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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Percy Jackson and the unrealistic expectations set by fans

Shavonne Chin

Look, I have always wanted to be a half-blood — which is why I had to think long and hard about my honest opinion on “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”

It’s easy to get swept away in the expectations that fans of the Rick Riordan series have set for the Disney+ show, especially after the brutal disappointment of the two “Percy Jackson” movies from a decade ago.

I was among those impatiently waiting years for Riordan to bring the extraordinary, beautiful story from his pen to our TV screens.

Unlike the previously mentioned traumatic movies, the first season of the show actually follows the events of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” the first book in the Percy Jackson series.

And honestly, the show was as good as it could’ve been. This might seem like a mediocre review, but there’s no other way to put it.

As much as the internet exploded after the casting was revealed, I chose to trust Riordan in his choices as he was the one who created the beloved characters in the first place. And really, he did not disappoint.

Walker Scobell — even though he was missing some colored contacts, black hair-dye or maybe a wig — was Percy personified. Percy’s quick wit seemed natural in his performance. The powerful emotions behind his eyes often made me forget Scobell is just 15 years old, and not a seasoned actor.

Charlie Bushnell — seemingly having the same problem of finding a blonde wig on the set — truly was the perfect Luke Castellan. He showed Luke not just as the ruthless villain we believed him to be at the end of the book, but rather as the broken kid he truly is. The emotions coloring his voice makes his betrayal scene land so much harder.

Leah Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri did a great job as Annabeth Chase and Grover, respectively, even though the show simplified their characters from the roles they played in the book.

It’s important to also mention Lance Reddick’s performance as Zeus, his last appearance on TV almost a year after his death. Despite having about five minutes of total screen-time, he delivered the signature arrogance and entitlement of Zeus to perfection and it’s tragic that we’ll no longer be able to see him in that role.

There’s so many more names I could list out, as every cast member acted as if their rent was due.

However, my biggest issue was the fact that the season only had eight episodes, meaning it felt incredibly rushed. While I agree adapting every single part of the book, like some fans hoped for (myself included, I’m not going to lie), would result in some boring scenes, the show felt like someone pressed double speed on the remote.

Glazing over important plot points and basically spoon feeding most of the information to the audience rather than letting the secrets unravel naturally over time took away from the viewing experience. Most of the characters and plot points fell a little flat because of it.

It also lacked the comedic character that was so prominent in the books. Where are the scenes of Percy saying hi to a pink poodle, Grover snacking on aluminum cans and the annoying elevator music in the Empire State Building?

It felt like someone threw a blanket over the plot.

Nectar and ambrosia, essentially the medicine for demigods, didn’t even make an appearance, because the characters barely got a scratch on them. Percy’s abusive stepfather Gabe Ugliano (Timm Sharp) was reduced to a comedic annoyance rather than the cause of Percy’s and Sally’s heartache like in the books.

There was a singular nod to the fact that Greek demigods are dyslexic and no mention of their ADHD at all.

However, I did like the addition of the flashbacks throughout the episodes. It gave characters like Luke and Sally, who didn’t have much screen-time otherwise, much needed personality.

Objectively though, the show didn’t do anything wrong. It had great casting, it followed the plot of the book (with minor changes here and there) and essentially did what it was supposed to.

But that’s just the thing. For someone who has never once picked up a book from the “Percy Jackson” universe, it is a great watch. For those of us who have read every single book that Riordan ever put out, it felt like something was missing.

Putting all of the thoughts that now-me has aside, the me that was a little girl reading Riordan’s books with a night light under the covers cannot stop jumping for joy. I guess that’s why fans are so judgmental about the show. Because the story means that much to us.

It was a good first season. It was almost a “dam” great first season. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another decade for the second one.

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Alexandra Martinakova
Alexandra Martinakova, Editor-in-Chief

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