Percy Jackson and the Olympians 1×06 Review: “We Take a Zebra to Vegas”

I’ve basically felt all season that this series is just zipping along. Nowhere did that feel more prevalent than in “We Take a Zebra to Vegas”, which felt much shorter than its listed runtime. This was one episode where I really wish we would have been able to linger.

“We Take a Zebra to Vegas” is perhaps the episode I was most excited for, because I was really looking forward to the kids finally getting to the Lotus. Fans of the series know that the Lotus ends up being an important plot point in a later book, so I was very much eager for the chance to look around. Costume designer Tish Monaghan gushed about the Lotus when we spoke to her at New York Comic Con back in October because of the sheer variety of costumes visible.

For those who may have missed this fact in the episode, time moves differently in the Lotus. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover think they only spend maybe half an hour inside, when it’s actually been days. The Lotus exists in a kind of stasis, so people can be there for years and even decades without aging. That means that the patrons of the casino were wearing outfits from every decade since, like, the 1920s. I was trying to look at the extras while also paying attention to the main action, but I didn’t notice anything too noticeable. I’m absolutely going to have to rewatch this episode and focus solely on everyone except the leads.

Now, while I was disappointed in myself for failing to notice the costumes, I absolutely fell in love with the set design. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is succeeding spectacularly at making multiple sets that I would be thrilled to live in. The color scheme of the Lotus was perfect, with the pink and purple. It reminded me of The Untamed, because the Jiang clan is from Lotus Pier (or Lotus Cove, depending on translation), and this is the same color scheme that their robes have. Which makes sense, as this is essentially the color palette of actual lotus flowers.

And while we briefly met Hermes in “We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium”, enough to see that he’s got a sense of humor, this is the first time we’re spending any real amount of time with him. After Ares and Hephaestus last week, Hermes is almost like a breath of fresh air. It is, of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda pretty much playing himself, but that works for this role. While Hermes can get serious and at times scary, for the most part he’s pretty irreverent and kind of sassy.

Thanks to our main character and audience insert Percy, we are able to learn a little more about the fraught relationship between Luke and Hermes. We haven’t yet seen any gods directly interact with any of their children, so this is really all we have to go on. It was clear, from the way Luke gets short-tempered any time his dad is mentioned, that they were not on good terms. But Annabeth reveals to Percy that Luke hates his father, because he blames Hermes for what happened to his mother. You see, his mother was a seer, and from the way Annabeth explains it, she saw something so terrible that she couldn’t handle it.

(It’s actually slightly more complicated than that, and we do learn more about Luke’s mother later, so I’ll refrain from going into more detail. I really hope they keep this bit in the show, and I don’t want to spoil anyone.)

We’ve seen Luke when his father is mentioned, we’ve heard from Annabeth about the relationship, and then we get to see Hermes’s perspective. He says that he was warned from getting involved but he couldn’t help but try to intervene, and his intervention may have made things worse. This disaster has made him not want to intervene anymore, so he initially declines to help the trio on their quest.

I think this is a good example of the different attitudes among the gods. We saw it last week with Hephaestus, who was moved by Annabeth’s speech and set Percy free. And now we get it from Hermes and, to a lesser extent, Poseidon. From what we’ve heard from others at the camp, the gods are pretty hands-off. But Hermes and Poseidon want to help – and do. Hermes allows Annabeth to swipe his keys so that they can steal his car, and the Nereid provides Percy with pearls that will allow them to escape the Underworld. It’s just that the gods are literally built differently, so they aren’t able to be traditional parents.

“We Take a Zebra to Vegas” is also our first indication that there is something bigger at play than just a war between the gods. Percy has been dreaming of a mysterious figure since the beginning, and usually it’s just a disembodied voice or an ominous silhouette. This time, the figure is corporeal, though in the form of his old headmaster, and speaking to someone else. Now, Percy has no idea what Hades looks like, but he does know that wasn’t Hades in his dream, so he correctly guesses that Hades may not be the mastermind.

Thanks to Annabeth’s prism and the golden drachma, we get a little more world-building this episode with the rainbow messages. Rainbow messages are the primary way that demigods communicate, so it was nice to see it in this episode. Not to mention, we learn a little bit more about the search for Pan, which is such a big part of a satyr’s life. Grover mentions needing to get a searcher’s license, but also him playing the VR game is a nice bit of foreshadowing.

I appreciate them keeping up the humor in “We Take a Zebra to Vegas”. Grover being more worried about the animals making it safely to the wilderness than any of the people caught in the chaos was perfectly in character. (Also I couldn’t help but giggle at their ‘elegant’ solution.) Hermes leaving a note for the ‘dumb kids’ was great. Percy’s abysmal driving was perfect; he is, after all, only 12. He probably couldn’t even fully reach the pedals. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is absolutely nailing the tone of the books as well as the characters’ individual personalities.

With only two episodes remaining, I do hope that we get to spend a little more time in this world. In next week’s episode, we head to the Underworld, and that’s another location at which I’d really like to linger. I am enjoying this series immensely; they are getting a lot of it right. It’s just going a little too fast for my taste. 

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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