(Official NHK Website English plot summary)
Takimiya presents a formal request to Atsuhime asking for her support in promoting Ii to the position of chief minister (tairō). Ikushima is angered by the request and Atsuhime steps in to stop the argument that develops. Much to Ikushima’s annoyance, Takimiya tells Atsuhime that she is a member of the Tokugawa family, asking Atsuhime to think carefully about the request.
When the two are together in her rooms, Honjuin tells Iesada that he should choose Yoshitomi as his successor. Iesada remarks that he will decide for himself and Honjuin comments sadly that he has changed. Iesada tells his mother that any changes in him are due to her, as she was the one who brought him such a energetic bride from Satsuma.
Tatewaki (Naogoro) regrets his behaviour towards Nariakira and goes to apologize. Nariakira tells Tatewaki that he has thought of a new way to advance Yoshinobu, by recommending Yoshinaga from Echizen domain for chief minister instead of Ii.
As Iesada is returning to his room from visiting Atsuhime, he comes close to collapsing – grabbing at his heart and clutching a post to keep himself upright.
After much thought, Atsuhime tells Takimiya that she cannot agree to support Ii’s bid to become chief minister. Atsuhime remarks that there is no precedent for the wife of the shogun to become involved in these types of matters. Ikushima is relieved but her pleasure is short-lived as Atsuhime continues and tells Takimiya that she should continue forward in whatever way she sees fit, pretending she never consulted with Atsuhime.
Hotta returns from Kyoto and apologizes to Iesada that he was unable to obtain the emperor’s support for a treaty with America. Hotta requests that Iesada name Yoshinaga chief minister. Meanwhile Ikushima is also begging Atsuhime to convince the shogun to do the same.
Iesada asks Atsuhime to join him when he meets with Ii and Yoshinaga. Both men are surprised by Atsuhime’s presence. When asked about his opinion on politics and ideas for the future, Yoshinaga suggests a new system whereby all daimyo are invited to discuss and make decisions together. In contrast, Ii stresses strengthening the bakufu and the power of the Tokugawa family. After having met with both men, Iesada tells Atsuhime that he favours Ii because it was Ii who said he wanted to protect the Tokugawa. Iesada says he wants to protect his family.
When Ikushima discovers that Ii is to become chief minister she berates Atsuhime, accusing her of not carrying out the duties charged to her by Nariakira. Ikushima then presents Atsuhime with a letter from Nariakira, but Atsuhime says she will read it later, that she needs to speak with Iesada immediately. She goes running through the Ōku and comes to the doors to the rest of the palace – which she demands be opened for her. Iesada is surprised by Atsuhime’s sudden arrival, but agrees to listen to what she has to say. Atsuhime proceeds to apologize, saying that she has not been a proper wife or member of the Tokugawa family. From now on, she tells Iesada, she will endeavour to be a proper wife and work for the good of the family.
Ii becomes chief minister on the 22nd day of the 4th month. Following this, Ikushima goes to Atsuhime in tears, begging her to stop Ii from pushing Yoshitomi as shogunal successor. With tears in her eyes, Atsuhime responds that she is a Tokugawa and must do what her husband says. Atsuhime begs for forgiveness, but Ikushima cries harder and expresses her pain.
As they are getting ready for bed, Iesada tells Atsuhime that he has decided to name Yoshitomi as his successor. Iesada then tells Atsuhime he wants to memorize her face. This strange behaviour frightens Atsuhime who turns away from Iesada. He reaches around and hugs her from behind, asking her if she regrets having married such a weak man. She responds forcefully, telling him she has never once regretted marrying him, that he is the best man in Japan. She says he is number one not just because he is shogun, but that he is number one for her, and for that she is grateful. He tells her he no longer wishes he had been born as a bird, but is happy as himself as that way he is married to her.