Warning - This article contains major spoilers for both Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Disney+ and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.
For many fans, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is the first time they have engaged with the Percy Jackson world since reading the books.
As such, it is those fans' first time noticing all the hints of foreshadowing sprinkled into Episode 2 that set up Luke Castellan's eventual betrayal of Camp Half-Blood and reveal of being the Lightning Thief.
But beyond that, the new Disney+ series has taken things up a notch on the emotional front by adding several new layers that make the end twist all the more brutal.
Luke's Twist & New Levels of Emotion
Luke Castellan's (Charlie Bushnell) older-brother-like relationship with Percy in Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Disney+ is multiplied by a thousand in the show from what it was in the books, making his eventual betrayal brutal.
In a heart-wrenching scene from the Disney+ series, Percy burns a bit of blue candy, hoping his mom can listen to what he tells her. He tells her, "I think I've made some friends here. Like, real friends ... I think they might actually like me. Imagine that."
Percy is a lonely kid. He's shown in Episode 1 not to have a ton of friends until Grover and to be insecure about a lot of himself. By this point in the story, Luke had already betrayed camp by stealing Zeus' Master Bolt and having a plan to set Percy up.
Still, Luke acts so kind and brotherly toward Percy when he is at his lowest, such as when Percy thinks he just lost his mom, or when he fears that his dad will never claim him, or when he learns that half of his life had been hidden from him for years. It is hard to believe Luke's intentions are bad.
It is worth noting, though, that Luke may genuinely consider Percy a friend. At the end of the story, he asks Percy to join him and Kronos. He only tries to kill Percy when he rejects the offer. But regardless, Luke is a traitor.
This is all by design, as was explained at the Percy Jackson and the Olympians panel at New York Comic Con — which The Direct attended. Showrunner John Steinberg said what "felt really important was to understand and feel the relationship between Luke and Percy at the outset."
"[What] felt really important was to understand and feel the relationship between Luke and Percy at the outset ... To get to that moment at the end ... and not just be surprised if you didn't know what's coming, but to really feel it. And I think that that comes from from Charlie ... and really humanizes [him], understanding what story [he] thinks [he's] in."
This is doubled down on when Luke starts talking about Annabeth. In what many fans agree is a smart move, they seem to have removed the romantic tension plotline for Luke and Annabeth from the books and are keeping it strictly a sibling-like relationship.
Luke tells Percy that he will "always" be on her side in any situation and that she's his "little sister." He is seemingly so protective over this young girl who looks up to him, and it will just make the betrayal, which it is worth noting again has already happened, all the more emotionally devastating.
How Is Luke's Plot Twist Foreshadowed in Percy Jackson?
To a longtime fan, Episode 2 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians may make it seem like Luke Castellan being the Lightning Thief and working with Kronos to manipulate Ares is obvious from the get-go.
The musical score turns sinister when Luke is first shown on screen. The darker, slower strings give off a villainous vibe that may feel unexpected for a surprise villain.
Luke immediately tells Percy that it's hopeless to try to figure out what the gods think — to try and make sense of it all. This is part of his motivation for working with Kronos. He is tired of doing the gods' bidding for no real reason, and he immediately puts that out there.
Beyond that, he feels betrayed by his father, Hermes (Lin-Manuel Miranda). This element of Luke's motivation, according to Steinberg, will be explored further in the series. This is new for The Lightning Thief story specifically as Hermes did not appear in the book:
"I think a lot of the this really became a story about parenting with me, I think for Hermes, with Luke and for Poseidon and for Sally and for Zeus even. And so I think that was something that as the more we explore it and more we play with it, that color ... felt like it was coming out a lot."
At least longtime fans will be able to mentally prepare for the devastation.
Fan Reactions to Luke on Percy Jackson Disney+ Series
Charlie Bushnell brings Luke Castellan to life with his role in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. He does it so well that he has many new viewers fooled, and several longtime fans are already angry at the eventual traitor.
Fan @iDateReyna on X said that the betrayal is "gonna HURT hurt" when it comes at the end of the series, given what Luke expressed about Annabeth:
"percy: whose side are you on anyway?
luke: hers, always. she’s my little sister
oh it’s gonna HURT hurt"
Meanwhile, @parkersrina, who seems unfamiliar with the books, was surprised because fans do not like Luke since "he’s so sweet to percy." He later added, "y’all scaring me in the quotes and replies…:"
"also y’all made luke seem like a bad guy but he’s so sweet to percy"
By the time the finale comes around, longtime fans may still manage a chuckle at the reactions from the first-timers because it was right there the whole time. They just did not know how to look.