‘Shogun’ Episode 9 Recap & Ending Explained: Is Mariko Dead Or Alive?


The list of major characters biting the dust in Shogun continues to grow. The pathetic death of Toranaga’s son, Nagakado, was a major turning point in the miniseries, as it seemingly put the underdog on the backfoot. But Toranaga used the mourning period to map out his next move. Since he didn’t reveal his plans to anyone, though, his own people kept making assumptions. So, when Toranaga announced that he was going to surrender to Ishido, everyone was shocked. In an attempt to force Toranaga to change his decision, Hiromatsu killed himself. However, Toranaga didn’t budge because he was adamant about proving to Ishido that he was helpless. He only revealed to Mariko that he had something up his sleeve, and he would be able to unveil it if she played her part in going with John and Yabushige to Osaka to announce his surrender. And, well, things didn’t go well for her.

Spoiler Alert

Mariko Takes a Stand Against Ishido

Episode 9 of Shogun opens with a flashback from a time when Mariko kept running away from her home, despite being pregnant, because she couldn’t live with the burden of being ridiculed every day due to her father’s actions. That was when Father Martin Alvito (a.k.a. Tsuji) approached Mariko and welcomed her to the world of Christianity. In the present day, Mariko, John, Yabushige, and the rest of their contingent reach Osaka to talk to Ishido. John observes that the Portuguese continue to do business with the Japanese and swindle them. Then, they proceed to the castle. Mariko reiterates the fact that Ishido is doing whatever he is doing because he is holding the families of the Regents hostage in Osaka. Meanwhile, Yabushige reiterates the proposition they’re going to make to Ishido. Mariko reunites with Lady Shizu and Kiri, and they lament about the conditions they are being forced to live in. We briefly see the Portuguese wondering about what Toranaga and his delegates are planning to do before returning to the meeting between Yabushige, John, Ochiba, Mariko, Ishido, the Regents, and their families. 

Kiyama has a little chat with Yabushige about his plans, and Yabushige blurts out that he and John are going to support Ishido with all the artillery they have. Kiyama scoffs at this idea because he wants John to be judged by the Church. Yabushige says that John is beyond the Church’s reach now. John critiques Kiyama for being a “man of faith” while siding with the Portuguese. Kiyama’s response to it is pretty bad because he essentially says that he is fond of money, and since the Portuguese were there first, they got to be his ally. Anyway, the meeting itself ends up being a big flop for Yabushige and John because Ishido refuses their proposal of allyship. Then Mariko shows up to let Ishido know that Toranaga is still mourning and announces that she is going to leave for Edo with Kiri no kata and Shizu no kata. As Ishido begins to explicitly oppose Mariko’s exit from Osaka, along with Kiri and Shizu, it becomes evident that he is, in fact, holding people hostage so that his decisions can be greenlit without any opposition. Ishido doesn’t budge, and he tells Mariko that she has to wait till the Regents decide if she can leave or not.

Ochiba meets Mariko

Yabushige is obviously surprised and angry at Mariko’s decision to sound off against Ishido, especially when he is trying to win over the dictator’s trust. John tries to understand why Mariko is doing the things that she is doing, and Mariko simply requests that he stay out of her business. Ryuji disrespects his own mother for acting against Ishido. He has apparently been influenced by all the politics coursing through the veins of Osaka. Although that hurts Mariko, she proceeds with her plan to leave the castle. A lot of blood is spilled. Mariko is forced to take up arms. Kiyama and Ohno explicitly mention that they are afraid to act against Ishido because that will risk the lives of their families. So, Mariko ends up underscoring what she had set out to prove: Ishido is ruling over Osaka with an iron fist. 

The Taiko established the system of Regents so that there was some form of democracy and the country’s policies and actions weren’t in the hands of one man. And these Regents were supposed to maintain this status quo until the Heir was old enough to rule. By acting in a dictatorial fashion, Ishido has gone against this decision and disrespected the Taiko. Mariko announces that since she isn’t being allowed to serve her lord, Toranaga, she is going to die by suicide at the end of the day. Mariko is Christian, and that’s why she asks Lord Kiyama to be her second so that she isn’t condemned to go to hell. Ishido prevents Kiyama from doing so, even though Ochiba warns Ishido that if Mariko dies, there’s going to be an uprising that he won’t be able to handle. On the flip side, if Ishido allows Mariko to leave, he has to let everyone else leave, too, which is something that Ishido doesn’t want to do. Later on, Ochiba meets Mariko, and she tells her to put a stop to her “games.” Mariko refuses to budge because she knows that what she is doing is right. Mariko tells Ochiba that the latter has the power to put a stop to this whole conundrum because she is the Heir’s mother. For the first time in the show, Ochiba discards her cold exterior and exhibits some form of emotion.

Is Mariko Dead Or Alive?

John tries to stop Mariko from killing herself, but that doesn’t work. So, John angrily disturbs a dry garden in the compound. Yabushige gets a message from Ishido regarding his subservience. Father Martin and Mariko pray together, and then the latter proceeds to her seppuku ceremony. Since Kiyama doesn’t show up, John decides to be her second. When Mariko is about to pierce her heart, Ishido appears out of nowhere and stops Mariko from killing herself. He says that she is free to go, and if anyone else wants to leave Osaka, they can submit their request, and it’ll be approved after a review. At the end of Shogun, episode 9, everyone seems to be in a celebratory mood because they are about to leave Osaka. Mariko and John get busy with the act of “pillowing.” However, that’s when Yabushige drops a twist by inviting the Shinobi (ninja) into the castle to kill Toranaga’s contingent and abduct Mariko. Things go horribly wrong as Mariko decides to sacrifice herself in an explosion ignited by the Shinobi. Yes, I think she is dead.

It’s a very off-putting conclusion to Mariko’s whole arc. Like Ochiba said earlier in the episode, Mariko was angry at her fate. She was frustrated that, despite doing everything correctly, she was condemned to a life of suffering. She managed to do what she wanted to do when nobody was looking at her, e.g., her romance with John. Her faith never wavered. She was loyal to Toranaga till the very end. But was her death meaningful? I know that, during feudal times, the death of a person who has lived a life of nobility usually spurs people to protest against the dictator in question. Mariko was the daughter of a traitor. No, I don’t think she was wrong for having an affair because if men could have concubines back in the day, then women were free to “pillow” whoever they wanted to. Legitimizing polygamy shouldn’t benefit just men, right? Anyway, Mariko’s romantic relationship wasn’t public knowledge, though. So, there’s a possibility that news of Mariko’s defiance is going to create a public uproar, and support for Toranaga is going to increase. That said, do you think it’s alright for Toranaga to sacrifice Hiromatsu and Mariko to maintain his ruse? Well, hopefully, I’ll be able to answer that after the finale.

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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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