Percy Jackson and the Olympians‘ two episode premiere has landed on Disney+ early, which means it’s time for fans to dive into the latest adaptation of the beloved novel series. Episode 1’s description reads:
“Expelled from school, Percy Jackson unravels who he is, confronting a world of gods and monsters.”
We start by meeting Percy Jackson: a 12-year-old boy who appears to be “troubled” in just about every meaning of the word — bad grades, bullies, along with some not-so-normal things like seeing unique creatures in the world that no one else can since he was in the second grade (at least). Not wanting to make the target on himself any larger Percy keeps these things secret, until he makes a friend who is just as much of an outcast as him — Grover.
But everything changes during a field trip to The Met, where Percy reminisces in front of the statue of his namesake, Perseus, showing us a flash to his earlier childhood when his mother would tell him stories. In the flashback, Sally shares the true reason she named her son Perseus, and it’s not due to his perceived heroism like young Percy initially believed.
“Not everyone who looks like a hero is a hero, and not everyone who looks like a monster is a monster.“
Mr. Brunner intervenes when Percy is the subject of bullying from another classmate and a fellow teacher, Mrs. Dodds, to tell Percy he believes in him and gift him a pen to continue his assignment. While eating lunch Grover tries to comfort Percy about the bullying incident with Nancy, giving excuses for Nancy like potential trauma related behavior issues and saying they could make an appointment to talk with the school counselor. Percy’s had enough though and would rather push Nancy in a dumpster. When Nancy one again picks on the pair and throws a piece of cheese at Grover, Percy loses his cool and stands to confront her … but mysterious powers cause her to fly backward and into the fountain.
As Nancy causes a commotion because Percy “pushed” her, the pen Percy was gifted with begins to vibrate as Mrs. Dodds communicates with Percy telepathically, advancing on him menacingly. As she walks she transforms into her true form — a Fury. She pins Percy to the ground but the pen transforms as well into the shape of a sword, causing Percy to stab her. “Mrs. Dodds” vaporizes. Percy blacks out and wakes up to children standing around him, Mr. Brunner instructing them to give him some room. In Percy’s confusion he asks where Mrs. Dodds is, but Mr. Brunner says there’s no one there by that name.
Back at the school, Grover tells the school administration that Percy did push Nancy, resulting in Percy being expelled from yet another school. As he waits for his ride, Mr. Brunner joins Percy and says that he believes Percy and knows he thinks he didn’t push Nancy, asking Percy to tell him what he thinks happened.
“I’ve seen a lot of young people go through this sort of thing in my time. Of all them,I suspect that you might have the most difficult journey. I suspect you are special, so much more so than you know.”
A betrayed and heartbroken Percy returns home where his step-father, Gabe, can be heard yelling inside the apartment from the hallway. Percy and Gabe bicker about why Percy was kicked out of school and the fact that Gabe’s “job” is playing online poker until Percy leaves to find his mom, who is currently sitting on the fire escape in the middle of heavy rain to relax. Sally isn’t interested in hearing about what happened with the school because she believes her kid over anyone else in the situation. She’s just glad to see her son, and even made time to get a bag of his favorite candies as a welcome home.
The candy isn’t enough to raise Percy’s spirits and the conversation turns to part of what’s bothering him — Grover, which Sally also knows about because Mr. Brunner called her. But Percy has bigger things on his mind, because the things that have been happening to him have cultivated into this incident at the museum with his unknown power and Mrs. Dodds, and he’s scared. Sally tells Gabe that she and Percy are going to their oceanside cabin for the weekend. On their drive, Percy has another one of his prophetic dreams (nightmares).
Percy and Sally sit down so Percy can open up to her about feeling like a “puzzle with half the wrong pieces”, explaining that lately his daydreams haven’t felt like daydreams and that they feel real, especially at the museum. Without Percy saying it was Mrs. Dodds Sally asks him what “she” said to him, and Percy catches the slip and the conversation turns to an explanation that Percy has been owed a long time. Sally first reveals that they come to the cabin because it’s where she met his father, revealing that his father is a God, telling him that the stories about the Greek Gods she’s told him are real and that he’s a Half-Blood.
“This is crazy! I’m not a God, there is something wrong with my brain! I understand that I’m weird, believe me, I get it — but I’m afraid something may be really broken, and now you’re telling me stories like it’s going to make it okay?”
The conversation is interrupted by a knock on the door from Grover who is in a frenzy. While Sally was hoping for another night with her son to explain things, it’s not something she’s going to be able to do. Percy is understandably unhappy to see Grover, but those initial feelings are clouded when Percy sees Grover’s real legs — goat legs. The trio load into the car and Grover tries to continue the explanations, starting with himself being a Satyr and Percy’s “Protector.” If Grover hadn’t gotten Percy kicked out of school Percy wouldn’t have survived the night, but he is sorry still. He explains the Mist and introduces Camp Half-Blood, a sanctuary for Half-Bloods. Percy is understandably upset toward his mom now as he feels she’s been hiding things from him, which is accurate even if it was for his safety.
Explanations have to pause as the Minotaur reveals itself, chasing after the car as the next creature hoping to make an attempt on Percy’s life. Ultimately, the car is crashed and the trio have to climb out to continue making their way to camp on foot. They approach a barrier where Sally makes Grover swear that he will take care of Percy and keep him safe. As the Minotaur comes closer, Sally explains to her son that she can’t go with them because humans can’t cross the barrier, sharing a final message of strength with her son.
“Perseus, listen to me: you are not broken. You are singular. You’re a miracle. And you are my son. Hold fast. Brave the storm.”
Sally holds of the Minotaur to give Grover and Percy a chance to make it into the safety of camp, though she is ultimately grabbed and vaporized in a similar fashion to Mrs. Dodds’. In his rage, Percy faces off against the Minotaur himself and ultimately secures revenge by killing the massive creature. Once the creature vaporizes Percy blacks out again, and as he wakes and is barely conscious he is greeted with more children standing around him as well as a Centaur with a familiar voice welcoming him to camp.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians episodes 1 and 2 are available to stream now on Disney+. Our review for the premiere episodes can be read here, and additional coverage for the series including episodic recaps for the rest of the season can be found here.