Shogun Season 1 Episode 7 Overview: A Stick of Time


When the earlier episode of Shogun ended with Toranaga’s rousing name to arms, we assumed that Operation Crimson Sky couldn’t be far behind.

Certain sufficient, A Stick of Time opens within the aftermath of what seemed to be a really bloody battle.

In case you’re a fan of this present’s unflinching portrayal of feudal carnage, then you definately most likely dug this gory scene, with its many battered corpses and its close-up beheading.

However you might have felt a bit let down moments later when some dude runs by way of the battlefield screaming, “The battle is over!” Properly, that was quick!

And never solely that, Toranaga has gained!

Simply once we start to get the sense that we missed out on one thing crucial, onscreen textual content reveals that we have been bamboozled, and what we’re witnessing is definitely the wake of destruction left by Toranaga’s first battle 46 years prior.

The fresh-faced younger warrior accepts his enemy’s give up and assists him along with his grisly seppuku.

And whereas we have been observing Toranaga‘s political maneuvers since Shogun’s pilot episode, it is doable that no scene so far has been extra revealing of his character.

It is a man whose warrior instincts had been solid in hearth, who gained his first battle earlier than he pillowed his first woman, and who has by no means recognized a life through which the potential of a violent dying was not an ever-present risk.

So when Toranaga seeks to make amends along with his long-lost brother, we are able to safely assume that their rift is not a results of lingering resentment from that point they introduced the identical dish to the household potluck.

However some facets of household life by no means change, and after somewhat good-natured ribbing Toranaga and Lord Saeki resolve to get hammered and let bygones be bygones. Or so we’re led to imagine.

A subsequent dialog with Mariko reveals that Toranaga nonetheless is not a giant fan of his “mongrel half-brother,” and he makes use of the identical tactic to win him over that he beforehand used on Blackthorne — particularly, top-tier prostitutes.

Talking of presents, honors, and allies, the Anjin is understandably interested in what kind of function he’ll be taking part in as soon as the Crimson Sky plan involves fruition.

Toranaga has by no means been one to publish his plans on a billboard, so Blackthorne is not shocked when the daimyo declines to expose particulars, besides, the change contributes to the mounting friction between these uneasy allies.

As final week’s episode established, Gin and Kiku are extra highly effective than they could initially appear, and pillowing is rarely simply pillowing on Shogun.

The ever-prickly Omi is upset that Saeki is getting a lot of Kiku’s time, however he redirects his anger to a extra acceptable goal — Blackthorne, whom he accuses of soiling Gin’s tea home.

Gin, as at all times, is unperturbed, and she or he flips the scenario to her benefit by suggesting that Kiku is infatuated with another person.

From there, we swap focus to a different of this present’s dynamic, fully-formed feminine characters, Fuji.

A determine who might need been decreased to nothing greater than a traumatized survivor on a lesser sequence is right here given room to develop in addition to grieve.

When she’s offered with the ashes of her husband and son, Fuji as soon as once more longs to hitch them within the afterlife.

However she’s no mere bereft widow, and we all know the grit, ingenuity, and temerity of which she’s succesful.

Shogun locations Toranaga, Blackthorne, and Mariko within the highlight most often, however Fuji embodies their finest traits and offers the clearest thematic hyperlink between their storylines in a method that makes her an equally indispensable character.

When Hiromatsu encourages her to proceed combating for victory, Fuji’s torrent of conflicting feelings reminds us that whereas she shares Blackthorne’s braveness and Toranaga’s dedication to obligation, she additionally possesses Mariko’s data of the futility of all of it.

Proving as soon as once more that visiting family have been getting drunk and performing obnoxious since time immemorial, Saeki will get into the saké and publicly disrespects Toranaga in a fashion that doubtless would have value anybody else their head.

He then perpetrates an act of betrayal that makes a narrative of childhood incontinence seem like — effectively, youngsters’ stuff.

Saeki’s official causes for betraying his brother and nephew to the Council of Regents could be political, but it surely’s plain that he was primarily motivated by old style sibling rivalry.

After all, Saeki is not the one one whose allegiances are unsure. Yabushige has been taking part in each side of the fence from the get-go, and the supply of his basic’s head in a dumpling steamer reminds him of how excessive the stakes have grow to be.

Gin’s knowledge and entrepreneurial ambition as soon as once more come to the fore, as she makes use of her stick of time with Toranaga to share her imaginative and prescient of a brighter future through which courtesans are unionized and permitted to work collectively in a centralized brothel district.

Destiny is sort of a sword. Helpful solely to those that can wield it.


That is no mere marketing strategy, nonetheless. Gin is pleading for primary human rights and dignity, and for a second, it seems to be as if Toranaga’s new consciousness of his personal mortality — the velocity with which his incense stick is burning down — may lead him to contemplate her proposal.

However he is too near despair to contemplate the issues of his topics.

Thankfully, Gin — who’s used her restricted display screen time so far to make a case for herself as this present’s coolest character — possesses ranges of guile that Toranaga and his generals can solely dream of.

She reminds Toranaga of their frequent hardships and ambitions and hints that he could have permitted Saeki to penetrate the village’s perimeter along with his military.

Despite the fact that the discord inside the Council of Regents predates the arrival of Blackthorne’s ship, a number of characters blame the Anjin for his or her nation’s present troubles.

Considered one of them is Yabushige, who takes out his frustration throughout a violent “coaching” session that is noticed with nice curiosity by Buntaro — who proceeds to remind us that he additionally isn’t a fan of Blackthorne by almost decapitating the Brit.

The scenario involves a head — no pun supposed — later within the episode when Buntaro begs Toranaga for permission to take away the Anjin’s noggin for the crime of utilizing stated skull to ogle Mariko.

He is denied on the grounds that such an motion would implicate Mariko, too — however plainly Toranaga additionally has some considerations concerning the translator’s loyalty.

Issues as soon as once more take a flip for the very bleak, as Mariko turns into the second character of the episode to beg for permission to take her personal life.

The infinite rains and fog contribute to the episode’s environment of pervasive gloom, and Toranaga follows the lead of so a lot of his topics when he offers in to hopelessness and surrenders himself to his brother.

Even when there’s evil on this land, nobody has the precise to tear the realm aside. Crimson Sky was a mistake.

Nagakado’s failed try and homicide Saeki and his personal subsequent ignominious dying are certain to be amongst this season’s most divisive plot factors, however they successfully tie collectively the episode’s main thematic pursuits:

We’re reminded that essential issues occur within the shadows of the willow world, that intercourse and violence make for awkward bedfellows (mirroring Nagakado’s earlier remarks concerning the similarities between pillowing and battle), and that destiny will be as ridiculous as it’s tragic.

When the scene cuts to black for a music-less closing credit sequence, we really feel each bit as depressing as Toranaga and his downtrodden vassals.

And we’re as soon as once more reminded that no present on tv so persistently demonstrates such a masterful management of tone.

Three episodes stay on this season, however as Toranaga finalizes his will (fortunately, he does not neglect Gin) and seemingly accepts his destiny, A Stick of Time takes on the sensation of a pre-finale:

It is the type of episode that units the stage for the climactic battle to come back.

The title refers actually to the incense that is used to measure time within the brothels of feudal Japan but in addition to the fleeting nature of human lives.

This hour of Shogun depicts a hinged second between monumental occasions — a interval through which time briefly slows down and affords a second for contemplation in the beginning modifications perpetually.

Whereas we all know there’s rather more story left to inform, A Stick of Time left us with the sense that every one is misplaced — a set of dire circumstances that may hopefully make our protagonists’ forthcoming heroics all of the extra awe-inspiring.

What did you suppose, TV fanatics? Was this the bleakest episode so far? Did it get somewhat too darkish on your style?

Hit the feedback part beneath to share your ideas.

Tyler Johnson is an Affiliate Editor for TV Fanatic and the opposite Mediavine O&O websites. In his spare time, he enjoys studying, cooking, and, after all, watching TV. You may Comply with him on X and e-mail him right here at TV Fanatic.


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