Shogun Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Tomorrow Is Tomorrow

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There wasn’t much fault to be found with the first two episodes of Shogun.

Visually stunning and intricately plotted with performances that managed to meet the story’s sky-high dramatic stakes while maintaining a measure of grounded relatability, this was the kind of TV we’ve been waiting for since the sun started to set on the medium’s second golden age circa 2019.

But there’s no denying that the show might’ve been a little too complex, too byzantine in its depiction of the political machinery of feudal Japan, for the taste of some viewers.

Yabushige Photo - Shogun

There's no denying that this is a series that demands the viewer's full attention -- a throwback to the height of the prestige TV era, when audiences demonstrated a willingness to put in work for their favorite series.

And thus far, the rewards have been well worth the effort.

Blackthorne on Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

Shogun Season 1 Episode 3 plunges us right back into the entangled alliances and double allegiances of 1600 Osaka.

Blackthorne has survived an attempt on his life, and Toranaga wants Yabushige to help him get to the bottom of the matter.

Yabushige is Toranaga's vassal, but he's very much looking out for number one, especially since he thinks the Lord of the Eight Provinces might have reason to lop off his head.

Even though he's not yet confident that his noggin is safe atop his neck, Yabushige reveals that his loyalties are for sale:

He won't betray Toranaga for his seat on the Council of Regents, but he will betray Ishido if Toranaga gifts him the Suruga province.

Lord Ishido on Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

Toranaga agrees to the arrangement in exchange for Blackthorne and Lady Kiri's safe transport to Ajiro, thus setting the stage for one of the most famous scenes in the James Clavell novel on which the series is based.

The high-stakes trickery that Toranaga has planned is cited by many readers as the moment at which they gave themselves over to the story's byzantine intricacies.

Like the book and the 1980 miniseries versions that preceded it, this iteration of Shogun is a demanding watch, but anything less would be a betrayal of the source material.

This episode contains a whole lot of wheeling and dealing before the opening credits, but showrunners Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks have an intuition for pacing:

They seem to know exactly when to step on the gas and when to pump the brake, when to make a character's motives crystal clear, and when to withhold information.

Buntaro on Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

When we jump, for example, to the Father Alvito explaining how Blackthorne's unexpected allyship with Toranaga has endangered the Jesuits' economic interests, we're reassured that all of these plot strands are being meticulously woven into a rich tapestry.

Shogun is a series that's as interested in cultural similarities as it is in cultural differences, and the scenes highlighting the awkward interplay between religion and commerce serve to remind us that some powerful forces are universal.

A conversation between Blackthorne and Mariko reminds us that sex and medicine are just as ubiquitous, but in some ways, more variable by culture.

Buntaro's unwitting interruption of his wife's sexually charged conversation with the barbarian underscores Kondo and Marks' talent for saying a whole lot with very few words.

There are many things that this show does well, and one of them is continually ratcheting up the tension.

Mariko on Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

As Blackthorne, Mariko, Kiri, and their party prepare to decamp from Osaka, we know that something is amiss -- but we don't know what.

Not even when Ishido arrives on the scene and starts poking around is the source of our anxiety evident.

But the scheme becomes clear when a diversion is created, and the old switcheroo takes place right under Ishido's nose.

Lady Mariko: As a hostage, he learned one truth: that enemies are everywhere and friends nowhere. To show your true heart is to risk your life.

After a stunning aerial shot that reminds us why it's taking so long to depart from Osaka Castle, Blackthorne offers a distraction (and a bit of welcome comic relief) that enables Toranaga to carry out his ruse.

It's a watershed moment, as it's the first time that Blackthorne demonstrates any real loyalty to any of the daimyos, whom, up to that point he'd mostly regarded as hostile captors.

Anjin on Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

Proving again that no show since Game of Thrones has so deftly balanced intricate plotting with old-fashioned sex and violence, Shogun further develops its central romantic plot with an explicit conversation between Blackthorne and Mariko -- one that's interrupted by a hail of flaming arrows.

From there, Kiyama's attack exposes Toranaga's scheme and results in the show's most pulse-pounding action scene yet.

The two-way conflict turns into a multi-lateral beef as Kiyama's men (who were after Blackthorne) watch in confusion while the Grays and Browns battle over the Toranaga revelation.

You, sir, are a silly little man! And your hair looks like the tail of a pony!


The scene perfectly encapsulates the complexity of Shogun up to this point -- and may have led viewers who are feeling a little befuddled by the plot intricacies to relax and focus on the many other levels on which this series can be enjoyed.

The conflicting loyalties and overlapping alliances continue as Blackthorne encourages the team to go back for an outnumbered Buntaro, despite the fact that dude hasn't exactly been welcoming to the foreign Anjin.

Toranaga With a Sword - Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

Alas, his pleas fall on deaf ears, and Mariko's husband bravely returns to a fray in which he's outnumbered roughly a bajillion to one.

What this episode does best is use physical conflict to underscore the many personal, financial, and cultural conflicts that form the framework of Shogun's central storylines.

As Kiyama's men refuse to allow Blackthorne and company to depart, the pilot is forced to once again confront the exploitative priests and merchants aboard the Black Ship, who are also hostile toward him, but for very different reasons.

And as Toranaga engages in some improv wheeling and dealing with Alvito and Ferriera, we're reminded that few shows in history have delivered so very many complex, dynamic characters with so many elaborate motives.

Without belaboring the point, the scene aboard the Black Ship highlights the power of translators like Alvito and Mariko -- a subtle manipulation of one bargainer's remark to another can make all the difference in these high-stakes negotiations.

Yabushige In Uniform - Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

For the second time this episode, Mariko is forced to watch as her ship embarks and leaves behind an important man in her life.

Like Buntaro, Blackthorne demonstrates tremendous bravery despite but his circumstances -- but unlike Mariko's husband, he refuses to accept his fate.

In another thrilling action sequence -- with some top-notch banter -- Blackthorne breaks through the blockade by sidling Toranaga's galley up to the Black Ship as it breaks through the wall of Kiyama's men.

The fact that he accomplishes this feat with the help of Rodrigues (the always charming Néstor Carbonell) makes for a poignant scene -- even if Blackthorne is unaware of his frenemy's effort to pay back his debt.

As though we weren't already marveling at the incredible amount of action and plot advancement contained in this single episode, the escape is followed by a revelation of the full extent of Toranaga's plan:

Nagakado Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

He has Hiromatsu issue his resignation to the Council of Regents, which now contains only four members (five votes would be required to impeach Toranaga and force him to commit seppuku).

Toaranaga instructs his son to join Yabushige in Edo, and he fends off his offspring's protests with what might be the show's most quotable line thus far.

When will you understand? You are playing a game of friends and enemies, when you have only yourself in this life.


An episode that scarcely left us time to catch our breath ends on an unexpectedly tender note, as Blackthorne bonds with Mariko over their absent loved ones before solidifying his alliance with Toranaga.

A man who was a shipwrecked barbarian captive just a few days earlier has now been promoted to Hatamoto -- an impressive feat that might be outmatched by Shogun's ability to deliver such compelling character development alongside such relentless action.

Nagakado and Buntaro - Shogun Season 1 Episode 3

The mandatory diving lessons might signify Toranaga's authority over Blackthorne -- but the ensuing swimming race serves as a reminder of the complexity of these relationships -- and the fact that these two are now in it together.

What did you think, TV fanatics?

Is Shogun TV's next great series?

Hit the comments section below to share your thoughts.

Tomorrow Is Tomorrow Review

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Tyler Johnson is an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic and the other Mediavine O&O sites. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and, of course, watching TV. You can Follow him on X and email him here at TV Fanatic.

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Shogun Season 1 Episode 3 Quotes

You've decided to take my life, fine. Let's be done.


You, sir, are a silly little man! And your hair looks like the tail of a pony!