‘Shogun’ Episode 3 Recap Summary: What Does Toranaga Seek From Blackthorne?

Fortune not only favors the brave, but the ingenious ones as well—those who know how to seize the opportunity when the time is right. Amidst the turmoil rising in feudal Japan during the late Sengoku period, Lord Yoshii Toranaga proves the merit of this statement by attempting a daring escape from right under the nose of his mortal enemies, as FX’s Shogun offers an action-heavy spectacle in its third episode. 

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The first two episodes of the series did a tremendously good job of letting viewers get accustomed to the socio-political intrigues of Japan during the 1600s, a time marked by civil war among Bushos, a time when Christianity had started to register its impact due to the increasing influence of Portuguese and Spanish Catholics and merchants. Lord Toranaga, a powerful daimyo with the ancestral right to claim the role of Shogu , the supreme general of the country, Shogun, and a member of the nation’s Regent Council, finds himself entrapped in a conspiracy concocted by the rest of the four daimyos of the Regent Council. The arrival of a Protestant English captain, John Blackthorne, on the shores of Japan provides Toranaga with a chance to instigate an internal clash between Regent members and uncover the large-scale Catholic conspiracy that threatens the sovereignty itself. However, Lord Kiyama, an ally of the Catholic priests, sends an assassin to get rid of Blackthorne, and Toranaga, anticipating such an attack, puts a stop to it by slaying the assailant. 

Spoilers Ahead

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Why Does Toranaga Want Blackthorne To Leave Osaka?

At the beginning of the third episode, we see Toranaga’s underling, Lord Yabushige, preparing his last will. Toranaga’s days in the Osaka castle are numbered, and with his passing, his entire present clan will be wiped out as well. Therefore, Yabushige is preparing for the worst in any case, and suddenly he is summoned to Toranaga’s private chambers. He is questioned by Toranaga about the Society of Amida, a group of assassins guided by the principles of Buddha Amida, a member of which had been employed to attack Blackthorne the previous night. Yabushige realizes that he is in a troublesome situation as his shifting loyalties have been known to Toranaga, who questions him about his meeting with Ishido. Yabushige reveals that Ishido had offered him Toranaga’s seat in the Regent Council in exchange for betraying him, but he refused. Toranaga wants to know what he truly desires, and Yabushige honestly acknowledges that an increase in his fief is what he wants. Toranaga promises to grant his wish in exchange for escorting a part of his clan, his wife Lady Kiri, and Blackthorne back to the fishing village in Ajiro while he and Hiromatsu stay behind.

For Toranaga, Blackthorne’s survival is crucial, not only for him but also to protect the nation from falling into the hands of Catholic Europeans. Previously, Toranaga had prohibited the Portuguese Black Ship’s departure from Japan after learning of the Catholic Europeans’ monopoly in Chinese trade and growing military power in a base in Macao. The update about the prohibition leads to heated arguments between the Black Ship’s Captain General and Catholic high priests. On the other hand, Hiromatsu consoles his granddaughter (Tadayoshi’s wife), who has lost her child and husband due to the cruel whim of fate, and tries to inspire her to honor the legacy of her father by taking up his katana. Mariko and Blackthorne gradually get acquainted when her strained relationship with her husband, Buntaro, gets highlighted. Buntaro might be a revered fighter in Toranaga’s clan, but it seems like he isn’t impervious to the age’s tendency to resort to toxic patriarchy. 

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As part of the clan prepares to leave Osaka Castle, taking Lady Kiri and Hiromatsu’s granddaughter inside a separate Norimono (Japanese palanquin), Ishido arrives with his troop and starts inspecting. Upon the completion of the inspection procedure, a distraction is created to allow Toranaga to swiftly switch places with Kiri no Kata—an incident witnessed only by Blackthorne and Mariko. The plan was to escort Toranaga out of Osaka Castle all along, a daring move considering that if the guise is discovered, Toranaga will be executed immediately. At the castle gate, once again, guards stop the procession and come dangerously close to foiling Toranaga’s plan—until Blackthorne decides to act on his own, throwing a fit of drunken English temper to distract the guards long enough to stop the inspection altogether. Ishido sends a small troop of his own to accompany the precession to the bay, where a galley is waiting to take them to Ajiro.


Did Ishido Learn About Toranaga’s Guide?

As the procession moves through the wilderness at night, Mariko and Bloodthorne share small talk to learn more about each other. Blackthorne mentions his son Tudor and daughter Lisbeth, but their conversation is cut short thanks to a surprise attack by Lord Kiyama’s forces, who want to eliminate the Anjin—Blackthorne. Volleys of fire arrows are launched to incapacitate many, leading to Toranaga being forced to come out and join the battle. Mariko takes up a Naginata and uses it to optimum effect to dispatch enemies left and right, and Blackthorne takes up arms as well to help in any way he can.

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Eventually, Ishido’s men realize that they have been duped as Toranaga was being escorted all along, and they start attacking Toranaga’s clan as well. Despite the majority of Ishido’s forces getting obliterated, survivors manage to flee. Yabushige is surprised to see Toranaga and asks him to inform him of his plans for next time. However, that might not be a wise choice in the long run, given the ambiguous nature of Yabushige’s loyalty. Anyway, Buntaro and a few of his loyalists decide to hold the opposition back, while the rest of the group, including Mariko, Toranaga, Blackthorne, and Yabushige, rush towards the galley. 


What Does Toranaga Seek From Blackthorne?

Words travel fast, and Ishido soon learns about the betrayal, leading him to gallop towards the bay area and send even more force to eliminate Toranaga before it’s too late. Buntaro holds his ground till his last breath and sacrifices his life to allow the remainder of Toranaga’s clan to reach the safety of the bay. Mariko is heartbroken, but she tries to compose herself. 

Blackthorne notices a barricade made by pirates in fishing boats across the open area of the harbor awaiting the arrival of their galley, and any effort to go through it would imply courting suicide. Seeing the much bigger and artillery-laced Portuguese Black Ship in front of them, Blackthorne suggests to Toranaga that he seek aid from them in exchange for some incentive. The Catholic high priests Martin and Dell’Acqua are seen to be present on the Black Ship, along with Rodriguez, who is piloting the ship. Toranaga promises wealth to Captain General of the Black Ship in exchange for a safe passage and asks Martin to sway the Christian Lords Kiyama and Ohno’s favor towards him in exchange for the construction of a church in Edo. Toranaga’s diplomatic wit seems to have won over the Catholics, but at the last moment, the Captain General urges Toranaga to leave Blackthorne in the galley, even though the rest of Toranaga’s clan is allowed to board Black Ship. It is a ploy to decimate the Englishman once and for all, as there is hardly any chance for the galley’s survival.

However, in times of crisis, Blackthorne showcases his nautical expertise as an adept pilot, and charging up the rowers of the galley matches the speed of the Black ship. Both ships cross over the barricade, with the galley using the Black Ship as a shield. Near a treacherous pass, the galley almost gets cornered and faces the risk of getting rammed by the Black Ship and sinking, but Black Ship pilot Rodriguez decides to spare Blackthorne’s life, partly due to the flamboyant show of bravery and partly due to how he previously saved his life. Both ships successfully get out of Osaka, much to the dismay of Ishido. Right after the news of Toranaga’s safe escape reaches his clan members staying in Osaka, Hiromatsu formally informs the Regent Council about Toranaga’s relinquishing his seat at the council, thereby making his impeachment impossible without the vote of all five members of the council. Later, Toranaga and the rest of his clan rejoin Blackthorne on the galley, and extremely pleased with Blackthorne’s strength of character, Toranaga names him Hatamoto, a gesture of highest honor in Japanese busho customs. Martin had also given Blackthrone’s journal to Toranaga, which, according to the Catholics, will prove Blackthorne to be a pirate. Toranaga informs Blackthorne about this, mentioning the fact that translating it will take quite a long time, which means for the moment, he doesn’t need to concern himself with this. 

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Toranaga informs Blackthorne that he wants him to train a part of his troop (including his son and Yabushige) in European disciplines, as he wants to be prepared for the upcoming large-scale conflict that will take place among the daimyos over the control of the nation. After a moment of hesitation, Blackthorne accepts his proposal and, in exchange, wants his ship and crew to be returned. Afterwards, a lighthearted exchange follows, with Toranaga requesting Blackthorne to teach him to dive and eventually challenging him to a swimming race to the shore of Ajiro. The episode ends with the duo racing each other while Mariko giddily watches them from the galley. Toranaga’s expertise as a tactician and Blackthorne’s bravery as a sailor complemented each other very well throughout the episode, and the ending marks the beginning of their relationship, which at times seems driven purely by mutual necessities but isn’t quite. 


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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