He put a ring on it!
The calm before the storm! Victor takes centre stage and narrates this episode, introducing us to the final six skaters: Yuri, Chris, Otabek, JJ, Yurio, and Phichit. Otabek Altin is a fierce but introverted young skater, determined to win gold for his home country. He reunites with Yurio (who he met five years earlier), and the two begin a quiet friendship. Meanwhile, Yuri buys Victor a gold ring as thanks for all his coaching, and Victor prepares him for the upcoming event.
I always appreciate episodes like this. The last two episodes of Yuri on Ice are the most intense and emotional of the whole season, so the show takes a moment to let us catch our breaths and prepare ourselves for what’s to come. That’s not to say it’s an empty twenty minutes, however, it’s possibly my favourite episode in the season and it’s a vital window into the character’s lives.
Let’s start at the top with Victor and Yuri. Victor’s internal monologue this episode gives us an amazing insight into their relationship, with so many little details that highlight just how much he knows about and cares about Yuri. There’s also a real attraction here; Victor truly adores Yuri and is starting to let it show more and more. He has a distracting moment early on with Chris — it really seems like they used to be an item — but his affections are firmly locked on Yuri.
Speaking of Yuri, this is the episode where he finally starts to socialise and step outside himself a little. The old Yuri would never want to go shopping; he’d just sleep all day and practice all night, whiling away the hours until the competition started. New Yuri has a plan: he wants to be with Victor, he wants to socialise with his fellow skaters, he wants to be more of a real person and less of a hollow competitor.
Oh, and the rings are wonderful, for multiple reasons. From Yuri’s perspective they’re just an innocent gift to his coach, a quick and shiny way to say “thank you” for teaching him how to be so much better than himself. But Victor (and the rest of the skaters) quickly identify the subtext in the gift: they’re in love, and Yuri is yearning for a way to express it. It’s so charming to me that Yuri wants to formalise their relationship, and doubly charming that Victor understands this and accepts it.
We also meet Otabek this episode, who seems like a second iteration of Seung-Gil Lee: a quiet, intense skater who doesn’t like to socialise, but unlike Seung-Gil he has a strong, almost spiritual reason to win, and he understands the power of friendship. Yurio is a perfect match for him: two wannabe juggernauts, different in make but similar in intent, both desperately wanting to win, but not letting that desire override their own humanity.
(Wow, that was a pretty flowery paragraph. But then again, this is a pretty flowery show.)
Some more notes before Yuri starts table-dancing again:
- Victor gets his own little chibi intro, and it’s adorable!
- JJ’s girlfriend still isn’t named! And no, “ugly bitch” isn’t a name, thank you Yurio.
- I love how everyone leaves as soon as JJ shows up. You’re a jerk, JJ!
- I’m willing to forgive Yuri’s sudden amnesia about the whole drunk-dancing thing, purely because the imagery is hilarious to me.
- Yurio being reminded of Hasetsu just makes me nostalgic for Hasetsu, those moments are such a long time ago in the show.
That’s all for today! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you tomorrow for the next episode of Yuri on Ice!