‘Shōgun’ Episode 7 Shows the Ultimate Betrayal

‘Shōgun’ Episode 7 Shows the Ultimate BetrayalFX

For the past two weeks, Shōgun has operated like a standardized-test question. Mariko can’t sit next to Blackthorne. Buntaro is on a break from his wife. Lord Ito is loyal only to the Taikō. Mariko’s father murdered Ochiba’s father. It’s a mess! Apparently, Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) is the only one who can sort out the complicated politics of seventeenth-century feudal Japan. He’s trying to piece together new threats from his Osaka rivals, but his vassals keep driving him insane with outlandish and trivial matters. In recent episodes, we’ve seen a forbidden romance, a rotting bird, and even a whole new power player. Well, my readers, prepare yourselves for another twist.

This week, Toranaga enlists the help of his brother, Saeki. The lord’s army was wrecked by an earthquake in episode 5, so Toranaga needs more manpower if he wants to go full Crimson Sky on Osaka Castle. Naturally, like every other character on Shōgun, Saeki immediately wants to hear about the Anjin. In perfect Japanese, Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) says, “It is an honor to meet my liege lord’s kid.” Nice one! Even if it was a memorized statement, it seems as if the dog has learned a few tricks.

Though the meeting is tense, Saeki assures Toranaga that it’s an honor to fight by his brother’s side. This is a great alliance for Toranaga, especially if it comes with Saeki’s pointy helmet. I’m not kidding when I say the headpiece is well over a foot long. (Seriously, it’s like a dorsal fin on the top of his head.) I wish the helmet were featured more prominently in the episode, but I assume it’s more of a ceremonial piece than something you would use on your enemies, Zinedine Zidane–style.

With or without the cool helmet, Saeki’s vibes are great. Toranaga gifts him Lady Kiku (Yuka Kouri) as his personal courtesan, Blackthorne behaves like a respectful foreigner (and not a raving maniac), and Saeki’s presence in the camp riles everyone up for a potentially successful siege of Osaka Castle. At the hot springs, Toranaga’s son, Nagakado (Yuki Kura), says that he once heard your first kill on the battlefield is better than your first woman. Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano) quips, “Depends on the woman.” Killer joke, Yabushige! Nothing could ruin this at all, right? Right?!

Where can I purchase a helmet like that?FX

Dinner is a different story. Blinded by the fact that he has easily doubled the size of his army, Toranaga fails the seating-arrangement question on his SAT. Blackthorne sits next to Mariko (Anna Sawai), and Buntaro (Shinnosuke Abe) is opposite Blackthorne. The samurai watches the Englishman struggle with his chopsticks, as Blackthorne misses his mouth entirely and drops his food onto his lap. Buntaro is on the verge of sobbing. This guy?!

Saeki is also behaving quite poorly. He thanks his brother for Lady Kiku’s services, but then he heel-turns and states that beauty is fleeting. “Like trying to grasp a river, or fuck a sunset,” he says. Omi (Hiroto Kanai) winces—he’s in love with Kiku even though she’s consistently passed around the camp. Then Saeki riles up Nagakado by telling a story about how a twelve-year-old Toranaga once decapitated the great Lord Mizoguchi in a single blow. We glimpse the moment in a flashback at the beginning of the episode, but it cuts right before Toranaga strikes Mizoguchi’s neck. Seeing Toranaga’s reaction in the present, however, it seems as if the story is a lie. But Saeki isn’t finished! He openly asks for the region of Izu in exchange for his army, even though Izu is currently Yabushige’s territory.

Toranaga is displeased.FX

If it seems like Saeki is having too much fun at the expense of others here, you’re not the only one picking up what this dastardly brother is putting down. Everything comes to a screeching halt once the newcomer tells a story about how Toranaga once shit his pants as a child hostage. No one is amused. Shitting yourself is objectively funny—if you can laugh at yourself, of course—but child-hostage jokes mark new territory for me. I’m sensing that mentioning either wasn’t the best move. But Saeki is a little stinker tonight, because his plan was to betray his brother all along. Lord Ishido (Takehiro Hira) got to him first and offered him the late Sugiyama’s (Toshi Toda) seat on the Council of Regents in exchange for turning his brother in. Betrayal! I wonder what Blackthorne thinks is going on here.

Stirred but not shaken, Toranaga flips to politics mode. He tells his traitorous brother that he is “honored to consider the Council’s request” and will submit his answer by the following day at sunset. Saeki allows the request but states that no one is allowed to leave. Okay! We’ve bought ourselves some time. Still, there’s a new problem here. Maybe Toranaga could try to barter with Saeki’s allegiances? I’d suggest that he convince Saeki to feign that he’s taking Toranaga and his army in like a Trojan horse. Then they can still take Osaka Castle together. Partner with your brother or become Unimportant Council Member No. 5? Go with the former, right?

Please, we do not have time for this.FX

While Toranaga mulls it over, we catch up with the rest of the cast. Igarashi, Yabushige’s general with the sweet eye patch, is killed. He was sent to try to barter peace with Ishido after Jozen’s death, but I guess that’s moot now. Bummer. Igarashi seemed like an impressive guy. (Maybe it was just the eye patch.)

Elsewhere, we’re treated to a training montage. Yabushige teaches Blackthorne the art of swordplay on the beach. Meanwhile, in a silent rage, Buntaro briefly threatens to kill him. Poor Blackthorne. I kind of feel bad for this guy now. Earlier in the episode, he straight up asked Toranaga why he’s even still here. He’s both an honored member of his crew and a prisoner. It’s clearly confusing for him.

Right after this incident, Buntaro asks Toranaga if he can kill Blackthorne. “He’s only aligned with you out of his own interests, and I don’t like the way he looks at my wife,” he tells his lord. Toranaga asks if he’s accusing his wife as well, but Buntaro dismisses that. If Buntaro said yes, he would apparently have to kill her, too. Awful rules all around, but it does allow Toranaga to defuse this whole thing. Then Mariko reminds the lord that she still wishes to end her life and join her family in death. Toranaga slaps the knife out of her hand and begs her to go join the sword-training party with everyone else. Even the tea house brothel owner makes requests of Toranaga this week. I can just picture him seething. It’s the dead bird all over again. Please, I do not have time for this shit!

Nagakado visits Fuji as she trains with her spear, and we glimpse some unexpected romantic tension. Is it just me? He says that he thought what her husband did was brave, even if it resulted in his death and the loss of her child. Not the strongest pickup line, but let’s go with it. “It should have been me,” he continues. Decent save. He adds that her family would still be alive if he wasn’t such a coward. Eek. Awkward play. Now it sounds like it’s actually your fault. “We do what we can, when we can,” she responds. Basically: Next time, prove it to me.

Training montage!FX

At sunset, Toranaga reveals that the Mizoguchi beheading story is indeed a lie. “It was nine times before that head came off,” Hiromatsu reminisces. “What a fucking mess you made.” Only your day-one friends can talk to you like that. “Who picks a child?” Toranaga jokes. After everyone assembles, he reveals that he’s chosen to surrender. He continues to play the part of the one guy who is following the rules, maintaining his ploy that the mutiny against the Taikō is solely coming from Ishido’s side. “Even when there’s evil in this land, no one has the right to tear the realm apart,” he tells his men. My plan seemed much better, but let’s see how this plays out. Even with Blackthorne disgusted, I expect that Toranaga still has something up his sleeve.

Later that night, Nagakado attacks Saeki unarmed at the tea house. A battle ensues, but Nagakado hits his head on the hot springs after tripping on a wet rock. The blow kills him instantly. It’s a shocking and unexpected loss, but the way in which it happens is somewhat hilarious. Nagakado’s failure here reminds me of the time A.J. Soprano—another classic failure of a television son—dropped his knife on the ground on The Sopranos as he foolishly went to kill Junior. Poor guy! And just when I thought he was getting a romantic subplot. R.I.P.

So will Nagakado’s impetuous attack stir up even more animosity between the two brothers in the next episode? I’ll tell you one thing for sure: I definitely didn’t see that coming.

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