Shōgun episode 7 review | Families, am I right?

shogun episode 7 review
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This new episode introduces us to Lord Toranaga’s estranged half-brother Nobutatsu and trouble immediately starts brewing. Here’s our Shōgun episode 7 review. 

Warning: Mild spoilers for episode 7 of Shōgun!

Families can be difficult. This is particularly true if you’re a war lord in feudal Japan in the 1600s and have to contact your long estranged half-brother because an earthquake swallowed most of your army. 

That’s exactly the position Lord Toranaga finds himself at the beginning of the episode. After the devastating earthquake in episode 5 left him with no army, he has no choice but to ask his half-brother Nobutatsu for help. But before we find Toranaga anxiously waiting for his brother’s arrival, we get a neat little glimpse into Toranaga’s past. 

The episode begins with a 12-year-old Toranaga winning his very first, bloody battle. The opposing general is forced to commit seppuku by plunging a blade into his belly, after which Toranaga cuts his head off. Later in the episode, we find out that it took the little boy nine hits to separate the head from the body. 

shogun nagakado
Credit: FX Networks

The brutal, yet poetic scene offers a rare look at Toranaga’s past and asks us to consider that he was not always the calm and collected warlord we see now, but a child, filled with innocence. Well, we reckon the innocence was shed somewhere between the hits to the general’s neck, but who knows? 

But back to the present day. Nobutatsu arrives and immediately, he and Toranaga are like night and day. Nobutatsu is boisterous and loud where Toranaga is quiet and reserved, always observing. It’s a fascinating dynamic and it gives Shōgun a little more kick after six weeks of mostly focusing on Toranaga and Blackthorne. 

Now, the focus seems to have slightly shifted from Blackthorne to Toranaga. It’s a shame, as Cosmo Jarvis has proven to be a compelling performer, but we can’t complain too much about the increased screen time of Hiroyuki Sanada. Blackthorne enquires what his role in the upcoming war might be, but Toranaga refuses an answer. If I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure either. The main conflict seems to be between the Regents and Toranaga and Blackthorne often seems like an afterthought, especially in episode 7, which still has a few surprises up its sleeve. 

Toranaga, once again, faces the option of surrendering himself to the Regents, after a fifth Regent is revealed to have been chosen. Most of the episode focuses on various characters trying to sway Toranaga or like the owner of the tea house, Gin, trying to make the most of what time is left to ask Toranaga for a favour. 

The scene in which Gin redeems her “stick of time” with Toranaga is a tense, riveting one. Paired with a scene in which Mariko begs Toranag to kill her, to end her suffering at the hands of her abusive husband Buntaro (who, by the way, still isn’t happy about Blackthorne’s existence), it shows how women, in the world of Shōgun, have the power of influence but no direct power. Later on, we find Toranaga writing a will, convinced that this might be the one battle he doesn’t walk away from. 

The episode ends on a shocking note, as most episodes of Shōgun do. We’re clearly heading towards the endgame of the series and the end is nigh, but we’re sure there’s a few more surprises coming our way in the final three episodes. Will Toranaga be victorious and crowned the Shōgun despite the odd that are firmly stacked against him? 

Join us again next Tuesday for another episode review as Blackthorne must decide where his loyalty lies. 

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