Shogun (2024) Episode 3: FX and Hulu’s “Shogun” has opened to widespread critical acclaim with its inaugural double episodes last week. The meticulously crafted period political drama continues its strong run in the third episode. Powerful performances, intricately designed sets, and dramatically beautiful action pieces (which involve a ship chase) make the latest episode a barn burner. The lead characters, Hiroyuki Sanada’s Lord Toranaga and Cosmo Jarvis’ John Blackthornes are showing signs of friendship, and the creators of the show are showing signs of great television. 

Shogun Episode 3 Recap:

Escape From Osaka

At the end of last week’s episode, we saw an assassin penetrating the chambers of Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) with nothing but killing in mind. However, Toranaga’s sharp mind anticipated that, and his swift Katana action ensured the killer’s death. At the same time, Toranaga and his party realized that the assassin had not come to kill him but the English sailor, John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), they had allowed to stay. 

This episode starts with Toranaga’s covert meeting with Kashigi Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano). Toranaga wants confirmation of Yabushige’s loyalty as he knows Yabushige’s meeting with Lord Ishido (Takehiro Hira). Toranaga promises an extension of Yabushige’s fiefdom. The two seem to have reached an agreement. Toranaga, realizing that his and his party’s lives are endangered in Osaka, hatches a plan to leave it. 

Toranaga is facing impeachment from the rest of the Regents. As a result, he cannot leave Osaka. But Lady Kiri, wife of Toranaga, can. Toranaga decides that Lady Kiri, along with Blackthorne and Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai), will leave Osaka. Yabushige is asked to escort them to his fief. As expected, Lord Ishido and his force come to make an inspection. With shrewd planning and a little bit of dramatic improvisation from Blackthorne, Toranaga disguises himself as Lady Kiri and takes her place inside the palanquin. Off they leave Osaka. 

Attack by Christian Lords

The Christian Lords of the Regents, like Lord Kiyama, had promised the Portuguese Catholic church that they would kill Blackthorne. Blackthorne is a protestant and comes from England. Apart from the obvious religious reasons, the Portuguese church authorities in Osaka are also concerned about keeping their oriental trade secret, lest it bring more colonizing Europeans. It is implied that this Catholic faction of Japan sent the assassin to kill Blackthorne.

Toranaga’s reluctance to hand Blackthorne over made the Catholic Lord Kiyama wary of his movements. The moment Toranaga’s entourage leaves Osaka and walks into the woods, they are attacked by Kiyama’s soldiers. The fight ensures that Toranaga has to come out of the palanquin and reveal his disguise. This prompts Ishido’s soldiers to turn against him. 

Toranaga’s Treaty

Buntaro (Shinnosuke Abe), Mariko’s husband and famed warrior, encourages the entourage to leave for shore as he thwarts a continuous barrage of enemy attacks almost single-handedly. Buntaro finally perishes in the combat, but not before ensuring his lord, Toranaga’s, and everyone else’s safety. Lord Toranaga salutes him for that. 

However, Buntaro’s sacrifice does not seem enough, as Kiyama’s men are present in the sea as well. Blackthorne notices that and points it out to Toranaga. The ship Blackthorne gets for Toranaga is a small one. It will not be able to break the lines of Kiyama’s forces. The only way for them seems the gigantic Black Ship of the Portuguese merchant, Ferreira. The same ship which Toranaga did not permit to leave in the last episode. With the mediation of Father Martin (Tommy Bastow), Toranaga finds a way to strike a deal with Ferreira. However, the Portuguese authorities have a non-negotiable term: to leave Blackthorne on the smaller ship. 

Shogun Episode 3 Ending Explained:

Did Rodrigues Save Blackthorne? 

Toranaga and his party leave Blackthorne with the crew of the smaller ship and embark the Portuguese black ship. The Ship’s pilot is Rodrigues (Nestor Carbonell). Now, if you remember, Blackthorne saved Rodrigues previously when a shipwreck had stranded him in a cove. Despite having conflicting interests, Blackthorne and Rodrigues have shown signs to rise above their apparent animosity. 

When Ferreira’s ship charges towards Kiyama’s forces (the Portuguese are not aware that the forces belong to Lord Kiyama), Blackthorne urges his crew to follow suit. His passionate piloting inspires the Japanese crew despite the language barriers. Blackthorne follows the path created by the much larger vessel. Ferreira asks Rodrigues to close the path and push Blackthorne’s ship towards the reef. 

Just when it seems that the Black Ship will drive Blackthorne’s small ship to the reef, Blackthorne’s last-ditch effort sees the ship sail ahead of the Black Ship, avoiding collision with the reef. It is apparent that Rodrigues allowed that to happen. Ferreira becomes upset, but Rodrigues considers his debt to be repaid. It is implied that he remembered Blackthorne’s actions to save him and reciprocated here. 

Why Did Toranaga Resign?

Meanwhile, back in Osaka, Toda Hiromatsu (Tokuma Nishioka) delivers a letter on Lord Toranaga’s behalf to the council of Regent dictating Toranaga’s resignation from the council. Acting Council head Lord Ishido says that Toranaga will still be impeached. But Hiromatsu points out that without Toranaga, the Council only has four members. And as per rules, only a council of five can rule in favor of impeaching. This is a political masterstroke from Lord Toranaga. 

Did Toranaga Ignore Blackthorne’s Journal?

Before helping Toranaga, Father Martin once again tries to vilify Blackthorne’s records in front of him. He presents Blackthorne’s confiscated journals to Toranaga, highlighting that the journals contain records of massacres and loot done by the English. After Blackthorne’s miraculous survival with the small ship, Toranaga confronts him about that. He informs him that under his command, the punishment for piracy is death.

But, he proceeds to state the evidence given by Martin would need to be translated for them to be allowable, and the translations could take years. It is clear that Toranaga has started to grow fond of Blackthorne. He considers Blackthorne’s tactical prowess an asset. Blackthorne has been called ‘barbarian’ by Toranaga and his people so far. Toranaga changes that and bestows him the title “Hatamoto” — a title carrying great honor. If there is any doubt about the budding friendship between Toranaga and Blackthorne, then the final scene of the two men diving into the depths of the sea clears that. Certainly, they have started to show signs of allying. 

What About Mariko and Blackthorne?

Whether through the sexual innuendo-filled talks or the heart-to-heart conversations about children, Mariko and Blackthorne have shown signs that they are growing quite fond of each other. From the beginning, there has been a will-they-won’t-they vibe about the two of them. With Mariko’s husband dying in this episode, Mariko could very well be free to follow her heart. The next few episodes are going to be interesting, to say the least. 

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Shogun (Premiere) Episode 3 Links: IMDb, Rotten TomatoesWikipediaLetterboxd
The Cast of Shogun Episode 3: Cosmo Jarvis, Hiroyuki Sanada, Anna Sawai, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroto Kanai, Takehiro Hira, Moeka Hoshi, Shinnosuke Abe
Shogun Genre: Historical Drama | Runtime: 10 Episode (55–70 min)
Where to watch Shogun

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