Kuchii, having confronted Shiraishi about his betrayal last episode, continues his inquisition. Shiraishi, despite having been initially sympathetic to those killed by the Mongols, saw the opportunity to restore his clan by defecting to a “winning” side.
In a duel that is as brief as Shiraishi’s hesitation about joining the Mongols, Kuchii lands a mortal blow to the traitor. The Toibarai get an arrow in before Kuchii stops them. Shiraishi waits for the killing blow, telling Kuchii to save the island.
Later, Princess Teruhashi stops the little boy whose father was killed by Kuchii from attacking the sleeping exile. (She decides to take that honor for herself, giving him a kiss in his sleep and warning him that he was nearly attacked.)
The Tobiarai begin to notice unusual things. When praying to the gods for guidance, the elder clan leader has a heart attack. Below the walls of the fortress, the animals have gathered in the darkness in all manner of species and age, menacingly shrouded in the forest.
The small scheming thief chooses to recruit Onitakemaru to make an escape, but in doing so they run smack dab into a fleet of Mongol Ships.
And Shouni Sukeyoshi, patriarch of the Sukeyoshi clan and dad of Kagesuke suddenly pops up to cancel the one thing that the Tsushima islanders were counting on: those extra ships and troops.
This episode is one big montage of bad news. First things first: reinforcements are cancelled. Why? Because apparently giving your word to an exile (that happens to be serving a princess) means nothing to your dad. While I understand the strategy of holding on to as many of your troops as possible to keep them from entering a (potentially) losing battle.
It’s so heartbreaking: the hope that Kuchii had been gambling on, that he had sold the princess and the Toibarai on – poof. Up in smoke. The argument that he makes is frustrating as well in a post-feudal-era world. He sees Tsushima as lost, but also, it suggests that he’s “happily willing” to scoop up the remains of who or whatever is left on the island after the Mongols are driven back in a future battle.
Kuchii’s sleeping beauty moment is noteworthy: it’s probable that he’s a light sleeper and knew that the kid was coming to sneak up on him.
The biggest moment other than the twist at the end was probably the onscreen beheading of Shiraishi. We get to see the thoughts of how he is certain he will win, somehow not knowing that his leader uses Gikei style. The phrase “He should have known” isn’t enough. Even the young soldiers in the Toibari knew that Kuchii uses Gikei style. With his life on the line, there’s no reason why he should have expected anything BUT “the killing style” after he literally said he needed Kuchii’s head to serve to the Mongols on a silver platter.
The creators of the series have a flair for the dramatic, and the irony of Shirahashi’s head being the one to roll this episode is played up. They wanted to give him an honorable death, to make up for the part of Shirahashi’s story that could have been so much more.