The fourth episode of ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ brings us to the halfway point of the
eight-part series. The episode features Percy being attacked by another figure from Greek myth,
this time it’s Echidna, the mother of all monsters, who sends a fire-breathing Chimera to take
down the three questors.
There’s a lot to be said for an adaptation that’s faithful to the books, and I believe that sticking to
what the original creator wrote is a good way to go about bringing any story to the screen.
Sometimes, though, a deviation is a better option, and this was one of those times. The episode
is a straight up adaptation of a chapter from ‘The Lightning Thief’ where Percy is pursued by
Echidna and ends up jumping from the Gateway Arch into the Mississippi River to try and
It works OK in the book, but doesn’t add much to the overall story to justify being included in the
show. If it had just been a small part of one episode, it might have worked, but the entire
episode is devoted to this story. From the point of view of someone who’s read the books, it’s
nice to see it included, but more casual viewers might be left wondering what the point of it is.
It seems like they had to stretch the story out to fill the episode too. At only 33 minutes long, it’s
the shortest installment so far, but also the one that drags the most. There’s some action once
the Chimera finally gets loose, but a lot of time before that is spent on long dialogue-heavy
scenes, with an extended sequence on the train that wasn’t in the books. Despite the clear
danger posed by Echidna and her monster, the three heroes never feel like they’re running for
their lives. Most things happen at a languid pace, without much sense of threat or imminent
I’ve mentioned before how the series is deviating from the book by taking more time to build up
the characters of the main three, giving a more mature look at them than the book which was
written from the point of view of a twelve year old boy. This has been used to good effect before,
but in this episode it felt like it was being included at the expense of the story, sacrificing the
tension and action to put in moments of reflection and character building which felt out of place
given the circumstances.
It also lacked the humor of earlier episodes, which was a key part of Rick Riordan’s story.
There’s a memorable exchange in the book where Percy tells the mother of all monsters he
thought an Echidna was a type of anteater, to which she replies she’s always hated Australia for
that. This kind of dialogue was missing from the episode and it suffered for it. This wasn’t the
time or the place to get too serious, there’s time for that once they reach Hades, right now it
needed the snappy jokes and banter between characters that kept earlier episodes feeling
It’s often the case that a series can feel at its slowest in the middle, caught between the inertia
of a strong start and the climax of a well-executed ending, and seeing what’s coming up in
future episodes, there’s plenty to look forward to, but this was the least engaging episode so far
and could have been off putting for casual viewers. It also needs to be noted that this is a series
aimed at a young adult audience who could easily be distracted by other things if the series
doesn’t get back on track. Hopefully things will pick up in episode five and it will return to its key
strength: being fun to watch.