Shogun Episode 3 Ending Explained: What Toranaga’s Plan For Blackthorne Really Is

WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Shogun episode 3.


  • John Blackthorne is named Hatamoto by Toranaga, solidifying his position as a vassal and key ally.
  • Toranaga’s resignation from the Council of Regents thwarts Ishido’s plans and buys time for preparation.
  • Toranaga’s alliance with the Portuguese and Blackthorne’s role in training for war foreshadow upcoming conflicts.

Shōgun episode 3, “Tomorrow is Tomorrow,” ends with Toranaga solidifying his alliance with Blackthorne by giving the foreigner the title of Hatamato as Hiroyuki Sanada’s character prepares for war. Following the attempt on John Blackthorne’s life at the end of Shōgun episode 2, Lord Toranaga realized it was no longer safe to stay in Osaka. While Yoshii could not leave the castle, he orchestrated a plan to escape during what was announced to be his wife’s exit from Osaka. Toranaga’s fakeout was eventually exposed, but it was already too late for Ishido to stop him.

While Toranaga and his regime managed to flee Osaka, it did not come without a cost. Several samurai were killed, including Lady Mariko’s husband. Additionally, Toranaga had to cut a deal with the Portuguese merchants, even though he was not happy about their base in Macau. Escaping was even more difficult for Blackthorne, whose presence in the Black Ship was denied by the Portuguese. As the plans and ambitions of Shōgun’s characters become clear, episode 3 indicates that a war will soon happen.

Shōgun’s John Blackthorne Is Now A Vassal Of Lord Toranaga

Shōgun’s John Blackthorne is now a vassal of Lord Toranaga’s fiefdom, meaning he will no longer be treated as a barbarian or foreigner by those in Toranaga’s circle. After proving not only his loyalty to Toranana but also his skills, John earned his place among the lord’s allies. More than recognizing the courage of the Anjin, Lord Toranaga naming John “Hatamoto” means that the English’s pilot skills can now be incorporated into Toranaga’s plan. The title of Hatamoto means guardian or protector of the flag, an honorable designation for a vassal that proves how important John has become.

Between Toranaga returning to Edo and John being enlisted to train his lord’s regiment on European battleship techniques, it is clear that a war is about to start in

Blackthorne’s first mission as a vassal of Toranaga will be to train his regiment on foreign maritime skills with which they are not familiar. The English navigator’s knowledge will be essential to prepare Toranaga’s men for the conflict that is about to erupt, especially because the Japanese have only recently established commerce with the West through Portugal. Not only will Blackthorne train Toranaga’s samurai to battle on the sea, but he will also teach some lessons to Toranaga himself. Shōgun episode 3 ends with John teaching Yoshii how to properly dive, a symbol of their newly formed alliance.

What Lord Toranaga’s Resignation From The Council Of Regents Means

Lord Toranaga looks behind him during a meeting with other lords and samurai

Shōgun‘s latest episode reveals that Lord Toranaga has resigned from the Council of Regents, as informed to Lord Ishido by Toda Hiromatsu. Knowing that he was about to be impeached, which would lead to his death, Toranaga quietly resigned from his role as regent. Naturally, this was only revealed to Ishido and the rest of the regents when Toranaga had already escaped from Osaka and was heading to Edo in safety. Even though Ishido argued that a piece of paper wouldn’t stop them, any decision from the Council of Regents would have to be approved by all five members.



Real-Life Inspiration

Yoshii Toranaga

Hiroyuki Sanada

Tokugawa Ieyasu

John Blackthorne

Cosmo Jarvis

William Adams

Toda Mariko

Anna Sawai

Hosokawa Gracia

Kashigi Yabushige

Tadanobu Asano

Honda Masanobu

Kashigi Omi

Hiroto Kanai

Honda Masazumi

Ishido Kazunari

Takehiro Hira

Ishida Mitsunari

If Ishido and the other three lords accept Toranaga’s resignation, they cannot impeach him. However, if they ignore the resignation and keep Toranaga’s title as they wait for him to return, they will not be able to get any decision approved as the council will always be missing a member. Lord Toranaga’s move was incredibly smart and put Ishido in check. While this does not solve the problem – Yoshii is still in danger and has no allies in Osaka – it does buy him some time to prepare for an eventual war.

Why The Portuguese Helped Lord Toranaga Fled From Osaka

Toranaga holding his sword during a battle in Shogun episode 3

While Toranaga refused to grand the Portuguese’s Black Ship passage in Shōgun episode 2 after learning of their secret base in Macau, he and John Blackthorne ended up cutting a deal with the Jesuits. In exchange for their help to flee Osaka in safety aboard a ship, Toranaga would guarantee that the Black Ship could leave Japan for Macau without any repercussions. Toranaga’s offer also included a significant amount of silver, thus sealing an unexpected partnership. With Toranaga and his allies boarding a Portuguese ship, there was not much Ishido could do to stop them.

Why Rodrigues Left John Get Ahead Of The Ship

Rodrigues talking to Blackthorne on a ship in Shogun episode 1

Even though Toranaga and the Portuguese reached a deal, the latter demanded that Blackthorne would stay behind. The Protestant pilot had been a threat to the Catholic priests ever since his arrival in Japan, as John not only briefed the Japanese on different countries and religions from Europe but also revealed the existence of Portuguese bases in the region. This is why John had to seek help from the local fisherman and sail by himself to catch up with Black Ship. Still, Rodrigues, who could’ve left John way behind the Portuguese ship, surprisingly left John to get ahead of them.


Macao, Ronin & Portuguese Bases In Shogun Explained

John Blackthorne reveals the existence of a Portuguese military base off the coast of China that’s been hiring ronin against Japan for years.

John Blackthorne saved Rodrigues from dying in the storm in Shōgun episode 1 when they were heading to Osaka together. The two characters had already formed a quick bond upon their first meeting, as Rodrigues was faithfully translating John’s words and did not try to get him killed. Rodrigues now had the chance to leave John behind and end the Englishman problem once and for all but decided to pay his debt to the pilot. After John made it out of the blockade, Rodrigues stated that they were now even.

Why The Fishermen Helpd John Blackthorne

John Blackthorne saves a man from falling from a ship in Shogun episode 1

John’s skills were impressive, but he would not have made it out of the harbor without the help of the local fishermen. They helped John because, in episode 1, they went through a storm together and managed to survive with the help of the Anjin. This is the same reason why Rodrigues left John to get ahead of their ship. Despite his ability to cause trouble, Blackthorne can also make friends relatively easily. The “captain-sama,” as John refers to the captain of the fishermen’s boat, helped Blackthorne and Toranaga’s allies as soon as they arrived.

What Happened To Mariko’s Husband In Shōgun

A closeup of Toda Buntaro in samurai armor in Shogun episode 3

Mariko’s husband, the samurai Toda Buntaro, stayed behind to fight Ishido’s men as the rest of Toranaga’s regiment boarded the ship. While Buntaro’s death happens offscreen, it is safe to say the character died while fighting to buy his family and allies time. Toda Buntaro’s death in Shōgun was foreshadowed earlier in the episode when John asked Mariko about her husband, to which she replied saying he is a very honorable and skillful warrior.

Why Toranaga Is Going To Edo At The End Of Shōgun Episode 3

Hiroyuki Sanada as Lord Toranaga in Shogun in front of ships arriving in Japan
Custom image by Sam MacLennan

While Tokugawa Ieyasu, the real historical figure on which Yoshii Toranaga is based, was born in the Mikawa Province, he built his castle in Edo, which would later be known as Tokyo. Similar to his real word counterpart, Lord Toranaga was raised as a hostage but later consolidated his power in Edo. All of Shōgun up until this point has shown Toranaga in Osaka, in which he was sort of a hostage again due to the constant threat of being impeached. After fleeing Osaka and realizing how delicate the situation is, Toranaga will now regroup in his castle.

Shōgun Episode 3 Confirms A War Is About To Start

Between Toranaga returning to Edo and John being enlisted to train his lord’s regiment on European battleship techniques, it is clear that a war is about to start in Shōgun. Regardless of his resignation from the Council of Regents, Toranaga is still a major threat to Ishido and the Christian lords. Considering the historical events in which Shōgun is based, it is safe to say the show will eventually feature some massive, large-scale battles with significant implications for the future of Japan. This makes Shōguns upcoming episodes even more exciting.

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releases new episodes Tuesdays on FX and Hulu.

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Shogun is an FX original mini-series set in 17th Century Japan. Shogun follows John Blackthorne, who becomes a samurai warrior but is unknowingly a pawn in Yoshii Toranaga’s plan to become Shogun. The series stars Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne and Hiroyuki Sanada as Yoshii Toranaga, along with Anna Sawai, Tadanobu Asano, and Yûki Kedôin.

Cosmo Jarvis , Hiroyuki Sanada , Anna Sawai , Tadanobu Asano , Yûki Kedôin


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