Back at the start of this Haruhi spin-off, Nagato Yuki’s goal was clear: work up the courage to confess her feelings to Kyon. Well, it took a car accident and a case of temporary dysmnesia, but she achieved that goal, back in episode 13. I say she did so, even though she had a different personality at the time and doesn’t remember it afterward, because it was Nagato Yuki who said those words, and it was most definitely Kyon who heard them and didn’t forget them. Ever since then, the ball’s been in his court. And that would be the case even if Yuki remembered confessing.
In his monologues, Kyon is constantly updating us as to where he stands on the Fujiyama of Summer: he’s somewhere around the middle; somewhere where he’s sure he’ll have plenty of time to talk to Yuki normally. As for the show, this is the last episode, so when so much time is spent on Haruhi-mandated Summer activities without progress and the Summer passes by, I got a little nervous.
But since the episode is called “fireworks”, I knew we’d get some in one form or another, and when the night of fireworks festival showed up, and after more awkwardness Kyon asks Ryouko what he should do, she makes him realize he’s distancing himself from Yuki without telling her why, which is hurting her. That revelation, that he’s personally detracting from Yuki’s—this Yuki’s—happiness, motivates him to suck it up and take that wonderfully-yukata’d girl aside to talk.
You see, Kyon uses the fireworks to mask his words, so while he’s technically saying them to Yuki and thus clearing the air in his mind, she doesn’t hear anything, and so isn’t upset. When he tells Yuki he could’ve seen himself falling for her, even though he never considered the possibility of being liked that way, he sees New Yuki, in her sailor fuku, smile in recognition; not the yukata’d Old Yuki not hearing anything he’s saying.
What he does let her hear is his apology for being distant, and his promise he’ll start treating her like he always has, which doesn’t preclude the occasional romantic moment. So in the end, Yuki confessed her feelings and Kyon knowing she’d forget, and Kyon confessed to Yuki knowing she couldn’t hear. Hmm…let’s call it a draw, shall we?
But hold on…what are all these knowing, possibly heartbroken, near-tearful expressions on adorably hair-bunned Haruhi’s visage? Why, it’s her giving up on Kyon; accepting Yuki’s won with grace…right? But what if, that night, Haruhi decided she never wanted the Summer to end; never wanted to come to the point where she’d have to concede defeat? In another show, she had that power…
Oh show….you had to go there, didn’t you? Post-credits, we get the second “Kyon-kun Denwa!” of the episode, and suddenly we’re back in “Endless Eight” territory (full disclosure, I loved that arc). It would seem, unconsciously or not, that Haruhi managed to reset time. Has Kyon been being distant and awkward with Yuki for 594 years??