‘Shogun’ Episode 3 Recap & Ending Explained: Is Buntaro Dead?


Last week, FX’s new show, Shogun, premiered with two episodes. They established the central players of the game, Lords Toranaga, Ishido, Kiyama, Sugiyama, and Ohno, who were in a subtle battle to rule over Japan. John Blackthorne, who was looking to expand his reach, ended up there and realized that the Portuguese had already established their base and were looking to take control of the island country. Since John was on the back foot, he decided to win over his captors—Toranaga and Yabushige—by warning them about the threat of the Portuguese, as they were portraying themselves as these meek and friendly people while merely furthering the word of their god. This irked the Portuguese and the Christian Regents, thereby prompting them to straight-up assassinate John while he was staying as a guest in Toranaga’s residence. The attempt was thwarted, but it remains to be seen what Toranaga does next to avert another attack.

Spoiler Alert

John Gets Toranaga Out Of His Residence In Osaka

Episode 3 of Shogun opens with Yabushige writing his will because he has been summoned by Toranaga after an assassination attempt on John. So, he is afraid that he is not going to make it out of this meeting alive. Toranaga is aware of the fact that Yabushige has conspired with Ishido to topple him. So, he asks Yabushige what he wants so that he can grant it to him and win his loyalty. Yabushige says that he wants the Suruga Province. Toranaga says that if Yabushige manages to get Lady Kiri and John to his palace in Ajiro and keep them safely there, he’ll get what he wants. Talking about getting what one wants, the Captain-General, who wants to take his Black Ship and leave, is disallowed from doing so on Toranaga’s orders because Toranaga is aware of what the Portuguese are doing and wants to put an end to Japan’s trade ties with them. Captain Ferreira tells Tsuji and the Father-Visitor that he is going to leave anyway because he serves the Crown and not the Church or the Japanese. Rodrigues, the sailor who was saved by John, realizes that John is still alive and is manipulating Toranaga to hurt the Portuguese. The focus shifts to the man of the hour, John, whose injuries are being treated under Mariko’s supervision. Their conversation is interrupted by Mariko’s husband, Buntaro, who informs them that they are all leaving for Ajiro. Going by his attitude, John gets a sense of the fact that Mariko isn’t in a happy marriage. No disrespect to Shinnosuke Abe, but out of all the faces in the show, Buntaro is the most punchable.

Hiromatsu gives the mortal remains of Fuji’s husband and child to her, and he uses this tender moment to talk about Fuji’s father and motivate her to keep fighting. Yabushige, in the most audacious live-action samurai headgear I have seen, begins preparing his armed escort party to take Lady Kiri, Fuji, Mariko, Mariko’s assistants, and John to Ajiro. Mariko’s son doesn’t want her to go, and while Mariko tries to calm him down, Buntaro straight-up abuses the kid, thereby further proving that the man is an absolute piece of garbage. Yes, he is a samurai, but being skilled at something doesn’t make one a good human being. Anyway, everyone is under the impression that Toranaga is staying back in Osaka to deal with Ishido. To make sure that no one is fooling him, Ishido personally arrives to inspect the Japanese palanquins (Norimono). Toranaga’s son creates a bit of a ruckus, but Hiromatsu allows the inspection to take place. Once that’s done, the pregnant Shizu creates a distraction, and that gives Toranaga the opportunity to slip into the carriage, which was being occupied by Lady Kiri. John notices it and realizes that some of Toranaga’s people are aware of this part of the plan while many others aren’t. So, in order to keep up the ruse, John makes a huge scene during a second inspection of the Norimono so that they don’t find out that Toranaga is getting out of Osaka. Obviously, Buntaro mocks John while being oblivious to what he has actually done. By the way, amidst all this, it is revealed that Yabushige is apparently only pretending to be on Toranaga’s side while he is probably loyal to Ishido. Or maybe he is playing both of them until he can determine who is go to be more beneficial for him.

Is Buntaro dead?

Under the cover of the night, Yabushige leads the convoy to the docks so that they can get to Ajiro as soon as possible. John and Mariko engage in some small talk, and we get yet another reminder that Buntaro is not the man that Mariko wants to be with. That said, she loves her son. The change in her whole demeanor when she describes her son shows why she is tolerating Buntaro in the first place. John also reveals that he has two children. He doesn’t talk about his wife, though. We don’t get to learn why because the convoy comes under heavy fire from Lord Kiyama’s men, thereby reconfirming that he is the one who wants to kill John. He is so determined to kill John that he doesn’t care that he is killing Ishido’s men in the process. A huge battle ensues, and it’s quite difficult to understand who is killing whom. The bottom line is that Toronaga, Yabushige, John, Fuji, and Mariko make it to the docks while Buntaro and some of the other samurai hold back Kiyama’s soldiers. After getting there, John reunites with one of the sailors who was with him when he traveled from Ajiro to Osaka. He helps Toronaga’s convoy get to the Japanese ship. However, Buntaro gets left behind. Toranaga motivates him to fight until his death. We don’t exactly see Buntaro die, but he is dragged into the dark alleys of Osaka by Kiyama’s men. Given how Shogun is brewing a romance between Mariko and John, I think Buntaro is going to return to generate some drama between them.

John notices that Kiyama and Ishido have blocked their path with boats filled with archers and tells Mariko and Toronaga that the Japanese ship won’t make it through the blockage. However, the Black Ship is big and strong enough to clear the path for them. The issue is that Toranaga canceled Captain Ferreira’s license to take his ship out of Japan. So, now he has to appease the Captain-General so that he can reach Ajiro safely. Ferreira was planning to defy Toronaga’s orders and take his Black Ship into the open waters, but he is understandably glad to realize that he has the upper hand. Toranaga says that Ferreira will get ten thousand tael silver coins as an investment in the silk trade, and they’ll split the profits 50-50. Additionally, he says that he’ll allow Tsuji and the Portuguese to build a church in Edo if they agree to break Lords Kiyama and Ohno’s ties with Ishido and turn them into Toranaga’s allies. The Father-Visitor pretends that he is appalled at this attempt at bribing them, but he accepts the offer because it’ll ultimately allow him to further his Christian agenda. With all that said, the Portuguese ask Toranaga to leave John out of this equation and keep him in Osaka because he is their enemy. Toranaga agrees, and he and his convoy board the Black Ship and proceed to break the blockade. John is forced to watch all this from a distance on the Japanese vessel, but he decides to defy this agreement and escape to Ajiro, along with Toranaga. This leads to an intense race to the finish line, and even though Rodrigues is ordered by Ferreira to crush the Japanese ship, he lets him pass to repay the debt he owed to John for saving his life.

How Did John and Toranaga Become Friends?

At the end of Shogun episode 3, Ishido and the other Regents have a conversation about what has just unfolded. Actually, he reprimands Kiyama for unleashing so much violence on Osaka. He says that he wants John to die, but Kiyama’s process was wrong. Kiyama retorts by saying that Toranaga has managed to escape, along with John, right under his nose, and Ishido got to do nothing. Ishido says that if Kiyama had allowed him to do things his way, both Toranaga and John would’ve been dead. And I have to say, he is right. Ishido had backed Toranaga into a corner. Kiyama’s assassination attempt gave Toranaga an excuse to go out of Osaka, citing security issues. If Kiyama hadn’t acted hastily by sending that assassin, Toranaga would’ve stayed put, and that would’ve allowed Ishido to kill him, albeit unfairly. Ishido and Kiyama’s argument is interrupted by Hiromatsu, who is there to deliver the message that Toranaga has resigned as a Regent. Ishido says that his resignation won’t stop them from impeaching him and sending him to the gallows. Hiromatsu reminds him that the Council needs a total of five votes to come to a decision. With Toranaga gone, they don’t have five votes. So, the Council is useless until they get a fifth Regent, which seems impossible. 

Toranaga decides to leave the Black Ship and return to the Japanese galley. He orders his son to help Yabushige “train a new regiment.” I guess what he means is that he doesn’t have access to his official army anymore because he is not a Regent, and he has betrayed the Council. So, he’ll need new soldiers. Nagakado reminds Toranaga that trusting Yabushige can be a mistake because he is conspiring with Ishido. Toranaga seems to be aware of that, and that’s why he tells his son to only put one’s trust in oneself and distrust everyone, including one’s family and friends. John engages in some more small talk with Mariko, and he reveals that he has deserted his family to sail on the open seas. John’s dreams of continuing to do so until his dying day are almost dashed by Toranaga as he shows that he has the diaries that are filled with John’s exploits. That said, Toranaga gives John some time to prove his worth, under the garb of translating the text from English to Japanese, and show that he is more than a pirate. Toranaga says that John can start that process by, firstly, training his men how to use the weapons that were found on his ship and, secondly, by teaching him how to swim. John says that he’ll be glad to do that if Toranaga frees his crew and ship. Toranaga doesn’t give any verbal confirmation, but he seemingly accepts John’s offer and orders Yabushige and Nagakodo to work with John. He even gives John the title of “Hatamoto,” which means he is a high-ranking samurai now. After that, they go for a swim. According to the teaser for the upcoming episodes, Toranaga is going to go to war with Ishido with the help of other clans and John’s weapons. However, John and Mariko’s feelings for each other are probably going to cause some kind of rift between the two of them and Toranaga. We have to wait till next week to find out what will happen in feudal Japan.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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