‘Shogun’ Episode 3 Recap: The Not-So-Great Escape

Episode 3: ‘Tomorrow Is Tomorrow’

A lovely scene is taking place at sea. After a daring escape, Lord Toranaga and his newfound English associate John Blackthorne are free from captivity. Much has been lost in the attempt. Toranaga’s wife, Lady Kiri no Kata (Yoriko Doguchi), remains in the clutches of the hated Lord Ishido, having fulfilled her part in the ruse that allowed her husband to flee. Lady Mariko’s husband, Buntaro (Shinnosuke Abe), sacrifices himself to prevent enemy soldiers from thwarting the escape. Or at least he appears to: Until we see a dead body, it’s probably wisest to consider this character still in play.

As far as Mariko, Toranaga and Blackthorne are concerned, a lot of people gave all they had in order to safeguard them. There’s much for which the survivors can be grateful. How does Lord Toranaga choose to celebrate? With a diving lesson from the Anjin, the barbarian, John Blackthorne.

Blackthorne rolls with the odd request. He’s becoming increasingly adept at acclimating himself to Japanese customs, and equally adept at knowing when to break them. Throwing a theatrical fit about the propriety of inspecting women’s quarters in light of European chivalric ideals is, after all, what enabled Toranaga to escape Ishido’s clutches while wearing his wife’s clothes. Toranaga names Blackthorne hatamoto, an honorific indicating high status earned through his courage in effecting Toranaga’s escape.

If this lord, who has very obviously taken a shine to him, wants to learn to dive, then John Blackthorne will see it done.

And so the episode ends, with the actors Cosmo Jarvis and Hiroyuki Sanada leaping from the vessel in their skivvies, racing each other to shore. It’s a delightful moment of recreation and repose, in a series driven by physical peril and paranoia. This is the kind of enriching material that makes a show worthwhile.

Would that the same could be said for the rest of the episode. Despite all its hallmarks of a real nail-biter — an escape in disguise, a firefight in a forest, a heroic last stand, a race at sea — this episode fails as action filmmaking.

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