Based on the eponymous comic book by Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth explores three narrative strands that unfold in a concurrent manner, whilst delving into the repercussions of an apocalyptic event that changes the world as we know it. Part sci-fi, part fantasy, with a smattering of action-adventure, Sweet Tooth emerges as a dystopian parable with a brimming heart, and complex, nuanced characters worth rooting for.
Sweet Tooth opens with flashbacks to “The Great Crumble”, a deadly viral outbreak that manages to wipe out most of humanity. Positioned at the nexus of this apocalyptic chaos is Dr. Aditya Singh, who finds himself in a position not dissimilar to Dr. Bernard Rieux in Camus’ The Plague. Tasked with attending to patients experiencing variant levels of sickness, Singh finds himself in a particularly harrowing predicament when he and his wife Rani are on the verge of being immolated by angry neighbors. The narrative also follows Gus, revealed to be part-human, part-deer – a hybrid child who embarks upon a life-altering adventure filled with trills and terrors.
Who is Sweet Tooth? Gus’ Heroic Arc & Call to Adventure
Sheltered from the cruelties of the world at large, Gus spends his formative years at Yellowstone National Park under the care of his Pubba, who forbids him from venturing beyond the fenced boundaries of the reserve. However, as the call to adventure is often irresistible, especially for a perceptive and curious child like Gus, which prompts him to question the nature of his reality, which is riddled with half-truths at best. After Pubba’s death due to viral contraction, Gus is rescued by Jepperd, and the dynamic duo soon run into a group of hybrid supporters and their leader, Bear, who soon accompanies them on their travels.
Traversing through America, the group finds themselves on an extraordinary journey punctuated with heartrending revelations and unexpected truths. The search for answers infuses Gus’ narrative with a special sense of poignance, raising pertinent questions regarding his origin, the identity of his mother, and the meaning of home. Is home a safe space, a sanctuary, or is the idea nestled within the arms of a loved one? Whilst battling these dilemmas, Gus and the others undergo the Campbellian heroic circle, facing the proverbial obstacles that trigger epiphanies like no other, such as when they learn that all hybrid children are products of an experiment in a scientific facility in Alaska.
Moreover, “Sweet Tooth” is a Gus himself, as it is an endearing nickname given by Jepperd for the child’s love for all things sweet. Although both Jepperd and Bear accompany the child in his quest to find his mother Birdie, the adults are acutely aware of the stark possibility that Birdie is already dead. Unable to voice their misgivings to the utterly sweet Gus, Jepperd and Bear act as reliable traveling companions and help fuel Gus’ character trajectory in a more emotionally driven manner.
Why Dr. Singh Chooses Love Over Empathy? – The Collapse of Morality Amid A Pandemic
While Lemire published Sweet Tooth in 2009, the overarching narrative themes have an eerie resemblance to the current coronavirus pandemic, mirroring the gradual collapse of society and the denigration of what it means to be humane. The parallels to the real-world scenario are pretty straightforward, as the show embraces conversations about masks, social distancing, and the intrinsic change in human motivations when faced with the possibility of losing everything they stand for. However, while there is abject terror, the show also benefits from a tender layer of humanity – a kind of gentleness that reaffirms one’s faith in the human race.
Moral dilemmas dominate the arc of Dr. Singh, who finds himself desperate to save Rani from succumbing to the virus. Tasked with creating a cure, Singh soon learns that a primary ingredient for creating a successful vaccine can only be harvested from hybrid children, which emerges as a harrowing revelation for the conflicted doctor, Although he attempts to find ways that do not involve such cruelty, Singh is forced to do away with his sense of morality as he is acutely aware of Rani’s dwindling health. Choosing love over empathy, Singh embarks upon a series of experiments, which can only usher in the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, the government has fallen to a brutal militia called Last Men, erasing any semblance of democratic order or a humane administrative system.
How Sweet Tooth’s Ending Builds Up To The Heart Of The Mystery ?
Episode 8 ends with Gus and Wendy being held captive at Abbot’s facility, which triggers a rehabilitation of faith in Dr. Singh, who speaks to Johnny about Saraswathi, the Hindu goddess of knowledge. This intrinsic tussle between faith and love shapes Dr. Singh’s character throughout, a binary that is bound to shape his decisions in the show’s upcoming seasons. Moreover, the final scene reveals a hooded figure who is presumed to be Birdie, who answers a call from Bear, and the scene cuts to black at this juncture.
This harkens the possibility that Birdie will play a seminal role in shaping the events of Season 2, which further complicates Gus’ predicament, as Birdie’s personal motivations remain shrouded in mystery. How was Gus created, and how exactly did the virus originate? Will Aimee and Jeppard be able to set the hybrid children free, and will Dr. Singh completely trade his humanity for personal happiness? While Singh might succeed in stooping a second wave by concocting a cure, the cost of such a cruel act is bound to weigh heavy and trigger wide-spreading repercussions.
Sweet Tooth is a Comic Book based Fantasy TV Series created by Jim Mickle and Beth Schwartz for Netflix.