FEATURE: Head Space – “Yuri!!! on ICE” Revelations Done Right

Yuri!!! on ICE has been a rollercoaster of non-stop surprises this season. In terms of story movement, episode 10 has probably been the most impressive yet, effortlessly pulling off the challenging feat of both driving Yuri and Victor’s whirlwind romance to a new level of commitment while also establishing more a realistic foundation for their relationship. Yuri purchases a set of engagements rings and discovers that he had been the one to originally suggest Victor travel to Japan to become his coach, the request having been both emboldened by, and forgotten due to, copious amounts of champagne.

 
Yuri can be very persuasive when he needs to be
 
While it’s nice to see the two leads wearing rings, the twist regarding the origins of Yuri and Victor’s relationship have some neat implications that show Yamamoto’s strength as a director. Plot twists are one of the more difficult narrative devices to make truly satisfying since they require a great deal of groundwork in both writing and direction to simultaneously come as a surprise while also appearing to be the most plausible explanation in retrospect. Judging by popular reaction, it’s safe to say Yuri!!! on ICE nailed it. The revelation blindsided the audience but, looking back on the events leading to this point, offers explanations for several characters minor idiosyncrasies.
 
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Nothing yet for his fashion sense
 
Although outrageous in its own way, the new origin story for Yuri and Victor’s relationship adds a great deal of credibility to what may have originally seemed like a storybook fantasy for Yuri. His lifelong idol showing up unannounced (and naked) in his hometown to whisk him off his feet, romance him, and help him achieve his lifelong goal of earning a gold in figure skating is the height of wish fulfillment. Knowing Yuri’s outrageous proposal drew the surprise-loving Victor to him provides Yuri with some much needed agency while pulling the fae-like Victor a bit closer to the Earth with the rest of us mortals.
 
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He even brought Yuri’s dead dog back
 
While the series to this point has seemed like Yuri rising to meet Victor’s increasing demands, it might seem like more of a give-and-take to the Russian skater. Yuri fleeing Victor when they first encountered each other, followed by his later proposition, may have convinced Victor that Yuri had renewed his conviction to compete. Seeing the viral video afterward must have made Yuri seem like the type who punishes his own defeats and was challenging Victor to coach him. If that was the case, denying him pork cutlet bowls and making Yuri to break out of his comfort zone with Eros was Victor simply playing along.


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Never meet your heroes before a few drinks
 
Outside of the primary relationship of the series, Yuri’s antics at the banquet also color many of his interactions with other characters. Yurio’s rivalry with Yuri takes on a deeper meaning after we understand that Yuri asked that Victor become his coach if he won the dance-off (safe to assume he did) against Yurio. Yurio had wrangled his own promise from Victor to have him choregraph his routine, meaning Yuri had asked much more for much less, both embarrassing Yurio and devaluing Yurio’s own request of Victor. After Yuri had flubbed his way out of the competition, Victor honoring Yuri’s request and forgetting his promise to Yurio must have hurt even more than if becoming a coach had been a simple flight of fancy.
 
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Although we can assume some anger management issues were always present
 
Even some smaller events begin to fall into place in this broader context. Chris grabbing Yuri’s butt was a shocking introduction, but after knowing the two performed a duo pole dance in their underwear, that sort of greeting seems downright formal by comparison. In fact, Yuri’s popularity with strangers, ostensibly due to the scandalousness of his relationship with Victor, is more easily explained when you see a few of the spectators to Yuri’s floorshow in Victor’s pictures look very familiar. Similarly, the oft-repeated resolution by many skaters to bring Victor back to competition by defeating Yuri makes all the more sense when Victor’s retirement can be traced directly back to Yuri’s public request.

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No wonder Mila and Sara like Yuri
 
The best plot twists can provide a lot of value to a rewatch, allowing us to see the same story from a new perspective and pick out the hundreds of tiny details that contributed to its reveal, providing evidence to its existence without giving it away before the perfect moment. It’s safe to say that Yamamoto has already built a story that will have a lasting legacy and, given her performance so far, it’s hard to believe she won’t nail the landing.
 

Are there any other events you noticed which foreshadowed the banquet’s reveal on a second watch? Any other aspects of the story episode 10’s revelation has helped developed? Let us hear about them in the comments below!

Peter Fobian is an Associate Features Editor for Crunchyroll, author of Monthly Mangaka Spotlight, and streams on Crunchyroll’s official Twitch channel. You can follow him on Twitter at @PeterFobian.