The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey diverges from the book by turning Reggie into Ptolemy’s nephew. In the book, Reggie is actually Ptolemy’s son.
Warning! SPOILERS for The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.
In The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey on Apple TV+, Reggie is revealed to be Ptolemy’s nephew, despite the book being clear that Reggie is Ptolemy’s son. However, along with the other ways in which the series diverges from the book, this small change only serves to enhance the core story. As Ptolemy’s nephew and not his son, Reggie’s presence serves to show just how much Ptolemy is distanced from his family. Through this small but crucial change to Reggie’s background, Ptolemy’s fate becomes slightly more tragic – and so do Ptolemy’s relationships with the rest of the cast of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.
It’s not surprising that the series is different from the book in ways that actually improve the narrative. This is because the person who developed the screenplay for the Apple TV+ series is the same person who wrote and published the book The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey in 2010. As renowned crime fiction novelist Walter Mosley helms the series that is based on his work, he’s bound to instill a couple changes that can either improve his original narrative or at least surprise those who’ve actually read the book.
By turning Reggie into Ptolemy’s nephew instead of his son, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey firmly establishes that Ptolemy has been abandoned by his immediate family, and that he is being cared for by distant relatives. Although the change seems small, it helps to paint a clearer picture of the loneliness that comes with severe dementia. It also shows why screen adaptations cut book scenes or change small details from the source material. While it’s important for any adaptation to stay loyal to its roots, the process of developing movies or series from literature may sometimes provide writers with opportunities to improve the story. This is especially true in the case of screen adaptations like The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, the screenplay for which was written by the same person who created the source material.
Moreover, this change in Reggie’s background implies that there will be other parts of the series that will slightly diverge from the book. This is to be expected, as changes of all kinds are common among series adaptations of popular books. In this case, with Mosley holding the reins, any other changes are likely to still be in line with the book’s core themes and narrative.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is as much a story about family as it is about a murder mystery. The death of Ptolemy’s nephew Reggie is just the beginning of Ptolemy’s journey to reclaim his mind and find his true remaining purpose. Driven forward by the death of his caretaker – a man whom he treated like a son – Samuel L. Jackson’s Ptolemy Grey walks a lonely and difficult road.
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The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey streams Fridays on Apple TV+.
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