The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey Season 1 Review – A career-best performance from Samuel L Jackson

Season 1

Episode Guide

Reggie – | Review Score – 4/5
Robyn – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Sensia – | Review Score – 3/5
Coydog – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Nina – | Review Score – 4/5
Ptolemy – | Review Score – 4/5


The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is one of those shows that’s as much about the journey as it is the destination. Mental health and care for the elderly have been very Important topics recently (for obvious reasons thanks to a certain virus doing the rounds.) and AppleTV’s latest drama tackles both of those head-on.

With an inspired and mesmerising performance from Samuel L Jackson, this six episode series dives into the past while Ptolemy wrestles with his present, ever-worried about the looming threat the future may hold.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is a series adapted from the book of the same name. The protagonist of this tale is dementia-riddled Ptolemy Grey who’s assigned to the care of orphaned teen Robyn. When they both learn about a treatment that will help Ptolemy’s memories return, Grey jumps at the opportunity.

With the death of his previous carer, Reggie, hanging heavy over him, Ptolemy works to uncover the shocking truth about his past – and what happened to his carer. As he does, memories of the past come flooding back, shedding light on Ptolemy’s troubled life and what’s led him to the place he’s ended up.

Despite the middle portion of episodes sagging a little and slowing to a crawl, the start and end of this show perfectly captures the essence of what Apple’s drama is trying to achieve.

There are some beautiful scenes in here, typified by the bond between Robyn and Ptolemy Grey which develops and grows across the course of the season. This is ultimately the driving force for the whole show, and although there is a hint of a murder mystery coming into effect early on, that soon dissipates, wrapped up quickly in favour of focusing on Ptolemy Grey and his life.

There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and to be honest the show is at its strongest when it slows the pacing down and just focuses on Robyn and Ptolemy together. The moments this doesn’t work stems from moments that feel at odds with Ptolemy’s mission to catch Reggie’s potential killer. Aside from that, the series does a wonderful job with its characters.

Much praise needs to given to Samuel L Jackson though, whose portrayal of Ptolemy Grey is nothing short of magnificent. If he doesn’t get nominated for some awards for his performance, I’d be shocked. The first episode in particular is such a revelation, seeing Jackson as a frail, vulnerable old man and doing so with enough empathy to really reel you in and understand the journey he’s taking.

It’s here where the show’s themes harmonically join the story, with commentary that’s sure to resonate with many people. As someone who watched their nan deteriorate from a strong and jovial old lady to a frail, confused, dementia-riddled shell of a person, anyone who has had similar experiences are going to resonate with this.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is relatively straightforward in the manner it presents its ideas, but the way these are showcased, coupled with the budding relationship between Robyn and Ptolemy, is ultimately why this show works as well as it does. Accompanied by a cultural brushstroke painting life in America, Ptolemy Grey is a solid drama that’s well worth checking out.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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