Shogun’s Ending Is A Masterful, Powerful Conclusion

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: April 23, 2024
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Shogun Episode 10 Recap & Ending Explained
Pictured (L-R): Hiroto Kanai as Kashigi Omi, Hiroyuki Sanada as Yoshii Toranaga. CR: Katie Yu/FX




A masterful and powerful finale brings one of the year’s finest shows to a close.

“War is inevitable,” says Ishido to the Council of Regents in Shogun Episode 10. And he’s echoing a sentiment that has been obvious since the very beginning of the season, let alone now, at the end. One has to wonder how many lives could have been spared if everyone had just acknowledged this to begin with.

The latest death was Lady Mariko’s in Episode 9, which has left everyone reeling. Blackthorne is overcome with loss; Yabushige, partially deaf and even more eccentric than before, is stricken with guilt. Even Lady Ochiba insists that Mariko receives a proper Christian burial, despite Ishido suggesting that her tainted lineage warrants no services at all.

Ah, Ishido. Naturally, he is using the shinobi attack on Mariko, which he organized along with Yabushige, as an excuse to justify open war against Toranaga. It’s only him, he claims, who would be sneaky and dishonorable enough to have arranged such an assassination. Nobody on the Council believes him, but there’s little they can do. War is inevitable; even the earth itself rumbles in anticipation.

Blackthorne’s Ship Is Burned And Yabushige’s Betrayal Is Revealed

Blackthorne wakes up later, having slept through the funeral. He’s permitted to leave Osaka only thanks to Mariko having petitioned Father Martin for the church to spare his life; what would have been an ambush in the woods becomes an escort back to the docks, where he’s reunited with an increasingly frantic Yabushige. Yabu wants Blackthorne to take him back to England rather than pay the price of betrayal that will inevitably become due for him, but Blackthorne’s ship has been sunk in his absence. Nobody will be sailing anywhere.

The scuttling of Blackthorne’s ship is blamed on Christian raiders, and Toranaga has turned Ajiro upside-down looking for them. He has also already received word, passed onto him by Omi, that Yabushige allowed the shinobi to enter Toranaga’s quarters in Osaka Castle and attack Mariko. He’s seized the second he hits dry land and ordered to commit seppuku the next day. He tries to bequeath the fiefdom of Izu to Omi, which Toranaga won’t allow since it’s no longer his to give and asks Blackthorne to be his second, which Toranaga also denies. Toranaga himself agrees to be Yabu’s second.

Blackthorne Offers His Own Life In Exchange For Ajiro

Shogun Ending Explained

Pictured (L-R): Yasunari Takeshima as Muraji, Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne. CR: Katie Yu/FX

Fuji reveals to Blackthorne that she is no longer his consort; her service to Toranaga is complete, and she will be leaving Ajiro to become a nun. These scenes are short, but very tender, with Blackthorne stammering through his faulty Japanese — “Fuji, best nun,” is such a simple, lovely sentiment — and Fuji for once looking like she has some purpose in life beyond waiting for death.

As a final favor, Fuji arranges for Blackthorne to meet with Toranaga the next day. Without Mariko to translate, Toranaga instead speaks through Muraji, Ajiro’s headman who reveals to Blackthorne that he’s secretly a samurai and a spy assigned to report on the Portuguese. Blackthorne offers his own life, through seppuku, in exchange for the safety of Ajiro, claiming that the destruction of his ship was part of the deal for his life that Mariko made with the Christians.

Toranaga remains adamant that as long as there are disloyal subjects in his midst, the punishment against Ajiro will stand. He won’t accept Blackthorne’s sacrifice. Cosmo Jarvis is impeccable here, confessing to Toranaga how he has manipulated him since the beginning, how he is the “enemy” he’s trying to root out. But Toranaga prevents his suicide and tells him to rebuild his ship and to build Toranaga a fleet while he’s at it.

Toranaga Reveals His Plan To Yabushige

Shogun Episode 10 Recap & Ending Explained

Pictured (L-R): Hiroyuki Sanada as Yoshii Toranaga, Tadanobu Asano as Kashigi Yabushige. CR: Katie Yu/FX

The most illuminating conversation of Shogun Episode 10 takes place when Yabushige goes to die. After finally telling Omi he sees him as the son he never had, Yabu sits next to Toranaga on a clifftop and listens to his confession. It was Toranaga who burned Blackthorne’s ship. It was Toranaga who approved Mariko’s deal with the church to spare Blackthrone’s life. It was Toranaga who sent Mariko to Osaka knowing that her sacrifice would inspire Lady Ochiba to turn against Ishido.

Through a secret message, Ochiba has promised Toranaga that she will keep the Heir’s army out of the coming Battle of Sekigahara. Ishido will have no banners and no official support. The Council of Regents will turn against him before a single sword is drawn, and Toranaga will assume power. Just as he always wanted.

Yabushige is aghast at the revelation that, deep down, Toranaga is as quietly ambitious as anyone. He wanted the position of Shogun all along, and he manipulated everyone to get it. The two men smile at each other as Toranaga slices off his head.

Shogun’s Ending Is Powerful and Low-Key

Shogun Episode 10 Recap & Ending Explained

Pictured (L-R): Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne, Moeka Hoshi as Usami Fuji. CR: Katie Yu/FX

Shogun Episode 10 ends with a couple of powerful sequences. In the first, Blackthorne rows Fuji out to sea with the ashes of her husband and son, encouraging her to consign them to the deep in a gesture of both moving on but allowing them to live forever in the depths, together. Blackthorne does the same with Mariko’s rosary. It’s a quiet scene, but one of the season’s best.

In the second, Blackthorne and the villagers of Ajiro work together to pull the remains of his ship to shore. Buntaro, with a bow, sinks to a knee and takes up a rope himself, symbolizing that Blackthorne is now one of them. From a nearby hill, Toranaga looks on, proud of everything his deft manipulations have achieved.

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