To say Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell) has a complicated relationship with his father would be like calling the Pacific Ocean a puddle.
For starters, there’s the bombshell that his father is none other than the Greek god Poseidon (Toby Stephens). Then there’s all the baggage that comes with that, like Poseidon not being able to support Percy or his mother Sally (Virginia Kull) except from afar, or legends of Poseidon’s cruelty and mistreatment of mortals such as Medusa (Jessica Parker Kennedy).
How ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ pulled off Poseidon and Sally’s emotional diner chat
There are also moments throughout Percy Jackson and the Olympians where we see Percy connect with his father. When Percy leaps from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Poseidon sends a water funnel to save him. Before Percy completes his quest, Poseidon provides him with four pearls that will help save him, Annabeth (Leah Sava Jeffries), Grover (Aryan Simhadri), and Sally escape the Underworld. And in a flashback discussion with Sally in episode 7, we see that Poseidon truly does care for Percy in a way we wouldn’t understand from solely seeing Percy’s point of view.
All of these moments come to a head in Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ Season 1 finale, when Percy and Poseidon finally meet face to face on Mount Olympus. In a shift from the books, Percy arrives on Olympus after the deadline to return Zeus’ (Lance Riddick) Master Bolt passes, meaning Poseidon and Zeus are officially at war. Yet when Zeus attempts to strike Percy down, Poseidon gets between them and surrenders — a move that feels less like a prideful Olympian and more like a father prepared to lay down his life for his child.
“It’s a sacrifice Poseidon makes for his son, and it’s a huge thing,” Stephens told Mashable in a video interview. But is Percy aware of just how major this sacrifice is?
“That moment between Zeus and Poseidon is not seen by Percy,” said Stephens. “He doesn’t fully understand what happened, and I liked that. When Poseidon turns around to Percy, it’s like, ‘You don’t realize what you’ve cost me,’ but he’s not going to let him know that. Instead, he’s like, ‘You’re trouble, but I love you and I’m proud of you at the same time. And I’m willing to save you.’”
For Stephens and for showrunners Jonathan Steinberg and Dan Shotz, that genuine connection with Percy and Sally was crucial for understanding the role of Poseidon. “They wanted to make the relationship between Poseidon, Percy, and Percy’s mom feel real, and to have a kind of complexity to it,” Stephens said.
That undercurrent of complexity runs through Percy and Poseidon’s entire conversation, but especially in the moment when Percy asks Poseidon if he ever dreams about Sally. Instead of answering, Poseidon takes a silent beat before deflecting. Yet for Stephens, that silence speaks volumes.
“He’s like, ‘Yeah, I dream about her all the time, and it’s incredibly painful. And if only I could talk to you about it, but I’m not going to do that,’” Stephens explained. “There is that side of our parents that is always mysterious. You can be incredibly close to your parents, but there’s an interior life and and interior history that you cannot have access to. I think that moment [with Percy] opens up the question, ‘What is that about for Poseidon? What is going on in there?’ And that’s what you want to leave the audience with.”
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