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Why Lady Mariko Did THAT

April 17, 2024
Why Lady Mariko Did THAT

WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Shōgun episode 9.




  • Lady Mariko dies heroically to expose Ishido’s crimes, setting up a high-stakes series finale.
  • Yabushige betrayed Mariko to save himself, orchestrating the attack on Osaka castle.
  • Mariko’s death may give Toranaga the opportunity to reduce Ishido’s power and finally attack Osaka.

Lady Mariko dies at the end of Shōgun episode 9 in what was by far the saddest and most tragic chapter of the show so far, setting up a high-stakes series finale. Lord Toranaga’s mission to Lady Mariko, which was teased in Shōgun episode 8, was to go to Osaka and essentially make herself into a prisoner. Mariko was to prove that Ishido was keeping hostages by becoming one herself, which would put Ishido in check and force him to either expose himself or free the hostages. Unfortunately, Ishido would rather kill dozens than let his power be threatened.

Although Ishido allowed Mariko to leave the Osaka castle when she was about to commit seppuku, he was never going to let her leave Osaka alive. Lady Mariko saw herself trapped in a room with other ladies and Blackthorne during the attack on the castle and chose to put herself in front of the door before it was blown up by the shinobi. The fact that Mariko went back on her decision to commit seppuku just to die a few hours later during the attack makes Shōgun episode 9 even more tragic, but her sacrifice will not be for nothing.

Lady Mariko’s Death In Shōgun Episode 9 Explained

Mariko died after an explosion

Mariko looks scared in the middle of the night in Shogun season 1 Ep 9
Image via Hulu/FX

Lady Mariko died at the end of Shōgun episode 9 after a surprise attack on the Osaka castle. Several shinobi invaded the castle and, with the help of Yabushige, began to kill some of the hostages and their guards. Mariko, Blackthorne, Kiri-no-taka, and a few others managed to escape the assassins and locked themselves in a room. However, the invaders were ready to blow up the door and kill everyone inside, which is why Mariko chose to sacrifice herself and give some meaning to her death by denouncing Ishido’s crimes first.

Lady Mariko’s death in
episode 9 is fairly similar to what happened in the 1980
miniseries as well as the original novel.

While it is unclear what would have happened had Mariko run away from the door like the Anjin asked, the fact is that the initial explosion does not seem to have affected Blackthorne and the others. Mariko realized that those shinobis were there to kill her so that she would never leave the castle, which was hardly a surprise for her. Lady Mariko was ready to die if it meant exposing that Ishido was keeping hostages in Osaka, as seen with her seppuku ritual that almost happened earlier in the episode.



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


Fumi Nikaido


It is safe to say the attack on the castle was going to continue until Mariko was dead, and even if she had Blackthorne’s assistance, it would have been virtually impossible for her to flee Osaka without at least causing dozens of casualties in the process. All those close to Mariko would have become a target, whereas her sacrifice might have helped denounce that Ishido is keeping daimyos and their families as hostages. Lady Mariko’s death in Shōgun episode 9 is fairly similar to what happened in the 1980 Shōgun miniseries as well as the original novel.

Who Ordered The Attack On The Osaka Castle In Shōgun Episode 9

Yabushige allowed assassins to enter the castle

Lady Mariko entering a room in Shogun episode 9

The attack on the Osaka castle happened on the same night in which Lady Mariko and the other hostages were allowed to leave and return to their homes. As perceived by Mariko as soon as the shinobis appeared, this attack was happening on Ishido’s orders. Ishido would never let Mariko leave the castle and rejoin Lord Toranaga in Edo, which is why he orchestrated the attack. The one who put it in motion, however, was Yabushige. The Lord of Izo killed the guards and opened the doors of the castle to the shinobi.

Why Yabushige Betrayed Mariko & Blackthorne

Yabushige accepted Ishido’s offer to avoid being killed

Yabushige looking sideways in Shogun episode 9

Yabushige’s allegiances in Shōgun have been confusing since the beginning of the show, but episode 9 made it clear that there is nothing he would not do for his own benefit. After failing to negotiate a peaceful surrender with Ishido by offering to sail on his behalf alongside the Anjin, Yabushige believed he would soon be sentenced to death. Instead, Ishido offered him a deal. In exchange for his life, Yabushige was going to orchestrate the attack on the castle. Yabushige did not hesitate to betray the anjin and Mariko.

Why Ishido Wanted Mariko Dead (Despite Authorizing Her To Leave)

Ishido never intended to let Mariko leave the castle

Mariko and Blackthorne in front of Ochiba-no-kata in Shogun episode 9

Just as Mariko was about to commit seppuku with Blackthorne as her second, Ishido arrived and granted her permission to leave the castle. In theory, this should prove that neither Mariko nor anyone else was a hostage and that they were all free to go. However, Ishido knew that as soon as they all left Osaka, any leverage he and Ochiba-no-kata had would be gone. At the same time, if they kept Mariko and the others there against their will, the rest of the realm was going to know that Ishido was keeping hostages.


Why Lord Toranaga Calls Blackthorne & Yabushige “Goshawks” In Shogun Episode 8

Lord Toranaga has some choice words for Blackthorne and Yabushige in Shōgun episode 8, revealing where the actual trust in his alliances lies.

This is why Ishido pretended to grant Mariko’s safe passage when in reality, he was planning on having her killed that same night. An attack on the castle that could not be traced back to Ishido would solve all of his problems – Mariko would never return to Edo, and there would not be any proof that hostages were being kept in Osaka. While Ishido’s plan partially succeeded, Lady Mariko’s sacrifice means that the other hostages now have a chance of escaping the castle and denouncing what Ishido has done.

What Lady Mariko’s Death Means For Lord Toranaga’s Plan

Mariko’s sacrifice means she has completed her mission

Lord Toranaga talking to Lady Mariko in Shogun episode 8

Lady Mariko’s mission in Shōgun episode 9 was to either free all the hostages and reduce Ishido’s leverage or expose what was happening in Osaka so that other daimyos would turn against him. As tragic as Mariko’s death was, she may have completed her mission. If any of the hostages Mariko helped protect escape the castle and reveal what happened, the whole country will know what Ishido and Ochiba-no-kata are doing. This will reduce their power and cost them allies, finally giving Lord Toranaga a chance to attack without causing much bloodshed.

How Lady Mariko’s Death Will Affect John Blackthorne In Shōgun

Blackthorne had finally confessed his love to Mariko

John Blackthorne looking up in Shogun episode 9

Mariko’s death may have been heroic and part of a larger mission, but John Blackthorne will surely not take it well. Earlier in the episode, Blackthorne begged Mariko not to commit seppuku, thus finally confessing his feelings for her. They were also spending the night together before the attack. The Anjin even asked Mariko to stay away from the door, but she had already made her decision. Blackthorne will be particularly furious if he finds out that Yabushige, whom he somewhat respected, was involved in the attack that caused Mariko’s death.

How Shōgun Episode 9 Sets Up The Series Finale

Lord Toranaga’s Crimson Sky can finally happen

Lord Toranaga was completely absent from Shōgun episode 9, which doesn’t mean his presence wasn’t felt. While Mariko’s actions tied into her past and her relationship with Oshiba, she was acting on Toranaga’s behalf the whole time. The stability Ishido had in Osaka is gone, and now his power will be both questioned and reduced. Assuming some of the hostages will escape, and that a few other daimyos will no longer support Ishido, Lord Toranaga might finally have the numbers to take over Osaka. Shōgun episode 10 will be the culmination of everything the show has been building up to.


releases new episodes Tuesdays on FX and Hulu.

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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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