Shōgun Serves Up a Big Betrayal and an Even Bigger Death — Read Recap

Toranaga’s looming showdown with the other lords on FX’s Shōgun led to a new alliance this week — but that alliance rotted quicker than a dead pheasant.

We open to a flashback to Toranga’s first victory ever on the battlefield, 46 years ago: A 12-year-old Toranaga accepts the surrender of his much older opponent, who commits ritual suicide in front of him, with Toranaga finishing the job with a flash of his blade. In the here and now, Toranaga is facing all-out war, and he seeks help from his half-brother Saeki, who meets him in the woods along with their troops. Saeki refers to himself as “the mediocre brother,” but he greets Toranaga warmly and laughs when he spots Blackthorne: “You’ve tamed a barbarian.” Toranaga wants to talk strategy, but Saeki would rather save it for tomorrow: “Tonight, we’ll get good and drunk.”

More from TVLine

Shogun Episode 7 Saeki
Shogun Episode 7 Saeki

Blackthorne is uneasy, though: He wants control of his ship to help the war effort, and he still doesn’t understand what Crimson Sky is. Mariko warns him to let it go, and Blackthorne relents: “I am ready for whatever our fates may bring.” When Omi goes looking for Lady Kiku at the tea house, Gin tells him she’s been purchased for the week to entertain Saeki. Omi feels like the brothel is tainted after welcoming Blackthorne, but Gin adds: “His mind was on someone else that night.” Hiromatsu brings Fuji the ashes of her husband and child, and when she says she wants to join them in death, he encourages her to live to enjoy their victory… but Fuji isn’t so sure victory is in their future. Saeki takes a dip in the hot springs, and Toranaga’s son Nagakado is ready to go to war, saying he’s heard your first kill is better than your first time with a woman. (“Depends on the woman,” Yabushige murmurs.)

Toranaga hosts Saeki for dinner, and the brothers trade stories, with Saeki recalling how the young Toranaga beheaded his opponent with one stroke. (Buntaro is scowling at Blackthorne and Mariko, too.) Saeki thanks his brother for Kiku’s services — which makes Omi squirm — and actually, he’s ready to talk about their alliance tonight. For his army, he wants control of Izu, which raises Yabushige’s eyebrows. Then he tells another story about Toranaga: when he was sent out as a hostage as a boy and defecated in his pants out of fear. Suddenly, no one is laughing… and Saeki notes that while he wants Izu, he may have already received a better offer. While Saeki’s men block the exits, he tosses his brother a scroll from the lords, inviting Toranaga to come to Osaka and “answer for his treachery.” Yep, Saeki is aligned with them — and is taking Toranaga’s place on the council.

Shogun Episode 7 Blackthorne Mariko
Shogun Episode 7 Blackthorne Mariko

Toranaga says he’ll give Saeki an answer by sunset tomorrow. Blackthorne asks Mariko what will happen to Toranaga if he surrenders, and she says he’ll be condemned to death and half his men will commit suicide to join him. Blackthorne thinks he can help fight back if he can just get to his ship… but he now sees a flag with Ishido’s crest flying from his boat. While Toranaga considers his next move, Gin asks him to help her realize her vision of a number of high-end brothels with a guild for the courtesans. He says he won’t be in a position to help her, but she still has faith in him. She does wonder why he left his town so vulnerable to attack… but “what do I know?” she asks. “I’m just an old whore.”

Nagakado is still itching to fight, and he calls Saeki and his men “spineless pigs” — which Saeki overhears. Fuji practices fighting with a naginata (a long stick with a blade at the end), figuring they’ll all need to fight in the days ahead. Yabushige takes his anger out on Blackthorne, challenging him to a sword fight before easily besting him, and Buntaro rushes in to hold a blade to Blackthorne’s throat, but he doesn’t strike. He does go to Toranaga, though, and asks permission to kill Blackthorne: “I don’t like the way he looks at my wife.” Toranaga says his words implicate Mariko, too, so he’ll have to kill her as well, and Buntaro backs down, apologizing for his “petty” words. Toranaga confronts Mariko himself, though, asking her if she’s on his side or Blackthorne’s. She cries that she’s been nothing but loyal to Toranaga, pulling out a knife and begging him to “free me of this cursed life.” But he merely slaps the knife out of her hand.

As Toranaga and Saeki’s armies assemble for the big decision, Hiromatsu remembers that it actually took the young Toranaga nine strokes to behead his enemy. Toranaga gives Saeki his answer: He’ll surrender and travel to Osaka, where he’ll accept his fate from Ishido. Nagakado and Buntaro protest, but Toranaga silences them: “No one has the right to tear the realm apart.” Blackthorne storms off in anger, and Saeki gloats over his brother’s misfortune: “You have nowhere to go and nothing left to be.” But when Saeki enjoys one final dalliance with Kiku at the tea house, she leaves the room, and Nagakado charges in, killing a guard and chasing a robed Saeki into the garden. Nagakado raises his blade high, about to deliver a death blow — but he slips on a wet rock, falling and cracking his head open. As he lies dying, Saeki smugly stands over him.

Got thoughts on this week’s Shōgun? Join us in the comments below.

Best of TVLine

Get more from Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter