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‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ Season 1 Review: From Page to Screen

4 Stars

Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth, Aryan Simhadri as Grover, and Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson in season one of "Percy Jackson and the Olympians."
Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth, Aryan Simhadri as Grover, and Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson in season one of "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." By Courtesy of Disney+
By Rachel A. Beard, Crimson Staff Writer

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” a show recently released on Disney+, has been a beacon of hope for fans seeking redemption from previous adaptations of Rick Riordan’s beloved series. Following the finale of its first season, the show has sparked a whirlwind of reactions. This adaptation, bringing to life the tale of Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old demigod, has been lauded for its faithful character portrayals and fresh casting approach.

The first season of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” based on “The Lightning Thief” novel, reimagines Rick Riordan’s beloved universe with a fresh perspective. Actor Walker Scobell steps into the shoes of Percy Jackson, a young boy thrust into a fantastical world as he discovers his heritage as the son of Poseidon. Accompanied by Annabeth (Leah Sava Jeffries) and Grover (Aryan Simhadri), the series navigates the delicate balance between loyalty to the original narrative and the introduction of new, more diverse character interpretations. However, deviations from the books — like Percy’s accelerated learning curve and rushed plot elements — have sparked discussions among the fanbase.

The youthful cast’s vibrant performances form the show’s core. Scobell’s Percy blends adolescent innocence with emerging heroism, capturing moments of hilarity and bravery, like his amusing comment comparing himself to Jesus in the first episode. The actors who play Annabeth and Grover also bring depth to this dynamic trio. The chemistry among them enriches the themes of friendship and adventure.

Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth Chase is a standout, embodying the character’s defining traits of confidence and intelligence. Her portrayal of Annabeth’s leadership qualities and strategic thinking, coupled with a sense of vulnerability, truly captures the essence of her character. Aryan Simhadri’s portrayal of Grover Underwood also brings a delightful charm and depth to the series. Grover’s love for nature and animals is palpable, showcased through his compassionate interactions with the environment. This portrayal goes beyond mere comic relief, highlighting his role as a protector not only of Percy but of the natural world as well. Grover’s deep connection to nature, coupled with his cautious bravery, adds a unique layer to the character.

The series delivers memorable scenes that resonate with the essence of the books. Some scenes might not have been in the book but were still excellent additions. For instance, the humorous “pinecone’s fate” scene in episode three and the touching depiction of burning candy for Percy’s mom in episode two act as great plot additions. These moments not only advance the plot but also deepen our understanding of the characters. The show’s modern humor, blended with Greek mythology, made these ancient tales accessible and engaging.

The series has been praised for its faithful depiction of characters and their friendship dynamic. The diverse casting and strong performances are refreshing for the classic story. However, some narrative choices, like the rushed handling of the claiming in episode two and the group’s quick identification of threats have made it clear that this series was rushed. The season only contained eight episodes, and it seems that the directors struggled to tell the story in a small time frame. Along with occasional pacing issues, it seems that there are inherent challenges when adapting a detailed narrative into a television format.

The series not only shines in its action and humor but also in its emotional depth. A particularly touching moment is the beautifully crafted scene between Sally Jackson, played by Virginia Kull, and Poseidon, played by Toby Stephens. Their encounter, marked by palpable chemistry, conveys a wealth of emotion and history without relying on eye contact and physical interaction. This scene stands out as a testament to the show’s ability to handle subtler, character-driven moments with finesse. It’s moments like these, when the show deviates from the book to add depth to the narrative, that will surely resonate with the audience.

The technical elements of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” particularly its special effects and cinematography, play a crucial role in bringing the mythical world to life. The series successfully translates the magic of Greek mythology into a visually engaging experience, complemented by a fitting soundtrack that enhances the adventurous spirit of the story. For instance, the portrayal of Mount Olympus is breathtaking, with its grandeur and otherworldly aesthetics effectively capturing the majesty and power of the gods’ realm. The intricate set design is not just visually stunning but also rich in symbolic details, adding depth to the narrative.

Despite critiques, the show has generally been well-received for its engaging storytelling and visual appeal. It has succeeded in not only reigniting the passion of long-time fans but also in attracting a new audience to the Percy Jackson universe.

Ultimately, the show succeeds in capturing the essence of Rick Riordan’s universe, appealing to both long-time fans and a new generation of viewers. The show’s diverse casting, engaging performances, and visual flair contribute to a fresh and exciting retelling of Percy Jackson’s adventures. The announcement of its renewal for a second season is a testament to its success and the potential for further exploration and development of this beloved world.

—Staff writer Rachel A. Beard can be reached at

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