Born to Make History: Yuri on Ice Episode 12, History Made and Next Level Feels on Deck
Honestly, I should wait until tomorrow to write this recap and analysis, as I am still a teabag of feels still steeping, but I’m also Little Miss Brood and should frankly get my butt back to writing books tomorrow, so let’s write this bitch before I get caught up in the day job or the wrong thing trips me back into an anxiety puddle again. Because right now Everything Is Fucking Wonderful even though Yuri On Ice has ended. Season one has ended, that is. The punchline of the day is I would bet hard, hard money we’re getting a season two and that the series as it stands is highly satisfying, emotionally healing and utterly rewatchable until we get that second season. So today we dance, katsudon. Ready or not, we dance.
There will be spoilers ahead, and GIFS. Here’s the non-GIF link. Before we get there, though, here’s a list of all my blog posts to date on Yuri on Ice. I’ll update this as any get added, including the one I’ll be doing on December 28 at Happily Ever After at USA Today. That one will be more of a retrospective post, but my aim is to make it interesting to both people who have watched the show and people who are curious.
And because it comes up every time I do a post: You can watch Yuri on Ice here.
- Born to Make History: Heidi dishes the hell out of Yuri!!! On Ice (Overview and Eps 1 & 2)
- Born to Make History, Continued: Yuri!!! On ice Episode 3 recap, Eros of the Pork Cutlet Bowl
- Born to Make History Continued Further Still: Yuri!!! On Ice episode 4 recap, Like Yourself…and Complete the Free Program!!!
- Born to Make History: Yuri!!! On Ice episode 5-6 recap summary
- Born to Make History: Yuri!!! On Ice episode 7, the one that broke fandom
- Born to Make History: Yuri!!! On Ice episode 8 recap, I fucking hate JJ already
- Born to Make History: Yuri!!! On Ice episode 9 recap, absence makes us laugh and get mushy and cry, and I want to punch JJ more than ever
- Born to Make History: Yuri!!! On Ice Episode 10 recap, @kubo_3260 is a genius & I want to retire to be her handmaiden and make her katsudon and cake
- Born to Make History, Supplemental: Victor Nikiforov Weeps for Toxic Masculinity
- Born to Make History, Supplemental: Yuri on Ice—the Gift of the Undefined Romance
- Born to Make History: Yuri on Ice Episode 11, Our Heartbeats flutter to a stop (but it’s gonna be okay, I swear)
Okay. Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
We open where we left off, which was the heartbreaker cliffhanger of Yuri telling Victor he wanted to “end this” after the Grand Prix Final. He repeats this line as we begin, and clarifies: Victor’s done more than enough for him. He’s had the last season he wanted to have thanks to Victor, and he’s very grateful. In fact he thanks him in what I have come to learn from all my anime watching is a very formal and proper Japanese way.
Victor’s response is to cry his eyes out.
It’s a total reverse of the opening episode where Yuri was the one weeping—reverse down to the framing and the Yuri sitting before him. The same kinds of tears. The same viewing angle and the way they fall. Yuri has broken Victor’s heart with this declaration.
But this is our Victor. He doesn’t take this stuff lying down. He weeps, but he gives as good as he gets.
He calls Yuri selfish, declaring he never thought Yuri would be such a selfish human being. Of course, Yuri at this point isn’t cowed either and replies, “Yes, I came to this selfish decision on my own. I’m retiring.” When Victor keeps crying and Yuri tries to comfort him, Victor is annoyed, then angry, and tells Yuri so.
Yuri keeps bargaining, insisting Victor was the one who said this was only until the Grand Prix Final. Victor counters that he thought Yuri needed his help more. Yuri insists Victor intends to, or at least wants to make a comeback, implying this is his way of freeing him to do so. We’re having a total O Henry moment here, except no one is loving anyone’s sacrifice. Everyone is angry and upset.
Victor in particular is undone by this idea that Yuri thinks he’s more interested in returning to the ice than being with him, though he doesn’t put it that way—he says “returning to the ice while you’re retiring,” but the implication is that Yuri wouldn’t be there, so how could he possibly skate? Their argument goes nowhere, and in the end they agree to make their own decisions after Yuri’s free skate. Which is clearly the stupidest idea ever. Let’s go out to this hugely important skate, possibly Yuri’s last, with this black cloud over our heads.
For the first time ever we don’t get the opening credits, or rather we get the theme song in the background while the skaters are introduced via the announcers. This is because this episode does not have enough time to get in everything it needs. It is straight up rushed and honestly needed a thirteenth episode. If they’d have had any clue how popular this anime would be, I bet they’d have had this and seven more eps if they’d have wanted them. As it was, they were literally borrowing seconds from every space they could grab them to get this sucker done. So no opener. Just content end to end.
The interviewers/announcers stop Victor as he and Yuri come into the arena, and they comment after the brief exchange that Yuri and Victor both seem to be lacking in energy—basically, their fight is obvious and everybody’s worried.
JJ skates first. I don’t hate him anymore, but I still don’t care much. Basically he doesn’t suck as hard, he kind of gets his groove back, but he’s clearly not going to win unless everybody else bombs, and this isn’t called JJ on Ice, so. The thing we do get, interestingly, is a peek at his old coach, who is Celestino. Apparently this guy gets around and coaches everyone, and as far as I can tell he coaches people when they’re down on their luck and frustrated, except for Phichit. JJ gets his grove back, and that’s great, but whatever. Moving on.
Phichit is the bomb. He doesn’t knock it out of the park and has a few mistakes, but he lets us know in his internal monolog that he dreams of PHichit on Ice, a Thai ice show, and in his mind it involves all his friends from the GPF. I mean, let’s green light this ASAP.
Now it’s Yuri’s turn to skate, and we’re at the halfway point of the episode.
At first they’re still fighting and cold. Victor tries to wish Yuri luck, and Yuri is weirdly bitchy, telling him to not suddenly start trying to sound like a coach because he wants to remember this with a smile. I’m not sure if that was supposed to be bitchy but, damn. In any event, Victor rolls with this and says, fuck it, I’m going in. He pushes on Yuri.
“Yuri, listen to me. I debated whether I should tell you this now, but…I took a break after becoming the five-time world champion to coach you, so how is it possible that you still haven’t won a single gold medal? How much longer are you going to stay in warm-up mode?” He hugs Yuri close and says, in a teasing, sing-song, endearingly Victor voice, “I really want to kiss the gold medal.”
Yuri cries, smiles, and buries his face in his shoulder. Victor does the same. The announcers are confused, wondering what’s going on. Victor and Yuri clasp their hands together, touching their rings.
Yuri thinks, I’ve already made up my mind about my goal. As the crowd cheers, he skates to the ice and adds, My name is Katsuki Yuri. I’m a dime-a-dozen Japanese figure skater. I’m 24. And then he starts to skate.
His monolog continues as he skates, but as he skates we also see flashbacks to that opening sequence, the very first scene we saw for the series, of him watching Victor skate as a boy and as a man. For more than half my life, I’ve been trying to catch up to Victor. Thank you for bringing me all the way here, Victor. And it’s not just Victor I have to thank.
He does a quadrulple Salchow, and we remember how it was Yurio who taught him how to do that move, though he perfected it on his own. He then does a triple flip, which was apparently supposed to be a triple toe loop. He’s changing the jump elements, adding jumps and making them more difficult, trying to get the highest score possible to give Victor his gold to kiss.
My performance needs to be better than flawless for a chance at the gold. I’ve been thinking ever since the short program that I’d like the final free skate of my career to have the same difficulty as Victor’s.
He’s 100% committed to retiring, no matter what Victor has to say about it. This is his goodbye skate, to himself, to his fans, to Victor, and it’s why he’s skating with all of his heart. This is the last time he will skate for Victor. He has no more chances to get it right, so he has no room for anxiety or fear or doubt. And therefore he makes no mistakes. Not one. He lands every. Single. Jump.
Do you realize it now, Victor? I want to stay in figure skating with you forever. But your staying on as my coach means slowly killing you as a competitive skater. Look at the Victor who lives on inside me. Your becoming my coach wasn’t a waste of time. I’m the only one in the world who can prove that.
Yuri nails the quad flip, the one he added to surprise Victor, for Victor, in honor of Victor, and Victor weeps tears of love and joy as Yuri’s skate comes to a close, Yuri pointing to Victor in the kiss and cry.
And you cry too. You know you do.
Yuri cries. Minkao cries. Mari cries. Michelle cries. Everybody fucking cries.
And then Yuri gets his score, and he’s broken Victor’s world record for the free skate. First Yurio, then Yuri. Victor congratulates him and tells him he’s honored as a coach and a choreographer, but admits it’s a huge diss as a competitor. Yuri pulls back, thrilled, and asks if this means Victor is coming back.
Victor doesn’t answer.
Chris skates, and they cheer him on, but Chris chokes. He’s having some kind of odd fit about Victor, or something, I don’t really know. All I do know is he doesn’t win. He misses the podium, like way. He’s not on the map at this GPF, so we’re done with him, except to say he got a flower crown from Minako and made her day.
Otabek skates, and he rocks everbody’s socks. His skate is full of positive messages like believe in yourself and don’t give up, etc, but it’s also during his skate where Victor stops Yakov while Yurio is on his way to the waiting area. Victor tells Yakov he’s coming back to skating in time for the Russian Nationals.
Yurio hears this and gets right up in his face, demanding to know if this means Yuri’s retiring, and he’s not happy about this. Victor gives one of his fake smiles and says it’s Yuri’s decisions, that he’ll decide after the GPF is over. Yurio looks like Victor just stuck a knife in his gut, and Victor’s smile gets wobbly. He grabs Yurio, hugs him tight, like he’s holding onto him for life support. Yurio looks like he’s trying not to cry.
Otabek’s monolog continues. Don’t forget what it is you want. Now is the time to take off. Fulfill your dream. Only you can make it a reality. Live your life.
We cut to Yuri standing in the lobby looking like a lost puppy, calling for Victor. But all he can find is the Maccahin tissue box.
Dance your dream, Otabek says. Sing, sing…sing your own song.
Yurio is coming out into the arena now, and he’s looking even more angry kitten than usual. And worried. And upset. And like his brain is racing. What’s he thinking? Did Victor just bork his program? Fuel his fire? What’s going to happen?
Now is your beginning. This is your time.
Otabek is just behind JJ, and unless Yurio tanks, he’s not on the podium. Here goes Yurio.
Yurio does not tank. He doesn’t do the skate he did in Russia, not quite, but he does something else. He skates for Yuri. His whole monolog the whole time is all about Yuri.
Yuri Katsuki. He screws up his jumps, but his step sequence grabs your attention. I want to see him skate with no mistakes. What kind of guy is he? What a loser! He’s crying! What, you’re gonna retire once you win gold? You don’t care anymore now that you got a higher score than Victor’s? Don’t disappoint me! There are no gold medals for pigs to feed on! I’m going to win! Are you watching, Katsuki Yuri? I’m gonna beat your record someday. If you retire now, I’ll make you regret it for the rest of your life. Moron.
And with only one fall, he gets a killer score, not as high as Yuri’s, but high enough that with his short program he beats Yuri by a few percentage points and wins gold, taking away what would have let Yuri retire with a clean conscience. Yuri gets silver. No gold for Victor to kiss. No gold letting him get married.
No gold letting him retire.
He tries to give Victor the silver to kiss, but Victor declines, saying he doesn’t kiss silver, only gold. Victor gets his teasing voice again, saying how he really wanted to kiss Yuri’s gold medal. He declares himself to be such a failure as a coach and muses over what suggestions Yuri might have that would excite him? Yuri clenches his eyes tight as Victor bends him over the rail, and Victor seizes on his hesitation, demanding to know what he thought of just now.
Yuri gathers his courage, pushes Victor back and to the floor, tossing aside his medal as he takes his coach and his lover in his arms.
“Please stay with me in competitive figure skating for one more year! This time I’ll win gold for sure!”
Victor melts with pleasure. “Great! But keep going!” When Yuri is confused, Victor picks up the silver medal and places it around Yuri’s neck as he explains. “Even I’m worried about making a full comeback if I’m also staying on as your coach. In exchange, I’ll need you to become a five-time world champion, at least.”
Crying again, Yuri stares at him with love, adoration, and deep friendship-partnership, and says, sniffling and clutching the medal, “Okay.”
And now…now we get to the part you just want to watch over and over and over for the rest of your life.
Honestly this should have been a full skate. We should have had thirteen episodes so we could have had this as the end and drunken banquet take two as the outro, but as we said, budgets. So what we get instead is Yuri’s exhibition skate, which is also a fucking pair skate with Victor. It’s a reprise of “Stammi Vicino”, this time a duet with the depressing lyrics about hating love taken out of the middle. Yuri starts, then Victor comes sailing in, and they touch each other’s faces and lift each other and spin and synchronize skate and it’s basically how you will die and you will be so happy to leave earth.
Yuri twirls Victor. Twirls. Victor….
That we didn’t get this full skate, slow-mo… I. NEED. MY. OVAS.
The duet fades out, cut off too soon because NOT ENOUGH TIME FOR THIS EPISODE, and we see Yuri running across a bridge in St. Petersburg with Macacchin, racing towards Yurio and Victor as this closing monolog plays in his head.
There’s a place you just can’t reach unless you have a dream too large to bear alone. We call everything on the ice “love.”
Victor sees him, smiles brightly as Yuri smiles back, and as the screen fades to black Victor smiles, waves, and calls out, “Yuri!” And then the screen tells us, SEE YOU NEXT LEVEL.
Fuck yes, we’ll see you next level.
And now we’re done. Season’s over. Yuri on Ice has happened. It has arrived, it’s here, it’s canon, it’s in your world, your life, and all over your dashboard. There’s absolutely no way it does anything but get a season two. I haven’t heard officially that it’s happening, but, seriously. It’s happening. We’re just waiting on the official announcement.
That said—get ready to wait for season two, and I know we’re all chomping at the bit, but wait for it. It might be another two years before we get this, and honestly, don’t rush them. Speaking as someone who has had people all but clinging to her leg for book next in a series, you really don’t want the next installment of something before it’s ready, or you’ll be disappointed. I’ve put books out before they’re ready and it’s not good. I’ve rushed books in a series, one series so much so that series is not out of print and staying that way until I can get things fixed. This show is too good to half-ass. Let Kubo-sensei take the time to do this the way it needs to be done.
Hats off to her too if she’s able to work with all this crazy aimed at her head too. I have too much Katsuki Yuri in me and I start to buckle with too much expectation aimed at me. I would choke if I were in Kubo-sensei’s shoes right now, with or without a Victor to kiss me in the parking garage. So for this reason too I want her to take her time. Whatever time she needs, and space.
Analysis of the finale…oh, man. I don’t know. Rushed, but I get why. The resolution was a little fuzzy—why is Victor returning exactly, except for season two? Which is fine, don’t get me wrong. Though I also get that Yuri wanted him back beause he didn’t think that Victor was done. I need to watch this a few more times (this being the series) before I can suss that one out, so get back to me there. I really thought he’d retire, but as I rewatched the episodes today I wasn’t sure anymore if I should have seen this coming.
Mostly I’m glad Yuri didn’t retire. I’m glad this wasn’t the two of them riding off into the sunset, season two prospects notwithstanding. I didn’t want him to be done, and the narrative didn’t set that up. I think I have more posts in me about that, but again, I have to think on it. And rewatch. A lot. Everything is different now that I know the end.
Speaking of rewatching. We are having a rewatching party on New Year’s Day. It may turn out to be something of a clusterfuck, but you’re welcome to come and try it out with us. We’re attempting to accommodate literally the whole world, with chat. At some point I’m going to karaoke the theme song. You should come hang with us if you want.
In the meantime, I will keep blogging and tumbling and so on. The series may be done for now but I am not. I’ll also be writing, too, so you know, there’s that. In fact I have to start doing more writing than blogging to pay for the Internet and the Crunchyroll subscription.
Here’s hoping Yuri on Ice has done more than make history. I hope it’s started a revolution and pretty soon there are all kinds of queer anime out there normalizing the hell out of LGBTQIA+ relationships in more than just straight up romance stories. But here’s to more queer romance stories too. Ones without rape in them, or gay panic. Ones where people kiss and get engaged and nobody bats an eye and it’s completely normal, just part of the everyday reality of life.
As it should be.