But before I get to all the juicy stuff, let me get some of the technical and practical stuff about the in-show Grand Prix Final out of the way.
- First, the official hotel. According to the Grand Prix Series general announcement, the organiser pays for travel (economy) and lodging costs for the competitor alone. The costs for the coach and any other support staff must be borne by the skater (whether from their own money, or through sponsors). All of the competitors are booked into the same hotel (as can be seen in the show), and I assume most if not all get rooms for their support staff there as well. According to an interview I read, this still doesn't fill the hotel out...so fans can reserve rooms in the same hotels (if they can afford it), and hope to meet their favourite skaters around the place!
- Second, I made some quick calculations about the maximum possible score that Yuri can obtain, according to the jumps they've planned in his program, and got 116.16 (SP) + 227.98 (FP) = 344.14 (total). The person to beat, JJ, has a maximum of 117.26 (SP) + 235~238 (FP) = 352~355 (total), depending on the jumps he chooses. I went ahead and assumed he'd try to max it out, which meant a 3A and a 3Lz jumping pass, one of them in combination with a 3T/2T. Admittedly, he might do a 3Lo instead of the 3Lz, to show that he's got the six different types of jumps. Neither of them will get a perfect score...but this does suggest that JJ will have to make some small mistakes, at the very least, if Yuri is to win.
- Finally, just quickly on skate order. For storytelling purposes (and because the overall story would have been plotted out before the ISU announced the rules for this season's competitions), I think the skate order is going to be what it was last year. As in: Yuri, being the last-ranked qualifier, will be skating first in the short. And if, by some miracle, he has the highest SP score, he'll be skating last in the free...
- OMG, we got a Victor episode! We finally get a better glimpse of the mystery that is Victor!! Now that it's clear that he was drawn to Yuri even before he saw the latter's video, so many scenes and lines in the earlier episodes make just that little bit more sense! I'm gonna need to find time to marathon this! (Though I won't have time until Christmas!!! GDI!)
- That said, I'm a bit uneasy with how far most of the fandom is reading into it, once again. Or perhaps, I should say that I'm...disappointed. My problem with the YOI fandom is the same as the one that I had with the Eupho fandom: to me, the excessive focus on the 'romance' means that many people are missing the core of their relationship...which is actually built around their own connections to the sport they both love.
- I talked a lot about where I thought Yuri was coming from last week, but let me just add two cents on what happened in this episode. Yuri bought a pair of rings for himself and Victor (some people have argued that Victor bought the other...but until we have proof otherwise, I'm assuming Yuri bought them), as "thanks" and as a "good luck charm." As some people on tumblr pointed out, it might be more fitting to consider it akin to the protective charms (omamori) that Japanese people buy from temples. I actually have a few. And at least some real life skaters do as well -- Yuzuru Hanyu's Phiten necklace, for one. But enough on that tangent: because I don't think Victor and Yuri are actually in a 'romantic' relationship, I'm taking what Yuri said its meaning was at face value at this point. The presentation also suggests to me that Yuri didn't actually think it through--I doubt he knows that wedding rings are worn on the right ring finger in both Russia and Thailand (in Japan, as in most of the West, it's on the left). But that's just me.
- Victor, on the other hand... Given how he framed the episode as being about "life" and "love"...I think it's clear that he loves Yuri. The question really is...what kind of love is it, and more importantly, why? In fact, the "why" may tell us more about the "what kind of"...so why? Well, personally, I think that he was lonely. And not just because he'd put aside life and love for 20 years. To me, Victor seems to have felt that others had given up on trying to challenge his dominance: "If I had stayed in Russia as a competitor, Yurio wouldn't be this motivated to fight." He also muses about how so many others have gotten "L"s from Yuri... I don't think the "love" he's referring to here is necessarily the romantic one. It's the vague "love" that Yuri was describing back in episode 5, a deep, pure love for their sport and the bonds they have with others through it. That's not to say it can't be the basis of a romantic relationship, but to me, the core isn't romance, it's the bond itself. As I said, it's Eupho all over again... I know the ending I want to see, but it's not because I want representation (though that is important) or because I just want to see those two making out.
- ...hm...ok, maybe I kinda do, a little. (^^;) Still, to me, the most important part is the emotional side. And that's a mess that I don't think Yuri, in particular, has worked out yet. It's gonna have to wait until after the GPF, though...
- Going back to Victor and Yurio, the other interesting things about that scene are (1) why Yurio was so spiteful (especially given that he'd have a clear memory of Yuri asking Victor to be his coach at the previous year's banquet, and Victor's gasp in response...) and (2) why Victor got so angry... I have a few theories, mostly to do with Yurio really looking up to Victor and Victor's own feelings about Yurio and Yuri, but they're really muddy, so I think I'll just wait for the show to reveal a bit more.
- But most of all, I'd dearly love to know how Victor had been going to finish that sentence about himself... He was lonely, that is clear. And the next episode preview suggests that we're going to get more on this next week...I cannot wait!