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Shogun could return for a second season, but it shouldn’t

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One of the year’s breakout TV series may be getting more episodes. Deadline reports that Hiroyuki Sanada, who produces and stars as Lord Yoshi Toranaga in the once-limited series Shogun, has inked a deal to play the part again in a second season, making it all the more likely a second season will happen.

Keep in mind, season two has not been officially ordered; per The Hollywood Reporter, this is an “if-come” deal that just secures Sanada’s involvement, should it get greenlit. Though details are still scarce, the events of season two would likely go beyond the events of James Clavell’s novel that the show’s based on, considering how the original season already covered most of it. But really, should they even do that?

Jumping off the pages

We know that the character of Toranaga is loosely based on real-life Tokugawa Ieyasu who, you guessed it, went on to become the Shogun of a Shogunate that lasted for over 250 years. Many tales can be told of that time, but that would be missing the point of the show.

Nobody sets out to make a series finale that sucks, but many series still end on notes so low they cause entire fandoms to break down and wonder if they ever really loved the series all that much. See: Game of Thrones.

Shogun masterfully passed its final test — and definitely not because it ever took the easy way out. Spoilers ahead: Though the FX series covers most of the events of the novel it’s based on, it makes the beautifully deliberate choice of ending before the novel does — but not as a way to leave space for a second season.

While many were expecting the big battle that the series had been teasing ever since the POV character, John Blackthorne, got recruited to help Toranaga because of his naval warfare proficiency, they got one hour of people talking. This ending would spell disaster many-a-show—but that made for a beautifully subversive closer here. Shogun’s finale spends its climax essentially telling the viewer that this was always Toranaga’s show, never Blackthorne’s.

When asked about the involvement of shipwrecked sailor in Toranaga’s master plan, the warlord finally admits he only really has Blackthorne around because he finds him funny. Toranaga excelled at war, sure, but what made him so admirable was his ability to win battles even before they were fought. We never see the final battle because it just isn’t necessary.

What matters is that we see Toranaga planting the seeds for his final victory. We spend the entire series seeing Toranaga moving ahead of his enemies, even when everyone and both gods seem to be against him. It was somehow so much more rewarding to know there’s only one way it could turn out than to see it play out in the same overblown CGI bonanza you see in every big blockbuster nowadays.

Much like Toranaga’s rivals, the people expecting the big battle were paying attention to the wrong moves, and that’s on us — and his rivals. His victory is inevitable; why drag it out?

What’s on whoever will keep on making the show, however, is the emotional core going forward. Even though they were just pawns in Toranaga’s game of war, many characters that gave their life so that Toranaga could win through the smallest possible amount of bloodshed. These roles were the heart of the show, and I don’t envy the task of filling the gaps they left behind.


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