Shogun: A Dream of a Dream   Show Only 
April 23, 2024 12:57 PM - Season 1, Episode 10 - Subscribe

In the wake of a tragic death, Blackthorne finally considers the true nature of Toranaga's plan.

"Why tell a dead man the future?"

A vision of an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Your loyal servant Mariko-sama. A council divided. No catfish in the pond. A walk in the woods. Diving lessons. The Erasmus exchange. Give me a good death. No translator. Your moment of zen. Enemy. Ishido bannerless. Fuji-sama's closure. The beach where it all began.

The FX Viewer's Guide
The official podcast
posted by Molesome (41 comments total)
 
I didn't expect Fuji and Blackthorne's scenes to affect me as much as they did. Even Buntaro's contribution on the beach made me choke up a little, although that could have been because I knew we were so close to the end.
posted by Molesome at 1:00 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


No. Translator.
posted by ishmael at 2:28 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


What a great finale! But I expect a lot of comments on the internet about the lack of a big battle at the end, but I like this just fine.
posted by Pendragon at 2:36 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


yeah I thought this was beautiful and pitch-perfect

among other things: the feint of the old-man visions, and the careful focus on Mariko's cross, was a lovely way of demonstrating where blackthorne's head is at throughout the episode

and speaking of heads, the shared smile between toranaga and yabushige, after self-stabbing but before decapitation, was sublime
posted by Kybard at 4:26 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Something my wife asked, and I was stumped to answer...In the flash-forward scenes of Blackthorne as an old man in England, we see him clutching a cross that looks pretty much exactly like Mariko’s cross, leading us to assume it is Mariko’s cross. Yet, we see him drop Mariko’s cross in the water later. So...cheap, sentimental misdirection?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:34 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Mixed feelings. I caught up yesterday. So I'm very much, "it's over already?" But I very much like that ending. If I want a battle, I'll load up Shogun: Total War.
posted by Stuka at 6:03 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad, I think the clue is in the episode title. The vision of Anjin in his old age is a dream of the man marooned in Japan: a dream of returning to riches, glory, family and a prestigious life in England after defeating the Portuguese. That dream, the culmination of his original ambition, is completely abandoned during his showdown with Toronaga: throughout the episode, each return to the dream sequence becomes shorter and shorter, until it fades away entirely. At the end, towing the burned ship ashore with the Japanese villagers, Anjin is in resolution with his reality.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 6:08 PM on April 23 [24 favorites]


In the last episode of the podcast Michaela Clavell, daughter of James and executive producer on the series says that the bay in which Fuji and Blackthorne spread the ashes and let go of the crucifix is the same one James Clavell's ashes were spread into. "Together forever".
posted by Molesome at 4:02 AM on April 24 [5 favorites]


But I expect a lot of comments on the internet about the lack of a big battle at the end, but I like this just fine.

I wasn’t hoping for some big, conclusive battle (though, having the characters repeat ad nauseam that war was coming certainly made one expect it.) But, the ending, with Toranaga laying-out to Yabushige all that was to transpire, kind of felt like a white board “and then a miracle happens” scribble.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:35 AM on April 24


That was pretty much the way the novel ended. The battle gets a single paragraph, the bulk of the last chapter is Toranaga's musings about the future. I personally liked it very well.

As an aside, watching the series with audio description is a very weird experience. They didn't handle the sound mix very well, so the audio describer literally speaks over the Japanese speakers to read the subtitles. It becomes kind of incomprehensible. If they had ducked the audio just a smidge I would have enjoyed things a lot more.
posted by Alensin at 5:07 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I didn't miss the history changing battle at Sekigahara because ultimately, Shogun was not about big epic set piece battles. When the show actually assembled a large army, it almost immediately destroyed it with an earthquake. The show was always about Toranaga knowing how to make small adjustments to the people around him, either directly asking them to do something or knowing how they would react, to achieve his goals.

I was a bit confused to about the flash forwards to Anjin, dying in his bed, Bora Horza Gobuchul interpretation feels like the right one. That said, I don't know if it was really necessary. Blackthorn's acceptance of being in Japan, giving up being the next Drake or whomever, didn't make sense in Toranaga's speech about probably burning down the next boat that Blackthorn built. Did he think that having rebuilt his ship (and, I guess, a fleet?) would spark something in Blackthorn about leaving again?

Overall, I really enjoyed the show. Everything was just hitting tens from the actors, the settings, and writing, and so on.

The interaction between Blackthorn and Buntaro was somewhat anti-climatic. Shared grief, I guess.
posted by Atreides at 7:23 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


This was wonderful. But that it would extend past the novel's end (apparently), I'd easily sit through another season or two as long as the storytelling and pacing continued as is. What a great cast.
posted by jquinby at 7:49 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


This show was fantastic, and there were so many great moments closing it out. Anji and Fuji. Tadanobu Asano getting one last chance to chew the fuck out of the scenery. Yabushige calling Toranaga out for being just another manipulative warlord. Omi's reaction to Anji handing over his sword and gun. I'm glad I stuck this show out.

My one quibble: I feel that Blackthorne's visions of being an old man in England don't really work as visions or hallucinations because the medium of modern television and film has primed us to believe that every piece of media is spoiling for a sequel. I liked this the ending for what it is-- an ending-- but you can't tell me that a showrunner in the year 2024 is going to believe that a viewer isn't going to interpret a brief flash-forwards to a battle scene or grandchildren asking "how did grandpa get that sword?" as a not-so-subtle "Next season, on Shōgun!". So I'm not sure what the intention was here. The episode has just enough closure to get away with being an ending, but it's far too coy about it. I hope they aren't angling for a continuation, both because they've shown they don't have the chops to make any kind of large-scale battle or similar scene that isn't a mess of CGI nonsense, and because the best characters on the show are already dead. What would keep us coming back week after week? Anji's humiliations? Toranaga's continuing manipulations? Fucking Buntaro? No thank you.

ok who am i kidding i would completely tune in for Remorseful Trashbag Samurai Hour
posted by phooky at 8:57 AM on April 24 [7 favorites]


I'd easily sit through another season or two as long as the storytelling and pacing continued as is.

ok who am i kidding i would completely tune in for Remorseful Trashbag Samurai Hour

Sequel or Prequel? I can imagine a prequel working. No Anjinsan in the prequel tho. Less you cut to him being a pirate, with no relation to the Japans just yet, then cutting back to Sengoku Game of Thrones.
posted by ishmael at 9:06 AM on April 24


ok who am i kidding i would completely tune in for Remorseful Trashbag Samurai Hour

Seriously.

In reality, it took Toranaga's namesake approximately 16 years to finally consolidate power to start the rarely contested reign of the Tokoguawa clan. That included destroying a rebellion by the very heir that the Taicho wanted him to be regent for, and the heir being forced to kill himself after an unsuccessful rebellion at Osaka. I think that could lead to an interesting story of Toranaga choosing once again to sacrifice someone he cares for to ensure the continuation of a dream of a war-less Japan. But, the showrunners may not feel comfortable working without the framework that the novel provided.

It's hard when you get something that truly works on every level and acknowledging that sometimes, we don't need a sequel or a prequel. Like a standalone movie, we sit back and reflect and that's the gift.

Me, suddenly imagining a Leogalas and Gimli pairing of Buntaro and Anjin. Buntaro out there dropping people with his bow, then pulling out his katana, finishing more off, and Anjin firing his pistol once, laboriously reloading and firing again with the first and second shot framing everything that Buntaro does in terms of timing.
posted by Atreides at 9:09 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Hey! We made it to the end of the series! And hey! My terrible boy Buntaro is still with us!

So if you look back on my comments in previous threads you’ll notice I'm just a little bit obsessed with Buntaro. He's not my crush or anything (Yabushige heart eyes forever) but he does live rent-free in my head because the moment he drew his blade and started cutting through every soldier in Osaka so the gang could escape was the moment I switched from this show is entertaining to this show is different and uncommonly good.

In any other show the abusive jerk would eventually be revealed as a sniveling, cowardly hypocrite. We want that and it's satisfying because when one person is bad it absolves the system of its responsibility.

Shōgun needed Buntaro to be the counterweight to Blackthorne. Blackthorne is the arrogant outsider who comes in thinking he knows better than the culture and as a result constantly makes a mess of things. Buntaro is what happens when someone fully buys into the culture.

This is the deal: You stay behind facing near-certain death holding off an entire city so your lord can make good his escape. You apologize to the rude foreigner who has been sleeping with your wife and treating your niece shamefully because to do otherwise is to impugn your lord's reputation as a host. You cut off your father's head because he wants to make a point and you have an obligation to him. You kill every human instinct that you have in the service of the system and in exchange you own your wife.

It's not a great deal but it’s the only one on offer.

Buntaro is a monster because he represents a system that can only create monsters. He's detestable, but when you get right down to it he’s not meaningfully worse than the other players. Nothing he did is worse than Toranaga casually wiping out an innocent village as punishment for the crime that he himself had committed. Strictly speaking, I'm not even sure he's more monstrous than Mariko, who sacrificed her life to score a moral victory but who also knowingly lead a dozen people to their deaths as a part of that scheme.

By the end of the show I think the only person who comes across well is Usami Fuji, and she only manages that by opting out of the culture of the nobility entirely.

Also, a final Buntaro note: A massive laugh for me when Buntaro showed up at the end and was of course the deciding factor in accomplishing what two dozen men without him could not.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:46 AM on April 24 [18 favorites]


I would also like a show that is nothing but Kiri No Kata touring the country dropping thinly veiled sass on every lord and samurai she meets.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:52 AM on April 24 [6 favorites]


Well that was…unsettling. At first you think Blackthorne made it back to his family, having succeeded at trading (or pirating) enough to raise them up to a more comfortable life and then you realize that it was just a forlorn dream, that he’s still a prisoner, he’ll never be able to leave. He’ll never be accepted. I’m not sure why Toronaga wants to keep him around. He’s taught them what little he knows about warfare (cannons).

I was never clear why Ochiba hated Toronaga enough to ally herself with Ishido against the advice of Taiko’s wife. Also am unclear that Toronaga has more sons…somewhere? who were not involved in this struggle?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:08 PM on April 24


Anjin's cannons are better because of metallurgy and precision machining (cutting metal).

He's a pilot, not an engineer a whole system required to support the manufacture of Western canons.

However, this could be the an impetus that techs up Japanese metallurgy.

--

I remember reading [novels of stranded sailors in the age of sail]/ [boy's adventure novels] where a well-equipped expedition generally had enough expertise (carpentry, mostly, and smithing) were enough to build brand new ships of Western design with indigenous tools and materials.
posted by porpoise at 8:33 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


The real William Adams did know enough to direct the building of several ships, so this isn't improbable at all.
posted by Alensin at 8:58 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


I was never clear why Ochiba hated Toronaga enough to ally herself with Ishido

She resented him for the death of her father, believing (probably rightly so) that Toranaga had orchestrated his murder by Mariko's father -- see the flashback in Episode... 4? 5? I can't remember. I was actually a bit confused as to why she finally ditched Ishido -- I assume it's because she saw him getting played again and again, and after the fiasco with Mariko and him losing all his hostages, she knew he wasn't sharp enough to defeat Toranaga.

Also am unclear that Toronaga has more sons…somewhere? who were not involved in this struggle?

Presumably he has multiple consorts and a few little kids running around in Edo? That's what I figured.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:32 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Well that was…unsettling. At first you think Blackthorne made it back to his family, having succeeded at trading (or pirating) enough to raise them up to a more comfortable life and then you realize that it was just a forlorn dream, that he’s still a prisoner, he’ll never be able to leave. He’ll never be accepted. I’m not sure why Toronaga wants to keep him around. He’s taught them what little he knows about warfare (cannons).

I don't know if Blackthorne's fate is as bleak as painted here. Buntaro's arrival and nonchalant acceptance of a drink from Blackthorne, to me, implied there was a new level of acceptance already occurring. I think the more Blackthorne's Japanese improved, not only was he able to understand the society he was in, but the better he learned to live within it. While he may have been manipulated by Toranaga, his speech at the end indicated that his dreams prior to shipwreck simply didn't matter to him. The burning of that boat gave him a purpose, to rebuild the boat, but it was to rebuilt it for Toranaga and then to build Toranaga a fleet. On reflection, I think Toranaga stating that Blackthorne would never leave wasn't that Toranaga was slamming shut a cell door, so much as that Toranaga realized that Blackthorne, himself, didn't want to leave.

Toranaga's statement about maybe burning down a ship again, I think, now with a little more time passed, was not a sentiment about preventing Blackthorne from leaving so much as finding something for Blackthorne to focus on and do. Blackthorne needed direction and a mission to be happy, and Toranaga would keep giving him that because Toranaga did see him as someone useful to have around.

Alensin brought up the real Blackthorne, William Adams, and Adams definitely appeared to want to stay in Japan and did build a small fleet for Toranaga's real life counterpart, Tokugawa. Adams also played a major role in trade negotiations with European powers and even admiral'd a small fleet of trading ships. He died in Japan, I think at 56 or so.

As much as I still don't think the "dream" flash forwards or however you want to call them were the best thing, the old Blackthorn, bed ridden in a room of opulence (relatively speaking), clutched the cross and rosary that Mariko gave him. I think that cross implied that as he lay close to death (as an old man at least), that which was most important to him, perhaps, that which he regretted, was not being back in Japan. So Blackthorne remaining in Japan is actually a happy ending for the character.

I was never clear why Ochiba hated Toronaga enough to ally herself with Ishido against the advice of Taiko’s wife. Also am unclear that Toronaga has more sons…somewhere? who were not involved in this struggle?

I kind of felt that Ochiba's alliance against Toranaga was in part spurned by her being angry at Mariko, who was under Toranaga. She was angry with Mariko for basically getting married and abandoning her. That, and well, O-Chiba's father (I think?) was murdered by Mariko's father? (granted, Mariko said her father killed a bunch of disloyal people...).

As for Toranaga's sons...well, we know where one is. Two, I guess, if you want to be precise. Presumably his other sons were not old enough to be involved in the potential war and were either left in Edo or scattered somewhere else for their safety as potential hostages to be used against him.
posted by Atreides at 8:32 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Presumably he has multiple consorts and a few little kids running around in Edo? That's what I figured.

This is where I was hoping that we could have a "book included" tag for the finale...
posted by thomas j wise at 9:20 AM on April 25


For those wondering about the cross and Blackthorne in England - there's an article about that from the showrunners on Slate. I won't link to it because... Slate (contrarian linkbait weasels).... but it's there if you want to read their thoughts.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 4:44 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


At the beginning of ep. seven I thought they elided the war. And here we are at the end... and I'm fine with it.

The dream thing was a little confusing at first, but when he didn't dive in after the cross I thought it was pretty clear that he was letting go of that possible (not terribly attractive) future.

Anjin's cannons are better because of metallurgy and precision machining (cutting metal).

The cannons previously introduced (historically) were smaller, intended to be easily moved around by armies. Naval cannons are a different beast since they don't ordinarily move much.

where a well-equipped expedition generally had enough expertise (carpentry, mostly, and smithing) were enough to build brand new ships of Western design

They had to be able to repair any part of the ship that need it, so it follows that they could, in effect, repair all of it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:56 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


They had to be able to repair any part of the ship that need it, so it follows that they could, in effect, repair all of it.

This is commonly referred to as the Theseus Ship Repair Philosophy.
posted by Atreides at 6:54 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


This is a minor plot point, but none of the Dinner-and-a-Show gang I was watching with could figure out why Blackthorne was hauling the ship carcass out of the water. Certainly he wasn't going to try to repair it, and I can't imagine any of the parts (except, perhaps, the nails?) would've been useful. The only thing we could guess was that there were stores of some kind on it that he intended to salvage, but really that's pure speculation.
posted by Pedantzilla at 11:11 PM on April 26


Certainly he wasn't going to try to repair it, and I can't imagine any of the parts (except, perhaps, the nails?) would've been useful.

Even a ship burned to the waterline can be partially salvaged, as happened when the USS Merrimack was raised and converted into the CSS Virginia. This ship looked more intact than that, so additional timber could be reused. And yes, the nails were probably worth salvaging.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:01 PM on April 27 [2 favorites]


"my lord emperor, why do you keep resurrecting duncan idaho?"

"because he makes me laugh."
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 4:27 AM on May 2 [7 favorites]


That was pretty much the way the novel ended.

I'm avoiding reading this thread as I'm halfway through the novel and will watch the series after I've finished that, but I'm wondering: does the miniseries cover the whole novel? (i.e. leaving no room for a second season)
posted by neuron at 1:27 PM on May 2


It does. As I understand it, there were some changes the writers made regarding some things in the novel versus how they appear in the miniseries. But, the miniseries is supposed to encompass the entire novel and there will be no season 2.
posted by Atreides at 2:10 PM on May 2


primed us to believe that every piece of media is spoiling for a sequel

Hello, it's me, assuming there would be a sequel. But no, apparently none is planned and there's no existing story to start from.

Some good reading, Slate's Shōgun’s Creators on That Ambiguous, Audacious Ending. Comments from the show creators. No major revelations there but reinforces a lot of the discussion here. (I totally didn't understand the flash forward stuff myself.)
posted by Nelson at 2:29 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Here is an excellent analysis of Shogun and how it compares to history, done by some of the most prominent scholars in the field.
posted by ishmael at 9:43 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Henry Smith, who wrote the great essay Learning from Shogun, goes a bit long at the beginning. If he drags for you, I would suggest that you skip ahead.
posted by ishmael at 9:46 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Update: Shogun has been renewed for two more seasons under the series current showrunners.
posted by Atreides at 2:23 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Looks like it's a bit more ambiguous than a full renewal. Variety and others say they've gotten a go-ahead to work on writing two more seasons and Hiroyuki Sanada is signed on, but it depends on the writers being able to come up with good story.
posted by Nelson at 2:42 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


This is bullshit. Let stories have endings. I'm so tired of sequels-because-money.
posted by tzikeh at 5:48 PM on May 16


Also this FUCKS them for the Emmy Awards -- where they would have dominated the Best Limited Series' categories (acting, writing, directing, etc.). Now they'll have to compete in Best Drama categories.
posted by tzikeh at 5:50 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Also this FUCKS them for the Emmy Awards -- where they would have dominated the Best Limited Series' categories (acting, writing, directing, etc.). Now they'll have to compete in Best Drama categories.

Ugh. Maybe there's some accounting involved that will let them still compete in Limited Series. It clearly was produced as one, perhaps that would keep it home?

This is bullshit. Let stories have endings. I'm so tired of sequels-because-money.

The trick here is that the story that Clavell based everything on continued onward. There's probably a good 15 to 20 year period where Tokugawa has to solidify his rule as Shogun, including taking on and eliminating the heir of his good buddy that he was originally entrusted to see rule the country. The bigger trick is whether the showrunners can make that story reflective on the screen to the same degree they did when adapting the book. If they can, I think this is a valid follow up, if only because Toronaga's story isn't technically over, either.
posted by Atreides at 8:01 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


My only regret is not seeing Toranaga's half-brother turning out to be on his side all along, but I'll take that as implied.

A massive laugh for me when Buntaro showed up at the end and was of course the deciding factor in accomplishing what two dozen men without him could not.

It might've been easier if they'd taken off the anchors.

and speaking of heads, the shared smile between toranaga and yabushige, after self-stabbing but before decapitation, was sublime

I loved Yabushige and he went out strong.

There's probably a good 15 to 20 year period where Tokugawa has to solidify his rule as Shogun, including taking on and eliminating the heir of his good buddy that he was originally entrusted to see rule the country.

Very interesting considering there's a non-zero possibility Toranaga is the heir's father. Based on the heir's dad's death scene and many references to Toranaga fathering children.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:23 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


I was telling a mate in the pub the other night how much I was enjoying Shogun, and he was all like, "Ehh, it's okay," and pooh-poohing the Thrones-like animated credits as "been there, done that". But when I pressed him, he still said he'd give it a 7 or 8 out of ten.

Having finished my binge, would I rate it among my favourite TV dramas of the past decade? (Chernobyl, The Terror S1, The Expanse...) On a good day, sure, and I'd certainly put some of its episodes and moments right up there: the earthquake/landslide, the entirety of episode 9 (surely the series' best), and a good proportion of this finale as well. And man, I love those opening credits.

I started to read Clavell's novel years ago as a teenager, but it didn't stick; I vaguely remember watching the 1980 miniseries, too. I'm glad the showrunners found a way to do justice to the political intrigue and the romance that didn't slip on all of the potential rocks lying just beneath the surface.

I've been wondering how the series has been received in Japan. Well, by the sounds of it, but it also sounds as if its reach hasn't been wide.
posted by rory at 12:34 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


« Older Movie: National Lampoon's Van ...   |  Frieren: Beyond Journey's End:... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments

poster