The Student News Site of Bellevue West Senior High School

The Thunderbeat

The Student News Site of Bellevue West Senior High School

The Thunderbeat

The Student News Site of Bellevue West Senior High School

The Thunderbeat

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians” episodes ranked: an excellent adaptation of the books not afraid to make changes.

PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS – Disney’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” stars Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson, Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth Chase, and Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood. (Disney/Matthias Clamer)

It has been 14 years since the train wrecks that were “Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief” and “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” movies. With that horror in mind, any viewer should be rightfully scared for Disney Plus’s attempt at a reboot. I know I was. 

Thankfully these fears were unfounded.

The TV show learned from all of the movie’s mistakes and rightfully stays far away from any reference to the movie. In the words of Rick Rordan, “Normalize Bad Movie Erasure.” 

However, if the measure of a good adaptation is “better than the Percy Jackson movie,” the bar is so low that it is lying on the floor. 

This show absolutely exceeds this bar. This first season perfectly sets the scene for the Percy Jackson franchise. 

When the cast was announced for the first time, I was excited. While I was not familiar with any of Leah Jeffries’ or Aryan Simhadri’s work, I did know Walker Scobell very well. As someone who has watched “The Adam Project” over 20 times, I was excited to see him take on the role of Percy Jackson.

The iconic words that begin the book also begin the show and so with that this highly anticipated show begins.

All 8 episodes of season 1, ranked. Spoilers ahead.

#8 We Take a Zebra to Vegas, episode 6

Out of every episode, this does not meet any expectations I had. The pacing, the changes made, and the overall viewer’s experience falls flat on its face. The most ironic is the episode’s title being “We Take a Zebra to Vegas” despite not a single zebra being shown in the episode. 

The episode started off strongly with Percy’s nightmare and the call to Luke, but quickly fell apart. When wandering into the hotel, no time is made in the show for fun. They remove every fun aspect of the hotel and instead turn it into an exposition dump.

The viewers never have the chance to be “sucked in” to this trap because we never take a second to appreciate how enticing this trap is. This episode falls flat largely by telling and not showing.

They cut out many crucial parts of the book and things added provided nothing of importance, such as Hermes and the scenes in the parking garage. This episode nowhere near captures the energy and intrigue of the book, landing it at the bottom of my episode rankings.

#7 We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of, episode 7

When first watching this episode I laughed out loud at the irony of the start of the episode. My biggest criticism thus far was that everything was explained to the characters and of course this episode started by Percy saying “I know exactly who you are” to Crusty. This scene fell so flat. I can’t imagine this scene being fun for anyone whether you are a book reader or even just someone casually watching. 

The look of the Underworld is perfect. It is the perfect amount of dreary and I appreciated that cliche flames were nowhere in sight. 

Despite a trip to the Underworld, the real highlight of this episode comes from the flashbacks of Sally Jackson (Virginia Kull) and Poseidon (Toby Stephens). 

While this episode’s writing was nowhere near as bad as “We Take a Zebra to Vegas,” it was still full of faults. The scenes in the underworld were missing something and the beginning of the episode fell flat. However this was made up by the amazing flashbacks that were added, ultimately saving it from ending up at the bottom of the rankings.

#6  A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers, episode 5

Between a meeting with the God of War, a lot of cheeseburgers, and a god’s waterpark, this episode is sure to entertain.

In the waterpark, we got to see Hephaestus, the “outcast” of the gods, but more importantly we got to see Annabeth’s vulnerability and the emotional range of Leah Jeffries’ acting. The speech she gives to Hephaestus drives home the dynamics between the gods and leaves an emotional impact on the viewer. 

I was happy to see Grover (Aryan Simhadri) not being pigeonholed into a “sidekick” personality. He was an important part of this episode, having questioned Ares (Adam Copeland). Additionally this helped to flesh out the story by having the audience question who stole the bolt.

This episode is much better than the previous two on the list. It doesn’t do anything wrong but is not as strong as the next 5 episodes, landing it at spot number 6.

#5 I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom, episode 2

In this episode we get to see camp for the first time. Camp H alf-blood looks perfect. The big house and the cabins look like they come straight out of the book. Props to the set designers, they captured every single aspect of camp. The biggest change from the books was having Luke (Charlie Bushnell) show Percy around camp instead of Annabeth. I appreciated this change as it sets up Luke as a mentor figure for Percy, making his betrayal in the final episode even more heartbreaking.

Although some things had to be cut to fit make time, this perfectly displays camp as well as sets up relationships between the characters. The only reason it is this low on the list is because there just isn’t as much going on. 

#4 We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium, episode 3

The quest starts off on a strong note in this episode. Between showdowns with monsters and emotional bonding this episode perfectly encapsulates the energy from the books but it’s not afraid to make changes.

The acting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth and Jessica Parker Kennedy as Medusa steal the show.

This episode was fantastic. It perfectly set up the relationships between the main characters as well as. On one hand I was sad to see some group bonding things cut out due to time but I was happy with the changes they made to Medusa’s character as well as the acting. The acting and writing was amazing, landing it in the top half of this list.

#3 I Plunge to My Death, episode 4

I was so happy with all the action scenes in this episode. Between the train and the arch, there was great suspense for the viewer. In this episode relationships between the gods and their children were explored more than in the book. This is a change I loved and it was the perfect set up for next episode. The complexity of the relationship between Annabeth and her mother Athena is something I was glad to see explored. 

The show perfectly showed everything from the books while adding to it, making it every more interesting than the books. Only drawback is the short episode length. 

#2 I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher, episode 1

As the first episode of the show, it starts off strong with the same exact feeling as the book. Hearing about Percy seeing extraordinary things brings about the same feelings as it did 8 years ago when I first picked up the book. The atmosphere of the show creates a blend of humor, suspense, and childlike wonder. As the viewer we follow along with Percy in this strange world. 

When we get to our first “fight” scene, the face off with Ms. Dodds, the scene is over before it truly begins. I’d argue that this makes sense considering the confusion that Percy is feeling, however for me as a viewer I was a bit disappointed. 

Walker Scobell (Percy) and the writers perfectly portray the feeling of not fitting in. When everyone laughs at him when his mind wanders and he says mom. When he looks down at the page, letters scramble. When he is frustrated at being called special. “This is crazy. Okay I am not a god. There is something wrong with my brain. I understand I’m weird, believe me I get it. But I’m afraid something may be really broken,” for me the most powerful line, both in writing and delivery, from this entire season.

This episode perfectly matches the energy of the book and captures the wonder of the book. This is one of the strongest episodes of the season.

#1 The Prophecy Comes True, episode 8

The finale of season 1 did not disappoint. The episode begins with a fight between Percy and Ares. The fighting was amazing and the gold blood of Ares looked perfect. After the fight, there was a large change made in this episode with Grover and Annabeth going to camp leaving Percy going to Mount Olympus alone. This is a change that I wholeheartedly agree with. This allows for an easy tie back to camp as well as a more emotionally charged scene with Zeus (Lance Reddick) and Poseidon. The design of Olympus is impeccable and the scene in the throne room is even better than the book. 

One change I was unsure about at first was the change where the summer solstice had passed. While I’m still not overly enthusiastic about this change, this leads to having Poseidon surrendering the war to save Percy. The meeting between Poseidon and his son Percy was long anticipated and was not disappointing. 

Back at camp, the face down between Percy and Luke was the most exciting and suspenseful part of the series. It was done perfectly. Every change they had made from the book made the scene so much more compelling. The change of having backbiter opening portals and Annabeth watching the fight were good changes and I am excited to see how this changes things from the books in future seasons. I am also looking forward to seeing Charlie Bushnell play Luke in future seasons as he did a fantastic job in this scene.

Between Mount Olympus and the fight at camp, this is the most suspenseful and exciting episode of the season. It surpassed my expectations and was a perfect end to an amazing season, landing it at the number one spot.

This is a phenomenal show that is fun for both readers and non-readers alike. It is a great adaptation of the book but is not afraid to take risks. This season leaves me hoping for more so thankfully season two has already been officially announced. 

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians” is streaming on Disney+.

Donate to The Thunderbeat
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Bellevue West Senior High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Thunderbeat
Our Goal