Percy Jackson and the Olympians 1×04 Review: “I Plunge to My Death”

The quest for the master bolt continues in “I Plunge to My Death”, which sees our intrepid trio of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover reach yet another stumbling block in their journey. Their trip is derailed (no pun intended) in Saint Louis as the three come face to face with Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters. Literally.

“I Plunge to My Death” makes some really great parallels. When Percy complains to Annabeth that the god and demigod relationship is not how things are supposed to go, she points out that a lot of human parents behave exactly the same way. This is a point I think Percy should understand better, considering the relationship he and his mother have with the emotionally abusive Gabe. To be fair, he does get it once Annabeth explains what happened with her stepmother.

But we also have Echidna’s declaration to them that she considers demigods to be the real monsters. That echoes back to what Sally told Percy in “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher” about how just because something is labeled as a monster doesn’t necessarily make it so. And it follows what happened with Medusa in “We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium”, about how there are two sides to every story.

Plus, we get to see the variations of a god’s affection towards their demigod children. We know that relationships are often strained – the way Luke talks about Hermes, how Annabeth reveres her mother but they also aren’t close at all – but Annabeth is comforted by the knowledge that there are set rules. However, we see that Athena rescinds her protection of the three because she was embarrassed when they sent Medusa’s head to Olympus – even though it was Percy who did that, not Annabeth. But then the nereid in the river tells Percy how much Poseidon wants to help and how proud he is of him. I think this helps to illustrate the dichotomy that exists; the gods can be the most loving parents ever, or they can be spiteful and vindictive.

Lastly, I appreciate the last scene’s callback to the opening scene. Percy in the river is worried about drowning, because while he may know that he is a son of Poseidon, he doesn’t yet know all that that entails. So it was nice to see the parallel to his first swimming lesson. And the fact that the nereid told Percy to “just breathe”, which is exactly what Percy said to Sally when she started getting worked up.

Basically, I just love that this story that I already loved is able to have so much more nuance as a television show.

I continue to love the dynamic between the kids. That nighttime scene on the train where Percy and Annabeth wake up Grover and he’s all sarcastic and annoyed. That’s exactly how teenagers act, and it felt so natural between the three of them. Then there was the scene where they tried to heal Percy by splashing him in a fountain, which was just hilarious, particularly the abrupt transition.

And their friendship is growing, as one would expect. Annabeth is clearly warming up to Percy and vice versa, even though I suspect that one of the reasons that Annabeth wanted to stay behind to buy Percy and Grover time was so that she could prove herself – to herself but also to Athena, who had just forsaken her. Likewise, I believe that Percy switched places with her because he’s a self-sacrificial idiot with a hero complex. But also, as he said, he didn’t expect to receive Poseidon’s help, so if he was going to die anyway, he was at least going to die trying to save his friends.

Percy is still worried about the prophecy, but he’s still taking the Oracle’s words literally. As Annabeth explains, and as I talked about last week, prophecies are meant to be riddles. Often you won’t understand what the Oracle was trying to say until after it’s already happened. Yet while he’s so focused on the prophecy, he seems to not be paying any attention to his dreams.

Pan mention! As we will hopefully get more seasons and thus get to see the rest of the series adapted, Pan’s disappearance is actually quite important, so I appreciate that they’re laying the groundwork early by giving us the background. I always love a good lore deep dive, and if there’s one thing Rick Riordan did, it’s his research.

That’s another thing that makes Percy Jackson and the Olympians so great – it takes from actual Greek mythology, not the Hollywoodized, Christianized version that you often see in movies like Disney’s animated Hercules. (Can I tell how much Zeus and Hera were not happily married, and that Hercules was definitely not Hera’s son, and that actually it should have been Herakles as Hercules was the Romanized name, and I’ll stop talking now.) But I also think that Riordan leaned on that bias a little bit when crafting this plot, which will make more sense as we go along.

I love the cinematic effect of having Percy be blurry as he’s starting to really suffer from the effects of the chimera’s poison. I also love how we saw Percy falling from the Arch from his perspective; that was so disorienting. And seeing the plume of water rise from the river to catch Percy as he fell was exactly how I imagine that would look if it were actually happening – I love the special effects on this show. The chimera looked fantastic, and I love the design of the nereid.

I will admit to being a little concerned about the runtime of some of these episodes. “I Plunge to My Death” was only about thirty minutes long, and there are only eight episodes in this first season. Hopefully, some of the remaining episodes are going to be longer, because it honestly feels like we’re just zipping through this story. Although admittedly I don’t exactly remember everything that happens, as it’s been so long since I’ve read the book, but I feel like we still have a ways to go.

Nonetheless, I think Percy Jackson and the Olympians is doing a fantastic job at adapting the source material. There is so much to love about every episode. It’s really a treat to watch this every week.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.


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