The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray season 1

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Kennedy Unthank

TV Series Review

Ptolemy Grey’s dementia is getting worse every day, and the 91-year-old has been plagued by visions and memories of his horrific past.

His current life doesn’t help him either. Sirens rush by nonstop, a crazy woman continues to rob him and the constantly blaring news channels tell him all about the latest horrible things in the world. The inside of his head is as much of a cluttered mess as his apartment, which is getting close to qualifying for a primetime spot on Hoarders. To top it all off, the one light in his life, his friendly and helpful nephew Reggie, has been murdered—and no one seems to care enough to do anything about it.

But when Reggie joins the ghostly apparitions haunting Ptolemy’s broken mind, Ptolemy promises that he will solve the case. Seems like an impossible promise to keep, given his dementia. But thanks to some scientific advances, things are looking up: A doctor promises him an experimental drug that should restore his memory to such a state that “he will remember everything that he’s ever known.” That’ll surely help him track down Reggie’s killer.

But remembering everything also means remembering those horrible memories of his past—not to mention the damages the unlicensed drug might cause. But with his dementia rapidly worsening, how much more can he lose, especially if it means finding justice for Reggie?

Cloudy Mind, Cloudy Message

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is based on Walter Mosley’s 2010 novel of the same name, and it follows the same general story. When we’re introduced to Ptolomy, his rapid dementia has eaten away most of his memories. He can’t even say what he’s had for breakfast, and it won’t be long until he forgets his home is his home—and the show helps us to sympathize with his struggles with the disease.

But given his age, not many are willing to take care of him. Most of the people he meets treat him harsh and with impatience, unwilling to offer forgiveness or be slow to anger when Ptolemy’s mental disease inconveniences them. In fact, many people take advantage of his condition.

But a few characters shine light into his life. Reggie, of course, comes by with groceries and to take Ptolemy out to do his weekly errands. Robyn takes care of Ptolemy after he allows her to stay in his home. Even minor characters Billy and Niecie help (or are at the very least pleasant towards) Ptolemy whenever he comes into their lives.

But these people are often the exception to the rule, and the world doesn’t treat them kindly for their kindness—and now Reggie’s dead because of it. And though Ptolemy’s condition is deteriorating, he cares more than anyone else in seeking out justice for Reggie, so much so that he’d sacrifice anything just to bring that closure. And in a show that’s often dark and depressing (further evidenced by the never-ending stream of police sirens outside and negative news on Ptolomy’s television), it’s these moments of selfless assistance, friendliness and love that offer temporary rocks of respite through the show’s crashing waves.

But the true nature of a depraved world doesn’t hide its face from the acts of a few isolated spots of light. We’ll see and hear of physical violence, and harsh swears are a dime a dozen. In addition, alcoholic beverages and disturbing flashbacks grace the screen at times. Ptolemy also frequently wrestles with the ghosts of his past who aren’t afraid to talk to him and remind him of the things he’d rather forget.

And with so much darkness pervading Ptolemy’s life, it’s pretty hard to pick up on any light the “good” characters provide. Instead, it’s all pretty bleak.

Episode Reviews

Mar. 11, 2022 — S1, Ep1: “Reggie”

Ptolemy Grey, plagued with both dementia and vivid visions of his horrific past, struggles through his daily tasks. Reggie, Ptolemy’s nephew, helps him to set up an important doctor’s appointment.

Ptolemy has visions of his past and speaks with ghosts. In a vision, he watches a house burn down, killing a woman. Another man is seen on fire. Ptolomy sees one of the ghosts, a friend named Coydog, walking on the other side of the street. When Ptolemy tries to follow him, he is nearly hit by a car.

Ptolemy pours a shot of liquor. His house is infested with cockroaches. He talks poorly of a woman who has a goiter. Reggie mentions his girlfriend, Nina, had an ex-boyfriend who went to prison for killing someone. Hilly, Ptolemy’s nephew, protects Ptolemy when a woman attempts to assault him. Hilly also steals two envelopes of money from Ptolemy. He is later seen with an alcoholic beverage. News reports talk of bombings in Afghanistan, including a mosque bombing which killed 14 people.

Reggie is murdered via gunshot off-screen. Billy, a friend of Reggie’s, is at the visitation, where Ptolemy says that Billy and Reggie read his old magazines looking for naked girls. Robyn, a girl adopted into the family, tells Ptolemy that Reggie was shot, and she shows him Reggie’s body in the coffin at the visitation. Later, Ptolemy sees a vision of Reggie with a bullet hole in his cheek.

The n-word is used six times, the f-word is used nearly 15 times and the s-word is used nine times. “H—,” “b–ch,” “a–” and “d–n” all make appearances. Additionally, God’s name is misused eight times, and two of those are followed by “d–n.”

Mar. 11, 2022 — S1, Ep2: “Robyn”

When Hilly attempts to rape Robyn, Robyn leaves to live with Ptolemy, and she helps to put his cluttered house back in order. A visit to a doctor offers a potential solution to Ptolemy’s dementia.

Hilly is shirtless when he attempts to rape Robyn, who kicks him away and holds him at knifepoint. An employee inappropriately looks at Robyn, and Ptolemy rebukes him. A crazy woman hits Robyn and attacks Ptolemy, and Robyn hits her with a chair. Robyn is seen in revealing clothing on occasion, and we briefly see her in her underwear once.

Ptolemy sees a vision of his dead wife Sensia, and we hear crackling of fire. In his other visions, Sensia wears a dress that reveals cleavage. A homeless man shares a bottle of strong alcohol with Ptolemy. While being injected with a drug, Ptolemy convulses on the bed and yells that he is dying.

The f-word is used nearly fifteen times, and the s-word is used ten times. “H—,” “b–ch,” “a–” and “d–n” join the conversation as well. God’s name is misused six times, and Jesus’s name is misused once.

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kennedy-unthank
Kennedy Unthank

Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. His favorite movie is La La Land.

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