Monday, April 29, 2024

Shōgun - Crimson Sky / A Dream of a Dream

The final two episodes of Shōgun focus on the choices of Mariko (Anna Sawai) and their aftermath. Having journeyed to Osaka, Mariko informs Ishido (Takehiro Hira) of her plans to return to  Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) the next day and take his vassals, and infant son, back with her. Putting Ishido in a no-win situation of either giving up his hostages or confirming that they are indeed hostages and unable to leave, he refuses her request having his men cut down her soldiers at the gate and advance on to Marko. This, of course, is exactly what Mariko was expecting and gives her the opportunity to commit seppuku for failing to meet her lord's demands and achieve her long goal of joining her family in death.

"Crimson Sky" it turns out is not named for Toranaga's suicide run on the city but instead how a single woman's actions could shift the power within Osaka. We get plenty of John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) and Ochiba (Fumi Nikaidô) attempting to talk Mariko out of seizing the opportunity at death which has long illuded her. The episode, unquestionably the best of a very strong series, is full of tense moments punctuated by the Mariko's public display in front of the regents, the scene at the gate, the attempt at seppuku stopped only at the last moment, and her eventual death at the hands of Ishido's assassins aided by the treacherous Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano). 

The episode reminds of of Mariko's struggle, opening with one of her suicide attempts as a young woman, Ochiba attempting to dissuade Mariko from her path based on their friendship, her final conversations with Father Martin Alvito (Tommy Bastow) in which she will secure help for those she leaves behind, and Blackthorne's attempts to keep the woman he loves alive, and when that fails agreeing to help her plan only to later lose her to Ishido's assassins. In the end, Mariko's sacrifice does exactly what Toranaga had hoped for, although Ishido and the regents do not yet realize the costs of Mariko's death.

"A Dream of a Dream" is more epilogue than final episode with Yabushige broken by his betrayal and Blackthorne struggling with Mariko's loss but learning from her actions and returning to the  coast where he finds his ship sunk. In this final episode, our sailor from a distant land puts what he has learned to use attempting to make amends with Fuji (Moeka Hoshi) and standing up to Toranaga's treatment of the villagers while looking for Ishido's spies. He has learned much from Mariko, indeed. 

While I understand the use of the framing to give us an old Blackthorne comfortable in England still haunted by events, for me it's a distraction more than anything else and I'm thankful those short scenes are kept to a minimum. Leaving his future one of many unanswered questions as he attempts to rebuild his ship working alongside Toranaga's men is a far more satisfying conclusion with a certain future expected, and alluded to during Toranga's discussions with Yabushige, but not confirmed.

  • Title: Shōgun - Crimson Sky / A Dream of a Dream
  • IMDb: link | link

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