And we’re back with episode 3! There’s actually a lot to be
said about Victor here even though the focus isn’t on him most of the time. We
get to see the choreo for Eros and Agape for the first time, get some more
insight in how Victor acts around people other than Yuuri, and truly get
introduced to Victor the Coach for the first time.
Again, I’d like to delve into this set and look at the
specific scenes chosen. I hope everyone enjoys!
We start off with the intro choreo to Agape. When I chose
this gif, I found myself stuck between three different options: the intro, the
close-up of him skating with his fingers steepled, and the ending. In the end,
I realized it didn’t matter because I had the same thing to talk about for all of
them. With the intro, we see Victor reaching out with open hands as if to bring
something into himself, in the middle it seems as if he is thankful and holding
something gently, and at the end he presses back out from his chest with his
hands firmly clasped. If we combine this with the concept of agape – unconditional
love – we can see a possible interpretation of bringing love into oneself,
holding it gently, then, with a firm grasp on it, giving back. I’ll talk a bit
more about the meaning of the Eros and Agape routines in respect to Victor in a
few, but I still felt the choreo was interesting in the respect that it also
tells a story – a story of the acceptance of outside love, of cherishing that
love, and of giving it back.
The second and third gifs I’d like to first talk about as a
pair. Both are from the Eros choreo, but if you look at Victor’s expressions,
are almost complete opposites on the emotional spectrum. The first looks to be confident
and suave, and the second looks so vulnerable and sad that I couldn’t help but wonder at the contrast. Then I thought
about the story of Eros, how it tells a story of a playboy who goes after “the
most beautiful woman” (I say that in quotations because there’s actually no
woman in this tale, it’s actually a man stealing the heart of another man then
disappearing from his sight). Then I started to question the choreo in this
program, whose perspective is it being told from? In the end, I came to the
conclusion that it’s both. We see the
playboy at the start (the first of these two gifs) and at the end when there’s
a pushing away gesture. As for the jilted man, we see him in that second of the
two gifs. Victor undoubtedly gets lost in his skating and his expressions
become very telling as to the emotional meaning behind the programs he’s
On that note, let’s look at these two individually. The
suave, seductive look at the beginning of the program to me always looks so empty. After you get past the initial
heart-eyed reaction of Victor looking that way in your direction, you start to
see how devoid of emotions that expression really is. What we’re actually
watching is Victor’s media face in action. I feel there are a couple of reasons
for this but the primary one is simply that Victor
is not a playboy. He tells this story with two parts within Eros’ program,
but he at heart is not and has never been a playboy. So the only
way he knows how to portray something like that is through his carefully
crafted image that relies entirely on the watchers being too smitten with him
to catch the fact that there’s nothing of him
actually in it. In most cases, it takes multiple watches of this particular Victor
smile to catch it but when you see it, it’s really difficult to unsee.
On the other hand, we get the third gif of this set, where
he looks so incredibly sad during the
Eros choreo. If you check out Yuuri skating the exact same clip, you can see
that his face is completely different (confident even), which says to me that
Victor’s expression here is intentional
on the side of the creative team. The reason for that? This is Victor emulating
the man who was seduced and then abandoned, left with his own thoughts for three
months and attempting to figure out what exactly happened the night he was (quite
literally) swept off his feet. We don’t know if this expression existed at this
point in the program before Victor came to Hasetsu, but the fact that this is
not the face of the playboy within the story is undeniable. And the sadness we
can see painted on Victor’s face is a clear indicator of how he feels in this
position at this point in time. Unlike when he tries to play the part of the playboy,
this role is much truer to him. We are looking at the true Victor Nikiforov,
unshielded and wearing his heart on his sleeve. Truly, something that one can
only see on the ice.
This fourth gif… well, I could say a lot of things, but they
would mostly be stating the obvious. He’s gunning really hard for Yuuri in this
moment, both (I think) because he wants
Yuuri as well as because he knows Yuuri wants him. Victor isn’t as oblivious to Yuuri’s
interest as Yuuri thinks (or rather, hopes) he is, even if Yuuri keeps trying
to run away from it. That said, if you compare this Victor, who is actively
trying to seduce Yuuri and show him “what Eros is to him” to the suave look at
the start of Victor’s rendition of Eros, it brings to light just how false the look in the Eros choreo is. Because if this look here is
genuine, then there’s no way that the look in the program is too.
Even though the face in this fifth gif is meant to be
comedic, I can’t help but think deeply about this scene. This is the face
Victor wears immediately after Yurio calls him out for saying that Agape isn’t
a program where one shows off their confidence, and yet still skates it so confidently.
Victor then gets asked what Agape is to him and he deflects the question back onto
Yurio with an overly bright smile and a flimsy answer – “you just feel it, how
am I supposed to tell you?”. What this says to me isn’t that Victor is some
sort of genius, as others in-show continue to say he is, but quite the opposite
(in terms of his own emotional awareness and how that comes out in his skating,
anyway). Victor skates out his feelings, the same way that Yuuri does, and that
always reflects into his programs. But, as we can see if we look at Stammi in
episode 1 and combine it with the knowledge that he was lonely but didn’t know
it, he isn’t always fully aware of the
full emotional depth to these programs in regards to himself. So, if we assume that Victor’s confusion and obvious
diversion mean that he doesn’t know
what Agape the program means to him, then can we figure it out? I think so.
There are many things that agape as a base concept could mean for Victor – it could
mean Makkachin, his skating family, or his fans, among others. What I think it
means, when you take in the entirety of the program’s meaning and how he skates
it, is that it’s a love letter to his audience. It’s always looked to me like a
complete story. Going back up to the first gif, where I described Agape as an
acceptance of love and a giving back, I feel that we can apply that here. The
program also feels like an all-encompassing gesture, almost like a goodbye of
sorts. We can look at Eros and Agape as programs that are 2 sides of the same
coin. If Eros is Victor’s struggles to move on to a new part of his life (a
beginning), then Agape is his struggles to move on from his past and present
(an end). So, even if Victor doesn’t realize it, I think that Agape was meant
to be a goodbye to his skating career. He knew his time was coming, and while
he didn’t want to let it go, he also knew it was almost time. And so, Agape was
born as a way to say to his audience, “thank you for the love and support you
have given me all this time”. Truly “Agape” indeed.
Returning to the comedy, this sixth gif is pretty much a
clip of Victor’s suffering in action. Just earlier that week he shoved his face
right up in Yuuri’s, got the guy all flustered, and asked him what Eros meant
to him. And the answer that Yuuri came to was food. FOOD. Not only does Victor know that this isn’t what Yuuri’s Eros
actually is (he knows it’s him), it doesn’t even make sense to the story of the
program. From a more outside perspective, sure, food can make sense if you only
look at the written definition for desire, but on a conceptual level, what Eros
as a program truly embodies, katsudon
couldn’t make any less sense. Unfortunately, there’s not much more Victor can
do other than scream internally about Yuuri’s obtuseness to the entire concept
of sexuality that seems to only exist when he’s sober.
Or he can go drown his frustrations in alcohol, which is
what he ends up doing. Throwing his responsibilities for the night out the
window, he decides that drinking until dawn is the best way to come to terms
with his current situation. As comedic as this scene is initially played out to
be, it actually brings up a serious underlying issue. When Victor doesn’t know
what to do with his emotions, or he feels lost, he drowns his sorrows in
alcohol. Whether he even realizes he’s doing this, we can’t know for sure because
he’s never mentioned it himself but I worry both for his kidney and his mental health
that this seems to not just be a one-off occurrence but a habit. Even if you factor
in the possible use of the Russians being heavy drinkers stereotype, the fact
that Victor is shown drinking every night since he arrives in Hasetsu and then goes off to get smashed after
getting ignored (yet again) by Yuuri before proceeding to coach with a hangover
in the middle of an intense training week doesn’t speak well to how he processes
his unpleasant emotions and situations.
The third to last choice is
a gif, even if it’s not moving. I chose this still image shot specifically because
it presents us a view of Victor with a very uniquely complicated expression and
none of the other shots of him during this scene really portray how far into
his own head he is in this moment. I feel that this is Victor when he realizes he’s
at a crossroads in his life and there’s nothing more he can do to affect the
outcome. He’s taking a moment before he needs to go out and judge both Yuris’
skating to consider what either result will mean for him. On one hand, if Yurio
outperforms Yuuri, which Victor at this point know is the most probable given
what he’s seen over the last week, then he will need to give up on the spark of
hope he felt from the banquet, the viral Stammi video, and saw in Yuuri himself
when he accepted Eros. Victor would return to Russia, to the place that he felt
was suffocating him, as a coach and not even a skater. He knows that his heart
doesn’t want this, even if his logical mind knows that if Yuuri can’t perform
to his potential then it’s what he’s promised to both of them. For Yuuri, the
only way he could outperform Yurio would be to show Victor that spark that was
shown within the viral video, to reawaken the side of himself that he showed
Victor at the banquet, and to channel the confidence he had when he was first
assigned Eros and demanded Victor stay if he won. For Victor to get the outcome
he wants, Yuuri is going to need to
pull out all the stops and show to the world (or at least those watching this
ice show) the potential that Victor has seen only in small spurts so far.
Looking forward from there, Victor knows that working with Yuuri isn’t going to
be straightforward, but it’s still what his heart desires. He knows he has a
bias, but as much as Yurio yells about Victor breaking a promise by coming to
Japan (he didn’t, he still choreographed a debut program for him), he is still
a man of his word and will go back to Russia if Yuuri can’t show Victor right here and now that that spark still
exists. In light of all that, it’s no wonder Victor foregoes the pep talks
during the warm-ups!
This second to last gif was the moment that spawned a world
of controversy when this episode first aired. There were many people who initially
found it hard to believe that Victor could take a situation involving Yuuri
this seriously, but now that we’ve learned so much more about him, we can look
at this scene a lot more critically. The thing that stands out to me the most
is Victor’s honesty. Yuuri confides
to Victor, through his actions more than his words, that he’s anxious but is
swallowing down that emotion for the sake of showing Victor that he is all that Victor has seen in him. That
he can perform up to Victor’s
standards. And Victor takes this seriously and honestly. Victor does care about Yuuri, on every level
that this question could imply. Yuuri wasn’t looking for a response when he
admitted his worries to Victor through seeking out a comfort hug but he got one
anyway. Victor reassured Yuuri on a deeper level than just “I’m looking forward
to your skating”. He was assured that Victor is there for more than that, as
well as for more than flirting, but for Yuuri
as an entire individual. And Victor wants nothing more in this moment than to
see Yuuri succeed. Victor does still want to stay in Japan, and he lets Yuuri
know this through the exact words he uses – a direct response to Yuuri’s wish for
if he wins, to continue eating katsudon with Victor. As tough as Victor has had
it since he got to Japan, he still doesn’t want to leave. And I think this is
exactly what Yuuri needed in that moment; honesty, and the reassurance that his
feelings were reciprocated.
This last gif is one of the first real glimpses we get of Victor the Coach. Even at this early
point, we can attribute his pat on the back then instant critique way of
greeting Yuuri as he came off the ice as an emulation of the coaching style
that he has had used with himself for years. Victor would have definitely seen how other coach and skater pairs
interacted, but the only real long-lasting experience he’s had with a coach has
been with Yakov. We know from watching the show that Victor’s coaching style
evolves (and quite rapidly) to suit Yuuri’s needs but it’s fascinating to see
where he begins, and how confused he is when it very obviously doesn’t work with his student.
ended up becoming a lot longer than I initially planned but it turns out I had
a lot of thoughts, especially concerning Victor’s portrayal and interpretations
of Eros and Agape. If you got this far then I hope you enjoyed and if the wall
of text was too much then I still hope you liked the gifset regardless! Thanks
for reading! :)
you're the first person to talk about how disgusting deenerys is to the slaves and freedmen. can you make like a comprehensive post about it, please? i'm rereading the books and so i don't remember well.
I don’t at all remember exactly all I have ever said on this site, but I don’t remember ever using the work ‘disgusting’, if I did, I want to take it back right now. Slavers and slavery is disgusting. The way Daenerys tried to liberate slaves wasn’t disgusting, it was just stupid and wrong with disastrous consequences… And delusional, ignorant and hypocritical.
Trust me though, I am by far not the only one, and most certainly not the first to declare Dany’s Mereen campaign all I said above and more. Loads and loads of people have criticized it and named it for what it is.
I’m not gonna make a comprehensive post aka meta, because I literally do not even have the time to update the last two chapters of my fic (sorry bout that). I’m crazy busy and I lack both the time and energy necessary to look up book quotes and everything.
I’ll give you a from the top of my head list, though, which is gonna me crazy long and detailed still. Hope that’s sufficient to give you an idea:
- It’s lovely that she wanted to free slaves, but the reasoning sucks. She is perfectly fine with Drogo collecting them to afford the ships she needs, nor does she actually ever liberate Mirri Maz Duur and the other women, she merely stops the raping. In the first two books she not once mentioned because disgusted by slavery. When she goes to Yunkai, planning on buying the Unsullied, there’s not a vessel of her brain that protests against this plan because she’s so anti slavery. The truth is that Daenerys ‘liberates’ the Unsullied because she can’t afford them. She was planning on buying them. The Human Rights Declaration 1948 part of my brain knows this makes her guilty of slavery. Her anti-slavery campaign starts cause she’s broke, which is the worst of reasonings… despite all the claps she receives for being so kind-hearted.
- The way she liberates them is stupid. She makes very different kind of mistakes in Yunkai, Mereen and Astapor, which is kinda amazing in a way, because all three cities are completely in ruins after she interfered, one more so than the other, but still. We can conclude she learns nothing as she goes, cause she keeps screwing up. Astapor may or may not be her greatest monstrosity of all. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Yunkai turning her back on her and becoming her 1# enemy was as predictable as anything (really, Dany? leaving the government and military fully intact? So odd, that they eventually rebel) and Mereen was, if anything, the prove we didn’t need to know Daenerys is a shit ruler. Dany and her anti-slavery campaigns indirectly killed many many people and brought prosperous cities to total ruin.
- Just adding this: from a superficial moral pov liberating slaves is a really really good thing, but you can’t just say ‘and now you are all free’. Very little has changed in the actual lives of these people Dany ‘freed’, which only shows how little Dany-I-know-what-it-is-like-to-be-bought-and-sold-Targaryen understands of slavery. She delcares them free and believes the issues are gone, but that’s of course not at all how it works. Being a slave doesn’t just mean you’re the property of someone else. You can’t take slavery out of society by just banning it. Slavery is part of Essosi culture, it goes very very deep. She underestimates that, because, despite her own believes, she knows nothing of what it’s like to be bought and sold. She was Drogo’s exotic trophy wife, she became his queen for crying out loud, gained power, independence and was freed of Viserys. She compares that to being the absolute scum of society? Nah. Not impressed.
- Let’s be real, Dany’s real, main and true goal is the Iron Throne. She’s not planning on staying, she’s in no way planning on dedicating her life to it. Odd right? To think freeing a society is something that doesn’t have to be someone’s life’s work. Liberating slaves, their freedom, is a stop along the way to her. She takes it so seriously that she didn’t even come up with a long term plan. She’s using this as a way to ‘learn’ how to rule. Think of that… liberating thousands and thousands of people is not something she sees as her life’s goal, it’s just a learning process to Daenerys before she goes for the real price.
- Daenerys doesn’t pay the unsullied. Where were they supposed to go after she ‘liberated’ them? They were eunuchs who killed infants babies as part of their training, an inhumane training, with no family, no loved ones, no nothing. They had nowhere else to go but to follow their blonde princess. It looks like they choose her because she’s their mother Theresa, but honestly, it was the only option for them… And she doesn’t pay them. They’re slaves who’re ‘allowed’ to leave whenever they want. Ha. What exactly has changed for them, I ask?
- Daenerys uses unpaid labor for public work projects in Mereen, something with beans it was, I think. *cough* slavery *cough*.
- Daenerys allows freed slaves to sell themselves back into slavery because the ‘freedom’ she offered them is worse. She also keeps part of the bargain. Ha.
- She crucifies over a hundred people who may or may not be guilty of any crime, doesn’t care to check their guilt. It disgusts me how people shrug this off with ‘they were slavers’. I personally don’y believe in fighting cruelty with cruelty, especially not when that cruelty comes from anger about a certain thing that the executed may or may not have been guilty off. And she allows them to choose themselves who among them gets killed. That’s one way not to get the guilty ones punished.
- I can come up with a million things of what she does wrong in Mereen, really. She’s too cruel when she needs to be soft, and too naive when she should be wary. One example that I’ve always ‘loved’ because it’s so ironic, is when a rich woman comes to her, asking for help. The woman has lost her son and husband during the sack and fled her house to hide with family. When the woman returned to her house, she found it taken over by prostitutes, who were all wearing her jewelry and dresses. The woman pleads for Daenerys to help her get her home back. Dany’s judgement? The woman gave up her rights to her home the moment she fled… can you feel it? Remember who else fled her home and now wants it back? Exactly. Oh George.. the irony.
- Daenerys uses torture. People always use that example of the minors, and of course this was especially horrifying, but no one can deny she’s guilty of systemic torture
- Daenerys believes her way of living is better than that of the Mereneese. She’s right kind of, about slavery and all, but not everything about the Mereneese culture is curel and savage. She complains about the fighting pits, she complains about people eating dogs, she complains about the way people dress… oh right, she actually has teenage boys murdered solely because of their choice of dress.
- While Mereen starves and bleeds and suffers and nothing of Astapor remains except ‘Hell on earth’- Quintyn Martell, she sits in the tip of her fancy Pyramid, eating sweet fruit and drinking wine, looking down on her ‘free’ subjects, complaining about her many burdens as self-declared queen, dreaming about when to find a moment alone with her dear dear handsome Daario- who’s, obviously to everyone but Daenerys, using her. I can’t.
- Have I mentioned she doesn’t care about Mereneese culture? She doesn’t put much time into learning about it, and all that she learns she waves away and deems inferior to her own.
Oh RIGHT! She’s just a girls… she’s just learning! She’s trying! She wants to be good, she wants to do the right thing, she… means well.
Do thousands of people have to die cause she means well? Me don’t think so. Kinda odd, isn’t it, that sacrifices like that must be made to make someone suitable to rule, when about every character in ASOIAF is more suitable to rule. Why does Daenerys gets to make these sacrifices? Cause she’s her mad daddy’s daughter? She’s not even the actual rightful ruler. In the books there’s Aegon, who’s going to turn Daenerys in a real usurper (the one she learned to hate all her life) and in the show there’s Jon. She’s not even the rightful ruler. She’s just a girl with too much power. That said, after all the experience she’s had and all the learning moments that have come her way, she’s learned fairly little. She continues to be delusional and ignorant and constantly makes mistakes she’s made before.
To quote my favorite quoran: Dany ostensibly means well, yet destroys about everything she touches, cities, people and complete societies… yet people want her to be queen of Westeros? I think they have suffered enough.
That’s all I can come up with without picking up the books. Hope you kinda understand my pov better now. If you don’t, that’s fine. Most Daenerys stans can’t be turned away from the dark side anymore, not after all that. What I mean is… if you can still support Daenerys and believe she should rule the world after all the crap she’s done… well, there’s nothing she can do to change your mind.