Movie Reviews

What Happened To The Taiko In Shogun

The FX original miniseries Shogun reveals what happened to the Taikō in its second episode. The Taikō, a title meaning “retired regent,” was the supreme ruler of Japan until the year 1599. Under his rule, civil wars ended, and the island nation became one. When he passed away, so too did the peace he devoted his reign to create, as the rivalry of the warlords now threatens to destroy the balance of power he set in place till his son can take the throne. But an unexpected enemy the Taikō once faced in an uprising may be planning its own rise to power.

Shogun features a fascinating cast of characters inspired by the history of Japan, Portugal, and England. Shogun premiered its first two episodes on February 27, while the rest will release weekly. The show is based on the 1975 novel written by James Clavell, which was first adapted as a miniseries in 1980 starring Toshiro Mifune as Toranaga and Richard Chamberlain as Blackthorne. Along the way, it explores a number of interesting figures of the era, such as the Taikō.

Shogun episode 2, “Servants of Two Masters,” goes back a year in time to the Taikō on his deathbed, weakened by illness. The warlords of Japan have gathered to pay respect to the man who unified the nation. After saying goodbye to Yaechiyo, his young son, the Taikō asks to be alone. The warlords leave, including Toranaga, until the Taikō beckons him to stay for a private audience.

The dying leader offers Toranaga the position of sole Regent until Yaechiyo turns 16, but Toranaga foresees his enemies uniting against them. The Taikō, who has “worked to subdue [their] infighting” all his life, then reveals that he has selected Shogun‘s five regent warlords to form a Council of Regents to rule together until the heir comes of age. The five are Ishido, Kiyama, Ohno, Sugiyama, and Toranaga. Sometime after this meeting, the Taikō succumbs to his condition.

In prison, Blackthorne learns from a friar named Domingo that all trade goes through the Portuguese through usury. “The late Taikō even tried to put a stop to it, but the Church incited the rebellion, smuggled guns from that secret base in Macao.” Blackthorne later tells the Minowara Toranaga that the base has hundreds of Catholic Japanese ronin who were employed in the uprising, and that the Portuguese have come to Japan “to replace its government with Catholic rule.”

Blackthorne’s information is so valuable—and ruinous to the Church, whose trade ship Toranaga denies the departure of—that an assassin is sent to kill him. Knowingly, Toranaga switches their resting places and bests her, saving Blackthorne’s life. For what happens next, viewers will have to wait till FX’s Shogun‘s next episode.

Back to top button