From Page to Screen: Adapting “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” Episode 4

It’s hard to believe that this week’s episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians is the halfway point for the season. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover have begun their quest to find the missing master bolt of Zeus, but the journey has been fraught with danger.

This week in episode 4, I Plunge to My Death, we follow the trio as they battle more monsters, and Percy takes a flying leap from a national monument, only to discover that his dad does care about him and is trying to help him as best as he can.

From the page to the screen, we find the basis of our midway episode from chapters 12, 13, and 14.

In chapter 12, ‘We Get Advice from a Poodle’, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover are recovering from their encounter with Medusa. Having lost all their money, they are uncertain on how they will be able to travel to Los Angeles.

This night out in the woods allows Percy to learn more about his friends, from Grover’s desire to gain his searcher’s license to find Pan the lost God of the Wild, to Grover initially being Annabeth’s protector.

When Percy sleeps, he dreams of staring down a massive pit where a voice far below calls to him. The voice taunts him again talking about how the gods have abandoned him. The voice wants Percy to bring him the master bolt. Awaking from this nightmare, Percy learns that Grover has found a way to get them back on course.

Thanks to a helpful lost poodle named Gladiola, who Grover can communicate with, the trio returns the dog and gets reward money which allows them purchase train tickets to head west.

Episode 4 contains small amounts of what happens in chapter 12, but the biggest loss is the adaptation of the book is the loss of Gladiola. Grover really shows his satyr abilities by being able to communicate with wild animals. It’s this small moment in the book that gives Grover character depth and proves he is an ally anyone would want.

Chapter 13 is what fills up most of the screen time for this week’s show. The name of the episode mirrors the show ‘I Plunge to My Death’. The book, like the episode, shows the kids traveling by train, but the major difference from page to screen is that they are not attacked by Echidna and the Chimera on the train. In fact, in the book they get off the train on their layover in St. Louis because Annabeth wants to visit the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

In the book, after venturing to the top of the Gateway Arch, the three kids spend their time staring down on the city. Annabeth is amazed by the architecture, while Percy is wondering why an older woman and her small pet chihuahua seem to be far too interested in them. In the episode Echidna and the Chimera have attacked the group on the train, and followed the three kids to the top of the Gateway Arch.

In the show when Echidna attacks at the top of the Arch, Percy helps Grover and Annabeth escape from the attack. In the book, Percy is left behind at the top of the Gateway Arch at closing time. Annabeth and Grover expect to meet him at the bottom.

The confrontation between Echidna, Chimera and Percy is roughly the same from the book to the show, but it is the meeting with Poseidon’s messenger at the end of the episode that starts chapter 14 ‘I Become a Known Fugitive’. The meeting between Percy and the messenger from Poseidon mirrors the book on screen.  

Final Thoughts:

One of many egregious acts with the 20th Century Fox film adaptations was cutting the Gateway Arch sequence from the movie. This is not only a noteworthy moment in the story, but the visuals are also incredible, and the show has done justice to this wonderful part of the saga.

The changes between the book and the show for this week’s episode are minimal. Gladiola being cut from the storyline is not a loss. While the narrative works well in the book, the show doesn’t need Aryan Simhadri as Grover talking to a poodle. This moment is best left in the writer’s room.

We see one of many hero moments for Percy and for a show that is at the halfway point, the action is picking up which will lead to an epic conclusion.

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Bill Gowsell
Bill Gowsell has loved all things Disney since his first family trip to Walt Disney World in 1984. Since he began writing for Laughing Place in 2014, Bill has specialized in covering the Rick Riordan literary universe, a retrospective of the Touchstone Pictures movie library, and a variety of other Disney related topics. When he is not spending time with his family, Bill can be found at the bottom of a lake . . . scuba diving