‘Shogun’ Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: What Is The Meaning Of Uejirou’s Death?


The fourth episode of Shogun fleshed out the relationship between John, Fuji, and Mariko. Fuji was initially uncomfortable about being John’s consort, but eventually, she realized that he didn’t want to “pillow” her, and while he gave her his guns, she gave him her father’s swords to establish their friendly dynamic. Mariko and John developed romantic feelings for each other, and that obviously concluded with them “pillowing” each other. Toranaga ordered John to show Yabushige how to operate the cannons, and the latter hatched a plan to somehow give it to Ishido to win his trust. Yabushige, via his nephew Omi, coaxed Nagakado to act irrationally. That’s why when Jozen showed up to meet Yabushige and the cannons he was planning to give to Ishido, Nagakado blew Jozen and Ishido’s men to smithereens, thereby initiating a war between Toranaga’s clan and the Council of Regents.

Spoiler Alert

Toranaga Makes Omi The Leader Of The Anjin’s Cannon Regiment

Episode 5 of Shogun opens with the arrival of Toranaga to Ajiro with a giant army and Buntaro. Mariko and Toranaga talk about Buntaro’s return from the dead, and Toranaga says that he was helped by a contingent of Ronin, and that’s why he survived Kiyama and Ishido’s attack. Mariko gives her detailed notes of John’s work to Toranaga, and he tells her that she isn’t going to move out of John’s house to stay with Buntaro. Instead, Buntaro is going to move into John’s house. That way, Mariko will be able to serve her husband as well as John. Toranaga is obviously unaware of the recent developments in Mariko and John’s relationship, and hence, he doesn’t anticipate what might transpire in that house. His mind is more preoccupied by Nagakado’s decision to kill Jozen. Nagakado tries to impress his father by killing a pheasant, but Toranaga gives it to Mariko and tells her to present it to John as a token of gratitude. Then Toranaga proceeds to reprimand Nagakado for his stupidity. Although he was away, he knows that Nagakado has done what he has done because of Yabushige and Omi, and he tells his son to be more mindful when it comes to incitements of violence. John takes the pheasant that’s been gifted to him by Toranaga and decides to hang it outside so that it rots and becomes ready for some meal that he likes. He says that nobody is supposed to touch it, and if anybody does touch it, they have to die. 

Fuji starts making separate provisions for the Anjin’s food and how traditional Japanese food is going to be made. However, that’s interrupted by Buntaro’s arrival. Buntaro makes some judgmental comments about John and Fuji and says that he’ll be back for dinner. I have a few things to say about this helmet, and I’ll come to that in a bit. The Council of Regents sits down to decide who should be Toranaga’s replacement so that they can move forward with his impeachment. But it seems like they are coming apart at the seams because they can’t decide if the Council should be more “country” or more Christian. To make things worse, Ishido gets Jozen’s head, thereby pushing him to ramp up his plans to finish Toranaga and his clan. Toranaga confronts Yabushige regarding what happened to Jozen. Yabushige tries to throw Omi under the proverbial bus by saying that he is the one who coaxed Nagakado because he thinks that’ll allow him to stay in Toranaga’s good books. Toranaga confuses Yabushige by making Omi the leader of the Anjin’s cannon regiment. This obviously angers Yabushige. Omi says that he’s ready to relinquish his position as the leader of Anjin’s artillery unit. Yabushige says that even though Omi is the official leader of that army, Yabushige is unofficially in charge of everything. And then he sends Igarashi (in case you haven’t recognized him, that’s Hiro Kanagawa, and you should check out his acting credits to realize what a legend he is) to Osaka to make sure that Ishido knows that Yabushige is still on his side.

Buntaro Proves He Is A Spineless Excuse Of A Man

Uejiorou and Toranaga’s spy, Muraji, are seen lamenting about the rotting pheasant. Fuji and Mariko complain about how they are bound to cursed men. That’s when John walks into the frame to know what preparations he should make for Buntaro. He assumes that Mariko will tell him something about how the development of their relationship is going to affect the one she has with her husband, but she only tells him to get ready for dinner. While waiting for Buntaro, John has a seemingly irrelevant conversation about the rock garden that Uejirou maintains, but it has a lot of significance, and I will come to that later. Buntaro shows up, and it’s evident that he isn’t happy about the fact that John exists. They talk about guns and swords, but the fight that actually happens between them turns out to be a war of words and culture. John offers his rabbit stew, but the Japanese don’t find it palatable, so they don’t eat it. John makes a lot of noise while having the noodles, and Buntaro criticizes that. So, John proceeds to eat even more loudly to vex Buntaro. John sees Buntaro having sake from a traditional sake cup, and he pokes him by having sake from his bowl of soup. This leads to a drinking match between the two men. 

Fuji and Mariko try to put an end to the nonsense, but John makes things tense by forcing Buntaro to explain how exactly he escaped Ishido and Kiyama’s men. Buntaro shows how skilled he is with the bow and arrow while disrespecting Mariko by firing the arrows in such a way that they fly inches away from her face. John is clearly shocked by this display of hollow machismo and asks Mariko to tell Buntaro that he is aware of the country’s patriarchal norms, which are similar to the way men treat women in the UK, too, but that doesn’t mean he should mock Mariko in such a horrible way. Buntaro orders Mariko to tell the story of her father, Lord Akechi Jinsai, and how “treacherous” he was in order to justify his lack of respect for Mariko. However, Mariko tells John the truth about Kuroda-sama, the one who ruled Japan before the Taiko, and how his corruption and murderous ways forced Akechi to kill Kuroda. Then, Mariko’s family was murdered. But Buntaro didn’t allow Mariko to fight against this injustice. Actually, every year, Mariko apparently asks him to clear Akechi and her family’s name, and every year, Buntaro tells her that the fact that she is still alive is more than what she deserves. Later that night, Buntaro physically abuses Mariko, and in a fit of anger, John goes after Buntaro to kill him with his gun. That said, Buntaro puts down his sword and says that he has acted improperly because of the alcohol. John clearly doesn’t want to kill an unarmed man. So, he lets him leave. 

Okay, now the time has come for me to rant a little about Buntaro. Kudos to Shinnosuke Abe because his performance has made my blood boil. He imbues Buntaro with a sense of smugness that the character hasn’t earned. Buntaro thinks that he is above everyone else because he is so skilled. Does that attribute make someone manly? No, and that’s not just my opinion; it’s a fact. You can be skilled with all the weapons in the world, but if you can’t respect your fellow human, you aren’t a man, and Buntaro is not a man. He is a piece of garbage who uses the traditions and rules that bind Mariko to abuse her. Yes, sure, Mariko is a cheater. Does that mean she deserves to be abused? Yes, Mariko’s father is an alleged kingkiller. Does that mean she should be ridiculed? What has Buntaro ever done to make Mariko love him? Nothing; he has done nothing, and still, he thinks he should be respected. He is free to let go of Mariko and let her live a life of peace. But then, who will he abuse to feel powerful, right? It’s truly wild that men have built all these customs and traditions to feel like they are the kings of the world, yet they feel the need to be abusive. Can you imagine how petty that is? Anyway, Buntaro seems like he has been written by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, but thankfully, he isn’t glorified, and his actions are called out by John. I don’t know if this character will die, but if he does, I hope it’s violently satisfying. I hate Buntaro.

What Is the Meaning of Uejirou’s Death?

Toranaga meets Muraji (whose real name is Tonomoto Akinao, and he is Toranaga’s most prized samurai) and tells him about how Yabushige is searching for a spy. Toranaga’s solution is that Muraji should simply throw a decoy in Yabushige’s direction, thereby convincing him that the spy that he has been searching for has been captured. Fuji asks John to get rid of the rotting pheasant, but instead of doing that, he goes to Mariko, who is sitting in a secluded area of the forest by herself. Mariko tells John that they shouldn’t be seen together anymore. John tells Mariko to get rid of Buntaro if she wants to. Mariko tells him a tale of the swords he carries. She says that Fuji’s father didn’t die a hero, and those swords were bought by Fuji’s grandfather from a drunk samurai to preserve Fuji’s sense of respect for her father. Mariko connects this tale of ignorance to the fact that she isn’t giving Buntaro the one thing that he wants: her hatred. John points out that, at the end of the day, it’s causing Mariko to get hurt, and she shouldn’t force herself to go through all this just to get back at Buntaro. That man is an idiot, and he won’t understand Mariko’s sophisticated way of punishing him. And if he doesn’t understand that he is being punished, then what is the point? That doesn’t discourage Mariko from being a little more blatant about her disapproval of Buntaro; she is going to continue doing what she is doing, and she tells John to keep his distance.

John returns to his house, only to find out that Uejirou has been killed for touching the pheasant. John said that the pheasant was forbidden. So, apparently, Uejirou risked his life because nobody could bear the stench of the dead bird, and that was reason enough to kill him. The order was given by Fuji. That’s why she asks John to kill her, too. John is disgusted by all this, and he tells Fuji and her staff to get away from him before he does something rash. Later on, we see Muraji painting Uejirou as the spy, and that apparently convinces Yabushige that Toranaga’s spy is dead. I am a little confused about this particular subplot. Has Uejirou been killed for touching the pheasant, or has Muraji killed him to maintain the ruse that Toranaga’s spy is dead and then make it seem like he has been murdered for going against John’s orders? Either way, I think Uejirou’s death (which happens offscreen, by the way), no matter what the reason is, probably teaches John that he should be a little more careful about his words and actions. So far, he has been looking down on the Japanese for being so literal about everything. However, at the end of Shogun episode 5, when he witnesses a sudden earthquake claim so many lives, he realizes that life is very fleeting and shouldn’t be wasted in a frivolous manner. He should make sure that everything he says or does has some weight to it. The lie about Uejirou’s death is in keeping with the theme of Fuji’s grandfather lying to Fuji about her father’s sword to maintain her sense of self-respect and Mariko reserving her hatred for her husband to not give Buntaro any sense of catharsis, and I think that’s neat.

John plans to leave Japan with his men, but given how the earthquake reforges his bond with Toranaga, he decides to stay. He even gives Toranaga his swords, because Toranaga loses his swords in the landslide, thereby instilling them with a sense of respect, which is something it didn’t have because of Fuji’s grandfather’s lie. Talking about Fuji, she is injured, but she survives the earthquake. She seems happy after realizing that John isn’t angry with him anymore. A simple shot of John rearranging Uejirou’s rock garden shows how much he is growing as a character. This is followed by a pretty terrifying scene—yes, something more terrifying than a killer earthquake—where Lady Ochiba meets her son and then proceeds to have a conversation with Ishido. She thanks Ishido for getting her out of Edo, but she also points out how Toranaga managed to get the better of the Council by robbing it of its power to vote on anything. Ishido tries to convince himself that he is making some progress in terms of getting the Council of Regents to take down Toranaga. Lady Ochiba tells him that the Council had its chance, but they’ve squandered it. Now, she is going to take all the decisions (under the garb of saving the heir to the throne), and the Council is going to answer to her. In this small scene, Fumi Nikaido proves her acting prowess, and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeves in the upcoming episodes of Shogun.

- Advertisement -
Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
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.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This