Cross stitch pattern of Yuri Plisetsky in his iconic Agape ice skating outfit. Download the PDF here: Yuri Pattern and check out my character review of Victor Nikiforov below. Spoiler alert: I love Yuri on Ice. I hate Victor.
Grid Size: 45W x 99H
Design Area: 3.07″ x 6.93″ (43 x 97 stitches)
Can you guess who my favorite character is? That’s right! It’s Yuri’s granddad. (Yeah you totally guessed that.) This guy got all of 2 seconds of screen time and he managed to capture my heart. How do you show a character arc in no time at all? Look, he picks his grandson up and has some handmade food for him and when his grandson shows interest in another type of food he get’s visibly upset. Then offscreen he takes his grandson’s new tastes into account and makes a change to his recipe without giving up on his favorite thing to cook. He makes a compromise that turns out better that expected. His contribution is then appreciated by others later on and it’s no wonder he’s Yuri’s inspiration for Agape. You can tell this guy doesn’t really understand his grandson, but he’s going to be supportive anyway and I like that. In these few scenes Yuri’s grandpa is shown to have his own interests outside of Yuri, age appropriate reactions, skills that progress when Yuri is not around, and a small but noticeable impact on other characters. These are all attributes of a good main character let alone a one off side character.
But this review isn’t about Yuri’s grandpa, or even about Yuri. It’s about Victor. Now, I’m not saying that Victor sucks, just oh, Victor, why must you be so… disappointing? Look, I love pretty boy Vic as much as I can, and I really wanted him and Yuri to get together, but I wanted it because Yuri so obviously wanted it. I understand that an aloof character can be mysterious and appealing, but Victor leaves way too much to be desired. It took until seven episodes in for Victor to face any internal conflict at all. Which is strange because there is just so much that he could be conflicted about. This is his first time coaching, he could be worried that his skills as a skater wont translate over to teaching… but he doesn’t. He could get called out by the other coaches for wearing a suit and putting on like he’s one of them, but no. He could be uncertain about his choreography skills since he’s only ever made routines for himself and he has no experience in optimizing them for people with different strengths like Yuri’s extra stamina. Nope, nothing. He could show some emotional vulnerability in response to a bunch of his records being broken. Yeah not really. What about facing the realization that he hasn’t really practiced all year and his body might never be ready to skate competitively again? No. Victor has been skating all his life. Maybe he hasn’t learned to do some important life skills because he’s always relied on his coach or parents to do them for him. Nope, he’s perfect at everything. His dog gets sick at one point and that would have been a golden opportunity for the dog to die and then Yuri would have had the ability to console Victor in his time of need cementing there bond, but no. He does make the choice to go be with the dog and miss a match, but that doesn’t have any impact on what happens and just shows how useless Victor is narrativly. Victor’s old coach could have given him the option to come back to skating in exchange for a spot at the Olymics or something and he would have had to choose between coaching Yuri and the ultimate shot at fame. Nope, we’ve only got twelve episodes. Victor’s mom could have showed up to yell at him for throwing his life away on a student who is old and had shown little potential. His grandpa could have shown up and warned him not to get too close to that foreign boy, because, you know, Russia isn’t really famous for it’s progressive stance on homosexuality. Any of these conflicts could have cemented Victor as a real person. Some of them would have taken mere seconds of run time.
And he could have been more real if the writers had let his faults shine at all. Victor does have faults. He eats a lot and can drink too much at times. He’s overly flirty and has a bit of an obsession with gold. But are these really faults? He never gains too much weight to skate despite all the pork cutlet bowls he eats. His drinking is seen as funny. He never gets in trouble for sexual harassment and never gets smacked for getting a little too close even though he really should have more than once. And the gold thing? I guess he just rubs his medals all over his body offscreen or something.
My beef with Yuri on Ice is that every major character other than Victor has character development. Heck, even some of the minor characters like JJ get more development than him. Victor never changes or learns anything or faces any conflicts aimed at him. He never feels regret for his decision to leave the spotlight. His Russian parents never confront him about being gay. He doesn’t get flack for choosing to train a guy who, to everyone else, looks like a screw up. Everyone else progresses except him. It’s like if JK Rowling decided to write Harry Potter but Hermione turned into an eye candy cheerleader that always did everything right.
I get that Victor is supposed to be confident and mature as a contrast to Yuri’s anxious personality, but you can make a character mature without making them a Mary-Sue. Emotional maturity doesn’t come from never having negative emotions. It comes from accepting that your emotions as a part of yourself and acting on them responsibly. And there are people who are so at peace with themselves that nothing phases them, but Victor is never shown to have the kind of background that fosters that kind of enlightenment. He’s shown to be a determined gold-winning figure skater and in real life those people can get a teensy bit… insanely neurotic from the intense pressures of performing perfectly every single time. He’s either at peace with himself and his decisions or he is bottling up those shameful feelings until they explode into a fit of extreme violence.
Imagine working your whole life doing one thing and perfecting it with little regard for anything else. Then one day you decide to stop. This one decision could have been a crushing emotional blow to Victor, even when he decided it for himself. It should have crushed him to take a backseat in the sport he loves. He could have shown some regret, any regret. I wanted so desperately to see a scene where after a competition and everyone has gone home, Victor skates onto the ice in his plain clothes and tries to skate the routine Yuri had just done only to fail a jump and lie on the ice staring at the ceiling before slowly getting up and exiting the rink. He would see Yuri later and smile like nothing was wrong, and then he would have been real to me.