Yuri on Ice 1.8: Yuri vs Yuri! The Horror!! Rostelecom Cup, Short Program

Wow, I forgot how much I hate JJ.

To Russia with love! Yuri and Victor head to Russia for the Rostelecom Cup, and meet the next group of skaters he’ll be facing against: Seung-gil Lee, Emil Nikola, Michele Crispino, JJ Leroy, and of course, Yuri Plisetsky. Yuri performs his short program flawlessly and earns second place, while Yurio loses his grip on “Agape” and comes in third.

It’s been a while since Yuri on Ice has focused on Yurio, and he’s a welcome change. Yuri’s effectively been cured: his relationship with Victor has strengthened, so he now has all the confidence and poise he needs. Yurio, on the other hand, still has issues: his understanding of “Agape” is still shaky, and he’s very easily angered by all the praise and positivity being bestowed on Yuri and Victor. He’s vulnerable, and the Rostelecom Cup is exposing those vulnerabilities to the world.

I actually wanted to talk about Yurio’s grandfather for a moment, because I think it’s a pretty cheap excuse for drama. (And you know how much “cheap drama” ticks me off.) Yurio’s grandfather mysteriously leaves right before his performance, so he’s thrown off his game and his performance is affected. But in the next episode — spoilers — it turns out he was just planning a surprise for him (katsudon pirozhkis) and needed time to prepare it.

This is the dumbest plot point in Yuri on Ice, and the only part of the show I actively dislike. No parental figure would actually do this; no-one would willingly abandon their child without explanation moments before the biggest performance of their lives, just so they could make a goddamn surprise snack. I don’t care how tasty those pirozhkis are, you just don’t do it. It feels like the writers found themselves a little short on dramatic tension and just shoehorned this in at the last moment. There are so many other ways to generate drama for Yurio in this moment, but somehow they picked this one. Cheap!

Moving on, let’s talk about the new skaters Yuri meets at Rostelecom. We’ve got Michele Crispino, the big brother who can’t let go of his little sister; Emil Nekola, who seems nice but doesn’t get a lot of development this episode; Jerome-Jacques JJ Leroy, who is a something of a rockstar and maybe also a jerk; and Seung-Gil Lee, who is very very interesting.

Seung-Gil Lee is to me the most fascinating minor character of Yuri on Ice, because he’s the opposite of every other skater. All the other skaters are powered by emotion: love, hate, anger, depression, anxiety, jealousy. By comparison, Seung-Gil Lee is powered by reason: he doesn’t have feelings to share, he doesn’t have a story to tell, he’s just there to win the game. He knows exactly how many points he needs and he knows how the judges will calculate those points, so the entire sport is just a maths problem to him. He’s a chessmaster in a world full of storytellers.

A few more notes before Maccachin eats another bun:

  • Poor Maccachin, and poor Yuri. The last thing he needs is another dead dog on his conscience.
  • Despite his confidence, Yuri is still affected by dark, depressing thoughts. He honestly thinks it’s possible that no-one in the world wants him to win.
  • JJ’s mother has some razor-sharp bangs, dayamn.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the next episode of Yuri on Ice!

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