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‘Percy Jackson’ Showrunner Breaks Down ‘Critical’ Finale Scenes, Talks Season 2 Chances

Note: This story contains spoilers from the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” Season 1 finale.

Apart from avoiding what “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” showrunner Jonathan E. Steinberg describes as “a sequence of endings” in the Disney+ show’s Season 1 finale, the most important thing to establish was the solidified friendship between Walker Scobell’s Percy, Aryan Simhadri’s Grover and Leah Sava Jeffries’ Annabeth.

The episode concluded with the trio parting ways after the harrowing quest they shared to the Underworld and back. Annabeth left to give living with her mortal dad and his family another shot, Grover embarked on his quest for Pan and Percy went back to live with his mother and attend yet another new school.

“It felt really important that these three kids, who had been on this adventure [together], had a moment to realize that they had become friends and to understand that wasn’t going away,” Steinberg told TheWrap. “It was important for us to really embrace the idea that the kids were going to be away for a little while, and every time they see each other so much has changed. I’m not 100% sure you can tell a story about kids going to camp without that being part of it. It’s such a core component of that experience of these really intense emotional relationships, that then have to be put on hold for life to intervene.”

Percy had crucial scenes with each of his parents in the finale, as well as “jerk relative” god of war Ares (Adam Copeland), in addition to deciphering what the Oracle really meant with her prophecy earlier in the season, which sets the show up for for potential future seasons. The finale even featured Percy having some tense one-on-one time with Zeus (the late Lance Reddick, who died in March 2023).

TheWrap spoke with Steinberg and got answers to all our burning questions about the finale and beyond.

TheWrap: How important was it to include Ares both in the finale and throughout the season?

It’s just really hard to think about the adventure feeling like a complete experience without him, both as the first real god that Percy meets, beyond Mr. D [and the moment of] feeling like I am sitting down to the strangest family dinner ever; and him meeting these people who are like him, but that are these wildly outsized versions of things like him.

[With] the fight, I’m not sure Walker [Scobell] would have taken the job had we not offered him the opportunity to fight Ares. So it was critically important to feel, not just that they face off at the end, but that we have an answer for it. Even Adam said when he came on board, the idea of fighting a 12-year-old was a little bit hard to get your head around. I think if you can get to the end of the story and feel like that actually makes a fair amount of sense, the idea that this boy has come so far, and that his father’s in his corner, and that all of those pieces are lining up in the right way, [that] felt critical to the ending.

Percy and Poseidon get a father-son moment, what went into engineering their encounter?

There’s a lot of conversation about ‘What is Poseidon to Percy? What is the nature of their relationship?’ Where it felt true to me was to not deny the fact that Poseidon can be distant and can be remote, but that when we got to the end of the story, there would be some glimpse for Percy of a sense of wholeness to these relationships, and a sense that there’s some suggestion that there was some love there. [That’s] something that, as a 12-year-old kid, he would go to the ends of the Earth and beyond to catch a glimpse of.

The sequence of Percy’s reunion with Percy’s mom Sally, his realizing it’s a dream and then Kronos’ appearance — what is that meant to achieve? 

It was really important to feel the reunion between Percy and Sally (Virgina Kull). So much of the season was hung on that rescue mission that it felt really important. We’re cutting past the actual reunion into this dream nightmare, where he’s remembering [the reunion] and then waking up into what feels like the more important Percy-Sally emotional position, which is ‘What happens tomorrow?’ What is this now that they understand each other in such a deeper way? What does the first day of school look like for two people who know that they’re a part of this giant story? It was really about trying to find the emotional moments that felt most important, and finding a way to line them up rather than feeling there was some obligation to chronicle all those events sequentially.

Why does Kronos look the way he does? Any idea of who you want to cast as his full self?

We wanted to own the idea that he wasn’t finished cooking. This was a character who, until recently, had been in a million pieces and had spent lifetimes trying to put himself back together. We wanted to feel that sense of how rickety he was, this villain, who’s going to play such a big part going forward, isn’t quite there yet.

I thought our friend Nick Boraine did a pretty outstanding job of starting the Kronos train moving in Season 1, in terms of where that character goes, and he will speak with a number of voices before the story is finished. We’ll see how things play out.

How likely is Season 2? Were there any other easter eggs in the finale that set up the foundation for that?

If I was reading the newspaper about how the show is being received and doing, I think it seems as though something’s probably going to happen. Nothing’s official. There’s a lot of conversations going on. Hopefully there’ll be some news at some point in the near future. Easter eggs, yeah for sure, but if I tell you what they are, then they’re not Easter eggs. There was definitely a desire and intention to connect this whole season, but really the ending, into a sense of what’s coming in the next books.

Is the plan still one book per season? 

I think that’s the goal. It seems like a good plan.

Has there been any talk of recasting Lance Reddick‘s Zeus yet?

There has not. Zeus doesn’t have a huge presence in this next stretch of story. Almost a year later, I think we’re still both grateful that we were able to have him be a part of this, and have him help us to define who Zeus is in this world. Also maybe just a little bit in denial about trying to think about what this will be without him. I’m sure there’ll be more conversations about how to keep the story moving and how to keep the show moving and, but we haven’t quite [gotten there yet].

What went into that scene where Luke turns into a traitor?

Any look at the magic in this world or the surreal, we’re trying to get it to feel both like it’s got one foot on fantasy and one foot in a world that feels really grounded, so trying to find that balance. [We wanted] to send Luke off in a way that felt like he was maybe a little more powerful than you thought he was, and to make sure, if it wasn’t clear already, that he was going to be a bit of a problem going forward, and the the center of gravity for a lot of the antagonism towards Percy.

All episodes of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” are now streaming on Disney+.

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