompensate for the lingering negativity he had of himself. If so, then how does he get past that? How does he manage the intense pressures he’ll always have because of the fanbase that’s sprung up around him? There’s a glimpse of that in the second half of his free skate, but he’s got a long journey ahead of him, too.
HE’S JUST SUCH A PURE BUNDLE OF JOY, Y’ALL. More so than all the other skaters, Phichit is simply overjoyed at the chance to fulfill his lifelong dream. He isn’t deterred by mistakes and actually manages a quad jump for the first time! He accomplished so very much in just one season, and I LOVE THAT HE GETS TO BE PROUD OF BEING THAI. Can he please get his ice show? I WANT THIS SO BADLY.
Y’all. I’m still emotional thinking about what Yuri accomplished as well. There is such a beauty to the visuals of his free skate because it all calls back to the beginning of the show. Yuri got noticed for imitating Victor nearly a year prior, and look how far he has come. This is no longer an imitation, though. It’s a love letter. It’s Yuri’s fullest expression of how he feels for Victor, for what Victor gave him, for what Victor means to him. It’s fitting, then, that after Yurio smashes Victor’s short program record, Yuri does the same with the free skate. The two skaters who were mentored by Victor end up surpassing him. Is there anything more meaningful to Victor than that? What better way to show love and appreciation than skating better than he ever has?
I WAS A MESS. VICTOR WAS GOING TO COME BACK AND HE WOULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT YURI AND H E L P THIS IS MAKING ME FEEL EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE.
He underestimated everyone, didn’t he? And then they started performing better than he did, and OH LORD, WAS HE EVER SURPRISED BY THAT. At least that’s the sense I got from his free skate. He was distracted by how well Yuri performed, despite rumors that he was going to retire. Christophe assumed an easy win, and he ended up faltering because of it.
I don’t think this is the last of him, either. Technically, he’s a brilliant skater, but I just don’t get the sense of grandeur and drama from him as I do from the others. But he’s too good to just disappear. HE’LL BE BACK.
In a weird way, Yurio always wanted Yuri to be better. I imagine that he simply couldn’t fathom winning gold unless he had earned it the entire time. Thus, he viewed Yuri’s struggles as a pathetic excuse, especially once Victor started coaching him. So the idea that Yuri might win god and then just quit, denying Yurio a chance to beat him again, was enough to give Yurio the motivation to do whatever it took to get that gold. Y’all, it was SO CLOSE. Once Yurio stumbled, it was entirely possible that Yuri might win it all. And what would come of that? The two paths spread out before these characters were both so intriguing! Would Yuri have chosen to keep skating if he’d won? Would Yurio have dedicated his next season to beating both Yuri and his free skate score? Because he’s certainly going to try for the latter anyway. Ah, I’m so excited!
If I have anything to critique about the latter half of this show, it’s that I waited until the very end to see just how much Yuri On Ice would confirm the Yuri/Victor relationship. I feel like they have, but I’m also biased in this regard. Was the kiss enough? Was all the affection enough? Was the skating enough? My worry is that someone could watch this and at the end of “Final Skate,” they would see this as nothing more than an intense, loving partnership between a coach and their athlete. So I kinda do wish there’d been more of an on-screen, direct way of saying that this was a romance. I say that because if these things aren’t stated outright, there’s too much wiggle room for the default to be assumed and defended. I mean, this show is GGGGGAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY, and I’ve had an absolute blast watching this develop. But I’m a fan of not beating around the bush. Just say it. At this point, who would actually think this wasn’t a romance? IT CLEARLY IS. But this shouldn’t surprise y’all. I just want this shit spelled out so that no one can deny it.
Though it doesn’t escape me that ultimately, Yuri On Ice was about love. It’s an undeniable part of the narrative, and even in the closing credits, you can see it. That dual skate is just… WOW. I’M A MESS AGAIN. Hello, bisexual flag colors? Hello reference to the opening credits? Hello to the callback to Yuri’s first trip to Russia?
I can’t wait for season two. I CAN’T WAIT.
Thanks to all of you lovely, lovely people for joining me on this journey. Up next: seasons one and two of Galavant!
The video for “Final Skate – Gotta Super-Super-Supercharge it!!! Grand Prix Final Free Skate” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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