Shōgun episode 10 review | A pitch-perfect ending

shogun episode 10
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Shōgun comes to a magnificent close with an episode that’s carefully constructed. Here’s our Shōgun episode 10 review. 

Once a week, for the past 9 weeks, we have been transported to feudal Japan. Shōgun is about as immersive as TV shows come these days and each week, we’ve been delighted with the intricacies of the culture portrayed and the plot unfolding. 

But all good things come to an end and so does Shōgun. The tenth and final episode is surprising to say the least. Not in a twisty, turny kind of way, but in a quiet way. I had expected full on war to break out and for the final hour to show us battles and gore. I was wrong. 

The episode begins with a flash forward of sorts. Two little boys are admiring a sword on the wall of their grandfather, who turns out to be a very old Blackthorne. Throughout the episode, we return to this moment. Perhaps Blackthorne is about to pass away and he remembers his life in Japan, or maybe the Blackthorne can somehow see his older self, giving him hope that this, too, shall pass. 

blackthorne shogun
Credit: FX Networks

After that, the episode picks up directly after the shocking conclusion of last week’s episode. Mariko sacrificed herself by taking the brunt of the explosion as the shinobi blew the door open after sneaking into the castle, aided by Yabushige. We watch helplessly as Blackthorne cradles Mariko’s body and Yabushige comes to terms with his betrayal and its consequences. Some really beautiful acting here from Tadanobu Asano who has been a standout this whole series as the bumbling, but vicious Yabushige.

The rest of the episode unfolds in a quieter manner than expected. Yabushige and Toranaga retreat to the woods and their scene together is simply spellbinding. Hiroyuki Sanada has a remarkable ability to command the screen and our attention and he’s rarely been better than here. There are no clear heroes and villains in Shōgun, just complex alliances and politics. 

Some will say the finale lacks conclusion, a definitive ending that ties the whole series into a neat package. I think there’s a beautiful tenderness and intimacy in the final episode. We get a quick glimpse into the future and what awaits our characters, but ultimately, this isn’t a show about war. Sure, Shōgun started out a Game Of Thrones -style spectacle, a blood-soaked drama, but it grew into a deep, intricate character piece. 

The central trio – Anna Sawai, Cosmo Jarvis and Sanada – truly brought Shōgun alive. While Andrew Scott alone had to carry Netflix’s Ripley, Shōgun is a much more balanced affair. Each episode felt carefully constructed but never stilted. The drama was always rooted in clear motives, even if Shōgun often tested my patience. 

Shōgun is without a doubt a heavy series to get into. It demands your absolute focus and there are many names and pacts to remember, but it’s a riveting watch, beginning to end. Series creators Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks have managed to delicately balance the gore, action and the human drama, creating a dizzying, electrifying piece of telly. 

Thanks for joining us in watching and dissecting Shōgun every week!

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