Shōgun builds bonds and edge-of-your-seat tension in "Tomorrow Is Tomorrow"

The third episode of Shōgun forces our characters to work together in a pinch, and viewers reap the benefits.
“SHOGUN” -- "Tomorrow is Tomorrow" -- Episode 3 (Airs March 5) Pictured: Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne. CR: Katie Yu/FX
“SHOGUN” -- "Tomorrow is Tomorrow" -- Episode 3 (Airs March 5) Pictured: Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne. CR: Katie Yu/FX /

The third episode of Shōgun is out now on Hulu, and this spectacular new series shows no sign of slowing down. "Tomorrow Is Tomorrow" is another fantastic episode that made me lose track of the amount of times I muttered "wow, this show is so good" while watching Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada), John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), and Anna Sawai (Toda Mariko) navigate treachery after treachery to escape Osaka. It was thrilling. FX and Hulu have a hit on their hands.

We've got plenty to discuss from the episode. Full Spoilers ahead for "Tomorrow Is Tomorrow."

“SHOGUN” -- "Servants of Two Masters" -- Episode 2 (Airs February 27) Pictured: Anna Sawai as Toda Mariko. CR: Katie Yu/FX /

Shōgun Episode 3 review: "Tomorrow Is Tomorrow"

Shōgun has wasted no time establishing itself as a top-notch television show. From its intricately detailed feudal Japanese settings and costumes to its stellar cast and writing to its smart use of lighting, cinematography and practical effects, it's simply an engrossing watch. That's still the case in "Tomorrow Is Tomorrow," which serves as a solid turning point. Now that the players on the board have been established and our characters are getting to know each other better, the show is only getting more interesting.

Episode 2 left off on the cliffhanger that assassins had been sent by one of the Catholic Japanese regents to kill John Blackthorne. Their plan was foiled by Blackthorne and Lord Toranaga, but the threat that more killers will come after them looms large this week. "Tomorrow Is Tomorrow" is all about Toranaga and Blackthorne's escape from Osaka, and how it bonds them and translator Toda Mariko into a tighter unit.

It was an exciting time filled with sharp twists and turns, from Toranaga's gambit to sneak out of Osaka disguised as a woman in a palanquin to Blackthorne covering for him and then subsequently sailing out of the bay with a little help from a Portuguese trading carrack. There were so many great moments during this episode-long chain of events that I could only marvel at how expertly drawn Shōgun is. Once again, my critic brain shut off completely as the episode swept me up in its intrigues.

This also might have been the most feel-good episode of the show so far, which is saying something considering it also contained quite a bit of bloodshed. Blackthorne's outburst about preserving the untainted glory of women by not leering at them in order to keep a guard from peeking into Toranaga's palanquin was downright hilarious. As was his confusion that the Japanese doctor, aka "warlock," wanted to hook him up with a prostitute to ease his tension. As was his back-and-forth with Portuguese ship pilot Rodrigues (Lost's Néstor Carbonell) while they sailed their respective vessels out of the bay side-by-side.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the humor landed really well in this episode. I didn't expect going into a new episode of Shōgun that I would be laughing out loud so much, but this show knows how to summon up levity in order to help all its skirmishes and political maneuvering go down smoothly. Throw in Cosmo Jarvis acting like an absolute madman in the best of ways, and it's a recipe for fun television.

“SHOGUN” -- Pictured (L-R): Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne, Nestor Carbonell as Rodrigues. CR: Katie Yu/FX /

"Tomorrow Is Tomorrow" is also the most action-packed episode of the season so far, since it focused entirely on the escape from Osaka. The obstacles to Toranaga's escape felt unpredictable and dangerous. A special nod needs to be given to the way everything was filmed and lit. We've seen more than a few examples in genre television in recent years of shows which have action scenes set at night which are extremely difficult to see, or fight scenes where the camera is so close up on the actors that it becomes hard to follow the flow of the battle. Shōgun avoids these issues by utilizing wider shots with ample lighting in order to properly convey the odds characters are facing, such as in Toda Hirokatsu's (Shinnosuke Abe) last stand at the docks.

If it seems like I'm just gushing endlessly about Shōgun...well, it's because that's what I'm doing. With its first three episodes, this series has gotten off to one of the strongest starts of any genre show in recent memory. It has many virtues, and practically no flaws that I can discern. Yes, it demands close watching due to its ample subtitles and unwillingness to spell everything out for the viewer, but dear god is that something I've needed in more shows.

A great example is the moment where Toranaga slips into the palanquin, which happens so fast that you could easily blink and miss it. We see how he perpetrated the ruse, but at the same time the show doesn't go out of its way to spell out every beat of it, like how one of the pregnant ladies-in-waiting collapsed to serve as a distraction, rather than because she was actually ill. All these little details are the sort of thing which is going to make Shōgun even more rewarding on the rewatch. This series is playing for the long haul, and I am completely on board for the ride.

Shōgun Bullet Points

  • The little detail given at the beginning that the palace maids/assassins were expensive to foster, because they spend their whole life training in secret often for a single kill, was a really great bit of information. It established how badly forces in Osaka want John dead, as well as expanded on some interesting cultural worldbuilding.
  • I sense some tension brewing between John Blackthorne and Toda Mariko, whose husband conveniently made a heroic last stand and presumably died in this episode. (Or at least Mariko thinks he did — we didn't see a body so by the laws of television it's possible he survived.)
  • Speaking of Mariko and Blackthorne, the scene where she describes orgasms as "the moment of the clouds and the rain" was both poetically beautiful as well as tantalizing. The writing on this show is wonderful.
  • And hey, since we're talking about sex, Blackthorne's push back on the Japanese doctor was pretty damn funny. First he calls him a warlock, then when the guy tries to suggest Blackthorne sleep with someone to relax, Blackthorne's response is that "he's not a warlock, he's a pimp." Who knew Shōgun had such jokes in it?
  • Hiroyuki Sanada is absolutely riveting as Lord Toranaga. He doesn't actually have tons and tons of lines in every scene, but Sanada is such a skilled actor that he makes ample use of the extended times when he's silent or using few words to give his character even more gravity.
  • It was an interesting gambit that Toda Hiromatsu (Tokuma Nishioka) went to the regents to tell them they could no longer impeach Toranaga, since five votes are required and there are only four of them now that Toranaga has fled the city. Curious to see where that leads.
  • Toranaga asking Blackthorne to teach him how to dive into the water was a beautiful way to end what was a very tense episode. I really like the various relationships this show is building between its disparate characters. It's taking the time to get viewers really invested, and man is it working on me.


"Tomorrow Is Tomorrow" is another great episode of Shōgun, full stop. It had more action than the previous two episodes, but still had the same razor sharp attention to detail, beautiful yet succinct writing, and great performances from its ensemble cast. It's incredible that this series is now half-way through its first season and I don't have a single complaint about it that isn't a nitpick. Shōgun is well on its way to becoming one of my favorite shows of the year. I'll be counting down the hours until next week's episode.

Episode Grade: A+

Shōgun reviews:

Next. shogun. Shōgun is a masterfully drawn period piece perfect for fans of The Last Kingdom or Game of Thrones. dark

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