Starring Samuel L. Jackson, “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” is a drama thriller series based on Walter Mosley’s 2010 novel of the same name. The miniseries that follows an aged black man, Walter Mosley, suffering from dementia, often reminds of Florian Zeller’s film, “The Father,” starring Anthony Hopkins. However, what separates the series from conventional drama is a murder and an experimental treatment for dementia that enables the protagonist to investigate the murder of his loved one, who happens to be his only support system in this lonely world. Hence, without any further ado, let’s follow “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.”
Episode 1: Recap – Ptolemy Grey Is Slowly Losing All The Leaves
The series begins with a well-dressed Ptolemy Grey (Samuel L. Jackson) sitting in his cleaned apartment in Atlanta, with a gun and a tape recorder lying on the table. Grey records himself and puts Robyn Barnet in charge of his affairs, mostly what he is going to leave after his death or arrest. The old man is already sorry for the crimes he is going to commit, but it is something that needs to be done. But what is it that Ptolemy Grey is going to do? And who is Robyn Barnet?
To answer the questions, “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” rolls back to March 17, 2021, 2 months earlier than the opening sequence. Grey is a disoriented 93-year-old man living all alone in a cluttered apartment that symbolizes his chaotic mental state as well. Due to dementia, Grey fails to create new memories and, hence, keeps revisiting the old memory blocks at the back of his head, which he cherishes dearly. In these flashbacks, Grey often talks to his old friend, Coydog, and his late wife, Sensia Howard.
Grey has only one link with the outside world: his great-nephew, Reginald “Reggie” Lloyd, who often visits the apartment and takes Grey to the doctor for weekly checkups and to the bank to cash his pension cheques. But Grey often forgets about Reggie or who he is, hence he has pinned his pictures along with the rest of his remaining relatives to help him recognize them.
In the first episode, Reggie takes Grey to the family doctor, Milton, who gets worried about Grey’s slipping memory and recommends an experimental treatment with Dr. Rubin. According to Milton, Grey is 93 years old, yet his recuperative ability and physical strength are in a very healthy state, which makes him a perfect candidate for Rubin’s experiment. Hence, Reggie gets convinced and books an appointment with Dr. Rubin for the next week, leaving Grey at his apartment alone.
However, there was something odd about Reggie’s departure. While Grey was lost in his memories, Reggie spoke to him about his wife, Nina, and her ex-boyfriend, who is an ex-convict who went to prison for murder. Maybe the ex-boyfriend had come back and was threatening Reggie or the family, but before Reggie could spill the beans, Grey zoned out. Reggie might have thought that it was no use sharing his problems with Grey and thus left. But Reggie didn’t just leave the apartment or Grey; he left the world. Someone shot him down in the alley by Delmar Circle and killed him.
Grey finds out about Reggie’s death when Hilliard Brown, Grey’s sister, June’s daughter’s boy, arrives at the apartment to take Grey to the bank in Reggie’s absence. Hilliard, a nasty young lad, steals money from Grey and takes him to the house where Grey believes everyone is celebrating Reggie’s birthday party. At the house, Grey meets his new caretaker, Robyn Barnet, daughter of Niecie’s best friend, who is staying with the family after her mother’s death. Robyn reveals the tragedy to Grey and takes him back to the apartment, but on their way back, Grey commits to finding Reggie’s killer, and thus begins his journey to investigate his nephew’s murder. But will a man suffering from dementia be able to solve the case? It seems unlikely, but that’s where the thrill lies.
Episode 2: Recap – An Experimental Treatment
Ptolemy Grey had committed to finding his nephew’s murderer, but with slipping memories, he doesn’t even remember who Reggie is or whether he is dead or alive. Hence, he needs a Watson for his foggy Sherlock mind, who will often remind him of things that need to be done.
The second episode of “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” follows Robyn Barnet, who is crashing at Niecie’s house, when suddenly, one day, Hilliard tries to touch her inappropriately while she is sleeping. Niecie subtly advises Robyn to find herself a new place, and while leaving, Robyn finds out a key to Grey’s apartment and decides to visit him.
As soon as Robyn arrives at Grey’s apartment, she helps the old man tidy up the apartment and, symbolically, helps him organize his cluster. During the cleaning, a friend of Reggie, Billy Freres, and Jacko, finds Reggie’s note about Rubin’s appointment near the TV and hands it over to Robyn, as she is the new caretaker. Robyn decides to take Grey to Dr. Rubin, where they find out about the new medication that he has developed for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. After two shots of his developed medications, Grey will be able to remember everything within a week, but there are certain drawbacks to it too, which Rubin doesn’t disclose clearly.
After a bit of convincing, Grey and Robyn decide to take the treatment, and Rubin injects him with a serum that brings back Grey’s memory for approximately 12 to 24 hours. However, he needs to take another shot before its effects wear off, or the treatment will not work for him ever again.
Grey wanted to find the treasure left by Coydog and thus agreed to take the shots, but as soon as he got back his memories, he decided to investigate Reggie’s murder and visited Delmar Circle with Robyn.
A woman, Zelda, who had witnessed Reggie’s murder, tells Grey that she saw a brown-colored man with spiky hair and a zig-zag-like scar on his left eye on the night of the murder. She also reveals that the two men were arguing over something, but she fails to shed much light as she fled the scene as soon as she heard the shot.
Grey and Robyn come back to the apartment, where Grey suddenly suffers a mild stroke, and his memory starts slipping away again. The old man gets hysterical, so Robyn calls Rubin, who sends his nurse, Olga, to ease down his pain. Even at this moment, Grey only remembers the face of his late wife and Coydog. A flashback sequence suggests that Grey lost his family (mother and sister) in a house fire, after which Coydog took him under his care.
“The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” Episode 2 ended without revealing whether the treatment worked or not, as Rubin had already stated that the medicine wouldn’t work after the effects of the first dose had faded away. However, what is more important is whether, with fading memory and fleeting sanity, Grey will be able to solve Reggie’s murder. The upcoming episode will reveal more.
With the information revealed in these two episodes, one can surmise why Ptolemy Grey gave all his belongings to his new caretaker, Robyn, in the opening sequence. In “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey,” Episode 2, Grey gifted Robyn his wife’s most cherished dress and the comb, symbolically suggesting his growing fondness for the girl.
The other missing link was the gun and the revenge that Grey discussed in the sequence, and thus one can surmise that Grey probably found out Reggie’s killer, who might be Nina’s ex-boyfriend. Grey is already a man in his 90s and has nothing to lose. Hence, he may decide to sacrifice his life to avenge his great-nephew’s murder, but only if someone doesn’t stop him from committing the crime.
There is another reference to Coydog’s hidden treasure that he left with Grey and the memory that Grey keeps revisiting. In upcoming episodes, it will probably be finally revealed what is inside Coydog’s treasure and how it will change Grey’s life completely, because as the opening sequence depicted, in just 2 months’ time, Grey becomes a man who flaunts a sleek, shiny red suit that reflects his newly found fortune.
‘The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey’ is a 2022 Drama Thriller miniseries created by Walter Mosley.