Yuri was Victor’s last hope
When I first watched the episode, I never quite understood what prompted Victor to hug Yuri after announcing his return to skating.
It felt like it had come out of no where, but when I rewatched the scene, I began to form a theory.
We know that Victor is unhappy about Yuuri retiring, but they had agreed to form their own separate decisions after the GPF. Victor decided to return to skating professionally but when he told Yuuri, he didn’t look excited or particularly happy at the prospect.
Maybe he was hoping that being a part of the competition would entice Yuuri to not retire, but that plan didn’t seem to work so he decided to go on his next plan. Yuuri wanted to retire after winning gold, so who is Yuuri’s biggest competition?
Time to light a fire in Yuri.
Victor didn’t have to announce his return to Yakov right before Yuri’s FS. He could have waited after, especially since they need to be ready to head into the rink, but Victor intercepted them specifically so that Yuri would hear the news too.
Yakov is of course surprised but Yuri’s reaction?
He honestly doesn’t give a fuck about Victor returning. Yuuri is the one he’s interested in, the one he’s been interested in the entire series (which delves a little into a slightly different meta so I’ll leave that alone) so when he hears the news, he’s floored.
I feel like Victor’s reaction to Yuri’s expression is really telling in this situation. Notice how the lighting suddenly darkened just for this shot of his face and how his hair is covering his eyes, something that many people have pointed to indicate when Victor is guarded or hiding something.
That’s the look of a man who laid a trap and Yuri fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
Otabek’s monologue is great (which is kind of amazing since he was only introduced two episodes ago?? ) and it goes hand in hand with this scene. Victor wants Yuuri to keep skating, to keep going. Yuri competing his heart out and keeping Yuuri from winning first place is the VIctor’s last hope of keeping Yuuri on the ice.
That is to say, I don’t think Victor really wanted Yuuri to lose, but there might have been a part of him that hoped that if Yuuri didn’t win gold, maybe he wouldn’t retire.
tl:dr Victor hugging Yuri is him placing his trust on his successor to win and keep Yuuri from gold and retirement.