Short and Shocking — Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episode 4 Review

S1E4, “I Plunge to My Death”

PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS Episode 4: Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson before plunging through the floor of the Arch
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS -- "I Plunge to My Death" (Disney)

The following review contains spoilers for Percy Jackson and the Olympians S1E4, “I Plunge to My Death” (written by Jonathan E. Steinberg & Joe Tracz and directed by Anders Engström

In the shortest episode released yet, with a runtime of just 33 minutes, Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episode 4 leaves you wanting more, gasping for air, and it marks the halfway mark through the first season.

“I Plunge to My Death” jumps to a fresh start after the last episode and follows the chapter of the same name from Rick Riordan’s original novel Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, though it borrows from the chapters on either end as well. No, dear readers, we are not privy to our three heroes talking to a pink poodle or the epic manhunt for Percy spearheaded by his stepfather’s lies—but is that such a bad thing?

One of the major obstacles the demigods and satyr face in the novel is the nationwide chase for Percy due to his mother’s disappearance, an abandoned car wreck, and a d*ck trying to get his Diane Sawyer moment. So far, the series is cutting this complication out of Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell), Annabeth Chase (Leah Jefferies) and Grover Underwood’s (Aryan Simhadri) path. Ultimately, this relieves the writers’ room from weaving Percy’s wicked stepfather into the meat of their quest when so many other obstacles, more relevant to the plot, take up screen time.

PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS Episode 4: (l-r) Leah Jefferies as Annabeth Chase, Aryan Simhadri as Grover and Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson in the lift to the top of the Arch
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS — “I Plunge to My Death” (Disney)

Though we do not see Grover eat trash in the woods and make friends with a runaway pet, we do get pieces of his motivation throughout this episode on the Amtrak and the Arch. In the dining car, we learn about the nature god, Pan, and the satyr Searcher’s License. At the Arch, we see and hear about Grover’s connection to animals and his distrust of humans. Aryan Simhadri continues to delight me with his portrayal of Grover; I like his playfulness and his sombre, grounding monologues. Grover is a complex character to get right, as he is both older and younger than the other characters simultaneously due to Rick Riordan’s satyr lore for lifespan and growth. Aryan straddles that delicate line admirably. However, his performance did not stand out in this episode when so much of the story was focused on the growing connection between Annabeth and Percy.

Annabeth takes the chance to open up about her early childhood to Percy on the train while Grover snores away. In this conversation, the two not only grow closer, but fresh audiences start to understand why Annabeth has such trouble trusting people and how she ended up as a year-rounder at Camp Half-Blood so young. I found this conversation between Leah and Walker in their Amtrak cabin quite effective. Leah has an unconventional pace when it comes to delivering her dialogue; it feels like she’s struggling for words in real-time. Whether it be a choice or her natural rhythm, this delivery style deepens her character’s presence onscreen by effectively showcasing what the novel described as Annabeth having too many thoughts for words amidst her struggle with dyslexia and ADHD, like Percy.

PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS Episode 4: Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson on the Amtrak
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS — “I Plunge to My Death” (Disney)

Despite being the shortest episode so far, we certainly learned a lot about these characters and witnessed this trio grow all the closer on their journey. However, it wasn’t all group therapy, especially for Percy, who has yet to confess his eerie dreams to his friends. Whereas in the novel, Annabeth and Percy are already well on their way to figuring out the hidden meaning of Percy’s nightmares, the series does no such thing, leaving fresh audiences to flounder and try to decipher those coded messages themselves. I think this was the right choice for the show; I found in my rereading of Rick Riordan’s original novel Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief that these conversations with Annabeth about Percy’s dreams were much too leading and far too often.

However, what I will never get enough of is Percy Jackson’s fatal flaw: loyalty to his friends. This boy will do anything for the people he cares about—if that means facing a monster poisoned and plunging to his death or facing a minotaur before he’s ever taken a fencing lesson, Percy throws down for his bros. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episode 4 showcases this Percy trait in perfect form: he throws Annabeth and Grover out of the way, knowing he likely wouldn’t make it out alive and actively defying his prophecy. Percy don’t give a sh*t.

PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS Episode 4: Suzanne Cryer as Echidna, mother of monters, threatening the trio on the Amtrak
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS — “I Plunge to My Death” (Disney/David Bukach)

The action is speckled throughout this episode. Our monsters delight in the slow hunt for their prey. Suzanne Cryer is Echidna, the mother of monsters, and with her, she has The Chimera in the form of a small dog. The rendering of the full-grown Chimera is fantastic: I was very impressed with the detail of the creature and the many ways production edited the episode to limit the need for CGI. I haven’t been scared by any of the monsters thus far, and I don’t think that is ever really the point of the monster’s rendering. However, I do think that the performances of monsters in human form are where the unsettling takes place. Suzanne Cryer offers quiet anger in her Joker-like portrayal of Echidna with a smile perpetually plastered to her face, delivering chilling dialogue.

The last few minutes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episode 4 show us some of Chapter 14’s events while Percy struggles to breathe underwater after a fall that should have killed him. This scene unfolds quite close to the original material, which is why I was so shook by the abrupt ending to such a short episode. I wanted the next piece of the puzzle; alas, we must wait until next week’s episode, where we will see the events from the latter part of Chapter 14 and, hopefully, the entirety of Chapter 15 and a bit of Chapter 16. I very much look forward to WWE star Adam Copeland’s portrayal of Ares, god of war, next week.

Written by Isobel Grieve

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