Dramatic deaths have become a cornerstone in each of the past couple of episodes of “Shogun.” The FX drama, created by Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks, has upped the intensity in each passing episode. “Shogun” episode 9, titled “Crimson Sky,” is a tantalizingly thrilling episode that highlights the central characters’ defining traits while making us go through the hour with bated breath. With twists and turns in every episode, we can only wait with anticipation for what the season finale will bring.

Shogun Episode 9 Recap:

Mariko Sama’s Fate

Accompanied by Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai), the entourage led by Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano) and Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) reaches Osaka. It is known that despite appearances, Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) has not thrown the towel yet. But he has paid a heavy price for that. His son’s death was followed by the death of his oldest trusted vassal, Toda Hiromatsu. The death Toranaga needed to establish his faux-surrender.

We knew what Mariko’s fate could be when Toranaga asked her to fulfill her duties like Hiromatsu did. But we hoped it would be different. But a flashback to show how Father Martin (Tommy Bastow) saved a suicidal Mariko and leaned her toward Christianity seems an ominous opening for the episode. So, we are not particularly surprised when we see her challenging Lord Ishido (Takehiro Hira) immediately.

The Audience with Ishido

Lord Ishido, accompanied by the heir-mother Ochiba No Kata (Fumi Nikaido), begins the council where Yabushige and Blackthorne plead their case. Yabushige presents himself with the message of Toranaga’s surrender. He tries to get into Ishido’s good books and uses Blackthorne’s expertise in firearms as a bargaining chip. However, an indignant Ishido waves him away, telling him that the matter will be discussed later. It’s certainly not the welcoming behavior Yabushige wished for.

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Next comes Mariko. She immediately states her business after formal greetings are exchanged. She is there as the vassal of Lord Toranaga. She proclaims that Lord Toranaga will surrender after his mourning period. Remember, Lord Toranaga has 49 days to mourn the death of his son. Ishido scoffs at it but could not protest. Mariko, then, pulls out the big gambit. She says that Lord Toranaga has asked her to come back with Lady Kiri, Toranaga’s wife. And Mariko plans to do the same the very next day.

Mariko’s Fight

Expectedly, Lord Ishido states that one cannot leave Castle Osaka like that. The council’s permission would be required to leave. Mariko claims that, as a vassal, she must fulfill her Lord’s wish. And she plans to do so. Yabushige and Blackthorne’s warning falls on deaf ears as Mariko takes Lady Kiri and Lady Shizu and proceeds toward the castle gate the next morning. Ishido’s warriors block her entourage. The imminent fight ensues. As the Regent Lords watch from above, Ishido’s men overpower the heavily outnumbered team of samurais from Mariko’s side.

This leaves Mariko no choice but to fight herself, and she fights well. However, she is still outnumbered. She has to stop and concede. So she does. But not before announcing that she will commit seppuku, as she is unable to carry out her lord’s wishes. As a devout Christian, she considers suicide a grave sin. So, she asks the Christian Regent Lord Kiyama to be her second.

Shogun Episode 9 Ending Explained:

Why Did Ishido Stop Mariko from Killing Herself?

Shogun Episode 9: Recap and Ending Explained
A still from “Shogun” Episode 9

We know Mariko and Ochiba grew up together. They were like sisters, a fact that Mariko admits in this episode. Ochiba tells Ishido and the other lords how Mariko longs to kill herself. She confirms that Mariko will go all the way and kill herself as she has promised. The choices for Ishido and the council are limited to two options. Stay firm on their decision and allow Mariko to kill herself. This could be the spark that ignites the fire of revolt amidst all the other Lords who are sort of hostages under Ishido’s command.

The other choice is to grant Mariko her desired permission to leave Osaka. This will avoid the bloodshed, but Ishido might have to loosen his grip over other Lords. As many of the other ‘captives’ would follow Mariko’s example and ask to leave. As Ishido continues to take time, Mariko’s time to commit seppuku comes. As she takes the knife to drive into her heart, Ishido comes and gives her permission to leave. It appears Ishido has figured that allowing some people to leave is the better course of action. But how very wrong we are.

Has Yabushige Betrayed Toranaga’s Plan?

Kashigi Yabushige has been a wild card since the very first episode. A classic double agent. We have seen him moving between Toranaga and Ishido countless times. Yabushige tries his best to understand which way the wind is going to blow. He has never underestimated Toranaga. That is why, despite having safer and better offers from Ishido’s camp, he has never fully swayed away from Toranaga. However, both he and Blackthorne have lost all hope on Toranaga. The intended sacrifice of Hiromatsu ensured that.

So, Yabushige is more keen on a friendship with Ishido now. Ishido, who has ‘officially’ allowed Mariko to leave, enlists Yabushige’s help to ensure that his choice does not come with repercussions. This means he only pretended to be accommodating to Mariko’s request. While on his order, Yabushige opens the doors for an army of Shinobi attackers who are clandestine killing machines. Yabushige’s act allows the Shinobi assassins to massacre the remaining Samurais and warriors of Mariko’s party. However, when the Shinobi attackers are not looking, Yabushige also awakens the remainder of the party to alert them about this midnight attack. So, once again, we are not fully sure where Yabushige’s loyalty lies at this moment.

Is Mariko dead?

The episode starts with Mariko finding solace in religion and pausing her suicidal tendencies for a higher purpose. This higher purpose has always been to help Toranaga when he needs it most. The entire episode oscillates around Mariko and her fate. When Ochiba asks Mariko to reconsider her stance to commit seppuku Mariko’s poetry-filled heart mentions that a flower is more beautiful because it falls. Mariko’s life’s glorious purpose is hinted to be her death. The timing of it.

Just before the attack of the assassins, Mariko and Blackthorne reignite their love as they share a bed. No doubt, they did the ‘pillowing.’ It is a poignant touch underlining the love that has blossomed between Mariko and the supposed barbarian. The attack wakes both of them up, and they immediately spring to action. They try to protect the ladies while attacking the Shinobi assassins. Blackthorne’s guns come in handy. However, they eventually have to hide in a store room. As the assassins prepare to blast the door of that hiding room, Mariko decides to take one final stance. She stands at the door and takes the blast full. There is no doubt Mariko dies, finally. Breaking all our hearts.

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Shogun Episode 9 Links: IMDb, Rotten TomatoesWikipediaLetterboxd
The Cast of Shogun Episode 9: 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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