Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 7 recap: Hades isn't the Big Bad after all

Jay Duplass as Hades in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+.
Jay Duplass as Hades in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

The opening of Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 7, “We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of,” is giving ‘70s as our hero finds himself walking into a discount mattress store and being greeted by a man in a lime green suit.  Turns out that’s his brother, Procrustes, though he is not heroic at all. He may be a son of Poseidon, but he’s also a murderer of travelers. He prefers to be called, “Crusty,” so file that unfortunate nickname away to be respectful. 

Crusty tries to get Percy to sit on a water bed, but he’s aware that’s a trap and he’s not here for the shenanigans. He’s here on a mission and it’s to use the secret passageway to the Underworld that Crusty has been left to guard. This salesman is not forthcoming and would rather continue trying to pitch Percy his wares since they teach demigods where they “fit.”

Being a demigod in the world means being stretched and broken to fit the mythic realm and how the gods want them to be but the water beds don’t do that. You can  just fit into them. The kid friendly horror vibes are jumping out in this scene especially after Annabeth pushes Crusty onto one of the beds once Percy tells him he should try one first. Crusty gets wrapped up like a snug bug in a rug once he lands on the bed and the covers trap him.

When Crusty starts mouthing off about how Percy won’t be able to save his mom and that he wouldn’t be the first person to try to bring someone back from the Underworld and fail, Annabeth gets super protective and a tad threatening. She tells Crusty that he’s lucky they’re letting him keep his head (shout out to Medusa!).

Ever the pacifist, Grover waited until after the hubbub was over to enter the shop. The trio stand before a door marked, “Do Not Enter. I love the subtle humor in this show, it’s aces. They’re in a cramped office space which ends up being good because opening the door stresses Grover out enough for him to be picking at his horns, a bad habit that he needs to break. Annabeth, ever thoughtful, hands him a stress ball for some relief.

The trio also split the orbs Percy was given which are their tickets out of the Underworld. He thinks it’s safer if he’s not the one holding them all, and that’s very smart. It’s true that they don’t know what’s down there and anything could happen. While they don’t plan on leaving each other, it’s better to have the option if something were to go horribly wrong. Though I will say, putting them in his jacket pocket isn’t that secure. At least put them in the jean pocket, Percy!

Interestingly, after our heroes descend toward the Underworld, the episode flashes us back to that moment we caught a glimpse of in episode 6, “We Take a Zebra to Vegas.” Percy is about seven years old and he’s sitting in the car with Sally. She makes a reference to the Wizard of Oz and when he doesn’t catch it, she realizes she has a movie she needs to show him. I love Sally, I feel like you should know that. Top tier mom. Anyway, the two get into it over Percy not wanting to go to the best school for kids with learning differences. Sally looks stressed as it is so this is not a good time for Percy’s stubbornness. 

Sally calmly but firmly explains to him that sometimes she has to make decisions that are good for him even if he doesn’t understand why she’s doing it. In one of the best “mom” voices I’ve ever heard, after Percy locks the passenger side door,  Sally makes it clear that this isn’t up for discussion and that the only thing in question is how ugly he’s going to make this situation before they say goodbye. 

It seems we’re going to get this flashback in pieces though because we cut to Grover closing the door to the secret entrance now that they’ve made it to the Underworld. When I say it is desolate. Percy makes the same, “We’re not in Kansas,” reference that his mom did years ago and Annabeth, she of the lack of pop culture knowledge, misses it by a mile as she tells him to focus because they left Kansas four days ago.


The Underworld and Annabeth's hidden regret

The trio spot Charon, the boatman, who is leading the new arrivals to the river Styx. This means the secret entrance has placed them just outside of the main gate. Their plan is to get to the gate before the boatman. Remember, Annabeth giveth and she can taketh away. Grover didn’t have his stress relief ball for long before she confiscated it since it squeaks and he’s been squeezing the poor thing since they got to the Underworld.

Cutting through the line of deceased people waiting to be seen, our heroes get to the front just in time for Charon to spot them. He makes the astute statement that they’re not dead. The boatman is unamused by Percy’s declaration that they’re all dying in some way, and is doubly unimpressed with the offering of drachma as payment for crossing. Therefore, he summons Cerberus with a dog whistle to go after them because they are not supposed to be there.

It’s a terrifying chase through the fog until Annabeth tells them to diverge to divide the giant three-headed dog’s attention. Percy pulls out his sword, but it’s not needed. She’s used Cerberus’ brief distraction to her advantage and is subduing him with a good pet session. Getting scratched makes Hades’ guard dog sleepy, and he decides to lay down for a nap. 

If you were wondering where Grover went, well, he had the unfortunate experience of being in Cerberus’ mouth but at least he’s alive and okay despite being covered in saliva. Grover’s reaction? “You are a bad, bad dog.”

Annabeth can’t keep him distracted for long but it’s enough time for Grover to use the winged Converse to get him and Percy to the top of the cliff-side. She gets herself up to the side of the cliff by chucking the stress relief ball up for Percy to catch which shifts Cerberus’ focus to him as the dog leaps after it and misses, falling back to the ground. Grover and Percy pull her to safety and then she chucks the ball into the water below, proving that a dog will be a dog no matter how big they are because Cerberus chases after it. Her father had a dog, so she remembered how to best interact with them.

As Percabeth take note of Hades’ upside down palace in the sky, Grover is looking suspicious in the back as he digs around in his pockets. And the thing we all knew would happen, happens. I’m sure we all guessed one of these kids would lose the pearl that would get them out of the Underworld and Grover has been revealed to be that unlucky person. He believes it's in the dog, so they’re definitely not getting that back. They don’t know what they’re going to do about this, but they don’t really have time to pause so they go to the palace.

Cue another flashback. Apparently, Percy’s registration at the school has been withdrawn because of a concern over a drawing of his that led his previous school’s counselor to reach out. You’d think he drew something disturbing with the way the head of this school is acting but all Percy drew was a Pegasus. There’s also an incident concerning Percy being on the gym roof and talking about having seen something up there. To be honest, this is just not enough to deny a child entry, especially with the excuse that the school is not equipped to help a student like him that needs “psychological monitoring.”

The audacity of this man to do this after Sally had already withdrawn Percy from his previous school because he had a place at this new one! And then to suggest that she homeschool him after asking where Percy’s supposed to go. Y’all, my blood was boiling and Percy had to hear that and see his mom push for him to be treated with the same respect other children are given by not being dis-enrolled for some bogus reason.

Cut to the present where our trio are making their way through the Underworld’s forest. Grover won’t let the topic of him losing the pearl go, and states that he should be the one to stay behind since he lost his pearl. Percy won’t hear of it. Grover didn’t lose it on purpose and even if he were somehow responsible, Percy’s going to make sure his friend gets out of this place, so he gives him another pearl. He’s choosing to sacrifice his pearl, so that they and his mother can leave. Percy doesn’t have a plan for how he’s going to get out though so that’s a definite worry on my mind.

Again, with the horror vibes, the kids come across Asphodel. The souls in this area are haunted by the choices they made, or never made, while alive. They’re literally bound by their regret, rooted to the earth. They don’t get much time to spend discussing it because Cerberus is somewhere in the woods. Percy and Grover take off, but Annabeth can’t move. When they notice, they turn back and can see that a root has wrapped around her leg. She’s experiencing a regret of some kind and Asphodel is responding to her feelings.

When Grover asks what she’d have to regret, Annabeth doesn’t answer and instead tries to get Percy to stop fruitlessly pulling at the root so they can go on without her. I haven’t mentioned my sneaking suspicion that she was the one to steal the Master Bolt but here’s where I think it was pretty much confirmed without it being said outright. 

She takes out her pearl, telling him that it’ll work and she’ll be okay. She trusts Poseidon. Annabeth reassures Percy that he can do this, and she urges them both to go, so she can distract Cerberus. Once they’re clear, she uses the pearl and blinks out of the woods though it’s obvious Percy doesn’t quite trust it and this wasn’t how he wanted things to go.

Jay Duplass as Hades in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

The dots are dotting but not in the way Percy and Grover initially think

Cerberus chased them for a while but stopped once they reached the desert. Percy and Grover both find it weird but that’s the least of their concern once the Converse Grover is wearing seem to develop a mind of their own and start forcing him forward to a gaping pit that begins to drag them both toward it until Percy uses his sword as an anchor. The shoes get pulled off his feet, thank goodness, but when they fall backward they both hear a metallic thump. Lo and behold, the Master Bolt is in Percy’s backpack…well, Ares’ bag. 

He’d given it to them, so Grover and Percy work out that Ares had the Master Bolt the entire time and tricked them. As I’ve said before, I haven’t read the Percy Jackson books (yet), but this once again feels like it’s too easy, so I’m not convinced Ares stole the bolt (or at least not on his own). I love Annabeth but it’s suspicious that they’ve only discovered that they’ve been carrying the bolt the entire time once she’s no longer with them.

They think Ares has been conspiring with Hades. The quest was to return the Master Bolt to Zeus so they don’t have to go to the Underworld palace now that they have it. But Grover, being a great friend, tells Percy that Zeus is going to have to wait because they’re going to get Sally.

In the past, Sally and Percy are sitting in a sad looking cafe. It sounds like Sally was able to work things out with the school that didn’t want to take him. She doesn’t want to spend their remaining time together upset like this, but Percy asks her why she’s doing this, why she’s sending him away. He thinks she’s trying to get rid of him and tells her that he would never do that to her. This, of course, breaks Sally’s heart because she isn’t trying to get rid of her son, she’s trying to take care of him the best way she knows how. But she doesn’t have an answer for him, so she kisses his head and goes to go pay so he can’t see her start to fall apart.

In the present, Percy and Grover have made it to Hades’ stone palace. The place is so massive that it dwarfs them and the King of the Underworld whose shoes click against the floor as he walks to welcome them to his abode. He skips past the pleasantries as does Percy who asks for his mother. Percy wants to know where she is, so Hades leads them to an area behind his throne. There Sally is, as a golden statue, in what looks like the god’s resting area/office.

Hades wants a quid quo pro. He’ll give Percy what he has if the demigod gives him what he wants, that’s the entire reason he “snagged” Sally in the first place. But Percy says he can’t give him the bolt because it doesn’t belong to him. He tells Hades that his plan almost worked, but it’s wrong so the only thing he can do is ask the god to do the right thing and give him his mother.

It’s a good speech, but Hades has no idea what Percy is talking about. He’s not in “kahoots” with Ares about anything. He doesn’t want Zeus’ bolt; he wants his Helm of Darkness. Someone used it to turn invisible to steal the bolt—Annabeth, girl, I could be wrong but…it’s not looking good for you here. When Hades says that he doesn’t do jealousy nor does he want a war, something sparks for Percy. It’s not my theory about Annabeth but rather that this was all done by Kronos.

The titan has been holding the longest grudge of them all because of what Zeus did to him. Percy believes he’s the one who has been pulling the strings the entire time. Hades knows Kronos to be in pieces at the bottom of Tartarus–remember that hole that nearly pulled Percy and Grover in–but something was pulling on the bolt once it sensed they had it. It’s also the place where Percy has been hearing a voice in his dreams. Kronos has been trying to recruit him.

Our young hero’s deduction is compelling enough for Hades to tell him to ask him for sanctuary. He says he’ll protect Percy, Sally, and Grover (who he rudely refers to as a goat). But it’s still going to be a transaction. Now he’s asking for the bolt, not because he wants it but because he needs it for the war that’s possibly coming. In a call back to what Sally told seven year old Percy, Hades says, “This only ends one way, the only question is how difficult you make it.”

It was the wrong thing to say to someone who is as stubborn as Percy is and who doesn’t have an emotional connection to him. Percy takes one look at his mom and tells the god no. He’s going to go get his helm and then Hades is going to let Sally go. Grover and Percy use their pearls to leave the Underworld with the latter telling his mom to “Hold fast.”

Toby Stephens as Poseidon in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Image: Disney+. /

Poseidon arrives

Cue our final flashback to the past for this episode. Still struggling with the emotional toll of what she has to do, Sally summons Poseidon by lighting a half eaten ice cream dessert on fire. It immediately begins to rain and then the sea god enters. Quick note, I’m still not a fan, but Sally needs a sounding board so I won’t begrudge his presence…much.

During their conversation, Sally tries to convince herself that sending Percy to Camp Half-Blood is the decision she should be making. At camp she knows he will be safe. Her child seeing a Pegasus is only the beginning, at some point dangerous and terrifying creatures will take note of him and she’s worried that if he stays with her, she could be putting him at risk.

Poseidon knows that Sally doesn’t want to send Percy to camp and says as much, so this scene starts giving confessional real quick when he gently nudges her to tell him why she doesn’t want to send Percy away. Sally has no one to talk to about this which the god recognizes is unfair, so he’ll be her ear. She admits that she doesn’t want her son around the sea god’s family before he knows who he is. They’ll try to shape him into what they want him to be, and she knows Percy is better than that. So Poseidon tells her that she has her answer.

Percy’s going to go to school like Sally wants, but it will be hard for them both as he learns things that she can’t teach him. Percy will be stronger for the trials he’s going to have to bear for this decision. He also says, “His mother raised him well,” which strikes a chord with Sally. She asks does he want to see Percy to at least hear his voice. Poseidon looks at his son while they talk but he doesn’t go over, instead he assures her that one day he’ll be right by Percy’s side when he knows who he is, where he belongs, and his true path is revealed.

Presumably, that day is fast approaching since Percy and Grover wash up on a beach where Annabeth is. She helps Percy up and then the trio take in Ares who is headed toward them with a sword in hand, so our hero draws his own.

Who’s ready for the season 1 finale? Percy Jackson and the Olympians first season concludes on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 9 p.m. ET on Disney+.