Warning! This article contains spoilers for Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is perfectly adapting one of the best aspects of the original book series through its continued criticisms of the Olympian gods. Given that Disney+’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians is based in a world filled with Greek gods, monsters, and creatures, many were wondering how successful the show would be in translating the fantastical elements of the source material. Aside from some minor book changes made by the Percy Jackson TV show, the adaptation has done an admirable job of depicting the world on-screen.
The main way in which this has been done is through the depiction of Percy Jackson‘s various Greek gods, despite only two physically appearing by the end of Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 3’s story. Their lack of physical appearances aside, the Greek gods of Percy Jackson‘s world still have a strong presence in the show, mainly driven by the less-than-admirable qualities many of the Olympians possess. In exploring these aspects of Percy Jackson and the Olympians‘ cast of godly characters, the best elements of the original stories are being captured with ease.
The best aspect of the original Percy Jackson books was that the gods were not benevolent beings without flaws. This is being adequately translated in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, something that was only furthered in episode 3. It would be easy for a story like Percy Jackson to depict the gods as infallible beings that shape the world beneath them, though this lacks any nuance or depth. Instead, author Rick Riordan opted to make the Olympian gods more human than a lesser story would by highlighting their issues with selfishness and parenthood.
This continues in Percy Jackson and the Olympians in various ways. The character of Percy is often shown to be resentful of Poseidon for the latter’s abandonment of the former, with Percy never having even met his father. Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 3 also reveals that Annabeth’s relationship with Athena is similarly strained, with only the magical hat she possesses connecting her to her mother. The same can be said for Luke and the winged shoes that connect him with Hermes or Zeus and his supposedly merciful act toward his daughter Thalia which saw her turned into a pine tree.
These parental issues are laced throughout every demigod’s story in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, proving that the gods are admittedly awful parents to their children. Not only that, but Percy Jackson and the Olympians episode 3 highlights their selfishness via Medusa’s story. Despite Poseidon selfishly using Medusa to get one over on Athena, it was Medusa whom Athena punished as the gods have a skewed sense of justice. All of this makes Percy Jackson’s exploration of the Greek gods much more interesting and layered than it could have been, continuing the best aspects of the titular Olympians from Riordan’s original book series.
While an intriguing character choice in its own right, the Greek gods being bad people is important to the overall story of Percy Jackson and the Olympians be it season 1’s self-contained arc or the overall series’ journey. The reason for this is that it gives the gods themselves emotional arcs, as more details are revealed about why they act the way they do. It also allows characters like Percy, Annabeth, and Luke to undergo significant changes both within themselves and concerning their relationship with their parents.
These emotional journeys for Percy Jackson‘s demigod characters in turn affect the gods, who are taught to be better people to themselves, each other, and most importantly their children by the end of the fifth book. These arcs will all be depicted in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, beginning with season 1. Not only will that allow for a better, more nuanced selection of characters than a perfect, flawless roster of gods, but it will set the foundations for Percy Jackson and the Olympians‘ biggest character changes by the end of the adaptation via the Greek gods that give the show its title.
New episodes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians release every Tuesday on Disney+.