The penultimate episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians Season 1 is aptly titled “We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of”, because it turns out that what the trio thought they knew is not actually true. Percy, Grover, and Annabeth have finally made it to the Underworld to confront Hades, only to learn that they’ve been manipulated.
So it turns out that the secret entrance to the Underworld is in a waterbed store, which makes a weird kind of sense. As it’s guarded by Procrustes, a fellow son of Poseidon, Percy first tries to appeal to his better nature. But the man doesn’t have a better nature, so they go with Plan B, which involves an invisible Annabeth pushing him into one of his beds, trapping him. You know, I know that Annabeth has a cap that makes her invisible, and I somehow always manage to forget it. It’s always a treat to see her pop out of nowhere like, “Boom! Roasted.”
Percy Jackson and the Olympians continues to deliver with stellar set design. I love the way the Underworld looks. It’s appropriately dim and desolate. We see two of the three regions of the Underworld – Tartarus (sort of) and the Asphodel Meadows. Hades’s palace hangs from the sky, which is just such a cool detail. If I had one complaint, it would be to please light things. Why do filmmakers insist on improperly lighting their shows? I’d like to be able to see what’s going on.
A lot of things are open to interpretation in Greek mythology, and one of those is the Asphodel Meadows. I really like the version in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, where the souls there are rooted in their regret. This is because it gives us a little bit of mystery, in the sense that Annabeth starts to become rooted in the soil. Grover wonders what Annabeth could possibly regret (after all, she’s twelve, but she’s also lived a lot in those twelve years), but Annabeth clearly knows what it is. She volunteers to stay behind and distract Cerberus while Percy and Grover continue on.
Cerberus! I love any media that portrays Cerberus as a giant dog, because he is, in fact, a giant dog. He likes neck scritches and playing with squeaky toys.
One of the things I enjoyed about the Percy Jackson series is how author Rick Riordan did his research on all of the members of the Greek pantheon. Most Western films that adapt Greek mythology have given it a Christian slant. Zeus is good because he rules Heaven, Hades is bad because he rules Hell. This completely ignores that in Greek canon, everyone who dies goes to the Underworld, good or bad. It’s not where evil-doers end up; it’s where the dead end up. So Hades almost always ends up being the villain.
We’ve been told the entire series up to this point that Hades stole Zeus’s master bolt out of jealousy, and no one has thought to question this story because, yes, it totally makes sense. Plus, who benefits most if there’s a war? The guy that rules over the Land of the Dead. Until you realize that Hades is essentially just a huge nerd with social anxiety. Jay Duplass has perhaps one of the most accurate portrayals of Hades ever, and I love it. He doesn’t care what’s going on in Olympus. This is a man that just wants to be left alone with his dog(s).
If you go back and examine the evidence, you’ll realize that there is none. The prophecy referred to “the god who has turned” and doesn’t name names or even really go into much more description than that. Everyone assumed that Hades was responsible, and so the trio have been operating under that assumption. And as Percy quickly realizes, the god behind it all is actually Kronos. I’ve seen online that some people think the kids figure things out too quickly, but in this case, Percy is the only one with all of the pieces to put together.
Once in the Underworld, he recognizes it, because he’s been dreaming about it for ages. He thought the disembodied voice he could hear in these dreams was Hades, but it doesn’t sound anything like him. The flying shoes Grover was wearing were spelled to drag the wearer straight into the pit of Tartarus – but those shoes were originally given to Percy, not Grover. And the master bolt only appeared in Percy’s bag – the bag Ares gave him – once the shoes disappeared into Tartarus. Everything is pointing to Tartarus, and who is imprisoned in Tartarus? Kronos.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians has given us things not in the books, because the books were told from Percy’s perspective, and the TV show can show us things outside his point of view. Like the flashback scenes with Sally and her conversation with Poseidon (Toby Stephens) that is our first look at Percy’s father. These scenes underline the fact that the last thing Sally wanted for her son was to be involved in this world, but especially for Percy to be caught up in the “family” squabbling. And unfortunately, that’s exactly where poor Percy ended up.
Something that multiple characters have emphasized throughout the series is that Percy is better than the petty, destructive behavior that permeates the magical world. Annabeth said this to Hephaestus in “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers” and Sally says it to Poseidon here. And Percy is proving that time and again. He sacrifices himself for his friends on more than one occasion. And though he could take the easy way out with his quest and save his mother, he chooses instead to warn everyone of what’s going on. Because only Percy, Grover, and Hades know the full truth.
Armed with this knowledge, we head into the season finale. Percy has the master bolt and is prepared to bring the world down in order to save his mother. But first, he and his friends must face off against Ares, who was waiting for them when they returned from the Underworld.
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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