Having stopped completely because she forgot the rest of the piece, Nodame quickly improvises something to take it’s place. Everyone still applauds her when she finishes playing, but Chiaki knows that what she did is out of the question for a competition. Inside the judging room later, the judges are impressed with Nodame, but they have no choice but to set her entry aside. Only the judge named Auclair takes her application and gives it another look. When the results are announced, Tsuboi gets fourth place and Yuuto gets second place, but there is no first place winner. Nodame doesn’t even stick around for these results and leaves with her bags packed, though she’s stopped by Chiaki outside the concert hall. Nodame is shocked to find out that he wants her to go to Europe with him, but she then questions why she has to go overseas to study piano. She claims the reason she entered the competition was not because she was getting serious about playing the piano, but rather just for the money. In Nodame’s memory is a scene from her childhood with a strict teacher who wanted her to play like he told her to and who had raised his hand to hit her. She’s had enough of that and simply wants to play the piano her way to enjoy it – she didn’t enjoy performing in the competition. As he starts to walk away, Chiaki tells Nodame that this was the first time he heard her play all the right notes, and he thinks that it was a great performance. This causes Nodame to start to cry because she feels that she nevertheless still failed. Chiaki finds out later from Mine’s father that Nodame is going to visit her family for the New Year. He hasn’t heard any piano playing from her room since that day, but he now feels that it’s okay because it has nothing to do with him anymore.
Nodame has indeed gone home to her parents in the Fukuoka Prefecture after not having returned for two years. Since it’s the New Year, her grandparents give her and her brother Yoshitaka some money in the form of otoshidama, but Yoshitaka disparages the fact that Nodame doesn’t have future plans and calls her a bad investment. He’s also not too happy that he got less money as a present than his sister despite the fact that he works a part-time job because of how the family spends money on her. This gets everyone into an argument about Nodame and her future, which leads her to quietly excuse herself from the table. Her family notices that she’s been acting strange and hasn’t played the piano since she came back home. It reminds her father of when Nodame was young and her teacher had smacked her after she bit him because he had hit her for not playing like he said. It had caused Nodame to knock her head against the wall – which drew blood – and as a result, Nodame didn’t play the piano for a long time. Back in Tokyo, Chiaki meets with Sakuma about another conductor named Matsuda who has voiced some concern about Rising Star Orchestra members leaving. Chiaki doesn’t feel that there’s anything to worry about and suggests that Matsuda will understand at their next performance. Chiaki then reveals that he’s going to Europe, and upon seeing Sakuma’s enthusiasm, he asks why Sakuma supports him so much. Sakuma replies that famous musicians are remembered because they met important people, and he wants to be one of those people for Chiaki.
The day of the Rising Star orchestra performance soon arrives, and to everyone’s surprise, several of the key players have now changed, including the concertmaster. Of the new members, Sakuma recognizes Takahashi from the Buffon competition, and music critic Ookawa spots sisters Moe and Kaoru in the orchestra too. The first piece that the orchestra performs is Debussy‘s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and the second one is a violin concerto – Sarasate‘s Carmen Fantasy with Kiyora. Watching from the audience, conductor Matsuda feels that he’ll miss Kiyora and that this orchestra is really evolving. It is afterwards the third piece, Richard Strauss‘ Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, and during the intermission that Mine reminds Chiaki about how their final piece tonight was the first one he conducted with the S orchestra: Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 7. At the time, Stresemann had said that Chiaki failed, and Chiaki feels that this is the piece he’s left unfinished – it will now be the last piece of his student life in Japan.
If Nodame had actually won the competition, I doubt she would have said that she just wanted the money and didn’t enjoy performing. For that reason, I don’t think she was being entirely honest to both Chiaki and to herself. As her last sentence in that scene gave away, it was probably more the frustration of her having played so well and tried so hard, but still lost. And because of that, perhaps she also feels unworthy of Chiaki’s offer to go to Europe.
Aside from that, I really like how they’re coming full circle with Chiaki conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. He’s continued to say up until now that he still has something left to do in Japan, and it would appear that this completes it. The only other thing left for him to do in the next week’s finale is to convince Nodame to go abroad with him, or at least get her over her failure.