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Episode Recap: ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ adds good changes

Warning, spoilers ahead:

Episode 5: “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers”

Episode 4 ended in an extended shot of Percy at the bottom of the Mississippi River with Nereid, a spirit of the sea, after plunging to his death from the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Episode 5 continues Percy’s quest to retrieve Zeus's master bolt from the Underworld before the summer solstice with a side quest from Ares. 

The fifth episode opens with a view of the damage to the Arch left by Echidna and the Chimera. Grover and Annabeth are in a crowd of people overlooking the scene when Grover sees three old ladies staring at them. Fans of the book know that the three old ladies knitting play a role in Percy’s quest and this is the first they are shown in the new series adaptation. Annabeth and Grover quickly run off to look for Percy. They find him climbing out from the river and Percy apologizes for locking them in the stairwell. Before he could finish his apology, Annabeth hugged him, relieved that he made it out of the attack alive. 

Percy tells Grover and Annabeth they need to go to Santa Monica because his father will meet him there to help them. Grover tells them there is a problem with them getting on another train because the police think they destroyed the Amtrak train they were on and the damage to the Arch. Their solution to continue traveling was walking. On their walk, Percy tells Annabeth and Grover that his head was not fully in it at the beginning of their quest, but everything had changed since he fell into the river. 

Annabeth tells Percy that she saw the Fates, or the old ladies. In Greek mythology, the Fates are the personifications of destiny. She also says that she saw Atropos cut a piece of thread, which means one of them will die soon. It is considered a warning. While sitting on the side of the road, Ares, the god of war and Clarisse’s dad, approaches them on a motorcycle asking if they could use some help. He tells them as much as he would like to see a good war “pop off,” as Percy’s cousin, he wants to give him a hand. He tells them Zeus sent all of his children out looking for the bolt, but to meet him at a diner up the road if they want his help. 

They follow him to the diner and sit down in his booth. Ares, portrayed by Adam Copeland, tells them he knows their quest is going to fail. He shows them a clip of Percy’s stepdad on the news and says the FBI is spreading Percy’s photo around. Ares says their chances of hitchhiking to Los Angeles without being arrested are slim to none. He also says that whether or not the bolt is retrieved, Zeus will go to war with Poseidon. Zeus knows that he will not get the master bolt back from quests or goose chases and knows there is a war coming, so Ares thinks Zeus is okay with that. Ares thinks it is time for a war. 

Percy tells him he will complete the quest and stop the war, but Ares has not told them how he is going to help them yet. Ares proposes that if they can go retrieve the shield he left in an amusement park, he will take them to the entrance of the Underworld to invade Hades’s palace. After Percy agrees to get Ares his shield back, Ares tells them his one condition: he will keep Grover with him until they get back to avoid them running off on him. Grover agrees to stay behind. 

Annabeth and Percy arrive at the amusement park where Ares left his shield and they find it dark and abandoned. Percy pushes through a gate and sets off a metal trap, caging Percy. Annabeth says the amusement park was built by Hephaestus, the ancient Greek god of fire, volcanoes, forges and blacksmithing. Annabeth figures out the trap is not meant to hurt them but to scare them because it is a test that Hephaestus uses to know when someone would come to poke around the amusement park. They push through the gate unharmed. 

They learn that Ares left his shield because he was flirting with Aphrodite, the goddess of love and Hephaestus’s wife, and left in a hurry because they were caught in the amusement park. A ride lights up and starts playing music, they realize it is the Thrill Ride O’ Love and is the place where Ares and Aphrodite were caught. As Annabeth and Percy ride the Thrill Ride O’ Love, Hephaestus’s story is shown to them in a light show throughout the ride. Percy knew the story because his mother used to tell those kinds of stories to him as a child, telling him what the gods are like to each other. 

Percy and Annabeth’s boat in the ride takes a turn and they are sent down a rushing river of water. They spot Ares’s shield on a statue when they reach the bottom, but are forced to jump from their boat because the river is leading them into another trap. When they jump from the boat, Annabeth struggles to swim with the force of the water. Percy uses his power to pull her toward him and they make it out of the water to attempt to grab Ares’s shield. They realize the shield is out of reach and is attached to a machine they are unsure of how to start. They learn that the chair in front of the statue holding the shield is a trap because whoever sits in the chair will not be able to get back up. 

Annabeth immediately says she will sit in the chair, but Percy stops her. He tells Annabeth why he chose her for the quest and that she is just better at doing “these things.” He then gives her Riptide and asks her to make him a promise. She cuts him off and assures him that she will make sure she does not leave his mother in the Underworld. Percy says thank you, but jokingly says to also promise to “swing back there to try and get him out of this thing.” 

Percy sits in the chair and says it feels warm. He starts to turn into gold and becomes part of the chair. Before he is completely stuck to the chair, he tells Annabeth he is okay. Ares’s shield clatters to the ground, but Annabeth is determined to help Percy get out. She is interrupted by a worker at the amusement park, who she finds out is actually Hephaestus. 

Percy tells her she will be forgiven by Athena if she walks out of there with the shield and she will be seen as a hero. Annabeth tells him that power and glory are not all that matters, and though she once believed they were, she no longer does. Annabeth convinces Hephaestus that Percy does not believe that either, and he sets Percy free. Hephaestus says not all of the gods believe that and that he will put in a good word with her mother. 

Annabeth and Percy return to Ares and Grover, giving him the shield and asking for their ride. Ares shows them a semitruck and says it will go to the Lotus Casino in Vegas where Hermes hangs out. If they get there and play their cards right, Hermes will have his personal driver take them to Los Angeles in minutes. He gives him clothes, cash and Drachmas to summon Hermes. 

In the back of the semitruck, Percy believes Ares is not telling the truth. Grover tells them Ares was not telling the full truth. He tells them that Ares was holding something back and he knows because he thinks he got the information out of him. The episode ends with Grover saying he knows who stole the master bolt. 

The episode goes off-book a bit, leaving out some details that could have made for an interesting episode. The interaction they have with Luke and Chiron is left out, which would have been good to add because this is where Percy would have learned that Camp Half-Blood is torn between the sides of Zeus or Poseidon. 

This episode also goes off-book with the location where it takes place. In the book, they are supposed to get back on another Amtrak train and end up in Denver for the interaction with Ares. Grover staying behind while Percy and Annabeth retrieve Ares’s sword is also not what happens in the book. Grover goes with them and uses the gift of the winged shoes from Luke on their side quest to get the shield. 

The trap on the Thrill Ride O’ Love is different from the book as well. In the book, the shield was left on a boat next to a shimmery pink scarf. When Percy grabs the shield, it sets off a tripwire. The Cupid statues on the ride drew their bows at each other to make a net and it was being live-streamed to Olympus, a trick set by Hephaestus to catch Aphrodite and Ares together on the ride. Robotic spiders came out of every corner, trapping Annabeth and Percy in the boat as they began to weave a kind of web to tie them into the boat. They were able to escape from the ride in the book because Grover turned the ride on and they were able to jump out to safety. 

Although this episode went off-book, the changes made sense for the series adaptation. The change of leaving Grover behind was probably for the best because it showed interactions between Grover and Ares. There was more character development for Ares that he did not have in the book and it gave the audience something to laugh at. The change of the trap in the Thrill Ride O’Love also made sense because it gave an interaction with another god in the series and showed growth in Annabeth’s character.

Ending the episode with Grover telling them he knows who stole the master bolt was great because it leaves the audience on the edge of its seat eager for the next episode. This episode is named after Chapter 15 and this is the chapter where all of the episode’s content comes from.

Episode 6, “We Take a Zebra to Vegas,” will be released Jan. 16 and can be streamed on Disney+ at 9 p.m. EST.

Rating: 4/5


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