‘Shogun’ Episode 10 Recap & Ending Explained: How Did Toranaga Ensure The Creation Of His Shogunate?

Historically, the most dominant generals have been gifted with astute foresight, adaptability, clarity of vision, unshakable resolve, and the willingness to put everything on the line to achieve success. All of these turn out to be defining character traits of Lord Yoshi Toranaga, who, by the end of the first season of FX’s Shogun, has outplayed every opposition to ensure his future position as the titular leader of Sengoku-era Japan. From setting up the guise of surrender, to using the death of his son and general as the perfect opportunity to distance himself from the Regent Council at Osaka, to finally playing his ace in the form of allowing Mariko to incite unrest among the Regent Council, portraying Ishido as the aggressor, and demeaning his hold in front of Osaka’s nobles, Toranaga has remained way ahead of everyone through his deviously calculative modus operandi. However, even his best plans couldn’t have matched the advantage Lady Mariko’s assassination gave him in the last episode, as revealed through the course of the finale, titled “A Dream of a Dream.”


Previously, Mariko, Yabushige, and Blackthorne reached Osaka, and considering Toranaga’s suicidal decision to surrender to be a death sentence for him as well, Yabushige offers Blackthorne to Ishido in exchange for his safety. Mariko’s request to let her take Toranaga’s wives back to Edo is initially rejected by Ishido, and as he tries to thwart her attempt by force, Mariko valiantly stands her guard. Mariko’s actions and Ishido’s reaction create a terse impression of the latter among the Regent Council, and as Mariko prepares to commit Seppuku after failing to return, Ishido has no choice but to grant her permission. Mariko also reconnects with Lady Ochiba (the late Taiko’s wife and royal heir Yaechiyo’s mother) – as both of them shared a strong bond of friendship since childhood, and eventually parted ways after Mariko’s father, samurai warlord Akechi Jinsai, had assassinated Ochiba’s father, the first unifier of Japan, Kuroda. Mariko’s defiance hurt Ishido’s fragile ego, and he agrees to take Yabushige’s deal in exchange for clearing paths for Shinobis inside the castle to kill Mariko. Ultimately, as the Shinobis attack, Mariko sacrifices her life to protect others—a tragedy that will surely change the course of Japan’s feudal history forever. 

Spoilers Ahead


What Is the Regent Council’s Reaction to Mariko’s Death?

As Shogun episode 10 begins, we see an older Blackthorne on his deathbed, still holding onto Mariko’s cross as a remembrance, and his foggy eyes seem to be envisioning the horrors of the past to date. Speaking of the horrors he is remembering, we return to the Osaka castle on the night of Mariko’s death, and the absolute chaotic situation amidst rubble, corpses, and cries is a metaphor for the nation’s then-political turmoil. Blackthorne clings to Mariko’s lifeless body for one last time; she was the only soul with whom the Englishman was allowed to share his heart. But even that has been snatched off of him by the cruel whims of fate, and now he is truly alone. 

Our focus shifts to the Regent Council meeting, and much to Ishido’s dismay, Lord Kiyama and Lord Ohno express their dissatisfaction at Mariko’s death, which raises questions about the castle’s security in the first place. Ishido tries to rush them to war against Toranaga, but the Christian Lords are of the opinion that a devout Catholic like Mariko deserves a respectful burial. To convince them otherwise, Ishido tries to insinuate that Toranaga might have orchestrated the attack, and when that doesn’t work, he blatantly states that they should remember that Mariko was the daughter of a traitor. Both statements are testament to his lack of gray matter, and without getting into an argument or lashing out at his remark, Lady Ochiba simply asserts that Mariko will receive an honorable farewell. Ishido dares not argue with her and goes on his way to sign the war declaration—and suddenly an earthquake hits the area. Lord Kiyama, who had already raised his suspicion at the possibility of one of the Regent Council members being behind the assassination attempt, interprets this as a bad omen and wishes to delay the declaration further, much to Ishido’s frustration. The situation is worse at Yabushige’s front. Yabushige has been afflicted with guilt and fear ever since Mariko’s death and has become kind of deranged as a result. Ishido asks him to return to Izu and prepare his men for conflict, but he realizes that Yabushige is not in his element at all. On the other hand, Toranaga is seen releasing his hunter falcon, an act that is symbolic of him saying farewell to Mariko.


How Did Toranaga Ensure the Creation of His Shogunate?

After a few days, Blackthorne has recovered from his injuries, and as he wakes up, he learns that Mariko was buried a few days earlier. A disheartened Blackthorne is surprised to learn that Toranaga has arranged for his return to Ajiro and gets shocked when Kiyama’s men and Father Martin escort him to galley without harming him, despite his Protestant English background. He is further wrecked to learn that, before her death, Mariko had arranged a deal with the Catholics for his safe return.

On their way back to Ajiro, Yabushige’s hysteric behavior reaches its peak as he pleads with Blackthorne to teach him to dive in the ocean and take them back to England. He has rightly assumed about his upcoming predicament, as upon his return, Toranaga apprehends him, confronts him about his traitorous act of allowing Ishido’s assassins to kill Mariko (witnessed by maids), and commands him to commit seppuku the next day. Yabushige tries to request that he allow his nephew Omi to be the heir to his fief, but Toranaga reminds him that he has already been stripped of his role, possessions, and duties, so the request is futile. Yabushige pleads for an honorable death, a rejection of which makes him wish for Blackthorne to be his second, at least. Toranaga rejects that proposition as well and agrees to second his seppuku instead. 


Blackthorne sees his ship being wrecked and sunk and learns that, in suspicion of someone from Ajiro assisting Catholics in doing so, Toranaga has become desperate to identify the perpetrator. Back at his quarters, Blackthorne meets Fuji, who reveals that Toranaga has allowed her to spend the rest of her days as a nun, much to her delight. Fear of being lonely weighs heavily on Blackthorne, and he requests that she be with him. Fuji remarks that she is relieved of her duties as his consort, and the Englishman wishes her best for her future life. Later, the duo share a moment as Blackthorne helps Fuji put her past to rest by pouring the ashes of her late husband and child into the ocean. On the other hand, as Toranaga’s wives return to him with a message sent by Lady Ochiba, it turns out to be the last poem written by Mariko, and as Toranaga recites the lines, the ripple effect of her death is realized by the viewers as well. Disturbed by Toranaga’s crackdown approach for Ajiro, Blackthorne pleads with him to stop and threatens to commit seppuku in front of him. Toranaga stops him and asks him to pull out the ship and make him a fleet. 

The final moments of the first season of Shogun revolve around Yabushige and Toranaga, and it is here that the true extent of Toranaga’s master plan is revealed to the viewers. As Yabushige prepares to take his life, he and Toranaga share a private moment on the cliffside, and the Lord of Edo shares that it was he and Mariko who orchestrated the sinking of Blackthorne’s ship to beguile the Catholics and arrange a safe passage for him from Osaka. This also clarifies why Ishido didn’t show any interest in Blackthorne as well. A desperate Yabushige wishes to learn about his plan, and Toranaga shares that he has sent a woman (Mariko) to do a job that even an army couldn’t have done. Attacking Osaka as planned in the Crimson Sky assault plan would have been a suicidal plan. Instead, Mariko’s death has ensured Ochiba’s allegiance to Toranga, and when the battle of Sekigahara commences, she will draw the heir Yaechiyo’s support from Ishido, which will turn the rest of the Regent Council members like Kiyama, Ohno, and Ito against Ishido. This not only ensures a clear victory for Toranaga in the future  but also makes way for him to claim his ancestral title of the nation’s military supremo, the Shogun. Yabushige, who has merely shifted allegiance all his life and never truly gained a hold of his destiny, is shocked, impressed by Toranaga’s foresight, and questions how it feels to command the winds of one’s destiny. Toranaga retorts, saying he merely knows to read the wind. 


Toranaga further adds that he doesn’t need Blackthorne as well, as he has kept him alive for so long after all the tribulations merely because his naivety amuses him. A brutal but honest statement, as is his later claim that he doesn’t think that the Englishman is ever going to return to his homeland. Toranaga and Yabushige share a last laugh as the latter takes his own life, with Toranaga slicing his head off in one fell stroke. 

Blackthorne takes the help of the villagers to pull his ship to the shore, and Buntaro, in a wrecked, apologetic demeanor, decides to join them as well. Toranaga watches from afar and shares a meaningful glance with Blackthorne, and as he watches over the mountainous horizon with a determined stature, the episode comes to an end. The eight-fold fence that Mariko mentioned to Blackthorne is what Toranaga truly exemplifies, as no one around him, not even his best friend or general, could have assessed what desires lie deep in his heart. Playing with the stringent laws and customs, the Lord of Edo has managed to ensure a seat as the leader of the nation, which will usher the country into a new age of peace, no matter how costly it has turned out to be. 


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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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