‘Shogun’ Finale Recap: “A Dream of a Dream”

Spoilers be waiting for Crimson Sky, but that shit happened fifty-leven days ago

Maaaan, listen. Before you ask, nah, ain’t no other recaps from this season so don’t even look. You didn’t miss a damn thing so don’t even bother Google with that. This show, this fuckin’ Shogun show y’all…listen. I put my jersey in the rafters for the recap game. I was Tim Duncan, enjoying my retirement and rarely seen and when you did see my, I had them jeans and flannel on with no edge up in sight. Your boy was trying not to be seen, OK! But this damn show. The power of Edo compelled me. So yeah, I had to lace them up one more time.

And while I am resisting the urge to recap this whole ass amazing ass season, I will start here.

Mariko. Mariko-sama. Is. The. Fucking. GOAT. Please, please, I beg of you, name me a more BOUT THIS ACTION, unshakeable willed character than The Translator. The T-M Hundred Terminator model.

Never been more upset to assume a character is dead, celebrate her escape and then realize nah, she bout to be dead as fuck. All in about 30 minutes, mind you. But T-M Hunned looms large in this episode, sorry, this masterpiece. So, let’s jump into this.


Laid to Rest

First off, as soon as I saw an old man on his death bed, I was like, this gotta be Blackthorne. About to die of old age in your comfortable bed, in this economy, gotta be a white dude. And it was. His boys looking at his Japanese artifacts and perpetuating some myth of him fighting off “hundreds of savages.” But hol up, wait a minute! I’m of the belief this shit ain’t real. Mostly because of the crucifix his blind ass clutches before we snap back to reality. But we gonna circle back on that.

Back in the Edo period, Yabushige in trying to wake Anjin. If it looks like your boy was hit by a bomb, he basically almost was. Except Mariko held that shit for him. For everybody fucking body. Old Man Blackthorne might have been some sort of dream sequence, but you know what was real? Mariko catching that powder last episode. No dying breaths. No last look goodbye, no gasp. Nothing. Just Mariko-sama already dead in John’s arms. After the Anjin let’s out the primal yell we all did last week, never stopped until confirming she was dead THIS week, John says a small prayer for her. And…he is NOT OK. Not to be lost in this, as ayebody is sobbing over T-M Hunned’s death, YabuJudas says (what he thought was to himself) “Forgive me…” which I’m sure, won’t come back to put a foot squarely in his ass.

Toranaga in the woods, literally stoking the flames, being watched over by his messenger bird with the same haircut. LITERALLY, NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS SCENE EXCEPT TORANAGA POKING A FIRE AND RANDOM NATURE SOUNDS, but you know something important is happening. The scene lasts 30 seconds and if you told me the fate of the world was decided in this moment, I would believe you. Cuz I’ve seen it happen before!

Back in Osaka, the council is meeting and y’all, this council been so fucking spineless and fickle to this point already. You can literally see the marionette strings on their neck for 9 episodes already. But now they bout to be intolerable! I mean good, fuck them. We ride for Lord T all day every day. But these dudes are all terrible people and terrible at their jobs. They all broken up about T-M Hunned’s death, saying it never should have happened. True. But where was y’all when she was literally fighting 8 muthafuckas in the yard with nothing but a spear and a kimono? It’s not like she was gonna break out a noble phantasm. The fuck did y’all expect then?!

Of course Lord T is “shocked and appalled to find that the woman he sent to offer her life up as an ultimatum to break the house arrest of his people and the other families somehow didn’t survive there is gambling in this establishment.” So, he done sent a raven saying yeah, you killed my vassal so I dipped out of Edo and sharpening my swords. It’s been emotional. Be easy.

This is complicated by the fact that the council knows that the council made this shit happen. As in Ishido. They still punks though. Ishido says that Lord T’s protest don’t mean shit, because they are united. Which is like saying, man, I hope it doesn’t rain today and the clouds been darker than sources for discrimination all fucking day. They couldn’t unite a pizza or a damn jigsaw puzzle right now. When MORE commentary happens about how its wild such a despicable act could come from the council. Ishido or “No I in team, but there is a Me” gonna try and blame Toranaga for the attack. Even Lady Ochiba is like, “this muthafucka…” The gall. The nerve.

Ishido is ready for war now, but the council is like, nah, she was good Christian folk, she needs a burial. Ishido tries to bypass this and play the Akechi card but Lady Ochiba is like nah b, y’all gonna give my homie her flowers.

To be clear, this was not a suggestion. This was not a request. Or a meek, sly offering. She told Ishido what the fuck was about to happen. I quote:

Lady Mariko will…generously be honored.

Translate that in whatever language you wish but the end result was, don’t shit get done till my girl is laid to rest.


Ishido couldn’t do nothing but shut his ass up. The council is like we will have the heir’s support and army right. And Ishido, confident as all hell, like hell yeah we got that honor shit my dude. Let’s ride…after the funeral of course. And right when Ishido is writing the war report, an earthquake hits.

Y’all there are omens. And then there are just direct messages from the heavenly father telling you to slow your ass down. Perhaps, these dudes need to listen up more.

War Time Prep

Ishido comes to visit YabuJudas and listen. Y’all ain’t gonna make me feel bad for this snake. Y’all ain’t gonna make me be like, well, he had no choice, and the consequences of his actions are having a profound effect on him. Fuck all that.


This muthafucka is broken. Like picked up a pre-ordered cart of groceries and all the eggs look like they’ve seen war, broken. T-M Hunned’s death fucked him up, y’all. Ishido trying to sell this dude on him being on the council once Toranaga is dead. But YabuJudas, you know what he care about right now? Fish. Specifically, catfish in the pond. That ain’t. Fucking. There. Whew Lawd. Ishido gotta better chance of whipping out a cell phone and making an automated appointment with his therapist’s office for council than he does of YabuJudas being worth a damn for him moving forward. When Ishido said, “there are no catfish in that pond,” I heard that shit in the key of “there was no dope on that boat.” Ishido tells him to get his army ready, but y’all, he knows that shit is an absolute wrap.

Cut to Toranaga in the most majestic shot in the series…like what the actual hell man.

Where can I purchase this painting?

Anyways, he releases his falcon to the sky, saying, “Bear many Daughters.”  I don’t have anything else to add except that:

  1. It’s just a beautiful ass scene and,
  2. Toranaga been on screen for a total of maybe 90 seconds, said two lines, and you already feel like he is controlling everything we see.

He Been IN IT

Old Man Blackthorne dreaming again about the path not taking and his sorta-sons asking about the savages. But all your Anjin can see is Mariko-sama. Naw, dead that savages shit. My man found LOVE. He wakes up from his micro-coma or whatever and is told he been out long enough to miss T-M Hunned’s funeral service. A couple of days ago! Damn, they must have thought your boy would never wake up. He’s been hit few times, so he walks with a limp. Now, he’s traveling with Father Martin on Toranga’s behalf and Taking the Blackthorne is expecting this staged death in the woods at any minute.

I want to move on from this scene, because the coming scenes are fucking cinema, but this part is so damn good to me. We saw this first when Father Martin misinterpreted his Japanese a few episodes back, but the good Father is so sure that the Heir’s army will help defeat Toranaga and Taking the Blackthorne is like, bruh, you don’t know shit. It’s just a dope ass way of showing how Blackthorne was the savage in a new land, not knowing shit about what was happening, the people, the customs, and Father Martin was trying to tell him how shit goes down. But now Blackthorne is clearly the more knowledgeable of the landscape than Father Martin, mostly because Father Martin is at arm’s length of the province and the culture, while Blackthorne has been IN IT. Just a dope progression. Aiight, we back to it.

Blackthorne realizing that Mariko made all this shit happen and that Toranaga didn’t even have to raise a sword or get within a stone’s throw of Osaka. Taken the Blackthorne thinks he’s about to die right here, but surprise, Mariko done went and prepared a place for your boy. Not in heaven, but literally on a boat and back to Toranaga. Blackthorne learns this and my dude just melts. He on the boat making the ride choppy cuz his tears flooding the lake. Shit was rough.

Lady Ochiba chillin with her son, finishing her latest chapbook. She recites Mariko’s last line of poetry back to her and asks her son’s opinion for the next line. Now listen, the heir is young, and sheltered and naïve. None of those things are his fault. But that stanza was trash. I’m just gonna be up front about that. Get this dude in a workshop ASAP. I got some texts he can get started on cuz supposed to be ruling over all this shit. You can at least get this word game tight. Not like he got shit else to work on right now. Thankfully, Lady Ochiba comes through with one of the many, many great lines in this finale.

Flowers are only flowers because the fall.

But thankfully, the wind.

Look, I ain’t going overboard here, I ain’t about to go full MFA on you or anything. But line economy, diction, staying within the metaphor. Trust me, the shit slaps. And also, a clear indication that some shit has changed.

Check Your Scorecard

Bruh, this boat ride. I’m still fuck YabuJudas all day, but that don’t mean I want to watch a slow death. This shit is rough as hell. First, he asks for Blackthorne to take him back to England. Like, my dude, what in the entire fuck is YabuJudas gonna do in 17th century England?! You thought shit was rough in the Sengoku lands, at least the folks wash here man! Then he tries to emulate Toranaga and wants the Anjin to teach him how to dive. This was Five Heartbeats, I still got it levels of sad. Blackthorne legit did the Homer Simpson in the bushes meme and tried to back all the way out of this dude’s field of vision.

But then, they see the ship. Or what used to be the ship. Burnt to a fuckin crips, sitting at the bottom of the channel. If you are scoring at home, here’s how Taking the Blackthorne’s current events are going:

Goes to Osaka with Mariko, assuming he’s gonna die there like everyone else.

Watches Mariko almost get herself killed via combat.

Almost has to kill Mariko himself as he seconds her Seppuku

Makes love to Mariko

Evades assassins

Watches Mariko get blown the fuck up

Wakes up *sometime later* and misses Mariko’s funeral

Assumes he’s going to be killed in the woods

Learns that Mariko saved his life before hers ended

And then…sees his only thing left, his ship, destroyed and useless

White dudes ain’t been down bad like this since they integrated baseball. But like, we have so much more emotional damage to go. They get to shore and yo, YabuJudas is happy to be home!

…until they hem his ass up IMMEDIATELY. His nephew said I was told to get your swords. Takemaru tells Yabu the order comes from Toranaga himself, and Yabu don’t even flinch. HE KNOWS IT’S THE END. He don’t fight. He don’t protest or try to talk any shit, just accepts it.

Muraji pulls Blackthorne aside and tells him that Christians slipped through and destroyed the boat. Blackthorne takes this as Mariko’s doing, as a deal for his life. Bruh listen, the way we just kind of never know exactly what the plans are until well after the fact…

Betrayal Brings The End

By the way, it’s a gruesome sight in town. Literal heads on literal stakes. Full village lockdown is in effect. Fucking around is not who Toranaga is.

YabuJudas is brought before Toranaga and yo…he doesn’t even hesitate. He’s basically like, so here’s the sitch, you betrayed me, let in assassins and after they killed Mariko, we got you 4K admitting this shit. So…is there anything else to talk about.

Can I make a note that, I would love to go back to the personal handwritten notes, perfectly folded rectangular letter as a form of communication. Like, for real, let us get off of Meg’s internet and just hand each other letters from now until forever. I mean, I kinda want that. Cuz the reality is, every time someone reaches in their clothes and pulls one of them muthafuckas out, it either confirms something bad has already happened or that something bad is about to happen. Shit was an omen. So yeah, I like the aesthetic but I might need to workshop mechanics of the letter revolution first.

YabuJudas admits the betrayal, and Toranaga is like bet. Your lands are forfeit, kill yourself by tomorrow night. Ok, cool, I think we’re done here. Damn, finished early, we can still get lunch.

After Yabushida (look, the dude is condemned to die, I figure I can address him properly now) gets several requests denied, Toranaga asks who he wants to second him, and Yabushida says the Anjin. Toranaga is like, nah.

And I literally laughed out loud at this part because I feel like Yabushida could have named fifty-leven people and he would have said no to all them until Yabushida chose Toranaga himself. I think Yabushida knew that shit too. Like damn, this dude really just wants to cut my head off. Should have humored him and seen how long Toranaga kept that shit up. We could’ve been there till it got dark.

No Translator

Man, what a kind of great send off for Fuji. She deserved a non-terrible ending to her story. But some of these scenes? Lawd. She sits next to Blackthorne, and he looks over to the empty spot and simply says, “No Translator.” Fuck man. Like, can we go one seen without putting our heart back in our chest and then, with gentle hands, removing that shit again.

Toranaga is holding his new son, and Ma Dukes said she is sorry for Lord Nagakado’s death. Toranaga is like, yeah, sad shit, but at least I got other sons. Y’all, he really said that Nagakado doing the reverse slip and slide and busting his head open on the healing rocks was a canon event. Shit is fucking cold out here. But the scene ends with of course, another letter, smuggled in secret from Lady Ochiba. First off, why this letter so long. Toranaga was unfolding this thing for half an hour.

Second, that is the face of a man who won every prop bet, every parlay, bet the Golden State Warriors wouldn’t make the playoffs, bet the Black talk shows would take Candace Owens back with no interrogation, everything. If I text this to you, that means I have already won, and you don’t even know what game we were playing.

If I send this to you, know that no matter what game you thought we were playing, I’ve already won.

And just to perfectly encapsulate this scene, my dude just spits some Mariko’s poetry off the top.

“Only her words remain with us now. But what a bonfire she made.”

But he’s holding back tears as he says this. Ugh, this fucking show.

Fuji has her families remains ready for transport and tells Blackthorne that she is leaving to become a nun. At first the Anjin is like, um, your boy is lonely. And it ain’t even like THAT, but your boy can’t really be alone right now. And Fuji is like, nah, I get it, but I don’t work for you no more? I hope that’s cool. And it is. Their relationship arc is pretty awesome, let’s just say that. After that reconciliation, she says she’s sad for the village because Toranaga is just killing folks after the ship got burnt. So Blackthorne requests a meet.

The Best Scene

Taking the Blackthorne meets Takemura on the edge of town and takes his weapons. Much more cordial than the beginning of this series. And look, I know everyone loves the Yabushida last scene. I do too. And everyone loves the scene on the boat with Fuji and Blackthorne. I do too! But this shit? This gotdamn scene. Possibly one of my favorite scenes in recent TV. Point. Blank. Period.

Toranaga first tells him that he will not rest until he finds out who sabotaged Blackthorne’s ship. Now, we should have known that nothing we expected to happen was going to happen this scene, when Muraji drops his cover and tells Anjin who he is. Not just that he was a spy for Toranaga. But that he is actually a samurai but converted to Christianity with the Portuguese. Years ago. And…your boy out here speaking the King’s English. Blackthorne is like, what the entire fuck is happening right now.

BUT the counter punch is that Blackthorne doesn’t even need the interpreter like that, because he prepared his own statement in Japanese. He apologizes for the disrespect he showed at the summit. He admits that he had given up and no longer had…he falters. Which leads to this gorgeous exchange:

Muraji: Hope? Hope. Or is the word you are looking for “faith”?

Blackthorne: At this point either one will do.

Ok, I will be brief. Writing is a talent. Writing is a skill. So it is unrealistic to expect every TV show to be beautifully written all the time. But something I want the streaming service hustlers to take note of is, uncertainty is a powerful tool. It does not serve your characters to always be so certain in what they say and do. Sometimes they don’t have the words, sometimes, they make bad decisions because they weren’t ready to make any decisions at all. I think a lot of writers think strongly defined characters is synonymous with strongly convicted and certain characters; and this scene is kind of a perfect example against that idea. ANYWAYS.

Blackthorne asks Toranaga to stop the terror against Ajiro, explaining that his enemies didn’t burn his ship, but that Mariko exchanged the ship for his life.

Toranaga: What about the Anjin’s war?

Blackthorne: [English] I don’t…need it anymore. [Japanese] My war, small war.

Do I need to say anything? Nah, I don’t need to say anything on that.

Toranaga is like, ok, cool, requests denied. Basically, even if that was Mariko’s order, someone still disobeyed his law, making them disloyal and that shit can’t stand. And now, we have the moment, I feel pretty comfortably saying might make Cosmo Jarvis the front runner for a Golden Globe. With tears in his eyes the entire time. He states that he, Blackthorne is actually the disloyal one and is offering his life for the village. When Toranaga says no, Blackthorne loses his shit. He admits that he was the enemy all along because of his intents when he got there. Your boy strengthens his resolve, quotes Mariko one more time and begins to commit Seppuku in protest. Until Toranaga stops him. And when I say stops him. He literally prevents John from driving the short sword into his heart and then gives him a forearm shiver to the face.

I had no idea what Toranaga was going to say after this. He could have spelled out the secret of life, and it wouldn’t have surprised me. But I did not have “if your dramatic ass is done showing out for TikTok now, get off your ass, repair that boat and make me a fleet.”

Wait, WHUT?

You know that line in Ocean’s Eleven when he Reuben says, “He’ll kill you. And then he’ll go to work on you.”

That’s what shit felt like. Like, why would I let you die when I have shit you could be doing for me. Blackthorne looking as confused as us. But you know what…them heads came off them spikes. So…win-win?

Great last moment between Takemura and his uncle Yabushida. He gives him his death poem. And listen, in the multiverse Yabushida may be a trustworthy dude, he may be Shogun, maybe he escaped to England. But within infinite possibilities, there’s a zero percent chance he was a good poet. Also, he gives over his will v.187.

So. Much. Shit happens in this conversation. It’s basically the best version of a villain dropping telling the hero his evil plan, except nothing like that at all, lmao. Toranaga basically ties up almost every loose thread over some casual ass conversation. First takeaway: yeah, he burned the Anjin’s ship, and he’d gladly do that shit again. That dude ain’t never leaving (and historically, never did).

Yobushida asks him how it feels to control the wind, and Toranaga responds, I’m not a player I just crush a lot.

Yabushida still can’t see how Toranaga can win with the Heir’s army backing Ishido and the other families united. How is Crimson Sky supposed to work? And Toranaga is like, my dude? Seriously? You really asking me that shit. Crimson Sky BEEN done, homie. Shoutout to Black Dynamite because they threw that shit before he walked in the room!

Then, Toranaga turns into a precog and starts telling Yabushida the future. But let’s be real, Toranaga was always a precog. Lady Oshiba sent a raven saying she off that Ishido pack. The regents gonna turn against him. And Toranaga gonna start his empire building in Edo, the center of his power. You know what’s coming right. SAMURAI SAID TORANGA COULDN’T COME BACK HOME. YOU KNOW WHEN HE HEARD THAT? WHEN. HE. WAS. BACK. HOME. This shit is done y’all. Check and mate before they finished setting the board up. And then this shit.

 “All of us have made this possible. You, me, Lady Mariko…Even the barbarian who came out of the sea.

*Draws sword*

How many times I’ve thought of giving his life away but stopped. Not because he’s important – my banner would survive without him – but because he makes me laugh. And my enemies need a distraction.”

Fucking perfection. No jokes. No adlibs. When something is perfect, you LET IT BE.


To Be Shogun

Yabushida realizes that Toranaga wanted to be Shogun from the jump and every single move he made was for this eventuality. Got. Damn. Of course, when he asks for confirmation, Toranaga hit him with that call back line, “why tell a dead man the future?”

What follows: a self-inflicted wound to the stomach, a head turn, a dying man’s smile, a slight grin from the executioner and then one, clean, cut. A far cry from when he was a boy and unsure of himself, taking him several hacks to cut off his defeated enemies’ head.


Don’t mean to short these last scenes, but are you not exhausted? Cuz I am. This effin show man.

Blackthorne takes Fuji out to the water one last time. He has put her families remains in the boat, and they row out together. He believes that a soul committed to the deep lives on forever. The spread her family’s ashes into the water before he does the same with Mariko’s cross, the beautiful line returning again, “let your hands be the last to hold her.”

And now, we arrive at the end, with Blackthorne trying to coordinate the village to raise the boat. Man, they ain’t pullin shit. Anjin tells them to rest, but then the strongest warrior in the land rolls up to help. I didn’t really need or want Buntaro to get some glorious ending but his life over the last few weeks been worse than Blackthorne man. So him laying down his sword to help pull Blackthorne’s ship out of the water was great. Better than great. But not as great as when the boat finally comes out of the water and the villagers all laughing and joyous elation, still pulling, still grunting, all working together. I dunno man. What other show does this?! Blackthorne offers Buntaro his water and is captivated by seeing Toranaga overlooking everything. As he always has. And maybe Blackthorne figured some shit out just now. Maybe he just admires the man.


…or maybe, Blackthorne is like me, likely you, that is looking at this towering achievement and saying, gotdamn. I’m standing in the shadow of greatness. Cuz that’s how it felt watching this show every week. Just a masterpiece. And if you disregard the 4K+ words I’ve already written, no notes.

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  • William is the Editor-In-Chief, leader of the Black Knights and father of the Avatar. With Korra's attitude, not the other one.

  • Show Comments

  • EvilNinjaX24

    Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, I’ve missed this! Your reviews brought me to this site many moons ago (Banshee!), and this is 100% THAT SHOW you come out of retirement to grace us with your insight for. Appreciate you, for real for real.

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