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Episode Recap: ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ goes slightly off-book

Warning, spoilers ahead:

Episode 4: “I Plunge to My Death”

Episode 3 ended with a cliffhanger when the god Hermes delivered a package with Medusa’s head to Mount Olympus. Episode 4 continues with Percy's quest to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from Hades in the Underworld.

The episode opens with a dream of Percy and his mother when he was young. The two of them are taking swimming lessons and Percy’s mother begins to worry because Percy is afraid to swim. She begins to tell him that he needs to learn in case there is ever a situation in which she cannot save him. 

As she starts to panic, Percy tells her to just breathe. Percy helps calm her down by reminding her she will always be there. The dream transitions into a nightmare, where the voice Percy has been hearing taunts him in his sleep, telling him “a forbidden hero attracts doom” and “she is coming.”

Percy awakes from the dream on a train with Annabeth and Grover on their journey across the country to Los Angeles. He asks Annabeth about Thalia, the last forbidden child who was Zeus’s daughter and Annabeth’s friend. Annabeth describes her as tough and how hard it was to earn her care. Percy tells Annabeth that he doesn't understand why they have to burn food to gain the god’s attention or, in his case, beat up Clarisse to have his father admit he is his father. He says he thinks people who are close to them are not supposed to treat them that way. 

The audience gets more background on Annabeth’s character in this episode. She tells Percy the story of how she ended up alone on the road. She originally started as a gift from Athena to her father. She explains the children of Athena are born in her mind and are given to a partner with whom Athena feels connected. Annabeth said her father once cared for her and loved her, but then he met a woman and they had their own children. Annabeth was then not a gift but a problem. Annabeth left her father at 7 years old. She explains to Percy it is not just the gods who think that way, it is everybody. 

“But at least with the gods, you know the rules,” Annabeth says. “Show them respect and they’ll be in your corner, no matter what.” 

Hearing this is useful to Percy later in the episode.

The next morning, Percy, Annabeth and Grover are eating breakfast and Percy notices centaurs running in a field along the train tracks. Grover explains that there used to be herds of them everywhere. He tells Percy that a few thousand years ago the god of the wild, Pan, disappeared. Without the protection of Pan, centaurs disappeared because of humans. The bravest satyrs volunteered to become Searchers to look for Pan. Grover’s uncle Ferdinand was a Searcher. 

The conversation between them is interrupted by a police officer asking to see their train tickets. When looking at their tickets he learns they are staying in the cabin that was destroyed. Grover tells the officer that when they went to breakfast, the cabin was intact. The officer tells them the woman next door is a witness who heard the window smash followed by the voice of teenagers. As they discuss a plan in case they are arrested, the woman who claimed to be the witness sits in their booth. While she is speaking to them, Grover notices crushed glass on her shirt. They learn she is the Mother of Monsters, Echidna. 

Echidna brought one of her monsters, saying the monster was just a pup and was learning to hunt. Echidna releases the monster and it stabs Percy in the chest with a stinger. The monster proceeds to chase Percy, Annabeth and Grover through the train, causing enough damage to make it necessary for the train to make an emergency stop in St. Louis. Annabeth tells them there is a sanctuary, or temple, dedicated to Athena that was built by one of her children, the Gateway Arch. 

While they are hiding in the underground museum of the Arch, Percy begins to feel the effects of the stinger. Grover and Annabeth try to help him by taking him to the fountain out front, but they quickly learn Percy needs natural running water for Poseidon to help him. Annabeth comes up with the idea to get to the top of the Arch, or the altar of the temple, to ask Athena for help. 

As they ride the elevator to the top of the Arch, they learn that sending Medusa’s head to Olympus angered Athena, and she allowed the monster Chimera and Echidna into the sanctuary as punishment. Annabeth tells Percy and Grover their best chance at the monster is for her to fight it. Before Percy and Grover leave her at the top of the Arch, Percy tries to give her Riptide. Annabeth tries to take the sword, but Percy flips her around and shuts out Grover and Annabeth to fight the Chimera. The Chimera is a monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature composed of different animal parts. 

Percy tells them he has never had the help of his father, so he does not believe he would help them now. He says he would have never made it to Hades, but they can and he knows they will. Percy turns and sees the Chimera and Echidna approaching him. He swings his sword at the Chimera but gets thrown back by the Chimera’s force. The Chimera blows fire at Percy, and at the same time, Echidna uses her power to expose a hole in the floor to corner him. Percy is shoved into the hole in the floor causing him to dangle from the top of the Arch. He loses his grip and begins to plunge to his death. 

Before he hits the ground beneath him, a wave of water pulls him into the river. Percy is stuck at the bottom of the river because his foot is trapped. He struggles to pull himself out but is interrupted by a figure with a small flame that sounds like his mother. She is Nereid, a spirit of the sea. The spirit tells Percy she was sent by Poseidon. Nereid tells Percy to just breathe, similar to what he said to his mother in his dream. The episode ends with an extended shot of Percy and Nereid at the bottom of the river. 

Although this episode is shorter and does not follow the book as well as the other episodes, it is still good and continues to add to the storyline of the series. The major difference in this episode that makes it less book-accurate is how the episode begins. In the book, they are supposed to be stranded in the woods, and Percy dreams of his mother being crushed by the Minotaur. They learn they can get on a train because of a pink poodle named Gladiola who tells Grover of the Amtrak station nearby. This is where fans of the series learn Grover can speak to animals. 

Another difference between this episode and the book is the introduction of Echidna. In the book, Percy, Annabeth and Grover ride to the top of the Gateway Arch in an elevator with a woman Percy calls the “big fat lady” with a pet Chihuahua. After they are done sightseeing at the top of the Arch, Percy misses the elevator back down because he insists to Grover and Annabeth he will wait for another because it is full. When he turns around, the fat lady with the Chihuahua smiles at Percy and flicks her forked tongue at him. She also turns into her correct form, half-woman and half-snake. 

The differences between the book and the show are not major, but it would have been nice to have the show follow the book for this monster. The episode covers parts of Chapters 12 and 14. Episode 4 is named after Chapter 13 and follows most of the content of this chapter for this episode. 

Episode 5, “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers” will be released Jan. 9 and can be streamed on Disney+ at 9 p.m. EST. 

Rating: 3.5/5


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