Recap/Rewatch, Yuri on Ice — Episode 11 Gotta Super-Supercharge it! Grand Prix Final Short Program
Of all the episodes in the series, this one is my least favorite for several reasons. It doesn’t really have much of an arc, because it’ can’t: the whole purpose is to watch the six finalists skate and to set up the last episode, the latter which should really be two, or better yet three episodes. Even this episode would have been better as two with the skates spread out and some plot put in. There’s zero plot: it’s just, “here is skating, please watch.” Then JJ’s dive, and the total depression post-credits.
I guess we get a subtle plot thread, and I’ll follow it here. But it’s weak, man. Very weak tea. Anyway, let’s dive in.
We get an announcer overview of everyone, beginning with Yuri, and his clips include his lip-licking at Victor and Victor kissing him on the ice. Everyone else gets a pretty normal intro, and basically we’re all psyched for the event to start, yay! Following this we get the fancy opening with extra colors and the finalists superimposed over the background. This is the last time we get either the opening or end credits, honestly, because episode twelve eats everything so they can make time. I think (we’ll check next time) we get a tiny bit of the opening in the background while people are introduced, but that’s it.
The actual show goes right into the programs, and it’s Yuri skating first, with Victor kissing his ring and everyone getting excited for him. Victor’s not wearing gloves so as to better show off his ring. Yuri is psyched and ready to do his best, knowing he hasn’t landed this jump but determined to do so. We get a little flashback where he and Victor discuss this, and also a super cute GIF where Victor jumps into his arms as Yuri taunts him with the image of him succeeding at making it.
You have to love how relaxed they are together there, how in sync they are.
So now Yuri’s trying to bring the magic, to land this quad flip in the Eros program and beat JJ. Victor is nervous for him, so into it that he does the flip with him in the stands. Which is also an adorable moment.
Except Yuri doesn’t quite execute the move. He would have had a higher score if he’d have just killed it like he had in Russia. If he’d have been jealous and upset. Of course he wouldn’t have beat Yuri or Otabek, but he would have fared better. He wasn’t into it, though—he went backward, too focused on execution, everything Victor warned him in episode five not to do. Yuri is upset, and Victor is upset with him, not knowing how to console him.
I really empathize with Yuri here, and I think all artists can. I feel this is what creating art is a good 90% of the time, maybe more. You have a dream for what something is, you try to push it into that place, and maybe you do okay, you have some success, but you rarely execute your project in the way you want it to land. Something always goes wrong. You attempt to push one aspect and inadvertently fuck another. You get one part right and something else goes haywire that you didn’t anticipate. Sometimes the mess up is beyond your control. Sometimes it’s someone else fucking you up. Sometimes you’re your own enemy. It’s always so frustrating, though, because all you want is to delivery this art, which in your mind is so pure and right, and you know if you could just get it out there it would be a good thing—and when it fails to land, all you can think is, if that art had been handed to someone else to pass out, maybe it would have worked out.
Art is so hard. Skating is art too. I feel for Yuri in that moment, when he collapses on the ice in frustration.
Anyway, after Yuri is Phichit, and he’s gorgeous and happy and just pleased to have made it to the GPF. His score comes in under Yuri and it becomes pretty clear he’s not winning gold, but he doesn’t mind. He’s already won his prize. We also get some of his backstory, how he ended up in skating, which I love. I also just straight up love Phichit.
Now we have Yurio’s skate—and he absolutely nails his Agape, finally. It’s beautiful, breathtaking, both in skill and emotion. He’s not fighting anything anymore. He’s found everything he needs to be in this skate, and he’s grown an athlete, an artist, and a human. It shows in his performance. Yakov, watching, sees glimpses of Victor.
Victor, watching, sees something, but we don’t know what. Longing, for sure. For his past, for the days of skating, for his youth—what exactly isn’t told, and I don’t think it needs to be. I’m sure it was complicated, that moment. Even if he were competing, that would have been tough to watch, because Yurio is too much like him (even as he’s also nothing like him). But Yuri sees Victor in this moment too…and makes some dangerous inferences that align with his own plans.
Chris skates, Victor watches and has more nostalgia—which Yuri also sees and notes, packing away into his decision.
This, by the way is another red flag of someone with anxiety. Anxiety and depression both like to whisper things to the person who has the condition, and unless actively resisted, that person can end up believing an alternate reality. My husband has clinical anxiety (and is open about it) and I cannot tell you the number of times our arguments have been centered on unpacking something he believes I think, which I do not think, but he has decided based on something his anxiety built up around some subtle movement, a word, an action. So the idea that Yuri has been cataloging gestures and smiles and silences from Victor and deciding this means he wants to/should go back to skating? Oh yes. I buy that all the way as something he would do. He doesn’t mean anything malicious by it, either. In his mind, he’s being helpful. Never mind this isn’t at all what Victor actually wants, that listening to this nag from anxiety over unpacking Victor’s own yearning and need for connection is cruel. The man so clearly has decided he cannot function without Yuri, will be an empty shell without him and that yes, he wants to skate but would rather die than lose Yuri—but Yuri can’t see this. He can only see himself and the projections he has made of Victor, at least in this matter. Because this is his anxiety over his failure rearing its head, wrapping around him, warping reality. He isn’t aware he’s doing it. He is eating his own happiness without understanding that’s what he’s doing.
Everyone outscores Yuri—Chris, Otabek—Otabek kills it, honestly, and Yurio is there to cheer him on from the stands. Everyone is impressed with Otabek, and we get his backstory too, of how he clawed his way here and made himself into what he is now.
And then, to my joy, we get JJ and his total choke.
I already wrote up why I love JJ’s choke so I won’t do it again: why the section (and JJ) are present in the plot are to show him falling and give Yuri a chance (which he doesn’t take) to understand that failure is part of performance. That everyone, no matter how great, will have moments where they break, especially if they cling to the idea of not failing. In many ways JJ and Yuri are the same; JJ is arrogant and obnoxious, but think of how Yuri behaved with Minami in episode four when Victor scolded him. He was cold and unconnected. JJ isn’t cold, he’s cruel and sharp, but he’s unconnected.
Earlier in the episode Victor talked about how he used to think he had to win on his own, but now he knows that’s wrong. Even Victor has grown through this season, this time by not skating but by helping Yuri, by being unable to skate and only help others. He realizes everyone needs that help, that they must take it. Yuri doesn’t see that yet, but when he watches JJ he at least acknowledges that everyone falls, that he and JJ are one and the same. They both came to the GPF and crashed. Yuri had been arrogant enough to think he was special, that only he could do such a thing. Now he understands everyone can—though in truth it’s most likely that unconnected people like he and JJ can, people who put themselves on pedestals of either idolatry or isolation. The name of the pedestal is irrelevant. The point is, you stand on it alone.
JJ’s family and fans rally him through his skate, but he gets a shit score and is in last place now. The score rank has Yuiro first, Otabek second, Chris third, Yuri fourth, Phichit fifth, and JJ sixth. This is how we end the official section of the show, and now we hear the closing credits for the last time, so enjoy them.
And now it’s time to be depressed as hell.
After the credits we get the announcer giving the rankings and we see everyone going to bed in Japan and people going out to celebrate in Spain, mostly via Yuri’s social media feed. Yuri and Victor are in their hotel room, Victor looking sexy as he towels off after a shower. They chat a bit, looking happy and soft. Then Victor says, “Oh by the way, what did you want to talk to me about?” Yuri gathers his courage, clenches his fists and says, “After the Final, let’s end this.”
And then the damn episode ends.
The difference between the opening of this episode and the end was the starkest ever. Still high from ep 10, as we sat down to watch we were bouncy and happy, ready for more awesome. When this episode finished, you could have heard a pin drop. My daughter and her friend didn’t speak for a long time, and we all wandered around depressed. The people who had made me their advance watcher shepherd had to be told not to watch, and a whole bunch of people panicked that the end wouldn’t be happy, that they would in fact split up.
I doubted this. I had faith in them, even though I couldn’t say why. The narrative was there. It didn’t feel like it as angling toward destruction. It felt as if they were soaring toward hope, not hell, so I kept the faith, though I did have a bit of worry, which isn’t all bad when consuming story. I wouldn’t have minded knowing it was a romance genre and therefore the HEA was guaranteed, but I did know this was the dark moment that had to happen and it was right on schedule.
And as I said, it fit, utterly. It was right on par with Yuri and his deciding what the reality was and what Victor needed. Despite his generally being very good for Victor, this is his flaw, his inability to see, and he cannot see Victor here because this is his blindness, his worry over his own failure. He is about to would Victor deeply…and this is what people in love do to one another. Hurt them, because no one else is close enough to do this so well.
But they will fix it, and it will be glorious. And we are almost to the end of this! Sigh.
I will do the last episode Monday, as I’m out of town tomorrow and tonight. The Rafflecopter as of right now has about 34 hours (as of the time I’m typing this) so don’t mess around if you want to enter. I’ll announce the winner during my final post.
Thanks to everyone who came on this journey with me! And yay for Yuri on Ice.
A single stroke can change your world.
Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.
Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.
Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.