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Shogun – Crimson Sky Review

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The audience knew from the very first episode that Shogun was not going to hold back in making our hearts weep. Crimson Sky was no exception this week. Based on the episode title, the episode suggested that the epic reckoning would finally take place, instead there was no Toranaga and the episode was centered beautifully on Mariko’s journey. 

The episode opens in a snowy background, fourteen years earlier and we see a pregnant Mariko trying to escape and die but is rescued and finds hope from Father Martin and becomes a Christian. His words echo over her current situation as she is on what she believes to be her final mission in the name of her Lord Toranaga. 

Yabushige wants to know why she was sent with them and she reveals nothing of course. As they enter Osaka, Yabushige ever the comedian states how he feels about the city using some colorful language. He and Blackthorne have to try and worm their way out of their precarious situation as ordered by Toranaga but tensions are running high in Osaka as members of the noble families including Kiri, Shizu and Toranaga’s new son are all being held captive under the guise of being guests. 

The priests do not believe in Toranaga’s surrender but Yabushige and Blackthorne are truly not aware of his plans as they try to speak with Ishido and offer him a proposition. Ishido declines and Yabushige accepts his fate but offers Blackthorne as a gift. Ishido still does not yield and has no interest in Blackthorne. 

When it is time for Mariko to speak before Ishido they are pleasant until Ishido makes a snide remark about Toranaga having other sons as he mourns the death of his son. Ochiba then chimes in, speaking about her and Mariko’s time as young girls and the poetry competitions they would participate in. She tells Mariko they will hold a competition in Daiyoin’s honor and for Mariko to go first. Mariko states: “While the snow remains veiled in the haze of cold evening, a leafless branch.” What will this mean for the remainder of the episode? 

Mariko then gets down to business. Per Toranaga’s orders she is leaving Osaka taking Shizu, Kiri and the baby with her to meet Toranaga the next day as everyone is allowed to leave. Ishido does not take well to this and asks the Regents for a meeting. Kiyama agrees but Mariko insists she is leaving. She gives a brazen speech that she is from a line of samurai and a great family and that her father was a great samurai despite what people think and say about him. 

Yabushige is not happy and demands to know Toranaga’s plans and Blackthorne does not understand any of it. As Yabushige leaves, Mariko tells him all she can without telling him too much and he understands and Mariko tells him to stay out of it. Mariko is then visited by her son who lets her know that should she continue to do this he will no longer be her son as he is tired of being associated with the shame of his grandfather. This was a heartbreaking scene as you can see the weight of everything start to affect Mariko. 

As Mariko attempts to leave the next day while everyone has eyes on her she is stopped at the gate. A bloody battle ensues and we get to see Mariko fight after all her men are killed. If there were no archers, their party would have made it out the gate. She gives it her best taking on about ten men but ultimately is defeated. As such, she will take her own life for failing to complete the duty of her Lord. Kiyama agrees to be her second because as a Christian she does not want to damn her soul for suicide but as a samurai she must do this. 

Ochiba realizes what this is: Mariko seeks vengeance, when she dies, Ishido and his followers will be disgraced and the noble families will turn against him. Perhaps this was Toranaga’s plan all along. Ochiba calls for Blackthorne to meet the heir but she really wanted to speak with Mariko. She attempts to remind her of their childhood and talk her out of committing seppuku. When Mariko refuses you can see Ochiba is clearly upset. 

Yabushige is given a message from Ishido and agrees to help while Mariko makes a last confession. Blackthorne also takes his frustration out in the garden and the time approaches. Kiyama does not attend and Blackthorne will act as Mariko’s second. Moments before she stabs herself, Ishido arrives and gives her the permit to leave. When others ask are they free to leave he agrees. 

As the evening comes, Blackthorne and Mariko spend the night together – finally – and it appears everyone is getting their happy ending until Yabushige kills a guard and opens the gate for a small army of shinobi who have been sent to kill Mariko and the others. They all do their best to defend themselves with Yabushige kind of, sort of helping, but are forced into a storage room and are trapped. The shinobi are going to blast the door open and Mariko, who does not want to be taken alive, stands in front of the door to take one last stand against Ishido as the door explodes and the screen goes black. 

Anna Sawai gives a heartbreaking and powerful performance in Crimson Sky. Everytime tears enter her eyes, the audience is moved. The writing for this episode is haunting but perfect. Shogun does not hold back and none of your favorites are safe. You desperately wanted her and Blackthorne to have their happy ending. Speaking of Blackthorne, how will he handle this and will seek his own revenge? Who survived the blast? Will Yabushige be found out? All questions that need to be answered in next week’s finale. 

What did you think of the episode Shogun fans? Leave a comment and connect with me on X @lovesprina!

About the Author – Je-Ree Olenik

Je-Ree is the definition of a Jersey Girl. A true nerd who loves her comics. When not watching tv she is a paralegal by day. She loves writing, reading, binging all the newest shows and spending time with her family. Follow on X (Twitter) @lovesprina


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