Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 6 recap: Hermes runs out the clock

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hermes in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+.
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hermes in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

We’re returned to Percy Jackson and the Olympians in the middle of Percy dreaming about Yancy Academy’s principal scolding the lightning thief. It’s an interesting opening for episode 6, “We Take a Zebra to Vegas,” as it appears that he’s peering into a moment that he’s not supposed to. While his former principal certainly isn’t the person who’s been pulling the strings of this mess, he is acting as a stand-in for who is.

This person had given the thief the tools to steal the Master Bolt but somehow it had been stolen from said thief. While that mistake has been corrected, it does mean that the mastermind intends on replacing this person if they cannot get their act together. Their concern centers on the war that’s set to happen outside of the one that’s primed to start between Poseidon and Zeus. It’s at this point in the dream that the principal notices Percy by the doorway.

There seems to be an implication that he is the one this person is considering to replace his current, for lack of a better term, minion with. We don’t get to see the thief because the door is in the way, but the principal tells Percy that it’s not time for them to meet yet and tells him to “run along” and show him what he’s capable of.

Percy wakes up in the truck he, Grover, and Annabeth are traveling in to Vegas. While Grover is busy peeping through a vent to see where they are, Annabeth is fiddling with a prism in order to call to Iris, goddess of the rainbow. Once she has a signal, and Percy tosses a coin into the light for payment, our heroine is able to contact Camp Half-Blood.

They intended on speaking to Chiron but he isn’t in his office, Luke is. He informs them that Chiron is trying to keep order at camp. With war approaching, the cabins are beginning to take sides which, of course, means trouble. He’s hoping they’re calling with good news and they do have some, though I’m suspicious because this seems far too easy.

Apparently, they’re under the impression that Clarisse stole the Master Bolt because Ares was trying to protect someone and who else would he protect other than his favorite daughter? To me that seems like a red herring, so I’m holding out for more information. But who stole the bolt isn’t this trio’s only worry. Percy brings up what he learned from his dream without delving into detail, all he knows is that this whole situation goes deeper than the bolt.

The conversation takes a turn toward humor after Luke asks what it was like meeting Ares. When Percy launches into everyone they’ve faced, he’s promptly corrected by Annabeth when he flubs what day each event happened. Seeing the exchange, Luke asks them, “When did you become an old married couple,” and that sound you hear is Percabeth shippers excited over their crumbs.

Percy quickly changes the subject but before he can bring up that they’re headed to Las Vegas to see Hermes, Luke’s father, Annabeth disrupts the signal and ends the call. She did so because the two don’t get along and Luke would try to convince them not to pay the god of travelers a visit. They don’t have the time to hash out that conversation so Annabeth avoided it entirely.

With that information sure to be useful later, the plot moves along to our heroes making a break for it with the animals from the truck. They had a plan to escape all they needed was thumbs to free them from their cages and avoid being trafficked by the truck drivers. It’s pure chaos on the streets of Vegas but Grover gave the animals a satyr’s blessing to ensure they make it to the wilderness. The humans encountering said animals…well, more power to them but that’s not his purview.

Time is wasted at the Lotus Casino

With “Levitating” by Dua Lipa leading us in, we’re introduced to the Lotus Casino and Hotel. The place is jumping as a crowd of people move from game table to game table, having fun and living their best lives. But the longer we linger on the casino’s patrons it becomes clear that some of them have been here for decades judging by their style of dress.

Annabeth lays down the ground rules. Their sole focus is on finding Hermes, getting him to give them a ride to Los Angeles as well as a plan to get into the Underworld, and then they need to leave the Lotus immediately. Before they step further into the casino, Grover asks if Percy’s mom, Sally, ever read him The Odyssey. He says, “the graphic novel,” which yes, Annabeth, is totally valid, don’t judge.

Grover is asking because in the epic poem, Odysseus comes across a group of men who have forgotten everything about themselves and those they knew. It’s important to note because they’re standing in the Lotus and it’s clear that this den of fun is the modern embodiment of that story. They can’t eat the lotus flowers but, as they’ll come to know soon, that’s not how one loses their memory in this establishment.

Though they’d previously decided not to split up, the trio have to detour from that plan due to the sheer size of the place. Annabeth directs Grover to search one side of the floor while she and Percy check the other since he doesn’t know what Hermes looks like. She also tells Grover not to say anything to Hermes if he finds him and to instead come back to get them so she can speak to the god. They’re supposed to meet back up in the lobby in 20 minutes but obviously that’s not going to happen.

Clocking the weird exchange between Annabeth and Grover, Percy asks what it is she can say to Hermes that Grover can’t. She explains that there are things their satyr protector doesn’t know about Luke and the situation between him and Hermes. Because Annabeth had been with Luke for a long time before they met Grover, she’d met her brother’s mom. The woman was a seer, a human who can see through the mist and glimpse things that haven’t happened yet. Luke blames Hermes for what happened to his mother, and Annabeth knows that the god would do anything to win his son back. She thinks helping them will be a start for Hermes to return to Luke’s good graces.

To be honest, I still don’t see how that’s reason enough for Grover not to speak to Hermes and the conversation that happens later in the episode doesn’t make that clearer either, so I’m chalking this up to this being what needs to happen for plot reasons.

“I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls plays as Grover spots Augustus, a friend of his Uncle Ferdinand. Going off the song and the outfit Augustus is wearing, it’s quite possible the adult satyr has been stuck in the Lotus since the ‘80s. Grover manages to jog the man’s memory as he tells him that he found his uncle and mentions Pan.

Augustus shares that he found the god of nature, or at least he almost has. The god, according to the satyr, is in the Lotus. All he’s needed is someone to help break through to Pan and now with Grover here, he can do that. It’s an exciting development but don’t get your hopes up.

Meanwhile, Annabeth and Percy seem to be continuing their heart-to-heart more than they are looking for Hermes. Annabeth shared about Luke, now it’s Percy’s turn to share about the dreams he’s been having. She gets terrifying dreams like he does, like all demigods do, but Percy notes that his latest one was different. He seemed to be eavesdropping in on the person who put this all in motion. 

Annabeth tells him he’s eavesdropping on Hades and Clarisse, but the thing that’s troubling Percy is that it seems getting Hades and Poseidon to fight is only one step in a larger plan. He’s not sure if his dream was real, but if it is then that means he’s becoming aware of a problem that not even the gods are aware of.

By opening up to Annabeth, he hoped to get some guidance, but she doesn’t know what it all means either. As she reminds him, she doesn’t know everything. I, however, think if she were given more than two seconds to process this news, she’d be able to have some feedback. Let it gestate, Percy, Annabeth needs time to puzzle it out!

For the time being, Annabeth tables their discussion since none of it is going to matter if they don’t get to Santa Monica to see his father. 

Checking back in with Grover, remember how I told you not to get your hopes up about this little adventure he’s going on with Augustus? Well, here’s why. Apparently, they were nearly there to where they’d find Pan in the casino but Augustus lost his memory again and, no, it wasn’t due to his snacking. Apparently, he’s been munching on nacho chips, not lotus flowers.

When Grover noticed, he turned, saying that he’s gotta go tell his friends. Or at least that’s what he would have said if he could remember who they are. Augustus leads him deeper into the casino and further away from Annabeth and Percy.

Hermes isn't helpful until the clock runs out

The latter duo find Hermes holding court at a game table. He welcomes them and already knows what they need his help for. He, however, isn’t going to provide them any assistance. Hermes has already told more than one demigod who has come calling, “No.” But as soon as Annabeth tells him they’re friends of his son Luke, he does take a private audience with them.

Unfortunately, it’s not to help the two heroes. The conversation is about why Hermes won’t assist. He recognizes that Annabeth was there the day Luke’s mom died. He’s aware that his son hates him and there’s nothing he can do about it. There’s an implication that every time he’s helped someone find the secret way into the Underworld, it’s gone disastrously wrong. 

Hermes also notes that he was warned to stay away from Luke and his mother, but he didn’t listen. His help ended up making things worse and the repercussions of that were awful for everyone. He has to carry that burden and know that loving someone doesn’t mean that they can break the cycle of hurting each other.

In a move that certainly crosses the line, Hermes touches Percy to drag him back to a memory from his childhood. It isn’t spelled out for the viewer, but it’s clear the moment is a hurtful one. Annabeth pulls back her hand before Hermes can do the same to her. His refusal to help causes her to leave, but Percy lingers.

Hermes reveals that it was Poseidon that warned him to stay away from Luke and his mom. The sea god hated watching Percy struggle, but he didn’t intervene because that’s what parenting is sometimes. This point is true and would be worth further discussion if Poseidon parented at all, but he has not so miss me with that, gillyweed. 

What Hermes says directly contradicts Poseidon’s decision to meet Percy in Santa Monica, which our hero points out, but Hermes explains that it’s very hard for a god to feel powerless, implying that Poseidon is breaking from his own advice because it’s difficult to stay away.

What really grinds my gears about this scene though is that Hermes wasn’t just wasting Percy and Annabeth’s time, he was running out the clock. He lords over space and time, and he has the ability to speed them through it if he so chooses. It’s now Thursday! Thank goodness Annabeth went invisible and picked Hermes’ pocket and stole the keys to his car which will transport them anywhere they want to go. They only need to find Grover who has been affected by the lotus scent that’s been pumping through the vents.

They spot Augustus who starts running away when they ask where Grover is. Undeterred, Percy chases after him, and even tackles him to get an answer. Grover is the middle of a VR session when they find him, and he does not know who they are or anything about their quest, but he’s willing to go with them anyway. He’d been searching for Pan and really thought he was close to finding him. I hope he finds him soon because this is one plot that’s starting to feel tacked on.

The trio finds Hermes’ car, which of course is a taxi. He’s left them an envelope full of instructions on how to get to the Underworld and explains that they’ll become travelers once they get on the road. The problem is none of them can drive but Percy’s the one who ends up behind the wheel and it is a DISASTER. They do manage to make it out alive though that would have been accomplished better if Percy wasn’t staring at Annabeth and paying attention to his surroundings like the truck that nearly took them out before they traveled.

They arrive at a Santa Monica beach in one piece, thankfully. And Grover gets his memories back. He’d lost more memories than his friends had and Annabeth deduces that it’s because she and Percy weren’t alone, they had each other. It’s easier to lose track of what’s important when you’re by yourself and you don’t have someone there to remind you.

Unfortunately, Percy doesn’t get to meet his father. The summer solstice had passed earlier in the evening and he had to go prepare for war. His envoy tells him that Poseidon had waited as long as he could. She was sent to tell Percy this and that his father is proud of him, but that it’s time for him to return to camp. Our young hero refuses because what’s happening is too important. The war is only the beginning, and he has to do something to stop it.

The envoy says that Percy is just like his father and that they all can see it. She gives him four orbs which will provide safe passage back from the Underworld. This is a gift because one is intended for Sally. Percy is given a directive, “Save the world and then go save your mother.”

The penultimate episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians will likely provide us with answers given its title, “We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of.” See you in the next recap!

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