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‘Shōgun’ episode 7 ends in a shocking death not in the book

Shōgun Episode 7 “A Stick of Time” ends with an abrupt, bloody death that hammers home just how tenuous life and death are within the world of the FX show. A character dies in a rather anti-climactic way, victim of chance and a slippery rock. Making the moment all the more shocking? It’s a complete invention for the FX show. Yup, the shocking death at the end of Shōgun Episode 7 “A Stick of Time” never happens in the novel written by James Clavell!

**Spoilers for Shōgun Episode 7 “A Stick of Time,” now streaming on Hulu**

Shōgun Episode 7 “A Stick of Time” ends with Toranaga’s (Hiroyuki Sanada) naive, but loyal, son Yoshii “Naga” Nagakado (Yuki Kura) deciding to murder his treacherous uncle, Saeki Nobutatsu (Eita Okuno). The episode had begun with Toranaga anxiously welcoming his half-brother, who seemed to immediate offer his support to his brother’s cause. However, halfway through Shōgun Episode 7, Saeki bitterly reveals he has allied with Toranaga’s nemesis Ishido (Takehiro Hira).

With Saeki’s betrayal, Toranaga’s cause is lost. His blustering son takes it in his own hands to solve the problem. Naga seemingly colludes with the courtesan Kiku (Yuka Kouri) to set his uncle up in the tea house. Kiku offers to get the BDSM-minded lord additional toys to “elevate” their play and leaves him. This offers Naga and his men the opportunity to sneak in to kill Saeki.

However, between Naga’s inexperience, the rain, and some slippery pond rocks, the plan goes awry. Naga slips and hits his head on stones, killing him almost instantly. Emphasis on “almost,” because Naga gurgles and gasps himself to death. A disgusted Saeki says, “Where’s the beauty in this?”

It’s a wild death that strikes yet another blow at Toranaga and it’s a scene that never occurs in James Clavell’s beloved novel.

Okay, so there’s definitely a moment where Naga is full of bloodlust for his uncle, called Zataki in Clavell’s book, but Toranaga snuffs out the fiery youth’s plans before they can even be set into motion. Naga survives the entire book. In fact, he sort of seemingly just floats away, to the periphery of the action. Alive, but no longer a major player in the storyline. Shōgun co-creator and showrunner Justin Marks told Decider during Winter 2024 TCA, that it was Naga’s disappearance in the novel that inspired his death on the show.

“There is an area of the book…where that was the hardest area to adapt,” Marks said, referring specifically to the current run of Episodes 6, 7, and 8. “We had to make some conflations.”

Marks revealed that it was at this point that Shōgun executive producer Michaela Clavell was able to offer the most help and guidance. Clavell is James Clavell’s daugther, in charge of his estate, and a partner in the FX adaptation. Marks said he and Clavell talked at length about this portion of the novel: “How do we distill this and, you know, kind of draw a point to it?”

“There are a number of characters in the book who kind of just exited stage left without really a goodbye, so to speak.” Naga being one of them.

So, no, Naga doesn’t die in James Clavell’s Shōgun, but Clavell’s own daughter signed off on the change from the books. Time will tell if Naga’s death pays off for television fans in a way his survival might not for book readers…

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