Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 5 recap: A thrilling ride into friendship

"A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers" cements Percabeth's friendship and shows solid growth away from the Pantheon's bad behavior. The kids will be alright!


Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 5, “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers,” picks up where left off at the end of episode 4. Our young hero resurfaces miles away from the St. Louis Arch but still in view of it. He can see smoke coming from the landmark’s peak and what must be a news helicopter flying toward it to cover the incident.

Back at the Arch, city police, EMTs, and fire trucks are in the middle of a chaotic scene as those who’d been inside the building look on and discuss what happened. While Grover is concerned that the human authorities suspect that he, Annabeth, and Percy had something to do with this mess, Annabeth spots the Fates–Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. They’re sitting on a bench appearing as old women busy knitting and keeping an eye on the duo. Atropos looks right at Annabeth as she snips a piece of blue thread with golden scissors. Yes, my mind did immediately go to Disney’s Hercules but that’s not the story being told here.

Annabeth tells Grover that they need to go find Percy. He’s skeptical, but she says she knows that Percy is alive, so he follows her away from the scene. They find Percy just as he’s hopping onto the pier from the river. As he’s rambling off an apology for pushing Annabeth in the stairwell because he knew she wouldn’t agree to him essentially sacrificing himself, she embraces him, surprising herself and Percy in the process.

Grover, who’s just as relieved that his friend is alive, keeps the conversation going as Annabeth lingers in the hug before letting go. Instead of explaining what happened like Grover asked, Percy cuts straight to the point. They need to get to Santa Monica, California because Poseidon is going to meet him there. Apparently, the sea god is going to help them. I will reserve judgment, but Poseidon isn’t off my list yet so I’m watching you, buddy, be good to your boy!

Due to the cops thinking that this trio of kids crashed an Amtrak train, then set fire to and blew a hole through the top of the Arch, their days of easy travel are over. Our heroes are in their fugitive era now, so that means walking. That’s a good inducer for reflection because Percy finally catches on to the fact that their quest is a difficult one. They don’t know who stole the Master Bolt and why they did it. They also don’t know how deep this situation goes.

Plunging to his near death brought Percy some clarity. His eyes have been opened, and he’s in awe that his father saved him. He never thought Poseidon would do that for him, so he’s thinking he should take things more seriously now. Again, that’s a great position to have but, as someone who has not read the books, I have no idea if Percy should be flipping more positively toward his dad or not. These Greek gods so far? Terrible parents. I urge caution.

Adam Copeland as Ares in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

Ares has a proposition for our heroes

When they spot a bike down the road, the kids hide behind a Jersey barrier as they wait for it to pass. Percy, ever prone to calling out odd behavior, asks Annabeth why she’s being weird with him again when he thought they weren’t doing that anymore. She’s been off since they left the Arch. He assumes that it’s because they hugged which he doesn’t see as a big deal because they’re friends now and embracing seems like a thing that friends do, but she promptly corrects him. It’s because she saw the Fates.

She’s concerned because Atropos cut a piece of thread, and since the Fates weave the life thread of every living thing, if you see a string cut it means someone is going to die. In their case, one of the three of them. It’s meant to be a warning. Percy, still unaccustomed to the mythical world, doesn’t believe that “three old ladies with a ball of yarn” can know what’s going to happen. He states that what he chooses to do will change what happens and he can choose to do anything he wants. Clearly, Percy isn’t someone who believes that someone’s fate is written in stone or impossible to overcome.

Their conversation is interrupted by the man on the motorcycle who asks if they need help. When they try to send him on, he says they obviously do need assistance since they’re behind schedule and the summer solstice is days away. After he refers to himself as Percy's “big cousin,” Annabeth figures out that he’s Ares, the god of war. She questions why he would help them, and he shares that he’s looking for the Master Bolt, too, and that Zeus has sent all his children looking for it as well. I wonder if Ares has done the same and if that means we’ll be seeing Clarisse again this season.

Ares gives them a choice. If they want his help, they’ll meet him at the diner up the road. When they get there, the god is in the middle of starting a fight on Twitter. In front of him is a plate stacked high with fries and another stacked with cheeseburgers. Once he’s done inciting a social media feud, he clues them into why he thinks their mission is going to fail. 

It turns out Percy’s stepfather with the apt surname considering his spirit, Gabe Ugliano, has been telling the news that he has always been troubled and that he’s responsible for his mother’s disappearance. The FBI have been spreading Percy’s picture around which means that their chances of making it to Los Angeles without getting arrested are laughably low. 

Annabeth questions why Ares is sitting with them instead of looking for the Master Bolt. He replies that it doesn’t matter if the bolt is found or not. Zeus is going to go to war with Poseidon. That throws the trio for a loop because, according to the Oracle, if the bolt is returned there wouldn’t be war. Ares pokes a hole in that statement by asking whether that’s what the Oracle said or if it's what Chiron said that she meant. Seeing that they need a rundown of Greek mythology, Ares style, he gives them the family history.

Kronos, his grandfather, ate Ares’ aunts and uncles. Then Zeus, his dad, made him puke them back up before he chopped up Kronos and put him into a bottomless pit, setting the tone for how Olympians would treat each other. He tells them that the gods fight, betray, and back stab to get ahead. Disturbingly, but on brand, that’s why Ares loves his family. So, Zeus isn’t worried about this goose chase that everyone is running around on, he’s aware that a war is coming and that he’s fine with it. That it’s time for a war and that’s just what’s going to happen.

Despite Ares’ words, Percy asserts that they’re going to complete their quest and stop the war, and pushes for the god to help them like he said he would. Ares puts forth a deal. He left his shield at the amusement park up the road. If they can get him his shield, he’ll make sure to get them to the Underworld by lunch the following day and devise a plan for them to invade Hades’ palace. Rightfully, Annabeth is skeptical about the “left his shield” part of this story.

Annoyed, Ares informs her that her “chirping” (and likely fearlessness in front of him) is getting old and then asks the three if they have a deal or if he’s killing them so he can eat in peace. The audacity! Percy agrees but Ares has a catch. He’s going to keep Grover with him as collateral so they don’t run off without giving him his shield. Annabeth and Percy aren’t about it, but Grover agrees because if Ares wanted to kill them, he would have already.

Before Annabeth and Percy set off, our heroine warns the satyr not to let Ares get into his head and to not engage with him. Grover assures them that it’s okay and that he knows what he’s doing. I’m intrigued to find out what exactly Grover’s plan is while stuck with Ares.

Percy and Annabeth grow closer and have a devastating choice to make

At Waterland, which looks like it’s straight out of a horror movie to Percy, Annabeth shares that she’s never seen a film before which takes Percy by surprise. It’s now on the agenda for them to fix if they survive their quest. That’s quickly put to the test when Percy steps into the full height turnstile which triggers the shredder hanging from above. It’s a terrifying sight but at least Annabeth knows what’s going on.

The machine is made of celestial bronze, the same metal Percy’s sword is made of. It’s harmless to humans as it will pass right through them but monsters and demigods aren’t so lucky. She deduces that Hephaestus, the god of fire and craftsmen, must have built this park. Showcasing that she’s definitely Athena’s daughter, Annabeth figures out that the shredder isn’t meant to hurt them but to scare them. It’s fine to push through the turnstile, this was simply a test. 

On the other side, above the turnstile, is a ticker that logs that two people have entered Waterland. It’s meant to track how many of their kind have decided to poke around in his amusement park.

Back at the diner, Grover tells Ares that they’ve met before at the solstice on Olympus. The god assumes that he was a protester, but Grover says he wasn’t protesting and that he’s a fan of his. Considering satyrs don’t eat meat, sing songs about their feelings, and worship flowers, he’s doubtful Grover is actually admires him.

Our hero reminds Ares that satyrs are children of Nature and that it can be brutal. He mentions “red in tooth and claw” which is another way to say brutal. It’s a saying that refers to “the desire to inflict pain and suffering on others.” 

Grover respects that Ares is the champion of that way of life which Nature can slip into as well. When the god mockingly asks him if he’s a World War II buff, Grover says that he prefers the Turbot War, the Lobster War, and the Three Hundred and Thirty-Five Years War. Those are Ares’ deep cuts and least bloody wars. This conversation is like a fan talking to an artist about their “more mellower” tracks. I can’t. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is peak subtle comedy.

The god is amazed by Grover’s interest in overwhelming force and a quick surrender. No one talks about those wars anymore, but he believes that they should. I sense a Jedi mind trick going on in this diner tonight. Now Ares is actually interested in where he and Grover met. Got him!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 5

For once, Annabeth is the one distracted while she and Percy walk through Waterland. She’s in awe of Hephaestus’ craftsmanship, but Percy’s trying to puzzle out why the god of war would have even been here. They’re supposed to be enemies. Unfortunately, Percy is about to get a crash course in the gods’ messy romantic affairs. It only takes him and Annabeth a moment to realize that Ares had met Aphrodite, the goddess of love and Hephaestus’ wife, at the amusement park. They must have gotten caught and he had to leave in a hurry, which is why he left his shield.

When they come up on the Thrill Ride O’ Love, it blinks to life. Its lights come on and the music starts. Annabeth believes that it’s where the two lovers got caught, it’s so on the nose it makes sense for the two since they were bold enough to carry on in Hephaestus’ park. I’m not going to lie, I cackled when “What Is Love” by Haddaway began playing as Percabeth are making their way through the tunnel of love in a boat. Percy heard it in an orthodontist’s; this show is can so unserious, I love it.

On the tunnel walls, a beautifully crafted projection of Hephaestus’ story plays out. It depicts the god’s rejection by Hera, his mother, and Aphrodite, his wife. Percy tells Annabeth that his mom told him the story and that she said this is what the gods are like to each other. As he reflects, he realizes that Sally was trying to keep him away from the Pantheon. But now he’s beginning to think that they were right, she should have prepared him. 

Annabeth, however, has changed her tune about that now. She thinks that Sally might have been preparing Percy so that when he did some day meet his god family, he’d be different from them. It’s food for thought, but it’s going to have to wait because the tunnel suddenly starts living up to its thrilling name. Don’t be surprised if it winds up being an attraction at one of Disney’s many parks in the future.

As soon as they pop out into a new chamber, they clock Ares’ shield which is being held by a golden statue. They have to make a jump for it into the water before their boat is wrecked at the end of the room. The pair are nearly parted by the ride’s strong current, but Percy uses his powers and they manage to land on the statue’s platform. He’s not sure how he ended up doing that but at least they’re not drowning.

Back at the diner, Grover is putting up with Ares’ talk about not liking kids. He hates his kids less than the others, but he’s not that fond of the youth. To him, the winter solstice–when everyone’s children show up to do their presentation–is the worst night of the year. Grover puts forth that maybe one of the demigods at this year’s festivities took it, but Ares hand waves that idea away. Plenty of people hate Zeus, it could have been anyone.

Grover points out that many people could try but there aren’t many that could pull it off. He thinks it could have been someone Hades selected to do the job. It would have to be someone who could slip away without being missed, who is bold enough to cross the sky god, and is very stealthy. Ares shuts him down, saying that Grover is as bad as his sister. He’s talking about Athena here since our young hero is trying to solve this mystery. Intrigued, Grover asks if Athena was always the kind of person who would make things more complicated than needed so it appears as if she’s smarter than her brother.

It’s a gamble that works out for Grover as the god thanks him for seeing what he’s always seen. Cue Ares’ rant about Athena and her owl. He says people only want to see what fits the narrative they tell themselves, and Grover agrees while claiming that Ares found the lightning thief and not Athena. This pulls the god up short since they both know Percy didn’t steal it. Grover knows that, but Zeus thinks that Poseidon’s son stole it and that’s all that matters. To be honest, at this point in “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers,” I no longer know what our lovable satyr is up to.

Meanwhile, Percy is filling Annabeth in on what the golden chair is. It was a gift to Hera, a tricky one. Once she sat in it, she couldn’t get up. The gods tried to help her, but to no avail. Then, Aphrodite was offered to Hephaestus as his wife on the condition that he let his mother go. Percy tells Annabeth that the chair is the bargain. Only one of them can claim the shield, the other has to remain in the chair. She volunteers as tribute but is immediately stopped by Percy.

Though she protests, he reminds her that he chose her because he needed someone on the team who wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice him if the quest required it. Though it’s only been a few days, it looks like Annabeth isn’t that person anymore. She argues that the Oracle and the gods chose him, but Percy tells her that she’s better at questing than he is, and she knows that. He can’t see how there’s any other outcome than the one that’s been presented to them, so he gives her his pen sword. It’s a very emotional moment. Walker Scobell and Leah Sava Jeffries were acting. Kudos to them!

Before Percy can finish asking Annabeth to promise him something, she says that she’s not leaving the Underworld without his mom. Ugh, these kids. Right in the feels. He thanks her, but he was actually going to ask her if she could swing back after the quest to see if she can get him out of the chair. And I’m going to quote this next part because my heart!

Annabeth: You think you had to ask?

Percy: I’m just making sure.

Percabeth fans, I get it. The dynamic just hits. Y’all have been riding for them for nearly 20 years, and I understand.

Percy sits in the chair, and in the most upsetting sequence thus far since Sally disintegrated before our eyes, Annabeth begs him to stand up as the chair takes hold of him, but he can’t. He reassures her that he’s okay, his voice getting softer until the gold completely covers his body and he becomes a statue. 

Timothy Omundson as Hephaestus in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

Annabeth's growth is the key to saving Percy

Once the process is complete, Ares’ shield falls from the hands of the statue, but Annabeth doesn’t pick it up. Instead, she starts trying to understand the chair’s gears. It’s a machine, and she’s excellent at understanding how things work. But Hephaestus appears from a side door at the top of a balcony. He tries to hurry her on, summoning a ladder for her to climb up and be on her way, but she’s not going to leave without Percy.

He tells her that it can’t be undone, but she won’t give up, so she asks the god to leave her alone if he’s not going to help her. She needs to focus. He doesn’t leave. Instead, he appeals to her dedication to Athena. He knows what her mother is like. She will be proud if Annabeth walks out with the shield. She’ll be declared a hero on her way to her greatest glory, and Athena will forgive her. But Annabeth has grown. Power and glory don’t mean as much to her anymore. She says that they shouldn’t come at the expense of everything else.

She recognizes that Percy isn’t like the Pantheon; he’s better. There was a time that she was like the gods, but she doesn’t want to be like them anymore. Moved by her speech, Hephaestus frees Percy and admits that some of the gods don’t want to be like they have been for centuries either. He says that she’s a good kid, and that he’ll put in a good word with her mom for her.

With the shield in hand, Percy and Annabeth enter the diner and give it to Ares. Funnily enough though, because this is a story that keeps on giving, their ride is in a truck labeled “Kindness International” and it contains live animals. Ares doesn’t want to hear a peep from the trio about their ride, it’s headed to the Lotus Casino in Las Vegas where Hermes will be. If they play their cards right they’ll be able to make use of the god’s personal driver who can get them to LA in minutes.

Ares also gives them a bag full of clothes and money, as well as drachmas to summon Hermes. He won’t wish them luck because he thinks they’ll fail. And, because he’s the worst and loves to provoke a fight, he tells Percy that Poseidon will eventually lose interest. The sea god has had plenty of kids, so he won't be in lacking company when it comes to demigods his father has disappointed. Having had enough, Percy confronts him over continuously telling them they’re going to fail. He lodges a threat against the god of war, telling him that he doesn’t know him, but he will find out if he’s not careful. Tell him, Percy, let him know! Grover intervenes so there’s no fight but there’s bound to be one down the line.

In the truck, Grover reveals he knows who stole the Master Bolt, but we’re not getting that answer in this episode, y’all! Sorry! See you next Tuesday, Jan. 16 for “We Take a Zebra to Vegas.”

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