Have you ever wondered if the book you liked would ever get a fantastic live-action adaptation that will honor its legacy? (especially after a not so great movie) Did you ever think, “If Greek Gods can have children on Earth?” Have you ever wanted to experience what it’s like to be a demigod who needs to figure out who they are? Well, If your answer is yes, then Disney+’s new hit series is everything that you are looking for. Continue on for my thoughts on the Percy Jackson and the Olympians season 1 finale!
[Warning: Spoilers from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Disney+ series are below!]
High stakes, and pressure for a great Percy Jackson and the Olympians season 1
The first season of Percy Jackson and the Olympians was a really big challenge for everyone, all because of the popularity and importance of the franchise in worldwide pop culture. The weight of that was felt by everyone involved: crew, cast, directors, showrunners and writers, production and costume designers, VFX workers, and makeup artists. It’s not just any popular book, the Percy Jackson books have sold over 180 million copies in over 35 countries and over 37 languages. In the USA itself, the series sold 100 million copies of the books.
This just shows the impact of Rick Riordan’s books and what they mean not only to kids but also to teenagers and even adults. It isn’t just a story about some kid who is a son of a Greek god. It is a story that can be interpreted on many levels and touches on many issues that everyone experiences.
Books from this franchise are still coming out after almost 20 years. Now there’s a Disney+ live action series that attempts to be faithful to the books. Was the decision to adapt the book more faithfully a success? Was it a good idea to make it a series instead of another movie? Well, the answer is… hell yeah!
Fantastic for both newcomers and fans of Rick Riordan’s books
I was very excited about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians because I recently read the books. But my approach to the show was different because I watched the first two episodes and then stopped. All because I would rather not watch an episode per week, but instead the entire season 1 all at once.
Watching Percy Jackson and the Olympians this way allowed me to not lose the focus of the whole plot, feeling more immersed in this world and experiencing everything all at once. Watching everything all at once brings the conflict to a thrilling climax that makes it difficult to stop watching. One of the standout elements of the show is the dynamic chemistry between Percy and the other characters appearing throughout these eight episodes.
Much of the show’s plot is dedicated to exploring Percy’s (Walker Scobell) complex relationship with Luke (Charlie Bushnell), Annabeth (Leah Jeffries), Grover (Aryan Simhadri) and Percy’s mother (Virginia Kull). Flashbacks to Percy’s time at Camp Half-Blood provide insight into his evolving friendship with Luke, making the final fight between them even more meaningful. Focusing on his relationship with Annabeth and her way of focusing on what’s important makes her relationship with Percy much more believable and important.
Grover, on the other hand, was one of the characters that I don’t think lived up to his potential. He was an interesting character, but he had far too little to do, except for the first two and last two episodes. But what I’m most impressed about, are the questions raised during these flashbacks that contribute to the show’s narrative complexity.
Percy’s relationship with his mom is the one big reason why Percy is who he is. She didn’t raise him to be another warrior who the gods will use to start wars on Earth, or go on quests for them, setting the stage for the revelation that Luke has been working for Kronos. Despite the limited time for further expanding their importance to each other, the buildup feels authentic and adds emotional weight to the finale. Mainly because of the flashbacks and the scene between Sarah and Poseidon (Toby Stephens), who wanted for Percy to have a normal life, for as long as he could.
The whole narrative begins with Percy’s discovery of his demigod status. He quickly finds out who he is, but he never accepts it. It’s more like he gets it, that he’s a son of Poseidon, and all that Greek mythology stuff is real, but he never truly accepts it; not until the final episode. Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood and on a quest to retrieve Zeus’ (Lance Reddick) stolen bolt, while also saving his mother from Hades (Jay Duplass) and the Underworld. During this adventure, he encounters many monsters, and many gods who help, each in their own way.
My favorite was Hephaestus (Timothy Omundson) who had very little screen time but was amazingly portrayed. We saw his pain, how he suffers from being alone, and how he’s not like other Gods. In this short screen time, he gave me much more than I wanted to see, and I’m happy with it.
The same goes for the one and only Lin Manuel Miranda as Hermes. He plays the God of Thieves and the “comedian” in the group of Gods, but when it comes to the scene in Lotus Hotel, he shows you his true face. He is hurting because he can’t contact his kid, you can see on his face that he is afraid and doesn’t care much about the rules, but obeys them. He is truly one of the most authentic Gods who had relations with humans, and we can feel it.
The third God I was impressed with was Ares (Adam Copeland). I don’t know how, but Ares’ appearance was one of the best villainous television appearances in recent years. The craziness, his arrogance, and his anger, it’s all visible, and I loved it.
When it comes to the finale of season 1, one of the standout elements is the confrontation between Percy and Zeus. The scene on Olympus, where we see Zeus trying to intimidate Percy and almost hurting him, is both a remarkable and sad moment. Not because it was bad, quite the opposite. But because it’s one of the last moments we get to see Lance Reddick on the screen, and he played this badass Ruler of Gods who is as arrogant, brutal, and scary just as in mythology.
If it weren’t for Poseidon, who showed Percy he cares about him, this would’ve ended badly. But it was one of my favorite moments this season. Lance Reddick and Toby Stephens gave us real and emotional moments, just by talking to each other, and I respect that.
And just to finish this season finale off, we get to see the exciting tease for season 2, where we’ll get to see how Kronos will try to get back to the world of living.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians proves it’s a worthy adaptation
While the show may not critically examine Greek mythology with the depth of some literary works, for me, it offers a delightful exploration of familiar stories. The way the creators took well-known mythological figures and combined them with modern twists kept me engaged in the series. The emotional exploration of being a half-blood and the hero’s quest elements added layers to not only Percy’s appearance but for other characters as well.
Of course, I had some minor problems with the show, but they were more “It’s okay, but it could’ve looked better” instead of “What did they do? Why did they change it?”. I loved season 1 of Percy Jackson and I really can’t wait for season 2 and to finally experience a good adaptation of Sea of Monsters.
Despite the familiarity of the storyline, this adaptation breathes new life into the Percy Jackson saga. The show’s portrayal of characters, making Camp Half-Blood a real camp and adding characters like Mr. D (Jason Mantzoukas) or Ares or Hermes, makes it worth watching.
Disney+’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series successfully balanced the challenges of creating a show honoring the great story from the amazing books. While laying the groundwork for future seasons, this reboot provides a promising start.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is now streaming on Disney+! Did you enjoy the series so far? Are you excited for season 2? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord channel.