Percy Jackson and the Olympians Season 1 Review | Recap (2024)

Grade: B

For those who have read Rick Riordan’s popular young adult fiction series, getting to watch a Percy Jackson and the Olympians TV adaptation in the year 2023 is a pleasant sight for sore eyes. That’s because those sore eyes likely came about from watching the two terrible movie adaptations back in 2010 and 2013 (The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters, respectively), which deviated greatly from the books and pleased no one except the executives at 20th Century Fox (total gross: upwards of $200 million).

And so, to rectify the failures of the films, the eight-episode Disney+ reboot, which is co-created/written by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Riordan himself, opts for a much more loyal retelling of the books. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Season 1 covers the events of The Lightning Thief novel, and each subsequent season — if we make it there — will correspond to each entry in Riordan’s five-part series.

The problem as I see it is that Percy Jackson and the Olympians Season 1 is so concerned with hitting every major plot point in the book that it fails to flow naturally as a television show. Even at eight episodes of approximately 40 minutes each, the storyline moves too fast, with not enough time devoted to developing the characters.

As a faithful adaptation, season 1 will for the most part satisfy fans of the books. As a standalone TV show, however, viewers unfamiliar with the source material may suffer some whiplash.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Season 1 Review | Recap (1)

The series begins with promise — Percy Jackson is an adolescent loner who has been ridiculed for being “different” all his life. He has visions of fantastical creatures, he doesn’t know his biological father, and his mom now lives with a piece of sh*t boyfriend who ridicules him at every turn. One day, while on a school field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Percy is attacked by a Fury (a vengeful winged goddess from Greek mythology).

This prompts Percy and his mother to flee to Montauk, where he finds out that his best friend Grover is actually a satyr, his teacher is actually a centaur and he himself is actually a demigod. It turns out that all the Greek myths are real, and soon enough an enormous Minotaur chases Percy and Grover to Camp Half-Blood, a safe haven for the children of the gods. But not before it captures and seemingly kills Percy’s mother, thus prompting his quest to rescue her from Hades.

All this occurs in the pilot episode, which gets us off to a quick start and remains the best and most exciting installment of the season. The exposition is combined seamlessly with the action, making the world-building quite easy to follow. The diversified ensemble cast is quite good as well, with actor Walker Scobell — who looks like a young Timothée Chalamet — doing an admirable job conveying the trials and tribulations of a misunderstood 12-year-old.

Overall, it’s a welcoming series premiere — fun, fast-paced and filled with interesting tidbits for classical folk tale enthusiasts.

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The second episode (titled “I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom”) is another nice, self-contained adventure, with Percy meeting some new friends and adversaries, while also coming face-to-face with his destiny (he finds out that he’s the son of Poseidon). The straightforward storyline is both swift and satisfying.

But by the time we reach the middle portion of the season, in which Percy and his friends Grover and Annabeth are tasked with traveling cross-country to retrieve Zeus’ stolen Master Bolt, the fast pace becomes a problem. We’re whisked away from one adventure to the next without really getting to know the characters — the trio fights Medusa (“We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium”), then they travel to St. Louis to fight Echidna (“I Plunge to My Death”) — which in turn leaves the series devoid of humor, emotion and any real sense of surprise.

New characters are introduced, gods enter and exit with every episode, and even though the performances are colorful (e.g., Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hermes, former WWE star Adam Copeland a.k.a. Edge as Ares), the storyline eventually becomes confusing. There isn’t much discernible connection from one encounter to the next, and so Percy Jackson doesn’t set itself up well for the future — no scenes to fall back on, no foreshadowing to speculate on, no grand overarching arc we feel compelled to follow.

Sure, it’s cool to catch all the casual references to Greek mythology, but the universe that Percy Jackson populates is all one note. We only get to see things from Percy’s point of view, and we only know other characters based on their proximity to him. By the end, we barely even know Percy at all.

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Fault doesn’t go to the actors, though. Scobell does good with what he’s given, and 14-year-old actress Leah Sava Jeffries is a revelation as Annabeth, the brave and courageous and selfless daughter of Athena. Likewise, the supporting cast of adults — from Virginia Kull to the late, great Lance Reddick — all bring a grounded reality to this fantasy world.

No, fault must go to the writers, who cram in too many plot-oriented details while ignoring important stuff like pacing and characterization. The story tries to do too much without doing anything at all, and so it’s hard to become emotionally invested. “We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of” and “The Prophecy Comes True,” the final two episodes of the season, are weak — not enough time was devoted in the beginning to set-up, and so the payoffs in the end lack feeling.

It’s a problem that is directly mirrored in the show’s sleek yet unimaginative directing and cinematography: take a snapshot from any scene in any episode, and you’ll notice that the forefront is clear but the background is hazy and out of focus. In that case, fault might also go to the production — Percy Jackson and the Olympians is noticeably cheap, with rapid CGI sequences and battle scenes that are great at saving money but bad at building tension.

And it’s hard not to notice that the centaur Chiron is always shown from the waist up, or that carefully placed objects in the foreground (e.g. trees, shrubbery, garbage cans) hide Grover’s satyr hoofs.

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Nonetheless, Percy Jackson and the Olympians season 1 will be enjoyable for viewers who are avid readers of the source material. Every actor does a great job making their character likable, with no weak spots among the cast. I predict that there might even be some future stars among the ensemble — Jeffries, in particular.

On top of that, some of the visuals are absolutely stunning, like Hades’ lair in the underworld and Zeus’ temple at Olympus. It’s nice to see the CGI finally being put to good use.

But I’m not sure if the series is built to last, as nothing here indicates that Steinberg or Riordan have a firm grasp on TV conventions (Steinberg’s previous credits include a mixed bag of unsuccessful narratives like Jericho, Black Sails and See). Season 1 of Percy Jackson is an average young adult action-drama that is light on both action and drama.

Hopefully, the mistakes made here help Steinberg and Riordan learn what not to do in season 2, just as the movies helped them learn what not to do for season 1. One TV convention they’ll get used to is that you get smarter as you go.

Review of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Season 1

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians Season 1 Review | Recap (2024)


Percy Jackson and the Olympians Season 1 Review | Recap? ›

With a charming central trio, an intriguing quest and plenty of magical moments, this faithful reboot is a fun (if familiar) family-friendly fantasy. Percy still manages to be an edge-of-the-seat comfort watch. We're off to an encouraging start!

Is Percy Jackson and the Olympians a good show? ›

This is a fantastic series and a really good adaptation! I love that they used child actors, so it's much more authentic to the books. The visuals are stunning, acting is good, and it's a great adventure!

Is the first Percy Jackson movie good? ›

The comedic elements are there, and the chemistry between the three actors are likeable. In the end, it's just a popcorn flick for the family. It may not be the best movie ever made, but it's decent enough to enjoy.

Why did Grover betray Percy? ›

While this may seem like a betrayal at first, it was actually Grover playing the part of protector to a tee. Knowing that monsters will find Percy at Yancy, Grover realizes he has to get him away from the school as quickly as possible.

Is the Percy Jackson series appropriate? ›

The story's narrator, Percy Jackson, will be familiar to most young readers, and here he retells the stories of the Greek Gods with wit and style. This book is appropriate for ages 10+, although some of the stories feature themes that are a bit more mature.

What age group is Percy Jackson aimed at? ›

Once a troubled child, but now Percy discovers he is the son of Poseidon and discovers he has amazing abilities. He finds himself on a quest to defeat the evil Kronos. The inspiration for two major Hollywood films, this fantastic set is ideal for children aged 9+ with an interest in fantasy adventure stories.

Will the Percy Jackson series be better than the movies? ›

Many are relieved it is better than the movies, as most of the fandom, including the author, have agreed the movies were abysmal. However, the TV series is not much better. One of the biggest flaws in the show is the run time for each episode, which averages about 35 minutes.

Is Percy Jackson dyslexia? ›

In the debut movie “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” Percy is a 17 year old high school boy with ADHD and dyslexia struggling with school, and getting into lots of trouble. Unbeknownst to him, he is also the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

Who betrayed Percy Jackson? ›

Upon returning to Camp Half Blood, Percy is betrayed by his friend Luke, son of Hermes, who turns out to be the human hero whom Kronos used for the theft. Luke poisons Percy, and tells him before leaving that Kronos will rise and destroy the age of the gods. Western Civilization is unraveling.

How old is Percy in the first Percy Jackson movie? ›

The plot revolves around a sixteen-year-old Percy Jackson who discovers that he is the son of Poseidon, Greek God of the sea, and goes to Camp Half-Blood, a training camp for demigods, the half mortal children of Greek gods.

Does Annabeth cheat on Percy? ›

A true fan would know that Annabeth Chase would NEVER cheat on her own boyfriend. Being the daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, that would go against EVERYTHING her mother stands for. But to answer your question, no this never happened in the book. It's not canon, and never will happen.

Did Annabeth betray Percy? ›

No, Annabeth did not betray Percy in "The House of Hades" by Rick Riordan. Throughout the book, Annabeth remains fiercely loyal to Percy and their mission to save the world from the evil giants and the goddess Gaea.

Why did Annabeth push Percy into the water? ›

Because Annabeth is Annabeth, and Percy is Percy. She theorized that Percy was the son of Poseidon so she pushed him in the water to see if it would heal him. She guessed he was the son of Poseidon but wanted proof.

Do Percy and Annabeth get together? ›

She is first cousins with Magnus Chase, whose mother is her paternal aunt. She appears first in the first novel of the series, The Lightning Thief. In the series she becomes close friends with Percy Jackson, later becoming his main love interest and girlfriend.

Are there any inappropriate scenes in Percy Jackson? ›

Rating: Percy Jackson does not have any explicitly harmful content, as it's an exciting and intriguing series written for a younger audience. The book does include some slightly mature themes, such as struggles with family abandonment.

Is there swearing in Percy Jackson books? ›

Mild cursing with words like heck, stupid, idiot, darn, a joke revolving around the word damn, and a boy who tells someone to shove something up their (rest was cut off).

Is Percy Jackson show appropriate for kids? ›

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is rated TV-PG, but it might be disturbing for some younger kids. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is rated TV-PG, which basically means it's parental guidance suggested. There's no actual age restriction on the content.

Why is Percy Jackson so popular? ›

Sarcastic and clever, while also sometimes slow on the uptake (hence his nickname “Seaweed Brain”), lovable, loyal, brave and endlessly honest, Percy is a character everyone can relate to, no matter their age or background. Since the beginning, Percy has felt real, which is why he grew so popular.

Why Percy Jackson is a good book series? ›

The Percy Jackson and The Olympians series is a great choice for anyone looking for a fun, engaging adventure story. The characters are memorable, the mythology is well-integrated, and the writing is top-notch. If you're looking for a new series to read, give Percy Jackson a chance – you won't be disappointed!

Which Percy Jackson should I watch first? ›

Here's how to watch Percy Jackson in release order: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013) Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Disney+ series, December 2023)

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