‘Shōgun’ Is Setting Up an Intriguing New Power Couple


Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for Shōgun.

The big picture

  • Ishido and Ochiba form a surprising power couple through a strategic alliance
    driven by their mutual opposition to Toranaga.
  • Lady Ochiba's backstory reveals her motivation to secure a future for herself and her son, making her dangerous.
  • The alliance between Ishido and Ochiba may pose significant challenges for Toranaga in the upcoming episodes of

With only two episodes in its only season, Shogun continues to amaze. The eighth episode, “The Abyss of Life”, revolves around Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his allies in uncertainty, but also sees the rise of a surprising but fearsome power couple with Lord Ishido Kazunari (Takehiro Hira) and Lady Ochiba no Kata (Smoke Nikaido). The duo has lined up for a few episodes and their common opposition to Toranaga eventually unites them through a strategic alliance, or perhaps even more than that, at least on Ishido's part.

Shogun (2024)

When a mysterious European ship is found abandoned in a nearby fishing village, Lord Yoshii Toranaga discovers secrets that could tip the balance of power and devastate his enemies.

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Ishido may be Toranaga's main enemy, but Ochiba is more dangerous

From the first episode of Shogun, “Anjin”, it is well established that Lord Toranaga is a threat to the Council of Regents. The series begins with him being confronted by his fellow Council members about his intentions, and Lord Ishido is the one who takes the lead in questioning him. He is the lord of Osaka and has been holding Toranaga hostage as Toranaga is also the guardian of Taiko Nakamura Hidetoshi (Yukijiro Hotaruthe heir of ), Yaechiyo (Saint Mars). Both Toranaga and Ishido are equally powerful and feared, but have diametrically opposed personalities.. While Toranaga centralizes all decisions and their consequences (good or bad) on him, Ishido is the more scheming and scheming type, often outmaneuvering the Council and even betraying allies, such as Kashigi Yabushige.Tadanobu Asano), when appropriate.

Lady Ochiba, on the other hand, is only making her debut Shogun in episode 5, “Broken to the Fist”. Before that he had been in Edo and returned to Osaka to be with Yaechiyo as part of Toranaga's dealings with Ishido and the Council of Regents. However, this is not the chronological beginning of his part in history. In a flashback in episode 5, it is revealed that Ochiba was a childhood friend of Lady Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai). Ochiba was the daughter of Lord Kuroda Nobuhisa (Eijiro Ozaki), the ruler of Japan before the Taiko, and Mariko lived with them in their castle. Nobuhisa was violent and abusive, however, and was betrayed and killed by Mariko's father, Lord Akechi Jinsai (Yutaka Takeuchi). A rift between the two friends began to grow, and Ochiba eventually began to see Mariko as a rival and enemy. Toranaga and Akechi were close, which is why Ochiba also hates him, and now fears that Toranaga is the biggest threat to her and Yaechiyo.

In episode 5, Ochiba quickly turns on Ishido and says that the Council of Regents now answers to him, as the mother of the Taikothe heir At first, this moment seems more like a new player has arrived in the game, not the start of an alliance, but in episode 8, Ishido reveals that he has always had a crush on her and proposes to formalize their alliance through marriage. Ochiba doesn't seem immediately pleased with this idea and avoids giving Ishido an answer right away. At the end of the episode, however, she accepts his offer.

The alliance of Ishido and Ochiba is more than opposing Toranaga

FX version of Shogun it's already unique compared to the previous miniseries adaptation. Instead of focusing only on John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), the new series elevates Toranaga and Lady Mariko as protagonists, and they become the driving force behind many other things that happen, including Ishido and Ochiba's alliance. They may have bonded over their shared hatred of Toranaga, but that's only the first layer of their motivations. Thanks to Toranaga, we can learn more about this antagonistic power couple.

When we meet Ishido, he is the leader of the Council of Regents, a powerful position in the kingdom. The Council itself was created by the deceased Taiko as a way to ensure the continuation of his lineage, but it never felt like that's where the story was really headed. Toranaga or Ishido would rise to power. Much can be seen from the dynamics of the Council, most notably the fact that Toranaga seems more powerful than all the other members, and this bothers Ishido deeply. To match this, he tried to make Yabushige his double agent, but it didn't work. now, siding with Ochiba is likely to bring him closer to his goal, which, in a nutshell, is collecting more power. Even if Yaechiyo is still the heir to the kingdom, Ishido is the kind of person who needs to be close to power to feel important. Maybe he can even have his own heir to the throne, eventually.

However, Ochiba's motivations are more practical than that. One of the storylines that have been developed throughout the season is how women survive in the male-dominated world of feudal Japan. Shogun explores this through a series of female characters, ranging from Ochiba herself to Mariko, Usami Fuji (Moeka Hoshi), and Kiku (Yuka Kouri). In a revealing conversation that takes place in episode 8, Mariko discusses Ochiba with her sister, Rin (Haruka Igarashi), who says his only contact is through official letters. It leads Mariko to discuss her own relationship with Ochiba, mentioning it fear is the “great enemy” of the other woman. As a child, Ochiba lost her father and grew up afraid that something similar would happen to her. Then, she became the only consort of the Taiko to bring him an heir, a status that brought new fears to the young Yaechiyo's shoulders. Now, what drives Ochiba isn't necessarily her hatred of Mariko and Toranaga, but securing a future for herself and her son, and she sees the other two as the biggest threats to that future. Ochiba may not love Ishido, but if his proposal offers more security for her and the heir, she will accept it for the sake of her son.

This alliance will lead to trouble for Toranaga in 'Shōgun'

For those who have seen game of thronesOchiba may remind them of Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) in the way that he is politically adept and fierce in his stand up for his son. But that's where the similarities end, as women Shogun she has a much more fragile position in feudal Japan than the one Cersei builds herself in Westeros. Lady Ochiba does not command the military forces, for example, and depends on Lord Ishido in that regard. In fact, we have yet to see if his clan commands any military force, despite carrying the Taikothe banner of Regardless, with the military might of Lord Ishido and the rest of the Council of Regents, Ochiba can still offer fierce resistance to whatever Toranaga's plans are.

Episode 9 is titled “Crimson Sky”, the operation that Toranaga considered as a way to invade Osaka. The only known plot point for now, however, is that Lady Mariko is making her way to Osaka, where she will likely face off with Ishido and Ochiba. He may even meet his end there, based on his desire to honor his family, which has been tainted since his father killed Ochiba's father in the past. Ishido and Ochiba's alliance will be truly tested for the first time, and the events of this week will determine the state of their alliance for the finale. Regardless, this matchup has a lot of promise.

Shogun streams on Hulu in the US New episodes are released weekly on Tuesdays.



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