Percy Jackson Makes A Stunning Debut! — Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Episodes 1 & 2 Review

“I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher” & “I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom,”

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS - "Episode 102” (Disney/David Bukach)

**Squealing** It’s finally here!! How exciting! The first two episodes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians dropped EARLY on December 19th at 9 PM EST. It was a delightful surprise to fans; X (formerly Twitter) and Tiktok were filled with praise and excitement for the new adaptation of the beloved Rick Riordan series.

As each episode is named after a chapter in the first novel, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, we can follow along quite closely with the progression of the original material. Episode 1, “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher,” follows the first four chapters, and Episode 2, “I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom,” follows chapters five through eight. Honestly, this structure almost makes the weekly releases like a book club! I think I’ll try to follow along by reading my crusty old paperback. This may be a perfect opportunity to dive in if you’ve never read the novels.

WALKER SCOBELL AS PERCY JACKSON during the game of Capture the Flag at Camp Half-Blood
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS – “Episode 102” (Disney/David Bukach)

“I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher” introduces us to Rick Riordan’s imagination using the first paragraphs from The Lightning Thief, drawing us in with Percy Jackson’s (Walker Scobell) words of warning and wisdom. We take a speed-run through his ups and downs as a troubled kid, misunderstood. It’s precisely the sentiment that drew readers to Riordan’s writing in the first place, an acknowledgement and acceptance of difference having a purpose and power.

As a pair, Episodes 1 and 2 work brilliantly together, mostly because Episode 2 is superior, and Episode 1 needs something to lean on. This is no new phenomenon. Streaming services have been bulk-releasing episodes for the premiere, and it is often evident that either they create this formula and make inferior pilots or they release multiple episodes to hide the fact that they have created an inferior pilot. Nevertheless, despite a slow beginning, Percy Jackson and the Olympians made a spectacular debut.

We’re at Yancy Academy, where Percy meets Grover (Aryan Simhadri) and Mr. Brummer, aka Chiron (Glynn Turman), teaches mythology or the classics. Much of Percy’s experience there rings similar to the novel’s description, even down to the bully, Nancy Bobofit (Olivea Morton). While on a field trip to the Met, Percy is attacked by substitute pre-algebra teacher Ms. Dobbs (Megan Mullally), who is a Fury very heavily cloaked by the Mist (a magical substance that hides the world of Gods and monsters from the mundane). Although Megan Mullally’s part was brief, she was magnificent, and I hope we see her Fury again soon.

ARYAN SIMHADRI AS GROVER during the run to Camp Half-Blood in episode 1
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS – “Episode 101” (Disney/David Bukach)

This one event tips the scale for Percy Jackson; he’s questioning his sanity more than ever, and his best friend Grover is partially responsible for his being expelled from Yancy. In the briefest of cameos, we see author Rick Riordan in the head office at the Academy while punishment is doled out to our young warrior, a delightful little Easter egg.

When Percy arrives at his mother’s apartment in NYC, he runs into his horrid stepfather, Gabe Ugliano (Timm Sharp). So far, the portrayal of Gabe isn’t nearly as bad as what I understood from the novel and, as offensive as it is, the film adaptation from 2010. Those Gabes appear all the more deserving of what came to them than this pathetic man’s future. Not that I’m dying to see an abusive alcoholic in a Disney+ show for pre-teens, but what I’ve seen from Timm Sharp so far is much too goofy.

Percy and his mother, Sally Jackson (Virginia Kull), make a quick getaway to Montauk, where she is meant to confide and convince her son of this whole other world he’s meant to be a part of. However, they are interrupted by Grover storming in with goat legs! Because he’s a Satyr, of course, Percy, hasn’t your mother covered this yet?

This trio must make ANOTHER quick getaway because everything is moving much quicker than it’s meant to. This time, instead of a Fury chasing after Percy, it’s the Minotaur (wearing underpants). In an action sequence worthy of a Gotham Award, Sally crashes Gabe’s car, and they make a run for it to Camp Half-Blood. Before anyone can make it to safety, Sally is “crushed” or “vaporized” by the Minotaur, and Percy takes it down, fueled by revenge. Then, boom, pass out!

The VFX, CGI, and practical stunts have been stunning so far. I’ve yet to cringe watching a video game marketed as a TV show.

LEAH JEFFRIES AS ANNABETH in the washroom at Camp Half-Blood
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS – “Episode 102” (Disney/David Bukach)

Episode 2, “I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom,” begins with Percy waking up the next day and facing his new reality at Camp Half-Blood. He stumbles through plenty of introductions and tours of his new home away from home. We meet Dionysus, played by Jason Mantzoukas—perfect casting. Luke Castellan (Charlie Bushnell), son of Hermes and leader of his cabin, takes Percy under his wing and gives him the Camp Half-Blood tour and talent showcase. Clarisse La Rue (Dior Goodjohn), daughter of Ares and leader of his cabin, makes a quick enemy out of Percy because of his Minotaur claim. And, of course, we meet Annabeth Chase (Leah Jefferies) in a Bathroom, of all places.

The breadcrumbs throughout Episodes 1 and 2, with Percy Jackson’s connection to the water and accidental manipulation, make for a fun ride and it’s gratifying when everyone at Camp Half-Blood figures it out before him. By the end of Episode 2, Poseidon has claimed Percy—a glowing blue trident appears above Percy’s head after he mends his wounds in the water after Capture the Flag.

“I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom” had so many fun quips between characters. There is instant chemistry between Annabeth and Percy; they are the antithesis of one another, like Ying and Yang. Grover is fantastically mature and innocent—he has experience and plenty to learn. Though we haven’t seen all three characters interact simultaneously, you can already see the foundation of an excellent trio. And they are not the only well casted campers. It’s like Clarisse walked right out of the novel, and Luke is so soft and genuine; I fall for his lies, too.

I am very impressed but not at all surprised. As soon as we got word that Rick Riordan would be MUCH more involved with this adaptation than the previous films, the entire fandom knew we were about to witness a masterpiece. Funnily enough, TV isn’t a big step from novel to graphic novel: you’ve already adapted your work to a storyboard and used visuals to help tell your story—it’s not a giant leap. What I am surprised about is how, with a story I know so well, I watched these two episodes three times already in the less than 24 hours they’ve been out. That’s a tribute to how dynamic and well-paced they are and how the performances and writing work hand in hand.

I can’t wait until next Tuesday for Episode 3, “We Visit The Garden Gnome Emporium.” If you plan to read along, like me, I suggest catching up to Chapter 12, “We Get Advice From A Poodle,” to prepare for next week’s book club. And let us know in the comment section what you enjoyed most about the premiere and what you look forward to next week!

Written by Isobel Grieve

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