Shōgun Finale Recap: Did Toranaga’s Master Plan Lead to Victory? And Who Didn’t Survive to See It? (Grade It!)

Shōgun Finale Recap: Did Toranaga’s Master Plan Lead to Victory? And Who Didn’t Survive to See It? (Grade It!)
Shōgun Finale Recap: Did Toranaga’s Master Plan Lead to Victory? And Who Didn’t Survive to See It? (Grade It!)

We’ve reached the final chapter in FX’s sweeping adaptation of Shōgun — so did all of Toranaga’s planning pay off in the end? Well, not for everyone.

More from TVLine

Tuesday’s finale opens with a vision of Blackthorne as an old man, dying in bed while clutching a cross, before we go back to the explosion that killed Mariko. Blackthorne is shaken awake by Yabushige and runs to Mariko’s body, but she’s dead. As he yells out in rage and prays over her body, Yabushige quietly says, “Forgive me.” After her death, the lords hold an emergency meeting where they learn that Toranaga has sent a letter of protest and is preparing for war. Ishido is ready to fight, but the other lords — and Lady Ochiba — insist that they give Mariko a proper Christian burial first. Ishido says, “War is inevitable,” but just then, an earthquake strikes Osaka, and another lord wonders if that’s a sign they should talk this over a bit longer.

Ishido turns to a still-dazed Yabushige, offering him a seat on the council after Toranaga is defeated. But Yabushige is wracked with guilt over his role in Mariko’s death, and he remembers when the previous ruler had the lords lined up against Toranaga… before an earthquake struck. While Ishido orders Yabushige back to Izu to await his orders, Toranaga sets his falcon free, encouraging the bird to “bear many daughters.”

After another vision of himself as an old man, Blackthorne wakes up with a bandaged head and his ears ringing, thinking of Mariko. She was buried while he slept, and the Portuguese priest Alvito informs him he’s been given a permit to return to Toranaga along with Yabushige. As they walk towards the ship, Blackthorne senses an ambush is coming, and Alvito admits, “You were meant to die in these woods, but an arrangement was made.” Mariko asked the church to spare his life, Alvito reveals, and the priest honored her request. So an emotional Blackthorne sails back with Yabushige, who frantically suggests they keep sailing to England together, but Blackthorne can see he’s just desperate to save his hide and waves him off.

While Ochiba completes her unfinished poem using Mariko’s “Flowers are only flowers because they fall” line, Blackthorne and Yabushige arrive — where they find Blackthorne’s ship half-sunk in the water. The Christians snuck in and did it, the spy Muraji tells him, and now Toranaga is beheading people trying to find out who helped them. Yabushige gets a rude welcome from Omi and his men, who confiscate his swords and bring him before Toranaga. The lord knows that Yabushige let in the invaders who killed Mariko, and when Yabushige confesses, Toranaga calmly tells him: “Please slit your belly by sunset tomorrow.” Yabushige would prefer a noble death in battle, but that’s denied, and so is his request to have Blackthorne second him. So Toranaga will take that honor himself.

Blackthorne reunites with Fuji (yay!), who sadly notes that they don’t have a translator anymore. She shows him the ashes of her husband and baby and lets him know she’s leaving tomorrow to become a nun. Blackthorne tries to protest, but he sees her mind is made up, telling her she’ll make the best nun. Toranaga holds his newborn son and also receives a secret message from Ochiba, which we don’t see. He recites a poem Mariko wrote about a bonfire, adding: “Only her words remain with us now. But what a bonfire she made.” He meets with Blackthorne, too, and tells him how disgusted he is by what happened to his ship. But Blackthorne thinks he’s gone too far in punishing the townsfolk — because he knows why his ship was destroyed.

Mariko traded his ship for his life, Blackthorne explains, saying in broken Japanese: “Want no more blood.” When Toranaga won’t budge, Blackthorne lays down his sword and offers his own life in exchange for the village. He yells and screams at Toranaga, angrily telling him: “I came here to use you. Use you!” Finally, he takes his sword and points at his own chest, saying his death will be a protest against Toranaga’s treatment of the villagers. But just as he’s about to plunge his sword in, Toranaga stops him. Instead, he orders Blackthorne to rebuild his ship and “make me a fleet” while he’s at it.

Yabushige marches to his certain death, asking Omi to find his wife a new husband and “make sure he’s not an idiot.” He meets Toranaga on a cliffside and tells him he wishes he could live to see his grand plan come to fruition. Toranaga reveals he already knew why Blackthorne’s ship was burned, and it was actually a test: “Perhaps someday I’ll tell him the truth.” Yabushige marvels at how the lord can bend the wind to his will, but Toranaga counters: “I don’t control the wind. I only study it.” When Yabushige asks if he still plans to launch Crimson Sky, Toranaga corrects him: “Crimson Sky is already finished.” He “sent a woman to do what an army never could,” and because of Mariko’s sacrifice, Ochiba has pledged to keep her son’s army from the battlefield. (So that’s what that message was.) The other lords will turn against Ishido, and Toranaga will start “a nation without wars” and “an era of great peace.”

Yabushige asks him if he wants the title of shōgun, but Toranaga holds a blade to his neck: “Why tell a dead man the future?” Yabushige draws his blade and stabs himself in the gut, and Toranaga finishes the job by chopping off his head, which rolls off the cliff into the sea. Blackthorne takes Fuji out on a boat and helps her spread her husband and baby’s ashes into the sea (“Together forever”), and he throws in Mariko’s prayer beads, too. Then he leads a group of men in hauling his ship out of the water, and when it won’t budge, Buntaro humbly steps up to lend a hand. With his help, they haul the boat onto shore, and Blackthorne cries out in victory. Buntaro hands him some water to drink as Toranaga gazes out at the sea, surveying his kingdom.

What’d you think of the finale, Shōgun viewers? Grade the episode and the season as a whole in our polls, and then hit the comments to share your thoughts.

Best of TVLine

Get more from Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter