‘Shōgun’ Episode 6 Declares War on Everything

shogun episode 6
‘Shōgun’ Episode 6 Declares War on EverythingFX

After last week’s pheasant fiasco, I was a little afraid of what Shōgun would have in store for us in episode 6. What new knowledge will this episode require from me? Will I need to learn even more about dry-aging bird meat? Will I have to call up another historian to understand some factoid about feudal Japan? Plus, if you recall episode 6’s final moments, an important new character is on the way. (Will they hang dead birds in front of their house? I hope not.) It’s a lot, no doubt, but I think we can make it through together. Ready? Here we go.

Lady Ochiba is back. If you take anything from episode 6, it should be anything and everything related to who this important power player is moving forward. Her story starts 20 years before she returns to Osaka, when she and Mariko were children. Ochiba is the daughter of warlord Kuroda—and Mariko is the daughter of one of Kuroda’s most trusted generals, Akechi Jinsai. The two become best friends, with Ochiba even helping Mariko get ready before her wedding to Buntaro. As we know from last episode’s big reveal, however, everything changes once Mariko’s father betrays and assassinates Kuroda.

If you thought the Taikō’s death (which we saw in the beginning of the second episode) was the true catalyst for Shōgun, know that Kuroda’s assassination is actually where this whole saga kicks off. Kuroda’s death leads to the Taikō’s rise to power in the first place. Still, we don’t really understand the motivations of Mariko’s father—other than the fact that Kuroda was known to be “cruel.” Is this a Game of Thrones-style Mad King assassination, or is there something more to the picture? We learn more about this later in the episode. For now, just remember that the incident sentences Mariko’s entire family to death as punishment.

As for Ochiba, she is later married off to the Taikō. Flash-forward to the beginning of the series: The recent widow is imprisoned at Toranaga’s estate when he visits Osaka for potential impeachment hearings. At the end of episode 5, she’s able to return to her home. So Ochiba is finally ready to move her chess pieces to ensure that her young son—the rightful heir—comes into power. To start, she partners up with Ishido. She has the Lord of Osaka burn down Toranaga’s estate, trap his wives, and replace him on the council with a sympathizer to their cause. They choose Lord Ito—an actor and a devout follower of the late Taikō—who performs a play that is directly about Ochiba’s life. At the performance, Sugiyama tells Kiyama that this turn marks “the end of the realm.” It’s the most Game of Thrones-esque sentence we could’ve heard in this series. (Other than if Mariko said, “You know nothing, John Blackthorne.”)

shogun episode 6
Ishido finally makes his move.FX

Speaking of Mr. Pheasant Fiasco, he’s rewarded by Toranaga once again. He saved the lord’s life during the earthquake—and now he’s chief admiral of the Kanto region. Meanwhile, Buntaro apologizes to Toranaga about his behavior regarding Blackthorne and his wife. “I thought she’d be grateful that I spared her life, but she’s always been ice,” he tells his lord. “For years, the ice has not melted. But with him, it’s different.” Dang! Sorry, Buntaro. Toranaga orders him to “go on a break” from Mariko. That’s never good!

Meanwhile, Blackthorne and Mariko’s relationship is still in a weird place. He’s salty that she essentially dumped him last episode—and it ruins his talks with Toranaga. The great lord can sense that Blackthorne is all wound up, so he tells Mariko to set up a night in a brothel for the Englishman, so he can clear his mind. “And join him,” he says with a pause, “as a translator.” Damn, Toranaga! No matter what you’re doing, you’re an absolute killer.

shogun episode 6
It’s a rough week for Mariko.FX

On the way to the brothel—er, ahem, tea house—Blackthorne asks Mariko if Toranaga suspects that they spent a night together. “There is nothing to know,” she coldly responds. Ouch! Lady Kiku is Blackthorne’s courtesan for the evening, even though she’s in love with Lord Omi. Blackthorne is just getting into everyone’s business, isn’t he? Is the man going to sleep with this woman right in front of Mariko?! That would be insane. Kiku suggests to Mariko that they can make it really dark in the room so that she can’t see. But then, after a sensual speech, she course-corrects and implies that she could join them. Mariko declines. “It must only be you,” she says. Blackthorne and Kiku go to another room, which is a much better idea. The next morning, it seems as if Blackthorne had a decent time.

Then Mariko must report to Toranaga and tell him that Blackthorne was pleased with the courtesan. What an awful day for Mariko. He immediately moves on, talking about Ochiba and why a woman would war against them with such conviction. Mariko kindly reminds him that it sucks to be a woman in 17th-century Japan. My lord, you know what you made me do last night, right?

shogun episode 6
Ochiba has arrived.FX

Back in Osaka, Sugiyama speaks out at the Council of Regents meeting. “You dishonor the wishes of our great Taiko,” he tells Ishido. “I alone serve the Realm.” Okay, Mr. Thrones. I see you continuing to channel Varys. Let’s cool our horses... unless you want to die. And that’s exactly what happens: Ishido slaughters Sugiyama and his entire family. No more playing around! Ochiba calls the Council “playthings,” warning them, “You have no idea the enemy you face.” She tells Ishido that she believes Toranaga ordered Mariko’s father to assassinate her father—even if he wasn’t the triggerman. “None of you can stop him,” she declares, positioning herself as the only person capable of doing so. Ochiba then tells a story about how she endured by “compelling fate to look at me so that I could rip out its eyes.” Bars. In the words of Ice Spice: “Think you the shit, bitch? You not even the fart.”

Hearing the news from Osaka, Toranaga is urged to finally declare “Crimson Sky.” It’s a battle plan for war—a single, violent rush on Osaka Castle. “Crimson Sky” sounds a lot cooler than a measly plan to storm a castle, but Toranaga is too politically savvy to hop into a giant mech fighter and bust Ishido’s walls down. Toranaga is still pretending that he’s done everything right and Ishido is the one conspiring against the Taikō’s wishes. “War will be declared on my clan,” Toranaga tells his men. “I desire no land. I want no honors. But if traitors place the Taikō’s heir in danger, then I must defend him. Crimson Sky it will be!”

You heard the man—we’re in for a battle next week.

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