How ironic that Arikoto is the one to take care of the bedridden Kasuga in the end. I can’t necessarily blame Yajima for being reluctant to take on the caretaker role- Kasuga doesn’t seem like she would be the easiest patient to look after. Arikoto looks after her, his speech about how everyone ends up in the same place in old age preserves Kasuga’s dignity. Much as she minded his presence in Chie’s bedchambers, now she doesn’t seem to mind his presence in hers, looking after her. Considering how Kasuga pretty much fucked up Arikoto’s life, he is far too good to her, wiping her brow, feeding her, and staying by her side.
No man is safe from the red pox it appears- it finally reaches the Oooku which had for so long successfully kept it out. Sutezo caught it as did his attendants- the poor fellow can’t catch a break, can he? I guess naming someone “O-Raku” or comfort/happy is tempting fate a little too much. It stung to hear from Sutezo’s own lips that only Arikoto visited him after his accident. Ouch- that’s harsh- the least Iemitsu could do was pop in once and a while, given that he is the father of their child. But, Iemitsu is like a selfish child at heart in some ways- no love was lost for him even after his death.
Arikoto insists on caring for the afflicted men in Kasuga’s quarters, despite the high risk it poses to him. I think in some way, this is a manifestation of his death wish- if he cannot be the monk he dreamed of or Iemitsu’s lover, dying while caring for others probably sounds better to him than whiling out the rest of his days in the Oooku with no purpose. He even notes as much that his role here is finished and that it matters not if the plague takes him (though it will matter a whole lot to Iemitsu).
In the end, Kasuga breathes her last and with her go the old ways. With Kasuga gone, the council is free to make any and all necessary changes. One of the most prominent is going public to the retainers about the true identity of their shogun and the shogun no longer needing to wear men’s clothing. It’s about time.