SPOILER ALERT: This story includes spoilers for “We Go to the Yard Gnome Emporium,” Episode 3 of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”

For followers of Rick Riordan‘s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” books, Medusa represents actually one among Percy’s first giant victories: After being tricked into spending time with “Aunty Em,” he beheads the snake-haired lady, and her cursed, ineffective eyeballs are later used to point out one different enemy into stone.

Nonetheless for these with a deeper information of Greek mythology, and for lots of girls, Medusa is a emblem of 1 factor darker.

Throughout the genuine fantasy, Medusa is a human lady who takes a vow of celibacy out of devotion to Athena, the goddess of data. Nonetheless, Medusa finally enters a relationship with sea god Poseidon that turns into sexual one night time time. Many interpretations posit that the encounter, which occurred in Athena’s temple, was nonconsensual, and that Poseidon raped Medusa. Athena decides to punish Medusa, robbing her of her magnificence by turning her proper right into a gorgon that petrifies anyone she makes eye contact with. The story ends with the demigod Perseus — who Percy Jackson known as after — decapitating Medusa and gifting her head to Athena.

The 2005 novel was written for a middle school viewers and understandably didn’t delve into that backstory. Nonetheless Percy is the son of Poseidon, and Annabeth, who joins him on his quest, is the daughter of Athena, so every have loaded lineages inside the presence of Medusa. So inside the TV adaptation of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” now airing on Disney+, the gorgon’s relationships with the kids’ dad and mother will get unpacked with further depth.

Rebecca Riordan, who’s married to Rick and govt produces the TV sequence, says that “the one trigger Medusa is simply not further fleshed out inside the books was that it was Percy’s narrative and we don’t have her perspective,” as a result of the books are written in first-person. “As a 12-year-old boy in 2005, I don’t suppose he had the bandwidth for deconstructing the patriarchy,” gives Rick. “He was looking at it as, ‘This generally is a scary lady who’s attempting to point out me into stone.’”

Nonetheless that changed upon coming right into a TV writers room, the place totally different views transform vital. “It was one among many first points we talked about, how one can’t have a patriarchal lens,” Rebecca says.

Medusa is first talked about inside the pilot episode, when Percy’s (Walker Scobell) mother Sally (Virginia Kull) takes her youthful son (carried out in a flashback by Azriel Dalman) to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Paintings and divulges him Antonio Canova’s early 1800s statue of Perseus holding Medusa’s severed head. “Not all people who looks as if a hero is a hero, and by no means all people who looks as if a monster is a monster,” she says to Percy.

Youthful Percy (Azriel Dalman) sees Antonio Canova’s “Perseus With the Head of Medusa” on the Met Museum

Then, in Episode 3, Percy and his quest-mates, Annabeth (Leah Sava Jeffries) and Grover (Aryan Simhadri), end up lunching with Medusa (Jessica Parker Kennedy). Not like inside the “Lightning Thief” e-book, the kids discover who the gorgon is immediately, nevertheless Percy decides to take his potentialities collectively along with her as she’s the kids’ solely risk for refuge whereas being chased by the Alecto (Megan Mullaly), one among many Furies despatched by Hades to grab Percy. Annabeth and Grover reluctantly observe. Then Medusa, sensing Annabeth’s anger in route of her and allegiance to Athena, tells her facet of the story.

“Athena was each half to me. I worshipped her; I prayed to her; I made selections. She certainly not answered, not even an omen to counsel she appreciated my love,” Medusa says. Then, precisely assuming that Annabeth isn’t as close to her mother as she’d desire to be, she gives, “I wasn’t like you, sweetheart. I was you. I might need worshipped her which means for a lifetime: in silence.”

“Nonetheless then sooner or later, one different god acquired right here, and he broke that silence. Your father,” she continues, now speaking to Percy. “The ocean god suggested me that he cherished me. I felt as if he observed me in a way I had certainly not felt seen sooner than. Nonetheless then Athena declared that I had embarrassed her and I wished to be punished. Not him. Me. She decided that I would certainly not be seen as soon as extra by anyone who would live on.”

“Percy Jackson” co-creator and co-showrunner Jon Steinberg — who credit score creator Daphne Olive for steering lots of this storyline — explains how the episode gestures on the genuine fantasy whereas holding it age-appropriate: “Should you understand what she’s talking about, you understand what she’s talking about. For individuals who’re too youthful to be in that dialog, it obtained’t trouble you. You’re merely in a scene about this lady who seems refined. And all individuals’s acquired an opinion about what went down. There’s no mannequin that’s the mannequin. If Athena and Poseidon had been in that room, you’d get three fully totally different variations of that story.”

And although her character certainly not makes use of the language of sexual assault, Kennedy felt resolute in her interpretation: “Jon wrote a story of [Medusa] contemplating that [Poseidon] was any individual she might perception, and he broke that perception. She was feeling safe, after which the state of affairs turned unsafe,” she says. “So I chosen to play that she was a sufferer of rape and entire abandonment, not understanding why Athena would activate her.”

Equally, Rick’s rationalization is simple: “There are many variations from historic events of what occurred in that temple with Medusa and Poseidon and Athena. Who’s in cost? Who’s the abuser? What’s the precise story? It’s fiction, however it certainly really is significant to acknowledge that there’s abuse involved proper right here. Abuse of power.”

Since Medusa is traditionally thought-about a villain — and he or she does try to flip the kids into stone on the end of the episode — introducing a nuanced narrative of abuse required some care inside the design of the character. She wears a flowy beige gown with an equivalent hat that merely barely covers her dangerous eyes, along with extreme heels, crimson lipstick and a gold necklace. Briefly, she’s not monstrous. She’s gorgeous.

“Most likely essentially the most fascinating modifications that educated one of the simplest ways she appears is that in Medusa’s standpoint, the precise curse wasn’t making her ugly. It was making her invisible,” Rick says. “She has chosen, on this mannequin, to non-public that. To be seen. To be elegant. She turns people into stone and makes use of that as paintings.”

Petrifying her enemies, as Rebecca elements out, is how Medusa emotionally processes Athena’s curse: “She has been bodily modified. She’s accepted herself one of the simplest ways she is, and the flexibility that she has, nevertheless she’s moreover been traumatized,” she says.

Kennedy says she began to fully hook up with this expression of Medusa as quickly as she obtained her costume. “She’s so trendy and grounded and calm, and that’s massively a entrance for the trauma she’s attempting to cowl,” she says. “She does all of these really horrible points, and turns right into a horrible particular person, nevertheless I needed her to essentially really feel practically frighteningly calm and kind. I didn’t want her to have a scary voice. I needed it to essentially really feel gentle, nevertheless I moreover wished to go away a layer of how everyone knows shit’s gonna go unhealthy.”

“One different issue we did was current all individuals the statue of Medusa holding Perseus’ head — the inverted story,” Rick says of Luciano Garbati’s 2008 statue that reimagines and reverses Medusa’s lack of life. The piece has transform a emblem of the #MeToo movement. “It’s a powerful piece of paintings to start a dialog about who’s telling the story.” Kennedy moreover credit score this statue for serving to her create her mannequin of Medusa.

“Medusa With the Head of Perseus” by Luciano Garbati
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Photos

This nuanced, kinder mannequin of Medusa begins off with some mannequin of positive intentions when she meets Percy. She acknowledges that like her, he struggles with feeling that Poseidon abandoned him.

“The studio execs had been like, ‘Oh, that’s going to be a story about Percy gaining his father’s love and respect?’ And it’s like, ‘No, that’s not the story!’ He has to bear: ‘What has my father carried out? Has he modified? How do I see myself in relationship to that?’” Rebecca says. “Percy can solely resolve his father by the wreckage he has left behind,” says Rick.

As quickly as she’s going to get a second alone with him, Medusa gives to help Percy save his mother from Hades, which is his precise purpose on the search, although he’s been instructed to prioritize retrieving Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt. Nonetheless to keep away from losing Sally, Medusa implies, they’d need to petrify Annabeth and Grover — a punishment for his or her loyalty to the gods. “There’s a part of Medusa that truly thinks she’s going to flip Percy,” Kennedy says. “She’s looking for allies, whereas realizing, ‘I’m gonna must kill these youngsters. Nonetheless maybe I can persuade them: I’m the good man. Your mom is simply not an excellent particular person. Your dad is simply not an excellent particular person. I was there for them. They weren’t there for me.’”

In spite of everything, Percy refuses to fall into her lure. He ends up following inside the footsteps of his namesake and beheading Medusa. Nonetheless he does this to protect his buddies, not Poseidon and Athena. No matter her demise, Medusa does precise hurt to Percy and Annabeth’s notion of their dad and mother.

“The place [Percy and Annabeth] are most fully totally different is by the use of their upbringing,” Steinberg says, as Annabeth had been at Camp Halfblood for years, whereas Percy has solely recognized that he’s a demigod for per week. “Annabeth is completely steeped inside the the Olympian custom, the family custom of what you owe up [to the gods] in tribute and obligation.”

So for the first time, Annabeth has that custom challenged. “She has a calcified imaginative and prescient of her mother that has to change with the intention to get by this season and develop as a person,” Becky says. “That’s the episode the place you see that start. ‘Probably my mom is simply not who I imagine she is. Probably I don’t must revere her.’”

And Percy, who was already indignant about his father’s absence in his life, is shaken by Medusa’s suggestion that his mother’s relationship to Poseidon couldn’t have been as sunny as she made it seem.

“There’s a third act to that subplot of Medusa and Poseidon and Sally that you just haven’t seen it however. It’s obtainable in Episode 7, a extraordinarily extremely efficient flashback scene the place you see Sally and Poseidon collectively,” Rick says.

“What’s most fascinating to me [about Episode 3] is the place it positions Medusa with respect to Sally, and an consciousness that they every dated the equivalent man and had very fully totally different experiences,” Steinberg says. “I like that the story perceives that relationship from Percy’s standpoint. It’s not fully clear: Did they love each other? It appears to be like as in the event that they did, nevertheless what went mistaken? Did one thing go mistaken? Is it attainable that Medusa had an horrible experience with Poseidon and Sally didn’t?”

“It was very important to go away {{that a}} thriller, nevertheless to not depart it unaddressed,” he concludes. “As we get deeper into the season, certain, that’s Percy’s journey, nevertheless parenting that youngster is an journey unto itself. A scary one. We wished to tell that story too, and I don’t suppose you probably can inform that story with out understanding what Poseidon and Sally had been to at least one one other. Prolonged story fast: They’d a complicated relationship.”

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