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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

New Percy Jackson series should be dubbed “Peter Johnson” due to extreme plot changes

Released+on+Dec.+19%2C+fans+from+all+around+the+world+joined+together+to+watch+the+long+awaited%2C+highly+anticipated+first+episode+of+the+Percy+Jackson+and+the+Olympians+television+show.+With+high+hopes+for+this+new+show%2C+fans+were+very+surprised+when+author+Rick+Riordan+made+several+changes+to+the+storyline.
Courtesy Disney+ News via X
Released on Dec. 19, fans from all around the world joined together to watch the long awaited, highly anticipated first episode of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians television show. With high hopes for this new show, fans were very surprised when author Rick Riordan made several changes to the storyline.

On Dec. 19, 2023, the first episode of the new show Percy Jackson and the Olympians aired on Disney+, leaving the half-blood fandom in shambles. After an excruciating 14-year wait, fans had high hopes for this new show, especially since the Percy Jackson movies, released in 2013, were such a bust. With the author of the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan, as one of the executive producers, fans were expecting a plot-accurate, epic adventure that would bring the books that cultivated our childhoods to life. However, while the cinematography and visuals are fantastic, and Percy’s actor, Walker Scobell, embodies “Persassy,” we were left largely disappointed with inaccurate plot points and dissatisfactory acting.

When the show was first announced in May 2020, fans worldwide celebrated the revival of their favorite childhood series and immediately began speculating details about the show, from fancasts to the recreation of iconic scenes. One popular idea was for the stars of the Percy Jackson movies, Logan Lerman and Alexandra Daddario, to return as Poseidon and Athena.

With the cast of the show finally announced in early 2022, some immediately began to criticize Riordan’s choices. Many were concerned by the inconsistency between the cast’s appearance and the books’ description of the characters. However, others held fast as Riordan promised that he picked each actor because they “embodied” their character. The cast’s appearance wasn’t really an issue as long as the acting was up to par. However, based on performances in the first episode, we are seriously questioning Riordan’s decisions. Due to his experience in past movies, like The Adam Project, Scobell did well in his portrayal of Percy, from making sarcastic comments to flossing during the Capture-the-Flag game (typical middle school activities). On the other hand, the inexperience of the other actors, like Dior Goodjohn, who played Clarisse, and Leah Savah-Jeffries, who played Annabeth, was evident. Goodjohn’s acting was reminiscent of high school plays and 2000s Disney movies, and Jeffries’ overacting made us cringe.

Going into the first episode, emotions were high as the title matched the first chapter from the book, “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher.” This direct tribute to the book may have been one of the only components of the story that wasn’t changed by Riordan. Although episode one stuck largely to the plot of the book, as more episodes were released, more liberties were taken. With only eight episodes, each episode is valuable time and must capture salient parts of the book while providing necessary information for audience members unfamiliar with the story. That said, it would make sense that some details were omitted or overlooked. However, the oversight of a few tiny details, like the training sword fight with Luke weren’t the only changes. As the series progressed, Riordan continuously took more liberties with the script and storyline in an attempt to make the show more “woke,” like highlighting trauma associated with Medusa’s sexual assault.

Unfortunately, a major consequence of these changes is that entire plot points and scenes were removed or changed to fit the new needs of the show. Take the Tunnel of Love trap in episode five, for example. In the book, the ride contained booby-trapped Cupid’s arrows, spiders, and a livestream to Mount Olympus. In the show’s version of the scene, Percy and Annabeth have to decide who will sit in Hephaestus’ inescapable chair in order to get the shield. While we appreciate the homage to traditional Greek myth, the nuanced view of the Gods and society and the heroism of Annabeth presented in this scene, it varies so far from the book that it is hard to believe they are supposed to be related. Furthermore, not only does this new scene take away from the action of the books, but it also limits Percy to more of a side character, despite being the main protagonist. In fact, in many of the show’s scenes, Annabeth is the hero while Percy is a damsel in distress. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as female empowerment is always welcome, but it takes away from Percy’s character development.

Throughout the books, Percy is portrayed as an intensely loyal but also smart person. Time and time again, Percy’s battle instincts and quick thinking have saved his trio from monsters and other threats. While Percy’s sacrificial nature is shown in the show with scenes like the Tunnel of Love, his street smarts are wholly neglected, crediting all of the brilliant plans to Annabeth.

There are so many other examples of deviations from the original plot. The entirety of episode seven is full of changes. For example, Annabeth gets trapped in the Field of Asphodel due to her “regret” and bails early instead of going all the way to Hades’ palace with the others. Additionally, Percy immediately finds the master bolt in his backpack after his and Grover’s encounter with the pit to Tartarus, instead of Hades revealing that it’s in his bag. These changes are so drastic that we fear the show might become a repeat of the film series, aka the “Peter Johnson movies.”

Regardless, the liberties taken with the show are not all negative. The friendship and eventual romance between Percy and Annabeth is displayed more outwardly in this media as we see little looks between the two and their devotion towards each other. From the little nicknames to the hug at the St. Louis Arch, Percabeth is apparent in this show, making fans swoon. Although the romance does not officially start until the fifth book, the chemistry between Scobell and Savah-Jefferies makes the build-up to their relationship all the more special.

Overall, the show had so much potential but left much to be desired. While it is understandable that changes had to be made to the plot for adaptation purposes, some of them are a little too drastic. Some enjoy the leniency between the book and the show, while others wish for the show to stick strictly to their beloved novel. Hopefully, in future seasons, we see more accurate storylines and improved acting, with just the right amount of change to keep fans on their toes.

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Sara Elster, Print News Editor
Senior Sara Elster is looking forward to her first year on the Pitch as a Print News Editor. When not writing for the Pitch, Sara enjoys baking, practicing taekwondo, and hanging out with friends.
Mackenzie Norris, Print Sports Editor
Senior Mackenzie Norris is excited to particpate in her first year with the Pitch as Print Sports Editor and Business Manager. In addition to writing for the Pitch, Mackenzie enjoys representing WJ on the softball field with some of her best friends and teammates.
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