First, wow, the Crunchyroll servers got slammed hard when this went up. Not only did we get errors trying to load the page, it took nearly twenty minutes before the link showed up. At least the video loaded fine once we got to it.
So Yuuri did decide that he was going to retire after all and didn't need Victor as his coach anymore so Victor could return to competition without actually asking Victor what he wanted to do. And so we did get a reversal of the episode 7 situation. Poor Victor - they did a fantastic job on that crying animation. It was nice to see him expressing his anger for once.
It was so short though - I would have liked to have seen more of that conversation rather than getting a summary of it. Why was there no tiiiime. (Hopefully the fans will provide.)
But then their interactions before the ice... Yuuri demanding that Victor not fall into the 'coach' role, the lovely tender way he takes Victor's hands, Victor scolding him for not winning in the same voice he used to threaten to retire but with a smile on his face and Yuuri going from shocked and hurt-looking to realizing the joke, Victor trying to keep Yuuri's hand in his for a moment longer - that was all so beautiful and perfectly-done that it makes up for not having the conversation shown.
When when Yuuri skates, wow does he deliver. He finally got his chance to surpass Victor's expectations! Changing his difficulty to be incredibly high to show how his love and time with Victor has changed him for the better and then nailing it was, guh. And expressing the feelings he doesn't seem to think he can just say about how he wants to skate on with Victor rather than actually retiring and merely watching Victor come back. As though that would be more selfish or he doesn't deserve it. (Also, when watching it again I noticed that the ring has a bright highlight on every opportunity <3)
JJ: so his coaches are his parents? That is probably not helping with the pressure at all. And he once studied under Celestino and with Leo's coach before he got too independent for them? I mean, it worked out pretty well for him, but he still needs to dial that ego way down. That said, I actually started to like him more this episode with how he powered through his issues from the start of the skate to make a comeback in the second half. Without having people singing a song about how great he is, even. (Of course he has a book: Ice Jewels, staring the king of the ice! Discover all of his secrets to skating!)
Phichit: YOU WILL GET YOUR DREAM SOMEDAY, PHICHIT! Though I think if he wants everyone else to participate he's going to have to alter the costumes XD They should definitely keep the hamster hats, though, those are adorable. Gosh, Phichit is just the cutest.
Chris: This episode managed to make me ship Chris->Victor even harder with only a couple of jealous looks. The part where he gets the flower crown from Minako and winks at her was very cute. And his choreographer/boyfriend/??? we saw last episode was sitting with him, aw.
Otabek: His routine was much more intersting to me this time around. I wish we'd gotten to see more of it but tiiiime. Great costume, too, he looks really good in it.
Yuri: ...so he didn't have something horrible happen to him? Huh. Maybe next season? Not that I hate him or wanted something to go wrong or anything, it just seemed like it was set up for so long and it didn't happen. Anyway, I thought it was interesting that his internal monologue this time was about Yuuri and how he wants to compete against him and trying to inspire Yuuri to keep going with him (which seems to have gotten across considering how well Yuuri speaks Skating).
I like how everyone is always cheering everyone else on.
I'm still slightly mad that Yuuri didn't win gold, but I can accept it - second-place by a tiny sliver of points is still fantastic, and Yuuri isn't upset. He's motivated. It makes him want to do even better.
With he and Victor... the medal gets tossed aside in favor of a hug. For them, it's not about the winning, it's being together <3 (Based on how the background figures and how few people were around when we see the long shot, it looks like they were hugging for a long time.)
I know a lot of people didn't want the series to end with Victor returning to competitive skating, and I get that, but I personally felt like it was set up in a way that makes sense. He retired because it wasn't fulfilling for him; now there's a way it can be, with Yuuri and even Yuri there with him. And who knows, maybe next season we'll see him struggling with it and deciding that it isn't what he wants to do, after all. Which I'm sure would be disappointing for Yuuri, but he does keep telling Victor to be himself and not [the coach/the boyfriend/the competitor?].
Anyway I will forgive every single thing I didn't like about this episode or wish they had included because HOLY SHIT WE GOT THEM SKATING TOGETHER!!! It's so beautiful and romantic, oh my gosh. The way they look at each other, and Victor lifting Yuuri, and ❤❤❤ Let me just watch it another dozen times. There will be a creditless version on the blurays, right? The only thing I want more than that is a full version. ❤❤❤❤❤ This was one of the few things I really wanted to see out of this series and I love it so much.
I have more feelings on this ending and everything, but they aren't really coming out as words right now, but I so hope that we get another season with that 'see you next level' ending card and this was 100% my favorite anime of this year and I'm glad it happened <3