Tokyo Vice Episode 1, 2, and 3 Recap and Ending, Explained

Image Credit: Eros Hoagland / HBO Max

‘Tokyo Vice,’ a crime-drama series from HBO Max, offers a gritty and unbridled account of the world’s most populated metropolis, exploring the city’s criminal underground from the unique and thorough perspective of a beat reporter of American origin. The series is based on the 2009 memoir ‘Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan’ by Jake Adelstein, whose fictional counterpart is portrayed by Ansel Elgort.

In the series, Jake comes to Tokyo to make a name for himself and eventually draws the attention of both the police and the yakuza because of his work as a reporter. While the show predominantly focuses on Jake, it does sometimes veer toward Samantha (Rachel Keller), a hostess working in the Kabukichō district and another American expatriate, and Sato (Show Kasamatsu), a mid-rank yakuza member who might turn out to be Jake’s gateway into the world of Japanese organized crime. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of Tokyo Vice’ episode 3. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Tokyo Vice Episode 1, 2, and 3 Recap

The first three episodes of ‘Tokyo Vice’ revolve around Jake’s introduction to the seedy underbelly of Tokyo, inhabited by journalists, police officers, yakuza members, and sex workers, as well as the Japanese news industry. He is originally from Missouri, the son of a coroner. Accompanying his father to his work instilled in him a great curiosity about how forensic science and police investigation work. After transferring from the University of Missouri to Sophia University in Tokyo, he studied Japanese literature for three years. Despite botching up an entrance exam, Jake lands a job at the Meicho Shimbun, a prominent newspaper with 12 million circulations every day. At work, he finds great friends in Trendy and Tin Tin, two fellow journalists who also get assigned to beat reporting. They work under sub-cap Emi Maruyama, who, in turn, reports to Baku, a man with ultra-nationalist beliefs.

One of Jake’s early assignments involves reporting on a murder, but as he refers to the incident as “murder,” he gets admonished by Baku. Despite this, he starts to make a connection between the alleged murder and the self-immolation case that happens a few days later, realizing that both people borrowed from shadowy groups against exorbitant interests. He initially tries to follow a police officer named Miyamoto, but the man soon turns out to be too difficult to work with for Jake. However, he draws the interest of Hiroto Katagiri (Ken Watanabe), a detective in the organized crime division who works on the alleged murder case. Jake gets the chance to accompany the police as they raid the stronghold of the Tozawa yakuza family following an altercation at a club under the protection of their rival, Chihara-Kai/Ishida, and arrest three gang members. Katagiri lets Jake write an article on it, which becomes his first published piece.

Image Credit: James Lisle/HBO Max

Jake meets both Samantha and Sato in Kabukichō, where most of the story is set. The former is extremely elusive about her past and seems to be saving up to establish roots in Tokyo. Sato is a Chihara-Kai/Ishida affiliate who works under Yoshihiro Kume, who, in turn, serves under Hitoshi Ishida. With Koichi Tanaka, the leader of Chihara-Kai, currently indisposed, Ishida is the de facto head of the family. Jake’s encounter with Samantha and Sato potentially sets up a love triangle as well. Towards the end of the episode, Matsuo, one of Samantha’s clients, takes photos of her from a distance while she is at her home. At first glance, he appears to be a stalker, but it’s possible that he is somehow linked to her mysterious past.

Tokyo Vice Episode 3 Ending: Why Does the Yakuza Kidnap Jake? Where Is He Being Taken?

After beating up a fellow member of his crime family for saying abusive words about Samantha, Sato atones for his mistake by telling Ishida about Jake. While we are not shown the full extent of the interaction, we can safely assume that Sato mentions Jake’s affiliation with the police. Earlier in the episode, the officers came to visit Ishida, during which they neither consumed food nor drank any beverage. This is likely due to the corruption and bribing suspicion within the ranks of the police. The officers probably fear that if they eat or drink anything in the company of the yakuza, they will be suspected of passing information to the crime family.

Image Credit: James Lisle / HBO Max

At least for now, Ishida probably doesn’t harbor any ill-intent toward Jake. The gaijin is the one who reports on the arrests of the members of the Tozawa family. If anything, he will likely attempt to create a mutually beneficial relationship with Jake, in which he might offer to expose the inner workings of his organization to Jake in exchange for the reporter helping him with the police.

Who Is Tozawa?

The first sequence of the series is set in 2001. The narrative later shifts to 1999 and seems to work its way forward. In 2001, Jake and Katagiri meet high-ranking members of the Tozawa family who warn him against continuing his investigation on the head of the family. The said leader makes his first appearance in episode 3 and seems to be suffering from a severe health-related issue.

Image Credit: James Lisle/HBO Max

Although series creator J.T. Rogers stated that none of the characters is directly based on Tadamasa Goto, a real-life former yakuza member and alleged head of Goto-gumi family, Towaza seems to share some resemblance to the so-called “John Gotti of Japan.” In 2008, the real Jake Adelstein put out an exposé in The Washington Post about Goto, claiming that the FBI had assisted the crime boss in traveling to the US for a liver transplant at UCLA. He mentioned in the same article that he received threats from Goto’s “underlings” for the article.

Read More: Is Tokyo Vice Based on a True Story?