Blood of Zeus is mediocre, Greek mythology fan fiction.
There’s not exactly a whole lot else to say about it.
Though it’s by the same studio responsible for Castlevania – the visuals and style of this show just seem wrong for this type of story. Blood of Zeus is not nearly as grandiose or fanciful as the world Belmont and Co. live in and the characters are flat and one dimensional.
Which I guess is pretty on par for most Greek myths. I think. I was an Ancient Egypt kid – most of my knowledge of Greek mythology comes from random units in various classes and Percy Jackson.
So the idea of having a show focus on a demigod son of Zeus isn’t shocking and has some potential if taken in a creative direction.
But this show decided to play it straight. Which is the worst possible thing they could have done.
Blood of Zeus focuses on Heron, a young man living with his mother on the outskirts of a polis. Due to his bastard status, he and his mother struggled to survive. But after some mysterious and dangerous happenings, Heron finds out the truth about his parentage and that he must stop the demonic cult leader Seraphim who is working with the jealous goddess Hera, and save the world.
Y’know, pretty standard Greek mythology stuff.
Sure, there are some twists, but they’re all the details you would expect. The show is terrible with suspense and mystery and is really dependent on flashbacks in its narrative.
So…hopefully, this was just kind of a placeholder while they work on the next season of Castlevania. And once again, at least the animation was pretty in many places.
Playing it Straight
Greek myths are a standard type of story in Western media. It’s expected viewers know the basics about the myths and various deities, which makes it difficult to do a show that is solely focused on the myths.
You can’t exactly play them straight otherwise.
Especially, especially, especially if you’re gearing towards an older audience like Blood of Zeus is. We’ve seen these stories played over and over. We’ve taken literature classes. We’ve discussed them and analyzed them to death.
That means playing these tropes completely straight is BORING.
Unless you have some well-choreographed and intense battle scenes, expected of a Greek epic. But this one…doesn’t have that.
Because they mostly involve the Olympians, who don’t have a need for hand-to-hand combat and can just toss lightning bolts or arrows or use automatons to do their work for them.
Even Heron, the main character, doesn’t really get any worthwhile fight scenes. He was born super-strong, y’ know being a son of Zeus, and all, doesn’t need improvement in combat, and for the final battle, he receives a bow from Hephaestus that shoots multiple arrows at once.
There’s not a lot of strategies used against any of the enemies they face, except brute force, despite what Zeus says.
Heron and his allies are up against Seraphim and his army of demons, Hera, and at the end, some resurrected giants. I just finished watching the show the day before I started writing the review and for the life of me, I cannot tell you how exactly Heron won other than strength and attempted self-sacrifice.
Seriously, this series was so dull I can barely remember most of it and it took me three times as long to get through every episode because I had to keep pausing or rewinding. To truly create a compelling tale, when you are playing the hero’s journey so straight that your protagonist must literally enter the land of the dead …you have to do something unique and captivating elsewhere.
Something like a plot twist.
No Plot Twists
I suppose Seraphim being Heron’s half brother was supposed to be a twist. But considering that I called it the second, the first episode revealed Heron had a twin brother, and they confirmed the relationship in the second episode…it’s hardly a twist.
There’s no build-up to it. No suspense.
Neither of them even has a reaction when they find out they’re a twin. Seraphim is more upset by the fact that he killed his birth mother than by the idea he has a twin trying to fight him (which okay, that sounds pretty on target for Greek myths.)
But they don’t do anything with this idea. I don’t know if anything in this show is supposed to be a twist or whether it’s just supposed to be suspenseful. Because we the audience do know things the characters don’t, but it’s never for long. And there’s never a sense of urgency for characters to find out the truth.
Half the time, the information is handed to them like a deus ex machina. The only other thing I can think that would count as a twist is killing off Zeus and Heron inheriting his powers…the latter of which would be interesting if he did anything to actually earn them and be worthy.
I know that the gods can die in Greek myths – but it still didn’t seem shocking or surprising to me when it happened. Besides, it’s still a Greek myth – just because somebody dies doesn’t mean they’re going to remain dead.
Especially if they’re a god.
If there’s another season, Zeus is going to come back. Calling it now.
Boring and Bad Characters
My god, the characters in this show are boring. They lack any sort of genuine agency and are one-dimensional most of the time.
The most complex character is clearly Seraphim — and it’s more that his complexity is mentioned but never given any significant weight aside from him having a relatively standard tragic backstory. He’s had a sucky life, but there’s never enough to justify his actions or show what drove him to listen to the demon.
He’s a tragic figure, a plaything of the gods, but he still killed innocent people. Some people he killed probably deserved it – but many didn’t. And he also tries to convert people to his giant flesh-eating cult —which I still don’t get.
But at least there’s depth even if it’s kiddie pool level.
It’s better than Heron though, who has the depth of a birdbath during a drought. He never ever tried to truly fight against Zeus, even though Zeus was a complete and utter asshole. I mean, he pretends to be an old, lame man who occasionally helps him and his mother by providing a rabbit to eat and just lets his kid be bullied.
And he hides from Hera. And he still cheated on her several times. So why the fuck should I feel sorry for him when he dies? Why should I want Heron to join him?
Heron shows no real likes or dislikes. He doesn’t show any kind of agency. He’s chaste. Which is fine – but it extends to all his relationships. There’s no passion. No chemistry. We’re supposed to believe that he and this Amazon warrior and two random smugglers are true companions -but instead, the pacing makes it seem like they’ve known each other for five minutes and just came along because they didn’t have anything better to do that day.
I don’t know who these characters are. I don’t see them having a bond or why they’re willing to risk their lives for who for all they know is a crazy man.
Sure it’s better than being a galley slave, but pretty much anything is.
And Hera is just…a bitch. Like in a way that makes me feel like the creators and writers of this show, don’t really like women.
I know Hera’s thing is that she constantly gets cheated on by Zeus and takes out her jealousy on the poor mortal women who half the time don’t originally know it was actually Zeus. They were rape victims. Heron’s mother was a rape victim too – and Hera’s view on this is never challenged. It’s never brought up when she first had sex with Zeus she was being deceived but didn’t or couldn’t say no.
And it paints Hera as though she’s in the wrong for being upset with Zeus. Like yeah, murder via giants is a bit extreme, but Zeus was a goddamn prick. And I don’t blame her. It doesn’t ever question why she’s upset with the women – who’ve done nothing and their children who’ve done nothing and punish them terribly. She constantly calls Heron’s mother a “whore” and forces Seraphim to kill her.
And Heron’s mother, whose name I can’t be bothered to remember and the Amazon warrior Alexia has absolutely zero personality to speak of. Alexia never becomes Heron’s love interest or a damsel in distress, but that doesn’t make her a strong or interesting character. I can’t think of a single trait about her except that the show briefly brings up her feeling guilty over her mother’s death.
Wow. What a great character.
There’s just no reason to root for any of these guys.
Is There Any Urgency?
Once again, I find it hard to believe that the end of the world is coming so soon since we’re never given an appropriate timeline or just how much Heron needs to improve n his skills. When he’s training in Olympus, it’s hard to tell how badly he’s failing or how much time has passed or how long he has.
It could be months for all I know.
I don’t get what’s so hard about this. Why do people keep doing this? How is this suspenseful? It isn’t.
From what I know about Greek myths – the hero DOES have to work for his goals, to an extentI’m pretty sure that takes longer than an episode and a half worth of time of your average Netflix show. Just guessing.
There’s no monumental build-up. No epic training montages. The win doesn’t feel earned. The battles and fight scenes aren’t visually interesting or compelling and once again, with most of them, there’s insufficient clear power differentials and abilities or clarity on what the stakes for that fight are.
Sorry guys, but that’s called bad writing.
And certainly, Heron gaining the powers of Zeus at the end feels undeserved and not quite the proper reward for him. Instead of “claiming” his birthright as Zeus’ son whom he didn’t even like most of the time he knew Zeus — why not, bring his mother back? Give him a chance at a new life on Earth?
Why does it have to be power?
This whole show just didn’t settle well with me and I’m not exactly sure why. It was mediocre and didn’t stand out, and yet I can’t help but feel the message and themes are so out of date and out of touch. Like yeah, it’s a hero’s journey…but something about how the show handles the relationship between gods and mortals, as well as power and the subject of abusers —making me uncomfortable.
I don’t believe these shows HAVE to be moralistic. But still…
Maybe I just hate ancient Greek tropes and myths.
That’s always a possibility.
Anyway, I’m finishing writing this on Saturday evening. Biden was just confirmed the winner of the race, so I’m off to relax for the first time in fucking months. So that’s the scoop!
Year of Release: 2020
Length: 8 episodes, 25-37 minutes
Executive Producers: Charley Parlapanides,Vlas Parlapanides, Brad Graeber
Creators: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides
If you liked this review read: Generic mystery adventures await in “Victor and Valentino”