Warning: This article contains spoilers from Shogun episode 9




  • Shōgun
    episode 9 features a pivotal moment where Blackthorne agrees to be Mariko’s second in her ritual suicide, to save her from having to commit a mortal sin.
  • Sawai explains that, despite the scene’s darkness, Blackthorne’s gesture is deeply romantic.
  • Though Blackthorne has rebelled against the rules of Japanese society, Mariko sees through this act how much he has changed.

Shōgun star Anna Sawai breaks down the emotional scenes between her character Toda Mariko and John Blackthrone (Cosmo Jarvis) in episode 9. The two characters have had a complex relationship throughout the series as they navigate their feelings for one another while fulfilling their respective duties. In Shōgun episode 9, this culminates in a particularly devastating scene in which Mariko nearly takes her own life when Kiyama ukon Sadanaga (Hiromoto Ida) doesn’t fulfill his promise, and Blackthorne steps in to serve as her second instead.

While speaking with Screen Rant, Sawai explains these moments between Mariko and Blackthorne, and how they demonstrate a pivotal shift in their relationship and in their individual character journeys in Shōgun. These shifts build on scenes from earlier in the series, not only in terms of their relationship, but with Mariko’s philosophy on life and death, and Blackthorne’s previous frustration with Mariko’s strict adherence to customs he does not always agree with or fully understand. Read Sawai’s comments below:

I think that she feels devastation and shock when Kiyama is not there to second her, because that means that she will die an unloyal Catholic. But by having Blackthorne step up, she is able to still be faithful to her religion, and also be a loyal samurai dying for her Lord. And so I think she sees it as a very huge gesture that he is willing to take her over his religion, and it’s a very special moment, because she knows the suffering that he’s going to have to go through because of this act. And I think that it’s a very romantic way to just show up, because in maybe a couple scenes before that, he asks her to live, “Continue living for me,” but then he chooses to second her, even though it’s the absolute opposite of what he wants.

And I think that maybe, how she’s always telling him, “We live and we die, we control nothing beyond that.” For most of the show, Blackthorne is trying to control his fate. He’s going and he’s rebelling and all that, but maybe in that scene, that particular scene, she sees him finally accepting what is. It’s not what he wants, but he’s accepting of it, so I think that that is the moment where she realizes how he’s changed.

How Shōgun Earns Its Most Romantic Moment In Episode 9

Despite The Scene Being One Of The Show’s Darkest

Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne and Anna Sawai as Lady Mariko looking at Toranaga in Shogun

Sawai’s breakdown articulates the power of this shared moment between Mariko and Blackthorne, and that the most romantic moment in the series is not a scene of physical intimacy. Blackthorne volunteering to kill Mariko, so she doesn’t have to take her own life and thereby commit a mortal sin against her Christian faith, is undeniably dark. Nevertheless, it is romantic because it proves how much Blackthorne respects Mariko, and he prioritizes this respect over his own faith and desire for her to live.

Blackthorne has long admired and felt connected to Mariko, and respects many things about her. That being said, telling her to live for him earlier in the episode proved that he did not completely understand her, as believing Mariko would ever live for him over her sense of duty and honor does not align with who she is or what she stands for. Meanwhile, Blackthorne came to Japan in the first place and was largely motivated by his conflict with and disdain for the Catholic Portuguese, who converted Mariko to their religion in the first place.

By respecting her wishes in the manner Mariko needs in honor of her father Akechi Jinsai (Yutaka Takeuchi), her liege Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada), to defy Lord Ishido Kazunari (Takehiro Hira), and for herself, Blackthorne shows that he finally sees her for who she is and honors her. Fortunately, Blackthorne doesn’t have to be the one to take her life, but the gesture speaks volumes. It makes the later scene of physical intimacy between Mariko and Blackthorne feel more earned, with Blackthorne and Mariko becoming true partners before the tragic final scene in Shōgun episode 9.

finale will be available on Hulu and air on FX on April 23.

Shogun 2024 Poster


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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Maegan Houang , Rachel Kondo , Justin Marks , Emily Yoshida

Frederick E.O. Toye , Jonathan van Tulleken

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