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‘Percy Jackson’ and the vindication of Olympus’ heroes

Luke+Castellan+%28Charlie+Bushnell%29+gives+Percy+Jackson+%28Walker+Scobell%29+his+pair+of+winged+shoes+that+had+been+given+to+him+by+his+father%2C+Hermes.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Co.
Luke Castellan (Charlie Bushnell) gives Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell) his pair of winged shoes that had been given to him by his father, Hermes.

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians” is the long-awaited television series adaptation of the book series written by Rick Riordan. It stars Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson himself, Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase and Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood, with guest appearances from the likes of Lin Manuel Miranda, Jessica Parker Kennedy and Adam Copeland. The first episode aired on Disney+ on Dec. 19, 2023 with the finale airing on Jan. 30. 

The entire first book of the series is covered in eight episodes and it has been said that each season will follow one book. Season one was a nostalgic roller coaster ride for many fans of the book series, capturing much of the essence of the story. The son of Poseidon encounters perilous adventure with funny, whimsical dialogue throughout. Season one of the show corrects the wrongs of the 2010 movie adaptation “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” while providing a new perspective of the books.

The 2010 movie adaptation of the Percy Jackson series was met with much criticism as it left out important plot points that many considered crucial to the story, as well as smaller intricate details. Throughout each week of the show’s episodes being released, Riordan quelled fans’ worries and was heavily quoted from Instagram threads saying “normalize bad movie erasure.” 

The show does just that, showing a new range of emotional depth for the main characters, as well as several of the side characters. One of the larger changes from the book to the movie was the encounter Percy has with Medusa. In episode three of the show, Medusa explains where her disdain for the gods comes from, making the character more relatable and strengthens the idea that the gods can be cruel even though they demand to be worshiped. 

This is taken a step further with the underlying story of one of the main antagonists, Luke Castellan, played by Charlie Bushnell. Luke, the son of Hermes, feels wronged by the gods. He is reminded of this with a scar down the side of his face given to him by a dragon after a quest he was sent on by his father. Luke holding onto these feelings begins a plot to take the gods down. 

Overall, the show brings the nuances and emotional depth of the book to real life, leaping off the page and onto the screen. Some fans were unhappy with the pacing of the show, as well as the budget put behind it. Many of the fight scenes are short and are more or less cut with the purpose of not using special effects to bring the more magical features of the Percy Jackson world to life. One of the noticeable details is that Percy’s sword, which transforms from a pen, is never shown transforming, with the camera zooming into Scobells face and then back out to suddenly show the sword. Many of the fight scenes are purposefully low lit or are quickly ended after they start. 

The first book and setups for the following books were squeezed into the first season, with the episodes spanning from 32–45 minutes. While this can often be an issue for books being made to fit into a show format, the show does a good job of setting things up in a way that doesn’t diminish from the overall plot or leave out details that are otherwise not needed. 

The show also makes a good but bold choice of having the main actors be closer to the actual age of the characters. Percy Jackson begins his story at the age of 12 and during the time of filming, Scobell was 15. This brings into perspective the idea that Percy is truly a child as he is dealing with loss, grief, violence and more. 

The show holds a large focus on the emotional and moral aspect of the story that is ever present throughout the book. Rather than focusing on flashy fight scenes and showing an overly magical world, the show is more grounded, emphasizing the conflict and bonding between characters through well-crafted dialogue. The hints toward future seasons also add a nice amount of Easter eggs for devout fans to look for, though the show has yet to be renewed for a second season. With Riordan and his wife having executive producer credits, there is no doubt that should the show return, it will be crafted in a way that is enjoyable for fans new and old.

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Malik Clement
Malik Clement, Managing Editor
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