As much as I spoke last week of the culling of unimportant scenes in these posts, this week’s episode brought us right back with a veritable mix of small and big moments that built up the mountain of complexity that is the cast of Oregairu. By my estimations, perhaps one of the least important scenes was the one that led to the resolution of the entire prom situation and that, in itself, says a lot about this episode. As you might expect then, there’s much to be covered this week so let’s get into things.
The episode opens with a conversation between Hachiman and Hayama regarding the prom situation. And for what seems like the first time in forever, the continuity between the episodes was finally broken. This conversation of theirs was important for largely two reasons. The first was Hayama’s reiteration of his regret in not helping Yukino when he was younger – a detail that had been mentioned before but never quite explained in detail, at least not until later in this episode. The second was Hayama’s objection to Hachiman’s plan which led to his explanation that his intentions were not to resolve the issue in a way that would necessarily help Yukino, but for his own desire to reject Haruno’s definition of their relationship. Hachiman’s confident smile while stating this to Hayama framed by the pensive backing track made this another one of many red flags that his plan might not end as he expected.
We cut from the opening to a scene at the beach where Hachiman, Yui, Zaimokuza, Ebina, and a reluctant Yumiko are in the midst of taking photos for their fake prom’s website. Much fooling around was done as expected of this kind of scene but what also came out of it was a frank conversation between Hachiman and Ebina. She tells Hachiman that while she saw some similarities between the two of them, things would probably work out for him and his close friends because he was totally different from her, likely referencing her own inability to face the complicated social situation that she found herself in at the start of season two. It was a bit of a throwaway line given how brief their conversation was, but it seemed to me to be a quiet assurance of some kind of satisfactory ending for the trio and an important one with all that was to shake out with the rest of this episode.
With the photo situation out of the way and their prom site all but complete, the remaining task for Hachiman and Yui was to find a way to leak their plans to the PTO. The source of this leak, chosen by Hachiman, would be none other than Haruno herself and this would mean meeting with her to discuss their plans.
As with many such encounters with Haruno, this one was certainly an uncomfortable one. Right from the start, Haruno questioned why the two were even considering interfering with Yukino in this way. Hachiman tried to explain away their plans as his own desire to get involved with the prom and not at all related to Yukino, but this was rightfully dismissed by Haruno as a meaningless splitting of hairs. At the end of the day, he was going to influence the end result of the prom and this, regardless of Yukino’s feelings on his involvement, would mean something to her. Instead, sitting back and watching would be the most considerate action that they could take, Haruno suggested, but this didn’t sit right with Yui. To her, leaving Yukino to her own devices during the most vulnerable period of her life was the same as abandoning her. Nothing would change and everything they once had would collapse.
Yui wants things to come to a proper end. Specifically, this odd and stuffy atmosphere that they’ve built up. So that the two of them can finally be by Yukino’s side again. And Hachiman agrees, generally. At this point, any ending would be fine for the trio, so long as they’re able to move forward again.
It’s important to note here that each of the trio’s ideas of “an ending” are very different things as we would later see. Hachiman’s “end” reflected his usual M.O. in that solving the prom problem would clear the way for the problem of their relationship; solving the latter would naturally come after. Yui’s “end” involved fixing the underlying ambiguity and tension between the three. Having a clear definition of their vague relationship would allow them to gather again without fear of stepping on toes and then they could finally move on. And this definition of hers was likely the same as Yukino’s although with the after being much less optimistic.
Hachiman’s last line to Haruno before wrapping up the negotiations was one that I personally found a lot of satisfaction in as it was something that was a long time coming. And with Haruno’s promise to leak their plans, all that was left was for Hachiman to face the final boss of their prom campaign, and the scene that followed would be this very confrontation.
This talk between Hachiman and Yukinoshita-mama would be the lynchpin of their prom operation but more than anything else, this was an examination of one another in what was the first of likely many encounters between the two. Much like Yukino and Haruno, their mother was a woman with the same kind of competitive and impassioned side when faced with someone that can keep up. She initially approached the conversation with little in the way of facades through her expressions and speech and made it very clear that this meeting was for her to understand who she was dealing with. And by the end, she was impressed. I was also surprised at how shockingly pinpoint Hachiman’s final trump card was and it all but sealed the deal with the prom business.
What came next was a short scene with Hayama confronting Haruno about her interference with the trio’s situation through her “codependence” line. This conversation of theirs outlined Haruno’s intentions with dropping that line to Hachiman and Yui but more importantly, it also suggested that Hayama’s history with the Yukinoshita siblings was one that mirrored the situation that our main trio found themselves in now. Haruno simply wanted to see if it was possible for the three to find that “genuine relationship” as she evidently wasn’t able to in the past and that meant forcing them to deal with the ambiguity that they had all been avoiding.
And at last, we arrived at the final scene of this episode: the resolution of the prom situation and the final confrontation between Hachiman and Yukino. It was a scene that opened much like the very first episode of the series. Yukino’s introduced with her silhouette by the window, except now backed by the setting sun, followed by a cut to Hachiman’s surprised expression and one single gasp. It’s the same right down to the sound of the wind coming through the clubroom windows as the sole backing track to the scene. The only difference now is that very important time of day and the physical and metaphorical positions that the two were in. And this deliberate callback seemed to fit just right with the “beginnings and endings” throughline of this season.
The conversation began with Hachiman explaining that the student council’s prom had been approved by the PTO and that all would be fine with their plan. Because of that, this was Yukino’s win, or so he claimed. Hachiman here wanted to keep the tone of the conversation light and it showed through his nonchalant delivery of the news and his self-deprecating responses to Yukino. He wanted to see that Yukino that first accepted his challenge when they first met and the one that seemingly came back when this prom competition came to being. But for Yukino, this was never the reality. She approached the conversation with an honesty that she could only ever show to Hachiman now.
And because of this, Hachiman struggled. He fumbled over the details of the “win” and the terms of the competition but none of that mattered to Yukino. She too wanted to bring things to end, here and now with Hachiman.
Yukino’s lamentation over their friendship and the experiences she was able to have was heart-wrenching in the same way that Yui’s self-flagellation in previous episodes was. She didn’t fault them for anything they did, she just “made a mistake along the way” and depended too much on the two – something that was solidified in her mind as an all too terrible thing. She had the time of her life with the two of them, being able to feel, act, and experience things that were completely new to her. And now that it was all over, she wanted to bring things to their proper end.
These feelings of hers were irrefutable, and this was her win to the end. And with this win, came the responsibility of bringing things to a close. It was an ending, yes, but one that she could only hope to be a correct one.
And that does it for this week. I personally came out of this episode completely boggled at what Hachiman was expecting with his plan, but after some consideration and as I mentioned earlier, it really fit with his usual approach to problem-solving (as boneheaded as it turned out). Although I suspect that a part of him wanted Yukino to go along with his plan and take the win as a sort of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ proposal, as well as his small hope that Yukino would be able to be that kind of strong person she once looked to be. All that aside, the post ending scene seems to suggest that all is not going to be well in the coming weeks and I am certainly looking forward to feeling the endless pain that is sure to come. I hope that you will continue to join me in this endeavor.
Thanks for reading,