After a riveting run of nine episodes, “Shogun” episode 10 pulls a risky blinder with its series finale. Thwarting the expectations of many, “Shogun” remains true to its titular character’s trickery and deception and deceives the audience in the process while providing the ending that Lord Toranaga deserves. Creators Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks adapted James Clavell’s novel of the same name fastidiously without ever compromising on production design and action pieces. So when the finale, the most anticipated episode, does not feature any warfare actions, you know it was intended so.

This lack of action might prove to be disappointing for some. But that is the risk “Shogun” takes to produce a fitting finale. The show always projected Lord Toranaga as the shrewdest statesman in Japan. “Shogun” highlights how Toranaga’s destiny of becoming the Shogun intertwined with the lives of John Blackthorne and Lady Mariko. It was Toranaga’s plan and politics that won him the war while sacrificing those lives. The actual actions on the battlefield were secondary. The absence of such scenes underlines that fact.

Shogun (Series Finale) Episode 10 Recap

Lady Mariko’s Death

The death of Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai) has the impact that Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) intended. The other Regent lords, especially Christian lords Kiyama and Ohno, are shocked by the sneak attack that killed Mariko. Kiyama and Ohno propose to have a proper Christian burial for Lady Mariko. Without saying it in those exact words, both Kiyama and Ohno express dissent at the backdoor strategy of Lord Ishido (Takehiro Hira). Unsurprisingly, even Lady Ochiba (Fumi Nikaido) stamps her authority by saying the war could be put on hold till Mariko’s death has been honored properly. Ishido reluctantly agrees to that.

Meanwhile, John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) recovers from his injuries and wakes up in a Mariko-less world. Things look dire for him as he is greeted by Lord Kiyama’s men. It is known that the Catholic Christian lords, with the influence of the Portuguese, would like to rid Japan of Blackthorne and everything English. Father Martin (Tommy Bastow) of the Portuguese party joins him as the warriors take him to a jungle. Martin and Blackthorne reminisce about Mariko and how she would have liked it if they had stopped their rivalry.

Martin also reveals that despite the initial plan to kill Blackthorne, they are going to release him. Blackthorne does not believe that immediately. However, when he sees that he is indeed being escorted to a boat with Yabushige and Toranaga’s family, he believes Martin. Martin reveals it is due to a request by Mariko. She asked for a safe passage of Blackthorne in exchange for a price. Blackthorne will learn what the price is once he returns to Izu.

Yabushige’s Return to Izu

Shogun (Series Finale) Episode 10: Recap and Ending Explained
A still from “Shogun” (Series Finale) Episode 10

When the entourage comprising of Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano) and Blackthorne reaches the shore of Izu, they see Blackthorne’s Erasmus ship at the bottom of the sea. Yabushige is immediately arrested the moment he steps on land. It is his nephew, Omi (Hiroto Kanai), who leads the charge here, acting on Toranaga’s orders. A clearly reluctant Omi takes Yabushige in front of Toranaga. We know Yabushige betrayed Toranaga and opened the doors for Ishido’s assassins. This act resulted in Mariko’s death, something Yabushige did not anticipate. The plan was to capture Mariko only. But Mariko’s sacrificial death made Yabushige question his allegiance, too.

Toranaga says that Omi has received words that Yabushige looked utterly guilty when Mariko died in that closed chamber. An already-regretting Yabushige does not deny his involvement in the act. He confesses to side with Ishido which led the attack on Mariko’s quarters in Osaka. Toranaga asks Yabushige to commit seppuku the next morning.

Blackthorne Helps Fuji

Blackthorne, meanwhile, is shocked to learn that Toranaga has assumed a saboteur inside his camp for the attack on Erasmus. And he is making the lives of the villagers hell on his quest to find the mole. Blackthorne remembers the words of Father Martin. He arranges a meeting with Toranaga, where Muraji, Toranaga’s trusted vassal acting as a fisherman, does the job of the translator. Blackthorne tells Toranaga that Lady Mariko ordered the destruction of Erasmus in exchange for Blackthorne’s life. Erasmus was the price that satisfied the Portuguese entourage.

When Toranaga does agree to relent, Blackthorne attempts seppuku. But Toranaga stops him. He asks him to get ready and rebuild Erasmus. Meanwhile, Fuji (Moeka Hoshi) decides to become a nun. Blackthorne tries to stop her, but she tells him that her duty towards Toranaga, and thus Blackthorne, is served. Toranaga has agreed to let her live the life of a nun. Blackthorne helps her in this new journey by convincing her to make peace with the death of her husband and child.

Shogun (Series Finale) Episode 10 Ending Explained:

How Did Mariko Win the War for Toranaga?

From the beginning, Lord Toranaga has intended to avoid bloodshed as much as possible. If trickery and gambits give the required result, Toranaga would rather resort to that than pick up a sword. Mariko has been a key figure in Toranaga’s plan from the beginning. When Toranaga sent Mariko to Osaka, he knew what Mariko’s fate was going to be. Mariko knew that as well and she sacrificed her life for that.

It is her death that ensures there will not be a full bloodbath. It is her death that divides the unification that Ishido made with the other lords. The Christian lords, especially, felt the slight on their religion when Ishido did not make the best effort to stop Mariko from killing herself. And Ishido’s backdoor attack made them feel blindsided. That is how the seeds of dissent are planted. And the worst thing that Mariko’s death does for Ishido is strain his relationship with Lady Ochiba. Ishido fails to understand that Lady Ochiba’s love for her old friend supersedes her hatred for Toranaga. This will become key to Ishido’s downfall.

What Does the End Mean for Toranaga? Did Toranaga Plan for the Whole Thing?

Shogun (Series Finale) Episode 10: Recap and Ending Explained
Another still from “Shogun” (Series Finale) Episode 10

For his seppuku, Yabushige chooses Toranaga to be his second. Before committing the final act, Yabushige has a chat with Toranaga. In this conversation, Yabushige learns a lot. Toranaga has always acted like he did not want to become Shogun, the one unifying leader of the country. However, as he reveals his true plan to Yabushige, who is about to die, Toranaga has always planned to become the Shogun. Blackthorne, known as the Anjin, helped Toranaga with a clever distraction. As the Portuguese, Christian lords, and even Ishido occupied themselves with this new ‘nuisance,’ Toranaga was able to concentrate on becoming Shogun.

Toranaga reveals how he has already won the war with a prophetic vision of Lady Ochiba withdrawing support from Ishido’s side. The series has followed Clavell’s book judiciously, and according to the book, Ishido will be captured in the Battle of Sekigahara. Toranaga also reveals that it was he who orchestrated the burning of Erasmus to get the Christian lords on his side. He also says that Blackthorne will never leave Japan. Yabushige asks if Toranaga always wanted to become the Shogun. To that, Toranaga does not answer, but after Yabushige commits seppuku and Toranaga removes his head, he smirks, which sort of answers Yabushige’s question.

What Was Blackthorne’s Vision All About?

“Shogun” (series finale) episode 10 starts with the scene of an old Blackthorne lying in his English house while his grandchildren ask him questions about his times in Japan. In this scene, Blackthorne has Lady Mariko’s cross in his hands, the Samurai helmet, and the Katana on his mantelpiece. It feels as if Blackthorne eventually did return to England.

However, we see Blackthorne dropping the cross in the sea on his trip with Fuji, an act of letting go. With that, if you add Toranaga’s words about Blackthorne’s karma being life in Japan, you realize that the opening scene is not something from the future. It is Blackthorne’s dream, which will not materialize. So, when we see Blackthorne, with renewed energy, immersing himself in the work to recover Erasmus and rebuild it, we know he is about to make peace with his fate.

Will There Be a Shogun Season 2?

“Shogun” ends exactly how the James Clavell’s novel ends. And it is the perfect end. If the creators wanted to show the details of the battle with Ishido, they would have done so already. So, it does not seem there would be any extension on the “Shogun” story. As of now, FX has not renewed it either. However, there is one hope. James Clavell has written a total of six books that form what is known as the “Asian Saga.” “Shogun” is chronologically the first book of that series. Could there be more seasons based on the other books? One can only hope.

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Shogun (Series Finale) Episode 10 Links: IMDb, Rotten TomatoesWikipediaLetterboxd
The Cast of Shogun (Series Finale) Episode 10: 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)
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