LET’S CALM DOWN
Okay… Let’s calm down for a moment and analize what’s happened…
First of all, sorry about my English. It’s not my mother tongue, so please bear with my grammar for a while.
Second, this is a LONG meta post about storytelling and how it affects the last episode’s plot. If you’re not so much into this topic… well, skip to the last part, I guess xD
I knew we were getting something negative this episode. If they wanted the show to have a happy ending, of course something bad was bound to happen. So just let me analyze the whole series, taking what each episode means for Yuuri’s emotional growth and their purpose for the entire story. And, before that, I also want to note which episodes belong to which act:
-ACT 1: Episodes 1, 2, 3.
-first half: Episodes 4, 5, 6
-second half: Episodes 7, 8, 9
-ACT 3: Episodes 10, 11, 12.
(Also, I don’t think the 12 episode format is random, it works because there are 3 episodes for each part… But that’s another story and shall be told another time).
ACT 1: THE THESIS. In which the Thesis is clearly “Yuuri doesn’t believe so much in himself, so he gets anxious everytime his future depends on his own skills”. It ends in episode 3 because he manages to defeat Yurio and keep Viktor by his side.
ACT 2: THE ANTITHESIS.
FIRST HALF: As opposed to the Thesis, the Antithesis this time revolves around Yuuri realizing he’s never fought alone and that people love him. By comming to terms with this, he’s improving quite a lot more than if he just kept “fighting alone”.
SECOND HALF: His Love takes a new form, greater and more beautiful than ever, and it takes him even further… or not?
ACT 3: THE SYNTHESIS. After some “fiasco” at the end of the Antithesis, Yuuri has to figure out how to merge both worlds (I fight alone - I have people and Viktor by my side) so that he can reach his true Essence.
So, we see the story is
about Yuuri growing more confident in himself. I believe that other characters are mirroring this idea (I’m specially thinking about JJ, the most confident skater in the rink, and how being over-confident can prove you wrong). But Yuuri’s path isn’t precisely a cakewalk, and some crisis are bound to arise, if only to make him stronger.
Let’s analyze every episode and its mood (believe me, this gets somewhere):
EPISODE 1: The overall mood is a little bit depressing, but not too much, since it’s only the start. They introduce the characters and their motivations in life, specially Yuuri’s. The main character isn’t at a complete loss here, there’s some spark of hope (he still wants to skate and he’s trying to figure out what motivated him in the first place).
EPISODE 2: The mood is hopefull but a little bit tense. Yuuri’s giving all he’s got to be fit enough to train with Viktor, but Yurio appears and threatens this hope.
EPISODE 3: The mood is tense but at the end happy. Yuuri and Yurio are fighting for Viktor’s commitment, and Yuuri almost falls back to the state he was at in Episode 1 (thinking he can’t do it, feeling too much pressure and almost having a pannic attack), but this time Viktor is there to watch and support him. He’s not alone anymore, and thus he succeeds. (He’s past the Old World’s Threshold)
EPISODE 4: The mood is hopeful and cheerful, but a bit confused. After defeating Yurio and having all of Viktor’s attention, Yuuri finds himself a bit lost (he’s entered the New World and it’s still too different, so he doesn’t know how to face it). Viktor and Yuuri talk it through and Yuuri comes to terms with what was holding him back in the Thesis (the pressure of disappointing and facing it all alone). Viktor and his family are there now to support him.
-I also want to point out how emotionally intelligent Viktor is for giving Yuuri the Eros routine (AHEM IT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE BANQUET AHEM) and Yurio the Agape routine. It’s what both of them needed. Yurio loves people, but not in an inconditional way, maybe because he was hurt before and doesn’t trust anyone anymore, but that won’t make him happy. Yuuri, on the other hand, is just too full of unconditional love for everyone else, always thinking first of ohters instead of himself, but that isn’t healthy. He has to be a little bit more selfish, demand a little bit more and believe he has what’s necessary to make himself worthy. Eros is what Yuuri needed in an emotional way. DESPERATELY. And Viktor saw right through him.
EPISODE 5: The mood is hopeful and a little bit tense. Yuuri is competing with this new found Love and proving he’s worth Viktor’s commitment. We can see for the first time Yuuri’s FS program, which shows the main theme for the whole story (Yuuri’s growth thanks to Love), because now he’s ready to face it and go after it.
-An interesting bit about this episode which foreshadows JJ’s fiasco in episode 11 is when Viktor scolds Yuuri for being too confident and self-centered as to not cheer Minami-kun up. Be more Eros, but don’t be too full of it. Bravo, Viktor. You’re doing something great here.
EPISODE 6: The mood is intense, but determined. Yuuri takes all he’s learned, finds determination in his greed for Viktor’s attention (Eros all around) and ends up first. THIS IS THE MIDPOINT OF THE STORY because
it’s episode 6 of 12 duh he’s -apparently- on the opposite side of where he started (”I fight alone but can’t do what I want”). Still, he’s relying too much on other’s support (Viktor’s, mainly) and not so much in himself, so this apparently good feeling is deceiving. Blake Snyder, in his Save the Cat!, states that if the Midpoint is positive, something negative has to happen later (and vice versa), and it explains Episode 9.
EPISODE 7: The mood is quite tense, but at the end it’s greatly joyfull (
AND BEAUTIFUL DEAR GOD). Yuuri’s reached what he was looking for, but what now?? For him, the pressure is greater than ever, because he’s reached success once AND because Viktor’s depends on him (that’s what happens when you rely too much on others, I guess). Viktor doesn’t know how to support him this time and they end up having The Fight (Yuuri, you poor thing, I feel you), but Yuuri figures out how to get over it. This makes Viktor prouder of him than ever, not only because Yuuri has stated his love for him but because he’s even stronger than everyone thought. It’s a glimpse of Yuuri’s True Essence. HE can support Viktor AND HIMSELF when the need arises, even if he’s at a loss. Thus The Kiss:
(Sorry, I couldn’t help it)
EPISODE 8: The mood is quite positive. Because of what’s happened in Episode 7, Yuuri is confident enough to perform greatly and be proud of his work (and relationship with Viktor). That’s what really made me think Episode 9 would be salty…
EPISODE 9: The mood is quite depressing. He’s holding on Viktor for dear life, knowing that he can support him emotionally, but at the end he sees it doesn’t completely work. He’s relying too much on other people, so when Viktor isn’t there he gets afraid of losing him (”He’s going to return to Russia soon”) and the idea of being alone again scares him to the point of not being able to focus. He’s become too dependant for his own good, and even if it has given him strength in the past, it’s not the right choice anymore. He barely makes it into the Finals, so it counts as a crisis. This point of the story stands for what Blake Snyder calls “Whiff of Death”, or what the Tower Arcana means in the Fool’s Journey in Tarot. Before we get into Act 3, there must be something going wrong for the main character to realize they’re deviating from the path that leads to their True Essence. Yuuri decides to end, once and for all, his fear of being alone again and asks Viktor to be by his side until he retires (
WELL DONE MY SON).
EPISODE 10 (
AKA the most beautiful episode my eyes have ever seen): The mood is calm and hopeful af. But, I have to say, it’s not chronologically in order (that would be some flashbacks from Episode 11). It’s the calm before the storm (clearly), and gives us a hint of hope (their relationship is so stable they even get engaged). Yuuri is not afraid of losing Viktor anymore. Also, the ending tells us A LOT about Yuuri’s True Essence (confident yet kind, commited yet playful).
EPISODE 11: The mood is
wrong tense and scaring. Like, the scariest episode of the whole series. Yuuri realizes he’s been only running away from the real problem: by relying too much on Viktor he will never be able to do things on his own. He’s not afraid of his decissions anymore (Viktor says so himself), he’s not afraid of being alone (he’s pretty much ENGAGED, ffs), so… what’s holding him back??? Viktor. As weird as it may sound, it’s true. Well, it’s not Viktor HIMSELF, but what Viktor represents to Yuuri: the Antithesis. The success of his performance relies too much on his relationship with Viktor (thus kissing the rings, and instead of following his fiancé’s advice (enjoying himself while skating) he takes the program as something to secure his relationship and vice versa. But that’s not what it should be about. His performance should be only for himself (Viktor’s words meant this, I think. He was trying to say “I’m not going anywhere, you don’t have to do it for me”, but Yuuri doesn’t get it right). —HENCE YUURI’S LAST WORDS AT THE END OF THE EPISODE— I believe he wasn’t talking about his romantic relationship with Viktor but his professional relationship. They should end this coach-trainee relationship, they don’t need it anymore. It may end up either both of them going solo again or starting a career in pair skating, but they’ll definitely be together. Personally, I think Viktor’s been thinking about pair skating for a while now. Why do I say this? Well… Reason number 1:
There’s something going on in that funny old head of his.He’s got something up his sleeve.
Reason number 2:
The last track of the entire series is Hanarezu ni soba ni ite (”Stay close to me”, AKA Viktor’s song) but in a duet form this time. I’m positive we’ll get some kind of pair skating, even if it’s in an intimate context.
Let’s sum it up a little here. The mood goes like this throughout the series:
EP 1: a little bit depressing
EP 2: hopefull but a little bit tense
EP 3: tense but at the end happy
EP 4: hopeful and cheerful, but a bit confused
EP 5: hopeful and a little bit tense
EP 6: intense, but determined.
EP 7: tense, but at the end it’s greatly joyfull
EP 8: quite positive
EP 9: quite depressing
EP 10: calm and hopeful af
EP 11: tense and scaring
EP 12: I’m guessing later…
Do we see a pattern here? Yes, we do. The first two parts (Act 1 and first half of Act 2), are calmer and quieter, and have bits of both salt and sweet. When we get to the second half of Act 2, however, things get heated up, and both the good moments and the bad ones are far more intense. At the last part we’ve been given
SOMETHING PRECIOUS OMG one of (if not) the most beautiful scenes in the entire series, along with the scariest moment. Things are exponentially more intense than at the beginning, as it should be if the authors are great storytellers (which they are, mind you). They have to play with the espectator’s emotions, guiding them through an emotional rollercoaster so that it MEANS something to them. If we knew Yuuri would get everything right, there would be no point in telling his story. But the GREAT point here is that we never know if he’s going to do ir right or not. That’s what makes us relate to him. That’s why we want him to actually succeed.
So, what I’m trying to say is, the authors are playing with us. They’re making us nervous and insecure about Yuuri’s future because it will mean A HELLA LOT MORE when he wins (or when he gets a happy ending, anyway). If they showed us in Episode 11 that Yuuri’s getting it all perfectly, we wouldn’t be this concerned about his happiness. They always show the opposite of the final status.
And JJ is a perfect example. I was discussing episode 8 with a friend and we were both like “Yeah, I kind of hate JJ” (I even called it when I said Viktor was repelled by the poor guy) when suddenly it struck me: the authors are making us HATE JJ because he’s the total opposite of Yuuri. Episode 10 clearly stated everyone hated him within the universe in the series. While the initial Yuuri wasn’t in a healthy mind state because he was too extremely selfless, the initial JJ was at the other extreme of the rope (too selfish and egocentric). The difference between them is that Yuuri knows better now and has been actively trying to change, while JJ has remained the same throughout the series. This is a way storytellers tell their audience “See that? It’s not good. You have to find balance in your life. If you don’t try, you’ll end up burning yourselves”.
I do believe we’ll get a happy ending. I’m POSITIVE. Not because I believe in Kubo-sensei (
which I do) or something like that. It’s all about storytelling.
So let’s all calm down and remember how effin’ happy they where while dancing together at that banquet. That’s how it’s gonna end, babies.
(A sketchy fanart of that scene for some extra cheering up!)