🚨 There are major Season 1 spoilers ahead! 🚨 If you're here, that hopefully means you're a fan in some capacity, so I'm going to say it: Welcome back, campers! Percy Jackson and the Olympians Disney Let me start off by saying that when Disney+ announced in 2020 that it was going to adapt PJO into a show with author Rick Riordan at the helm, my world was turned upside down in the best way possible. Though there was an attempt to bring PJO to the big screen in the 2010s — which only lasted until the second movie, Sea of Monsters — Rick himself has been very vocal about disliking the films. But on Dec. 19, 2023, about a decade later, the first episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians began streaming! The first season followed the events of the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, and a new episode dropped every Tuesday evening on Disney+. With an eight-episode rollout, the season finale aired on January 30, 2024. After rereading the book, watching all the episodes, and soaking everything in, I have a lot to yap about, discuss, and, yes, cry over. But mainly, I'm here to talk about the major changes and additions the show adaptation had from the book!
BTW, none of these changes have anything to do with the casting because I thought the casting was perfect.
Leah Sava Jeffries, if you're reading this, I'm so happy you are our Annabeth! Disney Before we get into it, so that y'all know I mean business, here's me being a ~certified~ Percy Jackson fan:
If anyone cares, the best book that has Percy in it is
Son of Neptune. Dannica Ramirez / BuzzFeed Disclaimer: If you haven't watched the show yet and/or haven't read the book, this is me telling you that there are some pretty huge spoilers beyond this point! Alright, let's start! Dannica Ramirez / BuzzFeed 1. 🔱 The fight between Percy and Mrs. Dodds at The Met happens way quicker:
In chapter one of the book,
"I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher," Percy and his Yancy Academy classmates are on a field trip at the Met museum and are chaperoned by Mr. Brunner (who's later revealed to be Chiron) and Mrs. Dodds (who, much sooner than later, is revealed to be Alecto the Fury). After Percy unintentionally uses his powers to push Nancy Bobofit into a fountain, Mrs. Dodds calls him back inside the museum under the guise that he will be punished. But when they're alone, Mrs. Dodds reveals her true monster self and begins fighting with Percy. It's only with the help of Mr. Brunner, who suddenly appears and throws Percy a pen that turns into a sword (named Riptide), that Percy can defeat Mrs. Dodds and turn her into monster dust.
As iconic as that opening is, the show handles this confrontation differently. First, Mr. Brunner gives Percy Riptide while
they're still in the museum instead of tossing it to him mid-fight. Then, after Percy pushes Nancy into the fountain, Mrs. Dodds does this weird little whisper-thing and literally transforms into Fury form RIGHT THEN AND THERE IN FRONT OF THE MET. Color me shook?! It all happened so quickly; suddenly, Alecto was on top of Percy and ready to tear him to shreds. Suddenly, Percy had Riptide buried in Alecto's chest! Meanwhile, everyone else was apparently shrouded in some heavy Mist because no one gave a hoot!
By the end of it all — in the book and in the show — Grover and Mr. Brunner deny that Mrs. Dodds even existed. But unlike in the book,
Percy , which results in him getting kicked out of school and sent back home. does get in trouble for unintentionally pushing Nancy into the fountain Disney 2. 🔱 Sally "Best Mom Ever" Jackson has a much more active role in the TV series than she does in the book. In fact, several not-in-the-books moments between Sally and Percy made a massive difference in the overall storytelling, and I was 100% here for it:
We all know Sally Jackson is a strong woman, but we never really get a chance to explore more of her character in the books beyond what Percy, as the narrator, tells us about her. But the show? Yeah, the show had other plans to show off just
how badass Sally Jackson is.
OK, so let me start off by saying that I am absolutely in love with the flashbacks depicting all the things Sally did for Percy to protect, nurture, and prepare him.
For example, in the first episode, there's a scene where Sally explains why Percy is named after Perseus, the Greek hero. She says that he was named that not because Perseus was a monster-slayer, but because of the resilient bond Perseus had with his mother. Shortly after, Sally tells Percy:
"Not everyone who looks like a hero is a hero, and not everyone who looks like a monster is a monster." *Side-eye*
These little moments from the past did a lot for me as a viewer. Not only did they help portray the close relationship Percy and Sally have, but the flashbacks showed the difficulties that come with being the human parent of a demigod.
Literally everything we love about Percy was taught to him by Sally, and that's period! No wonder Percy stands on business whenever Sally is involved.
That said, when Percy learns the truth about who his father is,
it's not Grover who tells him like in the books — it's Sally. When they're in their cabin in Montauk, Sally spills the beans and quite actually tells Percy that he's a demigod and that monsters and gods and everything in between are real.
PS: If you cried during the Minotaur scene, I was right there with you.
Disney 3. 🔱 Chiron and Dionysus don't want Percy to know about Sally's fate in the Underworld (for some reason), but it gives Grover a chance to "redeem" himself after selling Percy out: Story continues
After the truly soul-crushing death of Percy's mother, life is just really bleak for Percy in Episode 2, "I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom." But in an unexpected turn of events that didn't happen in the book,
Grover finds out from the Council of Cloven Elders (a satyr group with a bunch of authority) that Sally might actually still be alive in the Underworld!
But before we pop the champagne, when Grover brings this up to Chiron and Dionysus,
they basically command Grover not to tell Percy because, as Chiron puts it, "the truth can be very dangerous if not handled correctly." Like, okay, weirdos.
But because Grover has the kindest and most loyal heart of them all, he tells Percy, which becomes the driving force — and pretty much the sole reason — why Percy takes on the quest to find the stolen master bolt.
This differs from the book because
there was no absolute that Percy's mom was still alive. When he takes on the quest and finds out that he is eventually going to end up in the Underworld, he merely thinks that maybe there could be a chance, but it is never 100% certain, like in the show. Disney 4. 🔱 Percy did not get attacked by a Hellhound after Capture the Flag:
In the book, after Annabeth's team wins Capture the Flag, a Hellhound appears and attacks Percy. Before any severe damage is done, the Hellhound is killed with arrows fired by Chiron.
Even though this part of the book didn't take up many pages, I felt like the Hellhound would've added some important piece of the bigger puzzle because monsters weren't supposed to be able to step foot within Camp Half-Blood.
The Hellhound being there signaled that, one, the camp wasn't as safe or guarded as everyone thought, and two, that there was a traitor at large.
There being no Hellhound in the show
didn't really take away from anything, but I personally would have loved to see it. However, I did enjoy seeing Annabeth push Percy into the water instead of just telling him to go, like she did in the book. Disney 5. 🔱 Percy gets to pick who goes with him on his quest, and it lays the groundwork for his and Annabeth's friendship:
In the book, after Percy receives his quest from the Oracle, Annabeth
volunteers to go with him after she uses her invisible cap to eavesdrop on Percy and Chiron. Grover also offers to accompany Percy on this quest, and that's how the trio was formed.
In Episode 3, "We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium," Chiron, Dionysus, and the campers are gathered around for a
Selection Ceremony, which allows Percy to choose from the "most compelling candidates" that Chiron had hand-picked to join him on the quest. Before giving anyone else a chance, Percy chooses Annabeth because he believes she would be able to sacrifice him for the success of the quest if need be. In the show, it's very obvious that Percy doesn't think of Annabeth as a friend at first, so them becoming closer as time goes on feels a lot more organic and is just very, very wholesome.
Percy then disregards everyone else's part of the Selection Ceremony (LOL) and goes to find Grover so that he can ask him to join. Of course, Grover ends up joining not only because he and Percy are besties for the resties, but so that Grover can get his searcher's license.
Disney 6. 🔱 We find out that Athena is far from being a girls' girl after hearing Medusa's side of the story. The show cuts the fun and silly antics of Aunty Em entertaining the kids and, instead, uses the time to shine a light on Medusa as a victim:
The main focus of this episode is the trio's run-in with Medusa at Aunty Em's Garden Gnome Emporium.
In the book, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover stumble across the emporium while following the scent of hamburgers. Hungry, the trio wander in and are served by a woman who allows them to eat, drink, and rest up. The kids notice that Aunty Em has a collection of statues, and Grover amusingly goes up to one because it reminds him of his Uncle Ferdinand.
Soon after, Aunty Em begs the trio to let her take a photo of them. Grover then realizes that the statue
is Uncle Ferdinand, and the trio finds out that Aunty Em is Medusa. Medusa clearly has some major beef because Annabeth's mom, Athena, was the one who cursed her, and Percy's dad, Poseidon, was the reason why she was cursed. After a little tussle, Percy then cuts off Medusa's head and sends it to Olympus.
Before we get into what
I wanted to see in the show, first and foremost, I loved how Jessica Parker Kennedy played Medusa. Her mannerisms, her voice, and her delivery were eerie but also left me feeling so sympathetic for her. Medusa is not the villain; she was unfairly punished for a man's actions! I think the show really allowed Medusa's story to be told properly, in a way that depicted just how imperfect, unjust, and fallible the gods and goddesses really can be.
One thing that I wish was done differently, though, was Aunty Em immediately being revealed as Medusa.
Annabeth called it out pretty much the second they arrived at the emporium after getting chased by Alecto (that Fury regenerates so fast). Considering Athena and Medusa are enemies, I suppose it makes sense for Annabeth to catch on so quickly, but I wish there was more of a "big reveal."
Medusa tries to make a deal with Percy and asks him to betray Annabeth and Grover in exchange for a sure-fire way to save Sally from the Underworld. When Percy refuses, Medusa attacks and loses her head in the process. Disney 7. 🔱 We get to see a lot more of Echidna and the Chimera after she hijacks the train the trio is on and chases them to the St. Louis Arch:
Episode 4, "I Plunge to My Death," utilized Echidna in a way
that made a lot more sense to me. In the book, the kids take a train and wind up getting off at St. Louis to head to the St. Louis Arch to sightsee. They take an elevator to go to the observation deck, but when it's time to go back down, there isn't enough room for Percy. He tells Annabeth and Grover that he'll take the next lift down, but then notices a lady and her chihuahua giving very much monster vibes. Of course, it's Echidna, Mother of Monsters, and a Chimera. The fight remains on the observation deck until Percy falls off the St. Louis Arch.
But in the show,
we meet Echidna a whole lot earlier. She busts into the train the trio is on and wrecks their compartment, intending for the police to question the kids and their motives. After revealing herself to Percy, Annabeth, and Grover, the kids escape the train and seek out sanctuary at the St. Louis Arch, which, in the show, is a temple dedicated to Athena.
But because Athena is embarrassed by Annabeth's participation in sending off Medusa's head to Olympus, Athena allows Echidna to step inside the "temple." In doing so, Percy forces Annabeth and Grover to leave so that he can fight Echidna himself on the observation deck.
(Percy's fatal flaw being loyalty is sooo real.) Disney 8. 🔱 Ares and Grover have a heart-to-heart about war as part of Grover's attempt to find out who the lightning thief is. Grover's character in the show in general has a lot more depth and complexity, and this scene displays that wonderfully:
In the episode, "A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers," Ares sends Percy and Annabeth to retrieve his shield from Waterland while
Grover chooses to stay behind with the god of war.
An unlikely duo, this change was super interesting to me because what could Grover and Ares possibly converse about? Well, duh, war!
Grover impresses Ares with his knowledge of different wars throughout history in an attempt to butter him up so that Ares can reveal what he knows about who the lightning thief is. My favorite part about the whole exchange, though, is that Grover explains just how tough satyrs can be by explaining to Ares that satyrs are children of nature. Grover says, "Nature is brutal. Red in tooth and claw, right?"
I prefer Grover's character as a whole in the show because he's a lot more than the comedic relief that nervously eats tin cans like in the book. Aryan Simhadri does an excellent job portraying Grover, and his performance was a standout to me in the entire series! Disney 9. 🔱 The Thrill Ride O' Love ride puts a spotlight on Hephaestus and his deep-rooted issues, but the show backs away from what could have been a very funny and campy scene thanks to the addition of a chair:
nearly this entire scene differed from the book. It spotlights Hephaestus as a god and showcases his inventions — Percy and Annabeth go through a "fear test" to get into Waterland!
the episode adaptation lacks the mini cupids, all the mirrors, and, of course, the hoards of spiders that reveal Annabeth's biggest fear. Instead, the ride consists of Hephaestus telling his story about how he was denied by his mother, Hera, and unwanted by his wife, Aphrodite (and probably some other familial trauma).
Perhaps the biggest change of all, however, is how Annabeth and Percy get Ares's shield. In the show, the demigods are faced with one of Hephaestus's contraptions,
which requires one person to sacrifice themselves so that the other can grab the shield.
Percy decides to sit in the chair, and
he slowly turns to gold. Teary-eyed Annabeth watches the scene unfold, and their time at Waterland suddenly turns somber.
However, Hephaestus himself appears and watches as Annabeth tries to solve the unsolvable chair in order to get Percy out. After Annabeth passionately tells Hephaestus about how Percy differs from the rest of the Olympians,
Hephaestus lets Percy go.
I'm certainly not mad over this scene, but the book, in general, is just a little campier, and
I wish I could have seen some of that more, especially in this episode. For example, Percy and Annabeth are supposed to be decked out in Waterland gear after seeing that the gift shop has clean clothes. I also expected the ride to have more hearts, more lights, and just more fun! Disney 10. 🔱 When the trio arrives at the Lotus Hotel and Casino, there is no fun, there are no games, and there is no Lady Gaga playing in the background while everyone parties the night(s) away. In fact, the trio knows exactly what they're looking for and what they have to do, and they don't allow any distractions (except for Grover):
Perhaps my most anticipated episode of this season, the demigods have finally reached the
Lotus Hotel and Casino in the episode, "We Take a Zebra to Vegas."
In the book, the kids are immediately given game cards and are placed in a hotel room to relax. They play a whole bunch of games, and Percy only notices just how long they've been there after he speaks to another kid in '70s attire who thinks the year is 1971.
I mention Lady Gaga because in
The Lightning Thief movie, there's a truly iconic scene of Percy, Grover, and Annabeth getting crunk to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." Though that piece of nostalgia was missing, there was still another pop sensation playing: Dua Lipa's "Levitating"
In the show, though, the kids don't get lost in all the games and the glamour.
In fact, they're aware of the casino's magic thanks to their Greek mythology knowledge and are on a mission to meet Hermes there to get a ride to Santa Monica.
I was disappointed in this scene because I wanted to see the kids having fun! I wanted to see them run around, eat deliciously, play games with each other, and just have a silly and good time. Similar to how I feel about the Waterland scene, I just wish the show kept some of the "more fun" aspects. Disney 11. 🔱 Hermes is at the Lotus Casino and Hotel and talks to Percy and Annabeth about his regrets with Luke and Luke's mother, May. Meanwhile, Grover meets an older satyr named Augustus, who everyone thought had gone missing while on his search for the nature god, Pan:
In this episode, we
meet Augustus, a fellow satyr friend of Grover's, and are also met with Hermes, Luke's father. Augustus is a new character altogether, and Hermes's addition to this scene is also new!
Grover gets separated from Annabeth and Percy after recognizing Augustus, who was searching for Pan but got caught up in the Lotus Casino's trap. The longer Grover is around Augustus, the more
Grover's memory begins to fade due to the lotus magic being pumped into the air.
Annabeth and Percy are hunting for Hermes within the casino. This does not happen in the book, but Hermes being there gives us more insight as to why Luke feels the way he does, and also hints at what happened to May, Luke's mother — which isn't mentioned until later in the book series.
In the book, the kids realize how long they've been at the Lotus, and simply just walk out the doors to complete the quest.
But in the show, Annabeth steals Hermes's cab keys, and they take it to Santa Monica. Disney 12. 🔱 The Summer Solstice passed, meaning Zeus and Poseidon are set to go to war after Percy fails to return the bolt in time. When Percy insists on continuing the quest, he is given four pearls that allow safe passage from the Underworld:
At this point, the plot has been moving pretty seamlessly, with the show hitting the major plot points while adding in some valuable elements.
BUT, I was so surprised when it was revealed that Percy, Annabeth, and Grover
MISSED THE SUMMER SOLSTICE DEADLINE?!?! I had to hit pause because I was wondering if something totally different was about to happen to the plot!
In the book, when the kids finally get out of the Lotus Hotel and Casino, they find that there's only one day until the Summer Solstice.
But in the show, by the time they reach Santa Monica, the Solstice had already passed earlier that day!
Despite that, Percy still decides to move forth with the quest and travel to the Underworld. Nereid then gives Percy four pearls —
one for his mom, Sally — to use for safe passage back from the Underworld.
In the book, Percy is only given three pearls, so I was so confused by what the show was going to do with the fourth. Like, surely Sally wasn't going to be rescued so easily?! But alas, while down in the Underworld, Grover loses his pearl in Cerberus' mouth.
Disney 13. 🔱 The show spends a little bit of time in the Fields of Asphodel, where Annabeth gets "tied up" with her regrets and is forced to stay behind. At this point, we don't know many specifics about Annabeth's past, so this could hint to a bigger reveal/conversation later in the show:
In the episode, "We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of," we get some time in the
Fields of Asphodel, which Annabeth describes as a place where souls are tethered if they die with regrets.
To my surprise,
Annabeth herself begins to get tied up with the roots, indicating that she regrets a choice that she did or didn't make.
The boys try to get Annabeth untangled, but she urges them to go on without her to save Percy's mom from Hades. But don't worry! Annabeth is able to escape by using one of the pearls Nereid gifted Percy.
Disney 14. 🔱 Sally and Poseidon have a "coparenting" moment, and we see for the first time how Poseidon feels about having to leave Sally to raise Percy on her own:
I'm not even exaggerating when I say
I sobbed during this flashback moment. This scene was not in the book at all, but in the flashback, it shows younger Percy and Sally sitting at a restaurant table moments before Percy is going to get dropped off at a boarding school.
The mood is not super great, and because Percy doesn't understand why Sally has to do what she has to do, he even goes as far as to say to her,
"Why are you trying so hard to get rid of me? I would never do this to you."
Devastated and frustrated, Sally tells Percy she's going to pay for the bill, but instead, she takes a moment to herself at the empty counter and wills herself not to cry. She then grabs a half-filled milkshake and puts a match in it, which is what demigods do as an offering to their godly parents.
WELL...POSEIDON THEN WALKS INTO THE RESTAURANT AND SITS NEXT TO SALLY! OH. MY. GODS.
It's certainly not a sweet and tender reunion because it's so sad how Percy is affected by this, but it shows that Poseidon feels true regret and guilt for the life Sally and Percy have to live.
Poseidon is clearly not the Father of the Year, but I love that he gives Sally a safe space to express her frustrations and say how she feels, knowing that she doesn't have anyone else to open up to. When talking about Percy, Poseidon tells Sally,
"His mother raised him well." And you know what? PERIOD. I like that Poseidon completely acknowledges that Sally is the one raising Percy and doesn't try to act like that isn't the case. Disney 15. 🔱 Poseidon finally beats the deadbeat dad allegations (barely):
In the book, when Percy returns the lightning bolt to Zeus on Mount Olympus, Zeus and Poseidon are seated on their thrones. This is the first time Percy and Poseidon meet. It was a
fairly calm exchange (at least, how I read it), and Percy was able to go back to Camp Half-Blood unscathed.
But in Episode 8, "The Prophecy Comes True," since they missed the Summer Solstice deadline, Zeus and Poseidon are gearing up to go to war with each other. Percy meets Zeus on Olympus, and the
god of lightning is anything but welcoming to his nephew.
Even after Percy returns the bolt,
Zeus reveals that the war is still going to continue. Shocked, Percy goes off on Zeus and literally tells him that Kronos is going to put him in his place if the war with Poseidon continues. Zeus, who clearly wasn't going to take a lashing from a 12-year-old boy, prepares to strike him with the lightning bolt. But before he can do it, Poseidon appears and stops him! Poseidon tells Zeus that he surrenders so long as Zeus spares Percy, and that is enough for Zeus to feel satisfied. Zeus tells Poseidon that he never wants to see Percy on Olympus again, and then he leaves Poseidon and Percy alone.
AHH! This was quite literally
one of my favorite scenes of this entire season. I thought it was so powerful because, since the beginning, Percy has always struggled with not having a father figure and held a lot of resentment toward Poseidon. Of course, this one moment doesn't fix Poseidon's lifelong absence, but it sure is a step in the right direction. Disney 16. 🔱 Luke's reveal is more emotional and intentional. Not only did Luke think he had a chance at successfully recruiting Percy, but he ended up unintentionally revealing his plans in front of Annabeth:
This scene was done so much better than I could have ever imagined.
In the book, Luke leads Percy into
a pit scorpion trap and reveals that he was the one who stole the bolt all along. Percy gets stung by the scorpion, and he's affected by its poison as Luke gets away.
In the show,
this scene is a lot longer and carries a lot more weight. When the trio returns to camp from their quest, they truly believe that Clarisse was the one who was working with Kronos. But when Luke and Percy are alone in the woods, Percy pieces together that it was Luke.
Luke reveals everything and even tries to recruit Percy to the cause. Though there is no scorpion pit,
I like that Luke didn't have a premeditated plan because he truly thought that he could sway Percy.
Luke reveals how his sword, Backbiter, can open portals, and tells Percy to come with him so that they can get revenge on the gods. Hurt and shocked, Percy declines Luke's offer, and the two begin fighting. Percy is able to cut Luke, but Luke returns the hit and knocks Percy down. Before Luke can further hurt Percy,
Annabeth reveals herself. She was there the whole time wearing her invisibility cap, and she raises the same blade Luke had given her when they were children together against him to defend Percy. Filled with hurt and betrayal, Annabeth grinds out, "I heard everything."
I think putting Annabeth there when Luke exposes himself just makes everything hurt
way more. It was said earlier in the season that Luke was essentially taking care of Annabeth ever since she ran away from home when she was 7. Luke sees Annabeth as a little sister, and Annabeth even defends Luke in front of Hermes. Seeing Annabeth choose to go against him not only displays how much her friendship with Percy has developed but also showcases Annabeth's strength and integrity.
On Luke's end, his betrayal makes a lot more sense in the show. Not that it didn't in the book, but the show was able to give us more insight into just how the gods and goddesses treat their children and how truly screwed up the Olympian family dynamic is.
Like, I honestly don't blame Luke, LOL. Unfortunately, he just went about it the wrong way, and now everyone is sad and hurt!
Overall, this scene was excellent and a
perfect setup for the next season! Disney Alright, demigods, we've come to the end of Season 1 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Though there were some other minor differences not mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and am SO EXCITED for Season 2! Now that the show has been officially renewed for a new season, I am already anticipating the absolute chaos that is Sea of Monsters. Until then, you can find me re-reading the book yet again!
What did you think of Season 1? Do you think it did the book justice? Let me know in the comments!