Episode 9′s Final Scene, An Analysis of the Images
A lot of people have posted on the words said in the last one minute and fifteen seconds of episode 9, and for good reason. But I want to take a look through the lens of the emotions displayed by the characters in the images we’re shown. Partly because the animation in this entire show is top notch, and the way the animators convey what their characters feel is just so damn human that I want to take a second to applaud it. But it’s mostly because what struck me most in this scene is the facial expressions of the characters and how raw this scene feels. It doesn’t need any words at all, because the images do such a good job conveying what is going on, and what the characters are feeling, and their relationship to each other. The whole show is like this, but this scene struck me in particular. Because we’ve been seeing Viktor displaying a lot more real, deep emotions recently (the carpark scene, the run and kiss, his dilemma over leaving Yuri). But this scene takes the whole fucking cake.
Both of them in this scene are so full of emotion and it’s reflected so well in their actions and their expressions.
Firstly, Viktor comes alone to the airport to pick Yuri up. Fukuoka Airport is about an hour fifteen by car, and an hour forty by train from the town of Karatsu that Hasetsu is based on so we know it isn’t exactly a short trip. And when Yuri came home in March for the first time in 5 years no one came to Fukuoka to pick him up, Minako meets him at the train station in Hasetsu but he makes it that far by himself. Viktor and Yuri haven’t seen each other for maybe 48 hours by this point. But Viktor still makes the extra trip, alone, to see Yuri a few hours faster than he would waiting for Yuri at the train station in Hasetsu. And that alone says a lot.
But that’s not all, because Viktor looks like shit.
His hair is disheveled, and his eyes have bags, he looks kind of listless sitting there waiting for Yuri to show up. Nothing like the glowing, radiant star we’ve seen thus far. He has clearly not been doing well at all, the last 48 hours have been rough ones. And a lot of that is probably the stress of coming so close to losing his life-long companion, Makkachin. But Makkachin is fine, as we see, and is well enough to join Viktor on his trip to pick Yuri up so he has probably been out of the woods for a while. And yet Viktor still looks rough. But I’ll get back to this later.
Viktor’s immediate reaction to seeing Yuri is to jump up and run. He doesn’t wait to see if Yuri is running to him first, he just takes off for the door to get to Yuri as fast as he can. There are parallels to Episode 7, here. But the tone of the gesture this episode is much different. In Episode 7, Viktor could barely contain himself he was so proud, and excited, and all he wanted to do was surprise Yuri more than he surprised Viktor. That is definitely not the case here. Viktor is upset, not excited.
Yuri’s reaction to seeing Viktor, though, is shock.
Yuri probably figured he would be on his own until he got to Hasetsu like usual. He wasn’t expecting anyone to be there waiting for him, much less Viktor and Makkachin. Yuri wasn’t looking around expectantly for Viktor as he walked out of the terminal, he wasn’t looking for anyone. He was walking looking down thinking about what he was going to say to Viktor until Makkachin’s barking got his attention. That’s when he notices Viktor is sitting there waiting for him and he, too, takes off running for the door. There is no hesitation in his response, either. And the look of desperation on his face is so intense.
And the same look of desperation is mirrored on Viktor’s face as they run.
This is the single most intense moment of the series so far, for me, as far as the emotions shared between these two go. The Episode 7 kiss ain’t got nothing on this sequence of Yuri and Viktor running for each other, desperate to reach each other even five seconds faster. Because we know how much Yuri missed Viktor, he told us himself basically the entire episode just how much Viktor being gone affected him. But we didn’t have any idea about how much Viktor missed Yuri, or how it affected him, until right fucking here. And he looks just as desperate to reach Yuri as Yuri looks to reach him.
They’re looking at each other the entire way, too. Neither breaks eye-contact until they’re in each other’s arms.
Yuri’s face as he runs to Viktor’s arms just says “are you really here right now?” because he wasn’t expecting this, but damn if he isn’t going to throw himself at Viktor as fast as he can because the only thing he’s needed since he narrowly skated into the GPF was a hug from his coach, and friend, and the man who taught him what love is.
And then we get the most emotional expression we have seen from Viktor yet. I’ve made a lot of points in prior posts about how Viktor has spent years emotionally distancing himself from everyone around him, and how in earlier episodes we don’t get a lot of genuine emotion from him, but as the series has progressed we’ve gotten more and more. And all that character growth culminates in this incredibly emotional moment where they are so desperate to get to one another and Viktor looks so upset, and sorry, and like he needs this hug just as much as Yuri does.
This is so reminiscent of Episode 5 where Viktor holds his arms out for a bleeding Yuri, but the tone is so, so different here. In Episode 5, it was because he was proud of Yuri. Yuri had done well, it was in celebration. Here, it is the opposite. They were separated, and Yuri did okay, but he barely skated through. He didn’t even make the podium. He is disappointed, and hurting, and he fucking missed Viktor like hell. But this hug is for comfort as much as it is an apology for Viktor leaving Yuri to fight alone when Yuri needed him most.
Viktor’s eyes are closed as he embraces Yuri, and this is the last clear shot we have of Viktor’s expression for a few moments. But the amount of emotion on display here is second only to maybe the carpark scene. He is sorry for leaving, and angry with himself for letting this happen, and concerned about Yuri’s mental state, and relieved to have him back in his arms all at the same damn time, and it’s probably the most complex emotion we’ve gotten from him in the series so far.
This hug is so emotionally charged I get choked up every time I watch it. He is so relieved to have Yuri back in his arms, and he looks like he never wants to let him go again. Because they’re both at really low points, here. Yuri did not perform as well as they both know he can, and Yuri almost missed the GPF - the goal they’ve been working towards together, that Viktor promised he’d help Yuri win - all because Viktor wasn’t there with him. And Viktor knows that, he’s probably been thinking about it for most of the past twenty-four hours.
On the other hand, Yuri looks nervous on top of being upset.
Because he has built it up in his head that he’ll have to let Viktor go eventually (a lot of people have posted other posts expressing exactly what I’m thinking on this, so I won’t rehash here) but Yuri has decided that after the end of this season he’ll be retiring and he’s about to ask Viktor a very important question, so he’s nervous, but also a little sad. Because he’s about to ask Viktor to stay with him for now, all the while thinking he’ll have to give Viktor up in the end. His eyes are angled away, he’s upset. Unlike Viktor, who just looks relieved to finally be back with Yuri, even if he is upset with himself for leaving in the first place.
And then Yuri pushes Viktor away to ask him to stay, and we don’t really get to see Viktor’s face for the majority of this sequence, it’s blocked by Yuri’s arms and the camera angle throughout. But we do get a glimpse of Viktor in the reflection of Yuri’s glasses as Yuri pushes his away:
And it’s dark, and blurry, but damn if he doesn’t look hurt, and confused. His eyebrows are raised, his eyes wide, his lips turned down in a frown. Like, “why are you pushing me away right now? I just got you back in my arms, don’t push me away right now.”
Maybe he thought Yuri was going to tell him he wanted a new coach, because we know Viktor isn’t all that confident in his abilities as coach and Yuri did just flub a really important skate because Viktor left him alone (no matter if Yuri himself demanded that Viktor go back). He has probably been doubting his abilities as coach for the past 48 hours, which explains why he looks so haggard. And why his first words to Yuri are about how he has been thinking about what he can do as Yuri’s coach going forward. He’s been thinking about what he lacks as a coach, and what is best for Yuri, and his failures. But instead of blaming Viktor (which he would never do), Yuri asks him to stay with him until he retires.
Which Viktor obviously wasn’t expecting. Because though we don’t get his full reaction, we do see the bottom half of his face:
And that looks like surprise, to me. His mouth is hanging open, he looks caught off guard. But he quickly recovers, and kisses Yuri’s hand. And he looks damn relieved. Like, he thought he was going to have to give Yuri up to a real coach before Yuri asks him to stay.
And then THIS face. The “of course, you idiot. Like I could consider going anywhere” face!
Which Yuri also wasn’t expecting. Because he doesn’t believe he can hold onto Viktor forever.
But the response makes him happy. And this fucking endearing smile. Just, the amount of love reflected in this one screen cap:
And Yuri steps forward back into Viktor’s arms. His expression is different this time, and he just looks content. He looks relieved. Viktor is going to stay with him, for now. They’ll go to the Grand Prix Final together, and he can hang onto Viktor a little longer.
Except Viktor then tells Yuri that he never wants to leave him, in so many words. Because that is what Viktor is implying. On first watch, I got scared. Because of the word choice used it kind of sounds like Viktor might be acknowledging that he’ll have to leave eventually, which is why he wishes that Yuri never has to retire. But on rewatch three of this scene, I ignored the subs and just focused to Viktor’s tone of voice. And he doesn’t sound sad, or morose. It doesn’t sound like a “we don’t have nearly enough time” it sounds like a fucking promise. Like “I have no where else I’d rather be than with you.”
And Yuri realizes that Viktor doesn’t want to leave him, just as much as he doesn’t want Viktor to leave. Maybe more. And he cries. And it’s different from episode one, where he’s crying alone in the bathroom because he lost, and episode seven where he is having a meltdown in the carpark because Viktor just tried to shatter his glass heart in an horrendously unadvised move.
These are tears of relief. Because maybe he won’t have to give up Viktor, after all.