‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ Episodes 1 & 2 Review: A Series That Gives Justice to the Books

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The storyline of Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ novel series has been a favorite for many kids and young adults. There are even a lot of adults who grew up reading these books. Of course, we did get an adaptation of these books in the form of two movies released more than a decade ago, only for them to receive mixed reactions from fans and critics alike. That’s why fans were calling for a more faithful adaptation.

Thankfully, Disney+ stepped up to deliver ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ in a series form, hoping that it would be more faithful and more in-depth when it comes to how it delivers the storyline and introduces the characters involved in the greater plot of the movie. Episodes 1 and 2 were released on the same day to allow fans to immediately dive into the series. With that said, here’s what we think of the first two episodes of ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians.’

More faithful to the books

One of the biggest problems that fans had in relation to the two ‘Percy Jackson’ movies released more than a decade ago is how there were a lot of changes introduced in them. In other words, the movies were not entirely faithful to the source material, especially when it comes to the ages of the characters, who should have started their journey at the age of 12 instead of their later teenage years.

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While the movies themselves had their own fair share of fans, the series version is seemingly more appealing to fans of the books due to how it tries to be more faithful to the novels. Of course, there were changes introduced in the live-action series, but such changes were immaterial or weren’t too important for the story or the essence of the narrative to have huge changes. 

James Bobin, the director of the series, clarified that they added changes that were meant to be surprises, but such surprises were either meant to give more depth to the characters or were made to adjust the storyline to the current times. Here is Bobin’s full comment:

“I think there is a mixture of those things. We are very careful, and we love these books for a reason. We love them for what they were, and I remember reading the scripts for the first time, and it said, ‘Percy Jackson, bracket 12’ after his name, and I’m like, ‘OK, good. That’s a good start.’

“Because the world from a twelve-year-old’s point of view is emotionally complex, and this is a very complicated point. But yes, there will be huge amounts of it that everyone will know. There will be small amounts of it that they will be pleased by because it’s a choice we’ve made to make things a bit different than the book.”

In other words, there are still things that make the series different from the book to make it unique in its own right. But from what we’ve seen so far, the changes were immaterial to the true essence of the story, making ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ a lot more faithful to the source material.

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Great pacing

Another problem that the movies had was the pacing of the storyline because it was difficult to cram an entire book into a two-hour movie. Things in the films were happening faster than anticipated, and it resulted in important scenes getting rushed or even axed to compress the storyline.

The same problem was absent in the first two episodes of ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ due to the episodic format of the series, which has around 35 to 40 minutes per episode. As such, the pacing issue of the movies was fixed to give more allowance for many different important scenes that are vital to the development of the characters and the narrative.

One of the best parts about the pacing of the series is that it isn’t too slow as well, as the books themselves were made to have a moderately fast pacing that appealed to children and young adults.

Character-driven

The character-driven approach of the series was on full display, given the fact that the story of ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ was always going to revolve around the different journeys and opportunities for growth that the young characters have. Of course, Percy Jackson remains the central character of the earlier portions of the series, but the other characters, such as Grover and Annabeth, have also been given their own time to shine.

While it goes without saying that Percy’s journey was always going to be the focal point of the narrative, the best part is that the first two episodes were able to establish what makes Percy important and why he feels different and weird compared to other kids. His relationship with his mother and his absentee father were also great points that should catch the attention of the audience.

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Meanwhile, the other characters, such as Grover, Annabeth, and Luke themselves, were given their own time to shine as well. The first two episodes were able to establish the initial personalities of these characters and how their own storylines converge with Percy’s journey, making ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ a character-driven series that dives deep into the growths of the young heroes.

A good start

Overall, ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ established a good start that gives justice to Rick Riordan’s beloved novels without being a complete 1:1 reproduction of the books. There were points in the first two episodes that allowed us to see what makes this series unique and different in its own right without departing too much from the source material that fans dearly love.

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Of course, the first two episodes were able to establish a strong starting point that should allow fans to become more invested in what’s to come for Percy Jackson and his friends in the future. Fans and non-fans of the novels should find that ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ is an easy series to get into.

Score: 8/10

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