The Many Faces of Victor Nikiforov - Episode 7
Aaaaand it’s time for the episode you’ve all been waiting
for! Episode 7 is here and with it we get a massive amount of Victor character
development! This meta will probably have a large focus on that journey but
there’s definitely more to be found here than just comments on his coaching. Let’s just dive right in!
When I first saw the scene from this first gif, I was struck by how… not “Victor” it felt. Not because it was out of character – in fact, it’s more like Victor than the alternative – but because the fact that he stays in and sleeps to the last possible moment to avoid being social went so clearly against his cultivated extroverted public image. Victor plays himself off as being a lot more social than he actually is when in reality he enjoys his downtime and own space more than he openly lets on.
With this second gif, we get Victor and his forcefully cheerful smile, attempting to get Yuuri to listen to him and trying to cut off the crash and burn that it looks like he’s heading towards. Victor spends most of the episode doing this, but initially his methods are all smiles, comfort, and friendly suggestions for ways that Yuuri can help himself (even when he’s trying to be more forceful about it, like here).
But then the suggestions don’t seem to be working so he gets to thinking. What can he do to help Yuuri? We actually find him wondering this more than once in the space of this series, even as far as episode 11. Here, however, it’s a very immediate question. Yuuri is obviously spiralling, and fast. But Victor himself isn’t familiar with anxiety from a first person perspective. Everything he tries all have roots in things that have worked with Yuuri before – but now to no avail.
This fourth gif has always stood out to me, not because of the shot itself but because of the words that overlay it. Chris is mentioning how he never thought that Victor would leave the ice and find someone to protect. He, who has known Victor for roughly 10 years, has no idea why Victor made the choice he did. I don’t feel that this means that Victor’s actions are out of character for him, but more along the line that not even those closest to him know his true struggles and desires (thought this is in large part because Victor himself wasn’t entirely of what those were either). If Chris thinks it’s out of character for Victor to want to leave the ice then it’s clear that he didn’t realize how much Victor’s career was strangling him.
I chose this fifth gif for a couple of reasons. The first: I love his costume (and the Johnny Weir reference is on point). Secondly, I find it interesting that he takes gold at Euros during his Senior debut, which means he was really good for being only 17, but didn’t start his winning streak until he was 22. What this says to me is that there used to be a time when Victor had actual competition, people that could stand up to him. He’s not been the lone winner at the top during his entire career, just the latter portion of it.
I find this sixth scene particularly interesting because we never hear Victor yell. He’ll exclaim things out of excitement, sure, but never shout. At this point, he’s desperate enough to try anything at all, even if it means yelling to try and get through to Yuuri (since nothing else has seemed to work so far). I really do feel that Victor has tries everything he can think of to get Yuuri out of his own head and it’s not anyone’s fault that it just isn’t working (not even Yuuri’s own). But Victor isn’t about to give up on him.
Which leads us to the scene where everything comes to a head. Victor tries one last ditch attempt – raising the stakes for Yuuri’s performance in an attempt to imitate the risks that existed for the Onsen on Ice – and it all comes toppling down. I do actually believe that it was good that this scene happened, not just for character development and them learning about themselves/each other, but because it also finally let Yuuri release the stress he’s been carrying all day by yelling and crying it out. It’s also particularly interesting that Victor is so out of his depth the moment that tears are involved. Everything else so far he’s taken in stride, even when things weren’t working. Now though, he realizes just how out of his league he is in terms of knowing how to help Yuuri, and the apologetic walk featured in this gif exemplifies it perfectly.
For this seventh gif, I simply love how confused he is. He certainly understood the meaning behind the motion – that Yuuri forgives him – but he’s bewildered at the way Yuuri chose to send that message. Victor really does love surprises, and I feel that even the small gestures like this are part of why Yuuri attracts him so much. He can’t predict what form things will take with him because everything seems to differ from the norm. And little does he know that he’s about to get an even bigger surprise.
I’m particularly fond of this second last gif, and even more so with the updated version. You can see how amazed he is painted clearly on his face (and this is before the quad Flip too!). I wonder what Victor’s expectations were for this performance considering how Yuuri has been all day – did Victor think Yuuri would flop? Somehow scrape his way back into a decent standing? Rise to the challenge and blow them all away? As it turns out, we get the last, and we can at least say that, with the faces Victor makes, this wasn’t what he had expected would happen.
In this last gif – the moment before Victor jumps Yuuri with the biggest surprise yet (both to us as well as them) – I love how simple his expression is. The expression here just looks like a mix of pride and adoration. That Victor looks at Yuuri with this much love is what really tips us off that something big and important is about to happen, even before the sound is cut and we get the Yuuri POV camera panning to the ceiling. Yuuri wondered if Victor was angry or crying but the answer was actually neither. He was certainly overwhelmed, but then he channeled all of that into returning the favour to Yuuri with something meant to match his own surprise – a kiss on international TV in return for a quad Flip.
There’s certainly a lot to unpack in this episode and I know for sure that even after all we went through, there’s still tons more. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed these small bite sized bits of meta! Victor’s journey through this episode is definitely one of my favourites – even if you ignore the amazing ending of it – simply because of how he tries everything he can think of to calm Yuuri down. That alone says a lot about him and his feelings for Yuuri.
Bonus because I can’t get over how cute his moment of realization is: