Haymitch saw Effie’s shoulders slouching a
little in the corner of his eyes but he didn’t stop glaring at Katniss. In the
armchair, Peeta folded his arms over his chest and looked down. The stylists
were obviously uncomfortable and a tensed silence fell on the living-room’s
This Tour was one the most stressing experience
of his life and he had faced a Quarter
Quell. They had to cut it, there
was no alternative. It wasn’t just
about Panem and ideas of revolution. Haymitch had more pressing concerns: like
making sure they didn’t all end up like Seneca Crane.
And Katniss wasn’t playing her part well
enough. That was as simple as that. She might not like to hear it but someone had to say it and since Cinna coddled
her and Effie’s word wasn’t good enough for the kid…
The Major Misunderstanding Between Yuri and Viktor
I’m just going to get this one out of the way now: Viktor and Yuri are NOT going to break up and no one can convince me otherwise!
Okay, with that out of the way… This show has been setting up a major misunderstanding since episode one.
Yuri doesn’t think he can hold onto Viktor, and Viktor has no intention of ever leaving Yuri’s side.
Yuri and Viktor are a fantastically portrayed couple: They respect each other, and support each other, and sometimes it feels they don’t even need words to understand each other. Even when they fight they use good communication, and are considerate of the other’s feelings. But we already had one major misunderstanding between them revealed last episode: That Viktor fell in love with Yuri first, Yuri was the one who asked Viktor to come to Japan and be his coach in the first place, that Yuri didn’t remember any of it, and Viktor didn’t know Yuri didn’t remember any of it.
It’s already been established that despite how wonderful their relationship is, there is a significant lack of proper communication on some very important fronts:
When Yuri actually plans to retire.
Whether or not Viktor actually wants to return to skating in the first place.
Yuri has already made his decision regarding the first point as of episode 9, and has not informed Viktor yet.
And I’m convinced Viktor has known the answer to the second point since episode 9 as well, but has yet to actually voice it to anyone.
These conversations have been avoided up till now, but they have to happen eventually. They can’t be avoided forever. And I think this is what Yuri’s line sets up at the end of episode 11: The resolution of this huge misunderstanding that has been building since episode one.
Viktor has no intention to leave Yuri’s side. No matter if Yuri retires or not.
With the development we’ve had in their relationship since episode 7, especially with the airport scene in episode 9 and the ring exchange in episode 10, it’s become obvious that Viktor has no intentions of leaving Yuri. Ever. Yuri is home to him now. In episode 4, he becomes nostalgic for the beach in the only city he’d ever called home, St Petersburg. But in episode 10 it’s Hasetsu’s beach that he’s reminded of.
Viktor no longer identifies home with Russia. Hatsetsu with Yuri is home for him, now. It’s only been 8 months, but Viktor has finally found a place that he belongs, where he is accepted as the man he is and not the man people expect him to be, a place that he feels free. And that place is with Yuri. In episode 9, he was miserable just being apart from Yuri for 48 hours. And it seems to solidify for him that he doesn’t want to part from Yuri again, that home is with this Japanese ball-of-anxiety on skates.
So no matter what Yuri is about to say to him at the end of episode 11, there is no way I see Viktor letting him walk away for good. Viktor, and Yuri too, are in way too deep. Those rings symbolize something very profound and meaningful for them as evidenced by the attention they receive from the animators, and the kissing of the rings before Yuri’s SP. They’re both emotionally invested in whatever they have together, and I doubt Viktor is going to let Yuri be a martyr - if that is what Yuri is planning.
But Viktor still hasn’t told any of this to Yuri. We know this from his voice-overs, but none of this has been voiced aloud to any character on the show.
Yuri doesn’t think he can hold onto Viktor indefinitely.
Not once in this entire series has Viktor ever expressed any desire to leave Yuri or go back to skating. However, Yuri still feels like he’ll have to give Viktor up eventually
even when he is out to prove his love for Viktor to the world and even though he has expressly stated he wants to hold onto Viktor.
Yuri decided in episode 9 that he was going to retire after this GPF and:
But his train of thought is cut off by a flying kick from Yurio. We don’t get the end of this thought. And… what? The implication is “and he’ll leave Yuri to go back to Russia and competition”. Yuri has decided that no matter the outcome of this GPF he’s retiring after it’s over, and that Viktor will go back to Russia even though we have no indication from Viktor that this is actually something he wants. Even though he asks Viktor to coach him until his retirement Yuri has yet to tell Viktor his true intentions. Yuri has spent the better part of this season fighting to demonstrate his love for Viktor to the world, and has expressly said that he wants to hold on to Viktor. But he doesn’t think he can.
A repeated theme this series has been Yuri assuming that after the season is over, Viktor will go back to Russia and competing even though we have nothing from the man in question suggesting that is the case.
We know what Yuri thinks of the situation, but we only get hints of what Viktor thinks.
We never get to know what exactly Viktor was planning to say here. Only that he is pleasantly surprised when Yuri asks him to stay, and implies that he never wants to leave. So we can extrapolate from there what Viktor might have decided to retire as coach and stay by Yuri’s side as something more. But I don’t have much evidence for this, it’s pure conjecture.
Anyways, Yuri has convinced himself that Viktor wants to go back to skating, or at least that Viktor should go back to skating, once the GPF is over despite not ever having discussed this with Viktor himself.
Viktor actually doesn’t want to go back to competing.
Viktor Nikiforov is dead. He’s not coming back to competing. He’s discovered life, and love with Yuri in Japan, he has no reason to go back to competing.
Let’s discuss the part of episode 11 that I think demonstrates this: Viktor watching the competition from the stands.
First, there is Yurio’s performance which is introduced like this:
Russia’s “next generation”. He’s Viktor’s successor, and he’s doing a kickass job at it already. This scene: Yurio’s record breaking SP, Viktor watching from the stands,
Yakov seeing a young Viktor in Yurio
It’s set up as a “passing of the baton” moment, or at least that was the vibe I got from this scene. It shows that Viktor isn’t necessary anymore, he’s not missed as much. There are new, younger, talented skaters to take his place and carry the baton for Russia. Yurio’s got this. And I think it needs to be pointed out that this is reflected int he fact that the reporters aren’t flocking all over him this time around asking if he’ll be returning. People aren’t harassing him about coming back anymore. He’s able to slip away from the cameras to watch his successor skate without anyone noticing, even Yuri.
This scene of Viktor watching Yurio has a melancholic vibe. It feels like we’re watching an era end in real time. It’s like Viktor watching “the death of Viktor Nikiforov” play out before him on the ice. But after Yurio’s program finishes, and Yuri finds him in the stands, this rest of Viktor watching the competitors skate doesn’t strike me as one where Viktor is anxious to get back out onto the ice and reclaim his crown.
The announcers ask this question while we get to see the answer: How does Viktor Nikiforov feel about watching from the stands?
He’s smiling. He seems okay with it. He does’t seem anxious. He’s cheering on his old rivals, and looking like he’s enjoying being a spectator. I only took one screen shot for the sake of the length of this post, but this entire scene after watching Yurio’s performance, Viktor is smiling. They’re more muted than usual, like he’s watching something that makes him a little sad, but happy all the same. Like watching something you love grow, and evolve, and change from what you once knew, but for the better. The skating world doesn’t need him anymore, but he doesn’t look full of regret, or like he’s itching to get back out there into the spotlight. He looks content.
And this is probably why:
Viktor has found a new strength with Yuri in Japan. He has experienced a whole new world, full of new emotions, and life, and love, by becoming Yuri’s coach and cheering him on from the sidelines. He gets visibly excited watching Yuri,
he can’t contain himself and even jumps along with Yuri,
and gets upset along with Yuri when Yuri fails.
and this is his reaction to the prospect of seeing Yuri land a quad-flip in competition:
He feels an emotional connection when Yuri skates. He is invested in this performance, something he’s probably only felt for his own programs. This is something he’s never experienced before becoming Yuri’s coach.
This, for me, demonstrates that Viktor is content with staying on the sidelines and not competing. I don’t see this, as some have suggested, as evidence that Vitkor wants to be back out on the ice in Yuri’s place. I see this as Viktor getting so wrapped up in Yuri’s performance and excited he literally cannot contain himself. I do something similar when I watch sports, even if I don’t play the sport. I jump up and do the “force hand wave” trying to influence the direction of the ball. Viktor’s actions here, in my opinion, more closely resemble that. Like a dance mom doing the routine in front of the stage, not like a man who wants to get back into the game himself. He’s probably more excited watching Yuri than he ever was performing. Viktor described his career as a shackle around his neck. Competing, and skating, isn’t something he desires anymore. He’s been freed from his chains, from the high stress life of competing, and has found pure happiness in something new: coaching and being with Yuri.
This line from Lilia is pretty poignant, I think.
Yuri’s love is what sustains Viktor now, not his love of skating, or his fans, or surprising people. Yuri’s love has reinvigorated him. And he understands that. Especially after episode 9. He is shining brightly here coaching Yuri, as himself and not the idol. He is showing real, deep emotions and he looks so damn…happy.
Viktor Nikiforov the idol is dead, and that’s okay. Because Viktor the human being has found a new life to live, and a new love to sustain him, one where he’s not bound by the pressure to surprise the world each season, or be perfect. One with Yuri. And I can’t see him giving that up for anything.
Yuri spends most of episode 11 watching Viktor’s reactions and progressively growing more anxious by what he sees. I believe that this is because Yuri isn’t interpreting Viktor’s reactions correctly, as he is coming from a place where he assumes that he cannot hold onto Viktor forever. Instead of seeing Viktor as calm and content as well as solemn, he is seeing Viktor as only being contemplative, and regretful.
Like in episode 9, we don’t get the end to this thought. But Yuri looks upset. He’s probably interpreting Viktor’s reactions as evidence of Viktor wanting to go back skating and competing against the likes of Chris, and Yurio, when there is nothing there to suggest such a thing. Again, Viktor is smiling that soft smile. He doesn’t really look like he regrets his choices. Yuri is interpreting Viktor’s reactions incorrectly because Viktor hasn’t told Yuri he has no intention to leave. Viktor probably figures it’s so obvious he doesn’t need to. On multiple occasions he has implied he wants to stay with Yuri forever, and that he would marry Yuri. But Yuri still thinks he’s going to have to give Viktor up.
And Viktor doesn’t know that Yuri is planning to retire after the final. He probably thinks they’re going to finish out the season together, at least. That there might be another year, or two of Yuri competing and Viktor being his coach. He might suspect Yuri’s retirement could be sooner than later, but Yuri hasn’t told him his plans yet. So he doesn’t feel the need to be more explicit in his desire to stay for good.
But Yuri is still that little ball of anxiety, even if he is more confident in his choices on the ice he obviously isn’t when it comes to being able to keep Viktor. No matter how big he talked about how he was going to show the world only he knew Viktor’s love, or how he wanted to hold onto Viktor for good, he still doesn’t think he can. Like in episode 7, where he admits that he still asks himself if Viktor secretly want to quit even though he knows those fears are irrational, and that Viktor doesn’t want to go anywhere. That’s the scourge of anxiety: Even fears you know have no basis in reality can eat away at you, and cause you to interpret things in the most negative light. So he has convinced himself that Viktor wants to go back to skating, even if part of him knows that to be untrue. And that’s only reinforced by the fact that Viktor has never come out and explicitly said otherwise.
This miscommunication was going to have to be resolved sooner or later, it’s been set up as early as episode 2, and it looks like the writers saved the resolution for the finale. And I see this conversation going one of two ways:
1) Viktor finally tells Yuri what he’s been alluding to in his voice-overs: that he doesn’t want to go back to skating and he’d much rather stay next to Yuri for good and they go back to Japan together regardless of Yuri’s retirement.
2) Yuri convinces Viktor to go back to skating for one more season, and either they compete against each other on the same playing field like Yuri always wanted, while remaining “rival husbands” or Yuri does retire and Viktor moves his home rink to Japan so Yuri can be his emotional support/source of inspiration.
Honestly, I think the first option is more convincing. But maybe that’s just me. Either way, we’ll be getting a happy ending. Because that’s the kind of show this is. This show isn’t a tragedy, it’s not a tear-jerker. It’s a story about love, and how embracing it makes you stronger.