We’re now over halfway through our quest with Percy Jackson and the Olympians’s first season—and yet, the kids are still stuck in Missouri on their route from New York City to Los Angeles. Guys! That lightning bolt isn’t going to find itself. Get moving.
After the fight with Echidna (Suzanne Cryer) and her beastly pet in the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Annabeth (Leah Jeffries) and Grover (Aryan Simhadri) have somehow escaped her monstrous clutches. They haven’t, however, skirted their way out of the law quite yet, seeing as the police are now hunting down anyone with any insight on the attack on the Arch. Annabeth and Grover flee the scene, but at this point, they should consider fleeing the country, too.
Grover wants to see if Percy (Walker Scobell) is still alive after his huge fall, but Annabeth is too fixated on a trio of old ladies sitting by the arch to care. He drags her away to a nearby dock and, sure enough, Percy climbs out of the Mississippi River. The boy who lived! He apologizes for taking over in the fight with Echidna, but both of his pals rush to hug him. “You’re not as dead as we thought you’d be,” Grover says to celebrate.
And then Percy cries, “Surprise!” He gives them the intel he learned from his father’s assistant (or whoever that was; we’ll probably find out later) underwater. They need to go to Santa Monica, where Poseidon will meet them—but Percy is getting ahead of himself. Right now, they just need to get away from the cops, so they simply…walk away from the crime scene. It’s that easy!
The trio have resorted to a long walk to Los Angeles, seeing as fugitive children probably can’t purchase airline or train tickets. On the way, Percy admits that he’s fully invested in this quest after getting some very vague communication from his father. Grover agrees, but Annabeth is lost in thought. After Percy accuses her of acting weird, Annabeth admits that she saw the Three Fates, and that Atropos—one of the trio, who, together, “weave the life of every living thing”—cut a string of thread. According to Annabeth, that means one of them is going to die.
Percy disagrees with Annabeth, but as he does so, we hear a huge rumbling noise and a totally evil-looking dude donning a full leather get-up rolls up in a motorcycle. Alright, Percy. You sure you’re totally safe and definitely not going to die?
Luckily, this is a frenemy, not another monster, which would complete a hat trick of brutes for the kids. They catch a break! No, this gruff man is actually Ares (Adam Copeland), son of Zeus, who accuses the kids of being so behind schedule. Zeus sent all his kids out hunting for the bolt; Percy, Annabeth, say hello to your big cousin. “What kind of family is this?” Percy grunts.
Annabeth, Percy, and Grover follow Ares to a nearby restaurant, where he’s too caught up in starting fights on Twitter (God of War—get it?) to pay attention to them. Ares tells them they’re in the news and on an FBI watchlist. Great. They’ll never be able to find the bolt with the fuzz right on their tails—unless Ares has another plan.
Ares does, indeed, have something in mind. Then again, he’s not too pressed about the bolt. If Zeus doesn’t get his lightning back, that will lead to war amongst the gods, which is a huge win, if you’re the God of War. That said, Ares does have a favor to ask from the kids. He left his shield at a nearby amusement park up the road, and if Annabeth and Percy can fetch it—Grover will stay at the restaurant as collateral—he has a way for them to get to Los Angeles overnight.
After some protesting, Grover agrees to stay, leaving Annabeth and Percy on their own in a dark, creepy, abandoned amusement park in Middle of Nowhere, Missouri. Annabeth, who has never been to an amusement park (Percy suavely promises to take her one day, after all this), is the first to spot the celestial bronze crunching above the entrance gate. That’s a demigod killer. If it fell, it would eat little Percy and Annabeth right up. But Annabeth figures out that it’s only meant to scare demigods away, not kill them. They enter, wary of the road that lies ahead.
Annabeth now has a theory about why Ares has sent them here. This isn’t any old amusement park, it appears to be built by Hephaestus, God of Craftsmen. Ares must’ve left his shield here while feuding with brother Hephaestus, who is married to Aphrodite—and everyone in the god world knows that Ares has a huge thing for Aphrodite. The two lovebirds probably met at the park behind Hephaestus’ back, and when he discovered his wife and brother screwing around, stole Ares’ shield. At least, that’s what Annabeth thinks.
When a neon sign lights up advertising a Tunnel of Love ride, Annabeth and Percy eye each other. This has to be where Ares and Aphrodite were caught in the act. They hop in a boat and wade into the amorous waters. “What Is Love” by Haddaway soundtracks their sweet (and frightening) excursion. Percy recognizes the song; he heard it once at his orthodontist’s office. Oh, sweet Percy.
Back at the restaurant, Grover is playing some sort of mind trick on Ares. Grover believes he met Ares before—perhaps at the last Winter Solstice, where Zeus’ bolt happened to go missing? Everyone seems to think a kid stole the bolt, but Grover thinks that might be impossible. It would take a lot to be able to pull that off. Ares seems peeved and asks Grover to quit trying to solve puzzles because it reminds him of his sister, Athena. Grover backs off and uses the Athena connection as a way to compliment Ares. Isn’t his sister so annoying? Whatever Grover is doing, it’s confusing, but it seems to be working.
Meanwhile, Percy and Annabeth are still cruising around the Tunnel of Love. On the walls of the ride, Percy spots an animated version of Hephaestus’ story. He recalls hearing these tales from his mom: Hephaestus was rejected by Hera and Aphrodite, a huge bummer. Percy then looks inward—was his mom trying to keep him away from this nightmarish family of gods? No, Annabeth says. Sally prepared him well. The gods are a lot. Can’t pick your family!
Percy is lucky that the Tunnel of Love is a water ride, because right after this conversation, the slow-moving boat picks up speed and throws both him and Annabeth overboard. Thank goodness he can use his water powers to drag them to shore, where they finally find Ares’ shield. It’s sitting nearly 10 stories above them, held by a giant statue of a god with a golden chair at its base.
Using his understanding of Hephaestus’ story, Percy is able to crack the code: You have to give something to retrieve the thing you want in return. Hephaestus captured Hera as his lover, demanding Aphrodite be his wife if she wanted Hera freed. So if Percy and Annabeth want the shield, one of them is going to have to give themselves up to the chair in order to get it down. After some arguing over who will do it, Percy takes on the challenge. Annabeth promises to free him as soon as the quest is over.
Percy’s body is frozen. He’s covered in gold, like if Han Solo were shinier in the frozen carbonite. Annabeth is able to retrieve the shield, but she doesn’t want to leave Percy behind, so she starts fidgeting with the lever. A deep, masculine voice asks if she needs help finding her way out. Who is that?
It’s overall-sporting, crafty Hephaestus (Timothy Omundson)! This show makes every god’s entrance better than the last—I cannot wait to finally meet Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Annabeth orders Hephaestus to let Percy go, but the god says that what they’ve done here cannot be undone. Annabeth won’t leave without Percy, but Hephaestus is tired of being pushed around. He shames Annabeth for sending Medusa’s head to Olympus, informing her of her mother’s discontent. If Annabeth flees with the shield and is able to locate the bolt, Athena will be happy, and they’ll be a peaceful mother-daughter duo all over again.
Annabeth digs her heels in—she doesn’t care about Athena, who left her to die with Echidna. Percy is better than the gods. He doesn’t allow himself to be controlled by the powers above him. He’s ready to save the day, prevent war, and establish tranquility in the family. At long last, someone is trying to put an end to the Olympians’ infinite familial trauma.
This speech moves Hephaestus. While he doesn’t say anything in response to Annabeth’s plea, he does release Percy. After Annabeth says her millionth “thank you,” Hephaestus promises to put in a good word for her with Athena. At least someone is looking out for her.
Annabeth and Percy bring the shield back to Ares, who is shocked to see both of them return. He holds up his part of the deal, tossing them in a livestock truck headed for Vegas. There, they’ll meet Hermes (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who will help them get to Los Angeles. With that, they’re on the way, one more time! Let’s get it right this time, guys.
Not one minute into their final leg, Grover drops a bomb on his friends: He knows who stole the master bolt. What a fantastic cliffhanger leading into next episode’s Vegas trip, where we’ll finally get to see Lin-Manuel Miranda in all his glory. Wait—did he steal the bolt?