Although Nodame has passed the third preliminary round of the Maradona piano competition, her rival Segawa Yuuto does so too with a very impressive display of talent. Back at school, Takahashi is giving a demonstration of his violin skills to Chiaki and the others, and Kiyora recognizes how talented he is. The problem is that Takahashi only wants to replace Kiyora as the concertmaster since he would be turning down an entertainment industry position in order to play with the Rising Star Orchestra. Mine, however, solves this by immediately offering Takahashi the position because of how enthusiastic he is. Mine doesn’t necessarily consider Takahashi to be superior to Kiyora, but he does think that Takahashi’s credentials make for better publicity than Kiyora’s. This way allows Kiyora to return to study in Vienna, and Mine encourages her to bring back better titles than Takahashi. He also vows to personally keep playing in this orchestra no matter how many players leave, and these words make Chiaki realize that this orchestra isn’t just for the present.- he wants it to be an orchestra that evolves.
Nodame meanwhile has been struggling with a Schumann piece, but Etou comes home after school to find that she’s mastered the ones she has to play. According to Kaori, Nodame had been earlier motioning in the air with her fingers in a strange way, and Etou feels a little unsure of what to do since he’s never had a student like her before. To make matters worse, Nodame suddenly collapses at the piano from a fever. It is in this feverish state that she dreams about herself dressed the mongoose taking on a challenge. The Puri Gorota characters in the dream don’t think that she can do it, and Segawa Yuuto even makes an appearance to remind her of the consequences of making a mistake, as represented by a man holding a spiked club behind a door. When Nodame wakes up from this nightmare, her mind dwells on what Yuuto said.
The day of the final round soon arrives, and Etou has Nodame listen to the third movement from Petrouchka before Kaori announces that it’s time to go. Nodame attempts to spend the trip to the competition on the train memorizing the piece, but her concentration gets interrupted by a guy getting a cell phone call. She continues her memorization efforts backstage before her performance, and this is where she is paid a visit by Yuuto who claims to be surprised to see her in the competition. He then shocks her by revealing that Hanazakura-sensei is here, and upon seeing that she’ll be playing Petrouchka, he explains that he will be too. Refusing to lose to her again, Yuuto comments on how people’s skills become ordinary after the age of twenty. Nodame doesn’t get too much of a chance to react because Kaori soon finds her and drags her off to get dressed. To everyone in the audience’s surprise, Nodame enters onto the stage dressed like Scarlett O’Hara. Both Chiaki and his mother have come to see her here in the finals, and Chiaki is quite impressed with how incredibly she plays her first two pieces: Mozart‘s Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor and Schumann’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor.
There is much applause for Nodame after these, and while Etou is proud of his student, he knows that she hasn’t had enough time to prepare for the last one. Nevertheless, Nodame presses forward with it, Stravinsky‘s Three Movements of Petrouchka. She starts off well enough, but partway through the first movement, Nodame suddenly stops because all she can remember is the ringtone of the cell phone from the train earlier.
From the clues that they’ve dropped us between the dream sequence and what Yuuto said before Nodame went on stage, it seems that she had a teacher in the past, probably this Hanazakura person, who really pushed her and maybe even hit her for screwing up. The imagery of the man with the spiked club is a bit extreme (and rather creepy), but it gets the point across that this was perhaps a scarring experience for her. This Maradona competition isn’t going to be too fond a memory either if she doesn’t find a way to recover and remember the rest of the piano piece. I guess that’s the weakness of her special listening ability, and it couldn’t come at a worse time.
Only two more episodes left now, and next week seems to promise a confrontation of sorts between Nodame and Chiaki.