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Shogun - A Dream of A Dream Review - The End of a Perfect Series

23 Apr 2024

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The audience has come to the end of one of the most talked about series. Still reeling from last week’s episode, Crimson Sky, viewers believed that a great battle was coming. However, this episode had a lot more revelations and dialogue than any action. 

These revelations did offer very powerful moments for perhaps what is the series finale. Showrunners have admitted that there have been no talks of a second season and Shōgun has always been presented as a limited series. However, while this episode did have great moments, the audience is left feeling disappointed with what was left out. 

Yabushige is torn to pieces, not literally, over his betrayal. He seeks forgiveness and perhaps shows signs of losing his mind immediately after the events of the last episode. Ishido, ever the actor, pretends to be disgusted by the actions leading up to Mariko’s death and blames Toranaga for the attack but judging by the looks on the council’s faces, not all buy it. Perhaps the small earthquake that happens as they vote for war is a sign to not move forward. Silly superstition as Ishido calls it. No one is saying the quiet part out loud. When Ishido does meet with Yabushige, he seems pleased with himself but perhaps showing a little sign of regret when he sees how Yabushige is acting; trying to catch a catfish in a pond. 

Blackthorne is taken out of the city by Father Martin, his life spared at the request of Mariko. Even in the face of death, her love for him shows. When Blackthorne arrives at Ajiro, he sees his ship has been sunk, part of Mariko’s deal to keep him alive. What is later revealed is that Toranaga sank the ship, blaming it on Christian spies as a test for Blackthorne who pleaded with Toranaga to stop searching for the spies and killing the villagers. Toranaga and Blackthorne have an intense conversation as it is revealed that the “fisherman” is actually a Samurai spy that speaks fluent English. Blackthorne admits he came to Japan as an enemy and wants all this pointless fighting to end. When he attempts seppuku, Toranaga stops him and tells him to rebuild his ship and give him a fleet. 

Blackthorne had an interesting revelation this episode, as he could not shake a dream he had after the explosion of him as an old man with his grandchildren in England. His grandsons asking if a savage really gave him swords. We see Blackthorne laying in bed holding onto Mariko’s cross necklace. When Fuji lets Blackthorne know her service to Toranaga is complete and she will become a nun, Blackthorne asks her to stay. Perhaps he does not want to be lonely. When she declines, he later takes her out to the lake to let go of her husband and son’s ashes. She does and he also lets go of Mariko’s cross necklace, letting it sink to the bottom of the lake. 

When he returns to land to raise his ship from the water, Buntaro arrives to help. He and Blackthorne bow respectfully to each other. Buntaro finally making his appearance in the episode and has no dialogue. While the moment was poignant, viewers are left with disappointment as we did not get to see his reaction to Mariko’s death. 

The best part of the episode is the last conversation between Yabushige and Toranaga. Toranaga was made aware of Yabushige’s actions and ordered to commit seppuku. Yabushige names his nephew as heir and Toranaga as second. We finally get to know Toranaga’s master plan. As many have pointed out last episode, Mariko was Crimson Sky and Ochiba has changed her mind (letting Toranaga know this in a letter) as she will not send the heir’s army to aid Ishido in the upcoming battle. This leaves Ishido with no banner which means no war. 

Yabushige realizing Toranaga is “no better than the rest of us” asks him, “how does it feel to shape the wind to your will” and Toranaga explains that he studies the wind, he does not shape it. Yabushige wants to know more and Toranaga says, “Why tell a dead man the future?” hits hard as the audience almost believes Toranaga will spare him. Yabushige stabs himself and Toranaga serves as second, ending an amazing character. 

This conversation was all about the performance of these two powerhouse actors and characters. While it was satisfying to see them have one last long conversation and to finally know Toranaga’s plans, we are left feeling a bit cheated out of a huge battle and the end of Ishido. I am shocked to say that for the first time while watching Shōgun, I felt a little bit disappointed. 

However, while feeling a bit disappointed by this last episode, the series is a masterclass. It is clear the showrunners took their time and were respectful of the culture they wanted to depict. The music, costumes and the casting of these actors deserves an award. Everyone brought their A game to this series. Minus the huge battle we all thought was coming, the series goes down as one of the best television shows in history earning it a solid A. 

So, Shōgun fans, what did you think of the series finale? Leave a comment and remember to chat with me on Twitter, @lovesprina.

About the Author - Je-Ree Olenik
Je-Ree is the definition of a Jersey Girl. A true nerd who loves her comics. When not watching tv she is a paralegal by day. She loves writing, reading, binging all the newest shows and spending time with her family. Twitter @lovesprina
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