Home TV Shows Reviews ‘Shogun’ Episode 1 and 2 Review - This Historical Drama Looks Promising

‘Shogun’ Episode 1 and 2 Review - This Historical Drama Looks Promising

Destinies collide in Japan when a barbarian ship washes ashore in a poor fishing town, and Blackthorne’s arrival in Osaka sparks a hornet’s nest of rivalries.

Vikas Yadav - Tue, 27 Feb 2024 11:37:23 +0000 869 Views
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A movie or a show that is initially met with a strong positive reception carries a lot of burden with it when it finally has its public premiere. The audience eagerly sits down to take in what has been hailed as something brilliant till now. Currently, on Rotten Tomatoes, Shōgun has a perfect 100% score, and according to the Critics Consensus, this new show "is an epic reimagining that outdoes the original." In other words, the viewer goes to Shōgun with high expectations.


I always take early pans and praises with a pinch of salt. For some time while I was watching the first episode, I thought, "Well, this looks quite normal." Sure, the visuals are breathtaking and beautiful. It quickly becomes evident that a lot of money was put into this show. But these visuals, at first, don't look potent. A ship, near the beginning, appears spooky, but it doesn't make you feel as if it has a mysterious aura. This is the issue that's present for the most part in Episode 1: You see things, you admire them, but you don't feel them. When a character interrupts a meeting with his sword because he thinks his lord has been insulted, others, too, prepare themselves for attack. This scene, however, is devoid of tension. You get this sensation that you should be holding your breath, but you merely watch the events with indifference. Maybe the show knows the music without having an idea regarding how to sing it?


These doubts, though, disappear slowly as Shōgun progresses. One of the advantages of having good visuals is that you are convinced that the characters are actually a part of their environment. So when someone climbs down a mountain to reach a rocky shore to rescue a character, you feel as if the man is really risking his life to save someone. Shōgun also derives sufficient horror from that image (and those screams) of a man being boiled in hot water. Overall, I would describe the first episode as nice and watchable. It doesn't feel THAT special. But you have to admit how effortlessly the series introduces its characters without leaving you in a state of confusion. Many TV shows nowadays fail at delivering exposition.


For me, Shōgun started shining from the second episode onwards. I comfortably settled into its quiet yet turbulent rhythms. What's so fascinating about it all is how masterfully the actors dispense their lines with careful consideration, as if calculating what impact each word will have on their (on-screen) listeners. Their calm faces hide cunning thoughts. Even when the characters sit motionless on the ground, they don't seem fully at rest as they continue thinking of various schemes so that they can be two steps ahead of everyone. The characters cannot afford a night of peaceful sleep because their enemies are (literally) close to them. Near the end of the second episode, a woman tries to kill Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada).


Shōgun generates suspense through scenes where Pilot Major John Blackthorne's (Cosmo Jarvis) words are required to be translated. Given one of the translators purposefully misinterprets his lines in the first episode, you wonder how others will twist his sentences in the future. When a shocked Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai) briefly paused before translating John's statement in front of Toranaga, I leaned forward from my seat to see if she would also, like that first translator, twist John's words. I don't know how the upcoming episodes will turn out, but for now, I will say: Looking forward!


Final Score - [7.5/10]

 

 

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