The following will contain spoilers for episode 3 of Apple TV’s The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. For a recap/review of last week’s episode, click here.
Now that Samuel L. Jackson’s Ptolemy Grey is within the window of temporarily accessing every memory he’s ever had, episode 4 begins with him putting it to good use. After securing his lost treasure from his late mentor Coydog, Ptolemy explains why it means so much to him. Coydog stole gold relics from a seemingly evil white man and hid them for Ptolemy to use to save their people. Unfortunately, after receiving these instructions, a seven-year-old Ptolemy has to watch that evil white man lynch his mentor.
The memory lingers in the aged version of the titular character, understandably so. Many Black Americans experience generational trauma through stories of the horrors that people of color had to go through in this country. However, given his age, Ptolemy lived through this trauma. A trauma he’s never truly faced or dealt with. A trauma that he ultimately blames himself for.
READ: ‘The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey’ Episodes 1-2 Recap/Review: “The Relentless Allure of the Past”
Back in the present, Ptolemy decides to use his new lease on life to solve the unsolved murder of his nephew Reggie. Alongside Dominique Fishback’s Robyn, further secrets reveal themselves. Notably, we see Robyn’s true, selfless nature. When Ptolemy reveals damn near $40,000 in cash, she immediately backtracks, expressing a desire to earn her own place in the world. The trust continues to grow between the pairing. The duo also expand their new shared home with the cash and create a true version of home for each other.
The heartwarming love they develop is pure, wholesome, and reflects a true paternal bond that is rarely on display in popular media. While Robyn suffers some of the typical tropes that Black characters do like an absentee father and harsh mother, Ptolemy is a caring, nurturing father figure. It’s refreshing to see Black characters fully expressed in this fashion.
When the narrative returns to the mystery surrounding the murder of Reggie, it’s clear Ptolemy is no longer grieving. He’s vengeful. Prying at a common friend for information, his motives are clear. He has no intention of going to the proper authorities. He’s seeking a more violent form of justice. And that makes sense, given the flashbacks he experiences throughout the episodes. Ptolemy’s life has long featured violence and heartbreak and pain. Walter Mosley, who also penned the novel, does an excellent job piecing together a string of seemingly unconnected memories. Together, they provide the main character with a beautiful arc, creating a fully well-rounded individual.
While the recovering dementia patient is attempting to come to terms with his trauma while solving the murder, a wrench is through his way. Ptolemy’s relatives Niecie and Hilly hatch a plan to expose flaws claims of Robyn trying to swindle Ptolemy out of his money. While many expect Walton Goggins to come out as the villain of the series, it’s actually two unassuming characters from the pilot. They are both slimy in their own way and make it easy to root for the heroes.
Overall, episode 4 provides further insight into Ptolemy and Robyn’s history. With only two episodes left, it’ll be interesting to see how they display the inevitable demise of the main character. The series continues to provide a unique story that feels fresh from every angle and gives the legendary Samuel L. Jackson some remarkable storytelling in which to truly seek his teeth.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey streams Fridays on Apple TV+.
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