Disney’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 4 follows Percy across the United States, with interesting themes that are not as well-structured as the previous episodes.
With episode 4, Percy Jackson and the Olympians reaches its mid-season point. As this episode goes on, the audience gets to reflect on some key themes even more, such as the concept of monstrousness and the behaviour of the Olympic gods, and learn more about the world Percy has to live in. Despite not flowing quite as well as the other, episode 4 is excellent at showing the fantasy world of Greek gods, myths, and monsters colliding with our everyday world, which is one of the biggest strengths of the Disney show.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 4 picks up where the previous one left off, as Percy Jackson (Walter Scobell), Annabeth Chase (Leah Sava Jeffries), and Grover Underwood (Aryan Simhadri) continue their quest across the United States. With magical objects gifted by the Olympians and an obscure prophecy to guide them, the young demigods must rise to the challenge and face threat after threat on their way to Los Angeles. In this episode, their journey is interrupted by other mythical monsters some of the audience may be familiar with, including Echidna (Suzanne Cryer), as they come face to face with what may very well be the deadliest and most dangerous creature yet.
Episode 4 touches on many key topics that will soon become pivotal to the entire show. One of the themes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians is the relationship between demigods and their godly parents. This is heavily discussed in this episode as Percy is not afraid to question it, thus foreshadowing what will become a key plot point in later episodes. Similarly, this episode also explores the question of nature and how human action has impacted it negatively. This is not only extremely relevant and timely for audiences today but it will also come into play in the future, especially with the mention of the elusive Pan.
I loved that episode 4 explored more of Annabeth’s character, as her love for architecture, relationship with Athena, and backstory are all given more attention. However, I wish we had seen more of her past rather than just being told about it, which ended up taking away a lot of the emotionality that could have come with it. So far, Percy Jackson and the Olympians has shown a wonderful use of flashbacks as we move through Percy’s backstory, just like at the beginning of this episode, so I wish the same had been done to show Annabeth’s past in all its sad and emotional details.
Despite having far less action and worldbuilding than the previous episodes, episode 4 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians is successful in introducing new creatures to the Disney show. This episode debates once again the very definition of monsters and who is described as such, updating the story for a modern sensibility. As this discussion goes on, I was happy to see the mother of monsters, Echidna, introduced this week and hope to see her in the next few episodes as well, as she is established as a force to be reckoned with. On the contrary, the Chimera’s introduction to the show was not nearly as exciting: while visually impressive, its reveal as the monster that has been hunting the main trio felt underwhelming especially considering that it is described as the Demigod killer.
With episode 4, the Disney show is a masterclass in how to change the source material at times but still remain faithful to the core of the book and its character. The latest episode offered a deeper insight into Percy’s self-sacrificing nature, one of his most defining characteristics. However, it did not succeed in its desired effect of creating a high tensions cliff-hanger at the end of this episode, which is particularly relevant as this is the mid-season point for Percy Jackson and the Olympians, as deep down we know the main character is going to be okay.
While I was happy with the pacing in previous episodes, as it allowed to series to thoroughly explore its worldbuilding, episode 4 changed the source material a little too much while also not moving the plot forward. Admittedly, it gives us an even better insight into the rich universe of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. This is fun, especially for fans of the book, but it ends up remaining just that for now and failing to go deeper into the complexities of the story narrated in the book that I am hoping to see more of in the rest of the season.
Ultimately, this all comes down to the fact that episode 4 feels very much like a filler as we wait for the story to truly unfold. It does expand on the context of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the constant threat that Percy is under, but it does so in a very expositionary way, especially for those of us in the audience who know why certain elements are brought up in the story. If Percy Jackson and the Olympians had the time to work on its worldbuilding with filler episodes, then I wish it had used it to further explore other storylines and characters that we are yet to see more of, such as the Olympians themselves or Annabeth’s and Grover’s backstories which are both not nearly as explored as Percy’s.
Episode 4 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians had some structural narrative issues but it is still a good episode, despite being the weakest of the series so far. It follows a now tried and tested formula of the road trip with monsters threatening the main trio’s lives and quest. This structure works, as proven here, but it risks becoming repetitive if they keep sticking to it so much, especially now that the plot is heavily set in the real world of modern US. In episode 4 the Disney show can’t rely on the spectacle of showing Camp Halfblood anymore which I definitely felt missing as it is a key element of what makes Percy Jackson and the Olympians unique.
Episode 4 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians is now available to watch on Disney Plus.