Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 3 recap: Medusa's snack trap

Our young heroes strike out on their quest, bicker, and learn a thing or two about being wary of the smell of hamburgers on the wind.
Jessica Parker Kennedy as Medusa in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+.
Jessica Parker Kennedy as Medusa in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

Before he heads out on his quest in Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 3, “We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium,” our young hero meets with the oracle in what looks like a creepy attic bursting with interesting items and baubles. She sits in a chair like a rag doll, decrepit still. At first, Percy tries to politely address her, introducing himself properly. However, when she doesn’t respond, and he believes he’s been sent on a fool’s errand, he refers to her as a Halloween decoration. Apparently, that was enough to get her attention because she spews forth a green mist that curiously dons the visage of Percy’s stepfather, Gabe.

It’s up to the oracle to determine whether Percy’s quest actually qualifies as one. With the short message of “You shall go west and face the god who has turned and you shall find what was stolen and see it safely returned,” it looks like she’s given him the green light. Chiron makes this announcement in the presence of Percy’s fellow campers and Mr. D. He also clarifies the oracle’s message. 

West is where the Underworld can be found and “the god who has turned” is Hades, who has rebelled against his brothers–Poseidon and Zeus. The entrance to the Underworld is under Los Angeles and it’s where Percy must go. As a reminder, he has a week to retrieve the master bolt. If it’s not returned to Zeus by the summer solstice war will break out. 

Percy chooses his quest companions

The demigods Chiron has called to this meeting are the best at Camp Half-Blood among them is Luke, Annabeth, and Clarisse. As Chiron is talking, Percy interrupts his speech about why they were chosen so that he can choose Annabeth. Chiron gently informs him that it’s customary to at least hear a name or two before making a decision but Percy explains his thinking.

He knows the mission is going to be hard and they’re going to have to make difficult choices. He wants someone who won’t hesitate to do what’s needed even if it means the mission can only succeed if he’s pushed down a flight of stairs. Annabeth is that person. We know this because in episode 2, "I Become Lord of the Bathroom," she left Percy to defend himself against Clarisse and her lackeys in order to ensure the Blue Team’s victory while Clarisse was distracted, and likely to coax Poseidon into claiming Percy by putting his swordsmanship on display. Seeing his thought process, Chiron announces Annabeth as the first person selected to go with Percy on his quest. 

Meanwhile, Grover is shoveling Pegasus dung. It’s punishment, courtesy of Mr. D, for telling Percy that his mother, Sally, is being held in the Underworld by Hades. When Percy comes upon him, Grover assumes he’s there to tell him who he chose to go on the mission with. He’s correct but is surprised when he learns that his friend chose him. What Grover doesn’t know is that the oracle also told Percy that he’d be betrayed by his friend and that he’d fail to save what matters most (re: likely Sally). Despite this, Percy trusts Grover and is choosing him anyway, to him nothing is more important than trust right now. Humorously, Grover’s response is “I’m going to pack the best snacks!”

Back at Poseidon Cabin, which looks like the inside of a sea shack, Percy is packing for his quest. He’s been given $200 dollars (for the human world) and a bag of golden drachmas (for the mythic world). When Luke arrives he tells him not to mix them up. He’s also brought him a gift. The box contains a pair of red Converse. When the word, “Maia,” is said to the shoes the laces turn into wings. Luke explains they were a gift from his dad, Hermes. Say “Maia” again and the sneakers turn back into regular shoes.

Percy tells Luke that he thought about choosing him instead of Grover but Luke isn’t bothered, he says that the satyr is much stronger than people think. But Percy pushes on. He admits that he didn’t choose Luke because he was afraid. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of being able to rescue his mom and Luke told him that he would always be on Annabeth’s side. She might try to stop Percy if his rescue mission gets in the way of the quest and because of what Luke said he’d help her. Once again Luke assures him that it’s okay. He understands; he just wants the trio to take care of each other.

Before they leave, Annabeth says goodbye to a tree that’s significant to her. When Percy notes she’s really going to miss it, Grover informs him that when Annabeth, Luke, and Thalia first arrived at Camp Half-Blood they were being chased by monsters–agents of Hades called furies. They were sisters. Percy realizes one of them must have been Mrs. Dodds, their algebra teacher, aka Alecto. Thalia had turned around to buy Luke and Annabeth more time. Her satyr protector tried to stop her but she wouldn’t listen. Zeus intervened to save his daughter but he did so by turning her into a tree.

Rightfully, Percy’s skeptical about that choice considering Zeus is the most powerful being in the universe and that was his best solution. Annabeth, however, isn’t having it. She tells Percy that Thalia was the bravest demigod she’s ever known and that she fought valiantly. She met a hero’s fate though according to Percy it was a pinecone’s fate. It was a rude response given the context but also inappropriately funny. I laughed, I’m so sorry Annabeth.

Sidestepping the growing argument brewing before them, our heroine tells Percy that forbidden children are always in danger even the strongest ones like Thalia. As he is not Thalia, she instructs him to do exactly as she says and maybe he’ll survive this quest. Clearly she’s the one in charge, Percy. Act right!

Megan Mullally as Alecto in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

Mrs. Dodds returns

The kids are taking a bus to LA. When Percy questions why Chiron couldn’t at least spring for plane tickets since quests are supposedly sacred and world changing, Grover explains it’s because he’s a forbidden child. Monsters aren’t the only beings after him or trying to stop his quest. Zeus’ domain is the sky. Flying would give the god unfettered access to Percy, they’re trying to prevent him from interceding. 

Annabeth and Percy bump heads yet again when she stops him from leaving the bus when it makes a pit stop at a rest area. She wants to ensure that monsters can’t smell him which is what the bus is achieving because it smells horrible. Percy wants to put it up to a vote but instead of weighing in Grover launches into a consensus song which doesn’t go over well. Because of this Annabeth gets her way–the safe way I might add–while Percy and Grover are left on the bus.

As Annabeth struggles selecting snacks, Grover gives Percy a lesson on monsters. It’s not just his power that they sense though that’s a big part of it. They track the strongest demigods with the children of Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus being the most powerful. The beings also can sense different things about the demigods depending on the creature they are. This includes their weaknesses like shame, a hunger for glory, etc. 

The best thing a demigod can do is try to spot a monster before they can spot you. It looks like Annabeth clocks one in the quick mart and on the bus. She puts her cap, gifted by Athena, on so she can go invisible. The monster on the bus reveals herself as Mrs. Dodds just as Grover says that not even death will stop a monster from trying to get to a demigod.

Annabeth confronts her while invisible. The two exchange words about Thalia though Mrs. Dodds does acknowledge that our heroine is the pride of Athena’s offspring and likely the most formidable demigod child alive. She also explains that she’s been instructed to bring Percy to Hades and tells Annabeth that she could just lure him off the bus away from people, let him be taken, and then go on with the quest. That's interesting since this suggests Hades only wants Percy and doesn’t care about keeping hold of the master bolt.

Obviously, Annabeth isn’t going to do what she says. She hurries to warn Percy and Grover, instructing them to open the window. Breaking it triggers an alarm and forces the bus driver to ask the passengers to exit toward the front. As they do so, it impedes Mrs. Dodds who transforms into her true form, a fury. Her sister crashes through one of the windows to go after them but Annabeth throws a dagger which pierces her chest turning her into dust. It buys them time to escape.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get too far on their journey before having to beat feet away from the bus. The trio is wandering a forest in New Jersey where Grover says is a satyr path which will help them and make it more difficult for them to be tracked. Percy wants to find a phone and call camp for help but Annabeth vetoes that idea because a quest is supposed to be hard. She accuses him of being afraid of who he is.

In response, Percy asks her to call her mom since she doesn’t want to call camp. This takes Annabeth aback which he doesn’t understand. He’d call his father if they were on speaking terms and he assumes she and Athena are close. He catches on quick that Annabeth can’t call her. Annabeth asks Grover to jump in which further confuses Percy because he’s supposed to be on his side since he’s his satyr protector. What Grover hasn’t shared is that he was once Annabeth’s as well. This was absolutely not the time to find this out. Drama!

But before Percy can get Grover to answer why he didn’t tell him, especially after sharing that story about Thalia and her satyr protector which he’s now caught on was him, Grover smells something. It turns out to be hamburgers. Following his nose, he leads them to the Garden Gnome Emporium Café, unbeknownst to the trio a fury has flown overhead. 

Jessica Parker Kennedy as Medusa in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

Medusa enters the scene

Mrs. Dodds lands just as our heroes are realizing they’ve entered Medusa’s territory by evidence of the abundance of stone statues around the place. Said “Aunty Em” interrupts as the fury tells Annabeth she should have accepted her offer. Perhaps when Percy finds out Annabeth didn’t give him up he’ll start seeing her as more of an ally. Medusa offers them protection since Alecto won’t make a move as long as they’re with her though she won’t leave either because she doesn’t want to report that she failed.

Medusa also lets them know that she’s aware that Percy is Poseidon’s son. He’s a forbidden child who has been claimed after all, that’s not a secret that would keep for long. Medusa says she’s offering them lunch and though Annabeth refers to her as a monster, Medusa points out that we all choose who to make our monsters (solid point!). Still, there’s a whole Hansel & Gretel vibe going on here that just can’t be shaken.

Percy decides to trust Medusa due to his mother’s teachings about her. Sally used to tell him her story and the point she tried to drive home was that the gorgon isn’t what people think. Since he trusts his mom, he tells Grover and Annabeth that they can do what they want but he’s going inside. Grover follows him leaving Annabeth with Alecto by herself. As they’re discussing whether the snacks Medusa left out are safe to eat, our heroine enters the room.

When she starts to voice her concern that this situation isn’t the same for her as it is for them, Medusa walks in with a pitcher of lemonade and dissuades her from worrying. Though she’s a daughter of Athena, the gorgon says she holds no grudge against her because “we’re not our parents after all” and that they may have more in common than she thinks.

The boys tuck into the spread on the table but Annabeth doesn’t. Medusa describes herself as a survivor and that she doesn’t like bullies. She’s chosen to see what the gods did to her as a gift because she can no longer be bullied, but Annabeth says what Athena did to her was a curse. Medusa points out Annabeth’s unwavering loyalty to her mother and shares that there was a time that she loved the goddess, too. 

She prayed to her, worshiped her, and made offerings but Athena never said anything. The goddess was silent until Poseidon declared his love for Medusa. He made her feel seen, but Athena was embarrassed by the sea god’s attention toward her devotee so she decided to punish her. Not him, not a fellow god, but her supplicant. Athena made sure that anyone who looked upon Medusa would pay a high price.

Annabeth disputes the gorgon’s story once she’s finished. She states that her mother is always just but Medusa disagrees. She says that the gods want to be thought of as infallible when they’re not. That what they want is what all bullies want, which is for their victims to blame themselves for their own shortcomings. When Annabeth calls her a liar, Medusa suddenly smells something burning and asks for help in the kitchen. Percy goes but Grover and Annabeth stay behind, the latter warns the satyr to get ready to run.

In the kitchen, Percy tries to tell Medusa that Annabeth isn’t usually like that and that what had just happened was a lot. But the gorgon is more concerned about Annabeth betraying Percy. She says she finds herself protective of him because his mother and her are like sisters of a sort. They were both targeted by the same monster aka Poseidon. Percy notes that Sally never spoke of his father that way and in response Medusa asks where she is and if she’s safe. He has no choice but to answer no.

Then she asks if he trusts his friends to help keep Sally safe or if they’ll let him make her safe if it conflicts with the quest, she doesn’t give him an opportunity to answer before offering to remove them from the equation so that he can be free of them. When she turns from the stove and notices that Percy is gone, Medusa removes her hat, revealing her eyes and her snakes for hair.

She searches her house for the trio who are hiding together in the basement where she keeps all the people she’s turned to stone. Grover has on the red Converse Luke gave Percy. In the middle of devising a plan he says, “Maia,” forgetting that uttering the word triggers the shoes. They carry him away leaving Annabeth and Percy to come up with their own plan on the fly. Medusa declares that the two kids have chosen to be like their parents. Annabeth is self-righteous and Percy didn’t stand up for someone he loves. To be fair, this is all happening in about as much time as it takes to finish those glasses of lemonade she gave them so she is very quick to judge. 

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS - "Episode 103” (Disney/David Bukach) WALKER SCOBELL /

After being spotted, Percy stands up with his eyes closed. Medusa walks up to him and very nearly touches his hair but then Grover flies into the scene causing a commotion and landing on a statue that breaks beneath him. The unintended distraction gives Annabeth enough time to take off her invisibility cap and place it on Medusa’s head. She tells Percy to take a swing with his sword and it slices through the gorgon’s neck.

Percy finds Medusa’s head and goes to take it outside. Annabeth reminds him to point it in the right direction before he takes off the cap. She’s worried about his safety as he uses the head to turn Alecto into stone but he’s successful and the pathway out is open to them now. They find Grover still in the basement, he’s found his Uncle Ferdinand, the explorer he'd mentioned to them. He’d been turned to stone but he didn’t look afraid and it’s clear that’s important to Grover.

The trio need to leave but first they have to figure out what to do with Medusa’s head since it’s too dangerous for it to be left unattended. Percy suggests they bury it with the cap on. Surprisingly, Annabeth agrees but then the two start arguing about the things they’ve been keeping from one another. Annabeth doesn’t like that she had to hear from Medusa that Percy’s mother is still alive and she wants to know what he’s even doing on this quest. He answers that Sally is with Hades and then questions why he had to hear from Alecto that Annabeth had received some kind of offer.

Frustrated, Grover interrupts. He reminds Percy that the cap is Annabeth’s only connection to Athena so it’s important to her and that should matter to him. To Annabeth, he basically says to cut Percy some slack. He just found out his mother is alive and that it must be difficult to be put in a position where he may have to choose between the fate of the world and the one person who’s ever really cared about him.

All day, Grover points out, he’s been trying to keep their quest on track while considering their feelings and not upsetting either of them but perhaps that’s not going to help them move forward so it’s time for things to get a little upsetting. He presses Percy to answer Annabeth’s question from earlier, “What are you so afraid of?”

Finally, Percy answers. He tells Grover that the oracle said one of the two of them is going to betray him. At this time I would like to remind you, dear reader, that that’s not what the oracle said. She said that he’ll be betrayed “by the one who calls you friend” which leaves the door open for a plot twist, just saying.

In any case, Percy does share that last bit of the prophecy with them and says that he chose Annabeth because he couldn’t imagine them ever being friends and that he chose Grover because he thought that if he could count on anyone to be on his side, no matter what, it would be him but now Percy feels alone and doesn’t know what to think or who to trust.

Seeing that his comment bothered Annabeth, he says that he didn’t mean it that way. She tells him that Alecto offered to help with the quest if she gave him up to her but she chose to kill her sister. Percy admits that Medusa offered to help save his mom if he turned on them and he chose to cut off her head. Grover points out that they didn’t choose to be demigods and none of them chose this quest, but they can decide that they’re not going to be alone as long as they have each other.

As for what to do with Medusa’s head, Percy has a hilarious and, yes, impertinent idea much to Grover and Annabeth’s horror. He wants to ship the gorgon’s head to Olympus since you’re supposed to send dangerous things back to where they came from and she is a product of a goddess’ wrath. To calm Annabeth he tells her she should think of it as a tribute since Medusa has serious beef with Athena and the gorgon was trying to get in the way of their quest. Plus, now she can keep a piece of her mom. Grover’s protests are soothed by Percy starting up the consensus song. This kid has jokes and I love it! 

So off Medusa’s head goes via Hermes Express to the Empire State building aka Olympus carried by the god of travelers himself to the 600th floor. Percy thoughtfully wrote, “with best wishes, Percy Jackson,” on the label. When the elevators open on Olympus Causeway, Hermes steps out and says, “You guys are not gonna believe this.” 

The song “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross plays us out of the episode and, no, we don’t get to see Olympus just yet. Catch y’all back here for episode 4, “I Plunge to My Death,” on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024!

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