Shōgun ending explained: Does Toranaga become Shōgun in the end?

Shōgun ending explaine (Image via FX)
Shōgun ending explaine (Image via FX)

With the release of Shōgun episode 10, Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks’ 10-episode miniseries of the highly acclaimed historical epic reaches its conclusion.

Over the course of its run, the series gained an abundance of positive reception for its exceptionally talented cast, the direction, and the beautiful adaptation that gave the audience an enthralling and immersive look at Japan’s feudal era.

With the last few episodes leaving deep wounds in fans‘ hearts by killing off the most sought-after characters from the series, it all came down to the finale, leaving fans eagerly waiting for what comes next.

However, it was not just the ascension of Toranaga or Blackthorne’s fate but also the question of what the future holds for certain characters, who left an indelible mark with their performance.

Unfortunately, the war that was to depict the very Battle of Sekigahara, a historical event that forever changed the course of Japan, wasn’t showcased through Shōgun episode 10. However, the series ended with several twists, leaving fans awestruck.

Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers for FX’s Shōgun. Reader’s discretion is advised.

Does Lord Yoshi Toranaga win the war in Shōgun?

Toranaga, as seen in Shōgun episode 10 (Image via FX)
Toranaga, as seen in Shōgun episode 10 (Image via FX)

FX’s Shōgun is based on James Clavell’s novel of the same name, which features characters based on real people from the Japanese feudal era.

Lord Yoshi Toranaga, the eponymous character in the show, is based on Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and the first shōgun, who is also one of the three Great Unifiers.

Ieyasu secured victory in the Battle of Sekigahara, which began on October 21, 1600, defeating Ishida Mitsunari (Ishido Kazunari in the FX’s adaptation) and many other lords.

However, Ieyasu didn’t immediately become the sole Regent, as he continued for a while as a de facto ruler of Japan until March 24, 1603, when he received the title from Emperor Go-Yōzei.

The Tokugawa shogunate, or the Edo shogunate, ruled over Japan for the next 260 years, from 1603 to 1868. As seen in the grand finale of Shōgun, “A Dream of a Dream,” the episode saw a glimpse of the events from the future when Toranaga intricately described to Yabushige what the future holds.

Since the beginning of the series, it can be seen that the Lord of Kanto never had his eyes on power and even declined the offer of the Taikō to become a shōgun. However, he catches Yabushige by surprise by making it apparent that he was always after the title of a shōgun.

Toranaga also revealed that the Crimson Sky plan was already finished the moment he sent Lady Mariko to the Osaka castle. Mariko’s sacrifice not only set the stage for the battle but also disrupted Ishido’s grip on everything.

Toranaga revealed that the message he received from Ochiba made it clear that the Heir's army would withdraw during the battle and Ishido wouldn't be under his banner. This would lead the other Regents to turn against him.

As the show's creators revealed, FX’s Shōgun ends where the book ends, which is why fans couldn’t see the glorious ascension of Toranaga as the sole Regent. However, as the storyline follows the true events, Lord Yoshi Toranaga becomes a shōgun.

Who destroyed Blackthorne’s Erasmus in Shōgun episode 10?

Erasmus being brought to shore after its destruction, seen in Shōgun episode 10 (Image via FX)
Erasmus being brought to shore after its destruction, seen in Shōgun episode 10 (Image via FX)

After Blackthorne returned to Ajiro, he noticed that his ship, the one-way ticket to his homeland, was destroyed, laying in ruins at the bottom of the sea, with only its bow visible above the surface.

Blackthorne was briefed by Muraji, who told him that it was the doing of the Portuguese Christians. Given that nobody could pull such a thing without inside help, Toranaga ordered his men to investigate thoroughly.

Considering the destruction of Erasmus would be disrespectful to Blackthorne, Toranaga eagerly wanted to find the perpetrators. However, the former, who was already heartbroken by Lady Mariko’s death and lost hope, didn't like the innocent villagers being tormented every day, which was also a request from Lady Fuji.

During his meeting with Blackthorne, Toranaga told him that he wouldn't stop until he found those who burned down his ship. Eventually, Blackthorne revealed that the destruction of his ship was imminent, as it was a trade for his survival that Mariko made with the Portuguese Catholics.

When Blackthorne protested to take his own life to spare Ajiro, Toranaga stopped him and gave him a new purpose to rebuild Erasmus.

However, Toranaga eventually revealed that he was behind the destruction of the ship, given it was a necessary ruse to put Blackthorne’s loyalty to the test.

Additionally, this act would also bring the Catholic Regents to his side, leaving Blackthorne unharmed. Toranaga said that he would have to destroy the ship once again if he had to and also said that one day, he would reveal the truth to Blackthorne.

What was the fate of Yabushige?

Yabushige commiting seppuku, as seen in Shōgun episode 10 (Image via FX)
Yabushige commiting seppuku, as seen in Shōgun episode 10 (Image via FX)

Unlike any other characters in the storyline, there was no one except for Yabushige who knew what Toranaga planned ahead.

After his arrival in Ajiro, Yabushige was held for treason by Toranaga for being responsible for Lady Mariko’s death. Yabushige was ordered to commit seppuku by the next day’s sunset. However, he requested an even worse form of death, which was rejected.

Toranaga agreed to Yabushige’s final request to be his second while he commits seppuku. Before the next day’s sunset, Yabushige sat with Toranaga, going over everything that had transpired so far.

Yabushige was also caught off guard when Toranaga revealed why he was acclaimed as the master trickster when he disclosed the Crimson Sky plan and his desire to become shōgun.

Before Toranaga decapitated Yabushige, the latter requested his lord to tell him the truth, to which the former responded by saying, “Why tell the dead man the future?”

This was the same line Yabushige had previously said about Toranaga to Omi when he made up his mind to keep Blackthorne, his men, and Erasmus a secret from the Lord of Kanto.

It was unfortunate that the grand finale of Shōgun didn’t even give Lord Yabushige the time to draft his final will because, throughout the series, he was the only one jumping on the bandwagon to write the will whenever he sensed a threat in the air.

Does Blackthorne ever return to England?

Blackthorne imagining himself being old in his dream, as seen in Shōgun episode 10 (Image via FX)
Blackthorne imagining himself being old in his dream, as seen in Shōgun episode 10 (Image via FX)

The opening scene of episode 10 saw the older John Blackthorne, who seemed to have returned to London, England, and had a family.

In the scene, Blackthorne was lying on his bed with limited mobility due to his old age, holding onto the cross that belonged to Mariko. Blackthorne was questioned by his grandchildren, who were curious about the katana he received from the Japanese lords.

However, this was all just a dream, which could be likely connected to the title of the episode. After the door was blasted open, Blackthorne was conscious, and waking up from his dream, he held Mariko in his arms, utterly heartbroken by losing her forever. Blackthorne was completely shattered from the inside and lost his will to live.

However, Toranaga gave him the purpose of rebuilding the Erasmus for his fleet. As Toranaga revealed to Yabushige, he wouldn’t let Blackthorne leave because he was an important piece of his puzzle. Pilot Major John Blackthorne, who is based on William Adams, the real-life Miura Anjin, never left Japan.

Adams had a chance to leave for England with an English captain named John Saris on his ship, Clove, who arrived at Hirado, Nagasaki, in 1613, 10 years after Ieyasu became shōgun.

Adam remained in Japan forever and also had a family and many children with his concubines and mistresses, but the records of his lineage remain a mystery.

Stay tuned for more news and updates on FX’s Shōgun as 2024 progresses.

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