Okay, let this be my last post commenting on YOI episode 12 because I just want to get these thoughts out of my mind already and move on to impatiently waiting for season 2 of my beloved Yuri on Ice.
I spent the past few days thinking about why so many people felt unsatisfied or even disappointed by episode 12 and I think I’ve reached a conclusion most of us can agree with: It didn’t deliver an emotional climax.
I don’t know if it tried to deliver one and failed or it just chose not to, hoping that the promise of season 2 would be enough, but the point is that there was none.
What do I mean by ‘emotional climax’? Like the kiss in episode 7, or the airport scene in episode 9, or the engagement and banquet in episode 10. Something that shocked and awed everyone at the same time, that amazing surprise, that big development that changed things and meant something but also that made us feel something. That positive punch in the gut.
And episode 12 just… had nothing like that.
I mean the pair skate was beautiful and I adored it and that last scene when Yuuri is running down the bridge in Saint Petersburg to meet Victor and Yurio was just as great and actually had me squealing quietly, but it wasn’t quite the level of what we’ve seen before.
And I can honestly understand why people feel unsatisfied. Because, in simple terms, we got the build-up but the pay-off never came. What I mean by this can be explained by what we’ve seen in episodes 6 to 10. 6 was a build-up to the developments we later see in 7, while 8 was a build-up to 9 and 10. Episodes 6 and 8 may have been less eventful in terms of developing Victor and Yuuri’s relationship, but in the end they were necessary and important for what happened in the following episodes. They weren’t all that satisfying on their own (this especially went for ep 8, I think) but paired with the events of the next episode, we all but forgot about that uneventfulness because it overall contributed to the amazing feeling we got once we hit that emotional climax (like the airport scene in ep 9 and the following engagement in ep 10).
Now, this is relevant to ep 12 in a few ways. Episode 11 certainly felt like build-up to something big, and that would make sense, I think we can agree here, we all felt like something big was coming in episode 12 (as is usually the case with finales). And by “something big” I don’t necessarily mean Yuuri winning gold or a wedding (though admittedly, many of us would have liked that). I think most of us though simply expected and were looking forward to Victor and Yuuri’s bedroom conversation, to them finally getting on the same page and understanding each others’ feelings. I think most us just wanted to hear Victor say that he wants to stay with Yuuri, even if he will no longer be his coach. I think we all wanted to hear that their private relationship is just as important as (if not more important than) their professional one and that just… never happened.
As of right now, Victor and Yuuri still don’t seem to be clear on what their relationship is and what they want from and for each other and we certainly haven’t seen them openly discuss it, despite the fact that ep 11 was building up to that and setting up that scene. So we basically got the build-up, but instead of the climax, the tension just sort of plateaued then began slowly falling.
I’m more than willing to attribute this to the fact that the ending was changed last-minute in order to accommodate for a second season, and perhaps the original ending did have an emotional climax to it, but this one just didn’t.
I mean, Yuuri’s flawless Free Skate had a climax of its own and I think it was great and important, but for example both Victor and Yuuri’s decisions to continue/return to skating were rather anticlimactic. They were relevant of course, but they sort of appeared and disappeared without really trying to move the viewers - they were mostly just plainly stated and the audience was left to somehow feel something from that.
At the same time though, I don’t think that episode 12 was bad or that making a second season is a bad idea. I’ve already said this the week before episode 12 was released but it was impossible to fit a satisfying conclusion into just 23 minutes. It just wasn’t physically doable. I’m sure the original ending tried to do it, but I doubt it would have succeeded either. It would probably also be unsatisfying in some way, but it wouldn’t even leave an option for a second season.
So overall, I’d say it was a good thing. Because a second season can give us character backstories (*cough* like for Victor and Yurio *cough*), and more character interactions, and more development, both in terms of characters and relationships, and an actual satisfying conclusion that wouldn’t feel rushed.
Victor will be able to return to his career, then properly retire when the time comes (rather than do so abruptly after taking a break), Yuuri will be able to get that gold medal he deserves (and we can explore his psychology deeper) and Yurio will (hopefully) get more screentime and we will be able to understand him and relate to him better (and he’ll have more screentime which is always a good thing for someone that was meant to be a main character and then sort of faded into the background).
So yeah, overall, the ending of the anime lacked an emotional climax, that positive punch in the gut that forced us to feel things, which left many of us feeling a bit empty and unsatisfied. But at the same time, I’m not upset with episode 12 at all because it’s a promise of getting to know these characters better and of a proper, wholesome conclusion - both of these being key in a character-driven story such as Yuri on Ice.