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The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Review: Percy Jackson’s superior on-screen adaptation

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Photo Creds: Disney+

The “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” series, written by Rick Riordan, is a key aspect of book enthusiasts’ childhoods. Rick Riordan’s creation has managed to capture the imaginations of readers with its compelling blend of mythology, humor, and adventure. The series not only introduces young readers to the world of Greek mythology in a modern context, but also explores themes of friendship, identity, and the journey to self-discovery.

Many readers, like us, were ecstatic when it was announced that a TV series production was in the works.

Episode 1 – I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher – (Naadiya)

As soon as I heard the words “Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood,” I knew that this series would bring justice to Rick Riordan’s book series and become automatically superior to the shunned Percy Jackson movies. 

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The first episode, titled “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher.” instantly introduces viewers to Percy Jackson, a witty and troubled 12-year-old with a tendency to get kicked out of school. 

Photo Creds: Disney+

This narrative unfolds quickly as Percy and his best friend, Grover, are subject to typical middle school bullies. These visuals bring a sense of nostalgia for Percy Jackson fans, as childhood book characters have been brought to life with meticulous detail and care. 

The episode begins with a flashback of Percy witnessing “impossible” events, such as monsters running down his street. Later, Percy is on a school field trip at a museum. The camera pans to his clipboard, where the words on a paper seem distorted, showcasing Percy’s dyslexia. In Riordan’s books, Percy’s dyslexia is a significant part of being a demigod (half human, half god) and foreshadows later events in the episode. 

We are quickly introduced to Sally Jackson, Percy’s mother, a key figure in the series, and Mr. Brunner, an understanding teacher and mentor for Percy. Mr. Brunner gives Percy a seemingly ordinary pen, leaving book fans on the edge of their seats. 

Photo Creds: Disney+

We are also introduced to Nancy Bobofit, a notorious bully in the Percy Jackson universe. Later in the episode, Nancy is taunting Percy and Grover, when Percy stands up and watches Nancy be pushed into the fountain. The pen Mr. Brunner gave Percy starts vibrating, and Percy faces his first-ever monster—Mrs. Dodds. 

This scene was a captivating and visual representation of Percy’s first encounter with a monster. It captures Percy’s confusion with his identity and draws the audience into a world of troubled demigods. 

The scene soon changes to Percy’s stepfather, Gabe Ugliano, who regularly berates Percy and his mother. This scene captures the bond between Sally and Percy and sets a stark contrast between the ordinary difficulties Percy encounters in his regular home and the challenges he later faces in the mythical world. Additionally, “Logical” by Olivia Rodrigo played in the background, and needless to say, tears were shed. 

Percy and his mother drive to a cabin in Montauk and have a heartfelt discussion regarding Percy’s encounter with Mrs. Dodds, which leads to confusion and chaos, and finally, the entire story starts to unfold.

This episode was a promising start to the Percy Jackson series and definitely made the wait for the 2nd episode hard.

10/10

Episode 2 – I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom – (Naadiya)

This episode starts with Percy waking after the events to a hazy visual of Annabeth, who mutters one of her most iconic lines, “You drool when you sleep.” Personally, I screamed when I heard that. 

Photo Creds: Disney+

 The next morning, Percy wakes with Grover at his side. Percy immediately tries to find out more about his father, making this episode both emotional and humorous, especially when he is introduced to Dionysus, the sarcastic god of wine who pretends to be Percy’s father for a few minutes in order to coerce Percy into bringing him a bottle of wine. This causes Percy great frustration until Chiron enters and confronts Dionysus. 

Throughout this part of the episode, Percy explores the camp, and Chiron encourages him to make new friends, which proves to be easier said than done. 

As a former wannabe Camp Half-Blood camper, the cinematography of the camp was mesmerizing. 

The Camp Half-Blood shirts, the interior of the cabins, and even the way the campers interacted on the camp made me shake with excitement. 

Additionally, the theme of having an absent parent is explored, as Percy struggles with not knowing his father and the effects of it on his life. 

The camera soon pans to Luke, a soon-to-be mentor, who shakes Percy’s hand. Book fans were definitely screaming at this, from both heartbreak (iykyk) and the happiness of witnessing Percy’s newest friend. 

The scene changes to a shot of the forest, where Grover approaches a dryad (a Greek nature spirit that lives in trees) named Helena, who encourages him to remain truthful. This is touching and depicts Grover’s kind-hearted character, and the contrast between his timidness, Percy’s energy, and Annabeth’s wiseness. 

Later, Percy is ambushed by Clarisse, daughter of Ares. The conflict doesn’t go her way, and Percy unknowingly uses his powers to spray Clarisse with toilet water, giving us the title of the episode. Yuck. 

We soon see Percy and Annabeth’s first interaction, which definitely left fans excited for upcoming scenes with these two iconic characters. 

Photo Creds: Disney+

This episode continues with Percy participating in camp activities, such as Capture the Flag, and interacting with his fellow demigods. Towards the end, Clarisse sneaks up on Percy, and the two of them start to fight. Percy breaks her spear, and moments later, he is claimed as the son of Poseidon. 

The battle between Percy and his self-identity in the TV series gives familiarity to the plot point in the books, making this series a promising and captivating adaptation. 

This episode encompasses all emotions and definitely leaves viewers wanting more. 

8/10

Episode 3 – We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium – (Nicole)

The beginning shot for this episode gave me goosebumps. I instantly recognized what was going to happen. The Oracle and its attic are such huge parts of the narrative and for when Percy is given his quest. The fact that they made Gabe’s face be the one to tell him was such a funny addition. 

Watching Percy choose Annabeth and Grover for the quest made me so excited to finally see the original trio together on screen. Not to mention Percy’s talk with Grover was a heartwarming addition and showed how Percy slowly started to forgive Grover. 

I was excited for the quest to start, but watching the dynamics and the conversations between the trio was so much fun. My favorite moment was Percy’s sassy comment (“she met a pinecone’s fate,”) as he learned more about Thalia (another forbidden kid). 

Photo Creds: Disney+

As the quest continued and they found themselves in Medusa’s lair, I was wondering how they would change her story. With the original manuscript of the first book in the series being written in 1994, there were bound to be changes. Having Annabeth immediately recognize Medusa was a better fit for her character than the book’s dramatic reveal. Not to mention how Medusa calling herself a survivor and challenging Annabeth’s blind faith in her mother was a wake-up call foreshadowing many demigod grievances towards their godly parents. 

When Percy and Annabeth were butting heads, Grover was the much-needed comedic relief, especially when his “plan” failed and him to fly away while they were being chased by Medusa. 

I was particularly looking forward to seeing Percy cut off Medusa’s head and mail it to Olympus. I remember reading that scene in 4th grade and thinking it was such a badass thing to do. It is so fun seeing the Persassy nickname come to life with all these scenes. 

All the changes they made fit the characters’ personalities and the small heart-to-heart Annabeth and Percy had about not being friends, but simultaneously making amends with one another was so sweet. I was anxiously and impatiently waiting for the next episode so I could continue to watch the amazing dynamic the cast brought to life for the trio. 

9/10

Episode 4 I Plunge to My Death – (Nicole)

One thing I love about the series is how they are adding more of Sally. We get to see just how major her role in Percy’s life is as his mother. Seeing her trying to prepare Percy for the demigod life and trying to teach a basic survival skill like swimming was so sweet and made me appreciate her so much more than I already did. 

Another is how they are putting more emphasis on the dreams demigods have, and how important they are in the books. The last line while Percy is having the dream on the train “she is coming” gave me goosebumps. I knew exactly who they would face next and I was excited. One thing the movie left out was this particular monster and its interaction with the trio, which is also one of my favorite scenes in the book. 

Photo Creds: Disney+

The scenes with the Chimera and Echidna were so fun to watch especially as they ran from her on the train. Seeing the cute puppy version of the Chimera was such a contrast to how deadly it really is. One thing that I really appreciated was seeing how the trio reacted to the threat and how they started to depend on each other.

Watching as Percy refuses to accept how the gods work and making Annabeth rethink her own beliefs made me all the more excited for future episodes. This is such a major theme in the books and seeing it play out brought me so much joy, especially as Percy and Annabeth’s relationship improved. 

When Athena refused to protect them because of a ridiculous and petty reason, it really brought home Percy’s concerns. Watching them try and “heal” Percy from the poison by splashing water on him from the fountain was hilarious and brought a momentary respite before the chase continued. 

Watching Percy’s character and selflessness develop on screen was just as good as in the books. In St. Louis Arch, he pushed Grover and Annabeth out of the way and locked the door behind them to protect them from Echidna. Even though he was injured, he wanted to save them. 

Photo Creds: Disney+

Another reason I was so excited to see this scene was because one question everyone in the fandom has— how Percy fell from the Arch into the river when they are over 20 feet apart. Watching him sacrifice himself and fall, I paid a lot of attention so I could finally have my answer. I certainly did not expect for the river to just snatch him out of the air and pull him towards it. 

The whole scene of Percy in the river learning about his father’s care for him and realizing he can breathe underwater was amazing. Watching Percy learn more about himself and his powers really helps develop him as a character, because he was just some kid less than a week ago but now, he has all of these big responsibilities he has to learn to adapt to. 

10/10

Overall rating:

The show did an excellent job of bringing these beloved characters to life, and all the changes made are understandable. I love how the actors portrayed the characters and how they created the dynamics between them. Watching these episodes brought me back to my childhood and spending hours staying up reading just one more chapter (even though it never was just one more chapter) and falling in love with reading. For these reasons, the series is a 10/10 for us. 

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About the Contributors
Nicole Rodil Suarez, Photo Editor
Nicole Rodil Suarez is a current senior here at CVHS. Some tasks that she enjoys doing out of school are reading, specifically fiction, baking with her little sister, cooking with her mom, and watching Star Wars with her dad. Nicole has traveled all around the world, and her favorite place she has lived in so far has been Panama.
Naadiya Walji, Staff Writer
Naadiya is a senior at CVHS. She is a quiet bookworm who’s favorite pastimes include reading, spending time with her cat, and drinking coffee. Interested in psychology, Naadiya looks for the deeper meaning behind everything she reads. Her favorite genre is fantasy and she cares deeply for minority representation in media. As an empath and future psychologist, Naadiya loves newspaper because it allows her to explore new topics and perspectives.  
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