‘Sweet Tooth’ Season 3 Ending Explained: Did Gus Burn The Sacred Tree?


It’s just the cruelty of a few that makes the entire human race monsters. “I am the most superior species on Earth, and I have the right to take it all,” is what drives this destructive tendency. But Sweet Tooth teaches us that humanity can not only survive but thrive by being compassionate towards each other, and yes, that includes all living beings. I actually started the finale season believing I would find answers to mysteries around the hybrids and the sick, but I was wrong. I was wrong in my approach. Sweet Tooth isn’t about all those conspiracies; instead, it is about the connections we make on our journey toward death and how we keep those friendships alive through stories. So, in a way, Sweet Tooth’s ending is all about Gus’ friendship with Big Man and how he kept it alive till the very end of it.

Spoiler Alert

What Caused the Sickness?

Call it greed or curiosity, but an obsessed Doctor James Thacker unleashed a deadly H5G9 virus upon the entire world in an attempt to find a cure for his muscular degenerative disorder. In the wilderness of the Arctic, Dr. Thacker found a mysterious cave that protected a sacred tree. Thacker believed that the mystical Tree of Life held the cure for all human illnesses.

With a sharp ax in his hand, Thacker raged into the cave and chopped the branch of the sacred tree, making it bleed the sap of what he believed to be the blood of the Earth. He wanted to use the solution to create a “master” cure, but it was the liquid that spread the H5G9 virus. In short, what Thacker believed to be the cure to end all suffering was the reason for the spread of The Sick, which brought an end to humanity. However, what’s magical is mankind’s ability to adapt, and therefore, as the virus spread across the globe, all the unborn babies adapted to their surroundings and biologically mutated into hybrids. It seemed like the fetus in itself created an antigen for the virus in the mother’s womb, because of which these hybrids were immune to H5G9 and the purple flowers that grew in its presence. It was implied that it was the virus that had caused the babies to turn into hybrids of humans and animals, which allowed them to survive in the new environment. However, for those who wanted things to become normal, they were eagerly trying to find the origin of the virus and stop it before it killed off the remaining humans.

Why Did Gus Burn the Tree in the Cave?

After getting their hands on Thacker’s diary, everyone got pretty obsessed with finding the location of the cave, as it had the solution to the mystery everyone was eager to decipher. And while Gus, Birdie, and Big Man didn’t have much clue about what they would do next once they found the cave, Aditya Singh, on the other hand, had read a line in Thacker’s diary that made him believe that he had to sacrifice a “deer,” or Gus in this case, to unlock the mystery and therefore joined Helen Zhang’s evil party to fulfill his fate.

As soon as Gus saw the sacred tree and Thacker’s ax stuck on its branch, he decided to pull it out, as it might be the answer to ending all the miseries in the human world. But Birdie and Big Man weren’t sure if it was what they all wanted. Humanity has become a curse to itself. Their greed and cruelty had destroyed the very planet they lived on, and it would be in everyone’s best interest if humans perished. Gus, however, didn’t want to lose his best friend and his mother, but before he could make a choice, Singh, along with Zhang and her mercenaries, arrived at the cave and took them hostage. Singh wanted to sacrifice Gus as intended, but Birdie gave her life in order to protect her son. In her absence, Big Man tried to protect Gus in the best way he could, but he had become old and weak and couldn’t put up a fight against Zhang’s bandits. In the end, it was Singh’s change of heart that brought a twist to the story. He refused to harm Gus, which obviously angered Zhang, who, in her foolish madness, pulled out the ax from the tree and exposed everyone inside to the poisonous sap or the Blood of the Earth, which, as explained earlier, is the very cause of the H5G9 virus.

For a brief moment, even Gus believed that sacrificing his blood would stop the virus from killing his best friend in the cave, but he was wrong. Nature took its course, and Gus had to accept what came next. As soon as Gus’ delusion faded, he used the flare to burn down the Tree of Life to flames, which reversed the spread of the virus and ended the sickness on Earth. And I know that this entire scene is pretty messed up and makes no sense. Maybe the show’s creators were in a bit of a hurry to wrap things up. The thing is, no one can reverse the outbreak of a virus, especially not by burning down its source. It could be contained, or potential hosts could be made immune through a vaccine. Now, to put it simply, every strain of virus has a life of its own, right? Like the purple flowers that grew in the presence of these viruses or pollen. They are not entirely interconnected. In simple words, one cannot eradicate it all simply by getting rid of its origin, so the entire ending was sort of fantastical rather than logical. But yes, as I said earlier, Sweet Tooth is kind of a dreamy world that doesn’t confine itself to logic too much. 

How did Big Man die?

Gus could be seen as a tragic figure who tried to keep his extended family safe but, in the end, lost those whom he loved the most. He had never seen his mother, Gertrude Miller, and had been yearning to meet her, to hug her, and to talk to her. But when he finally found her, the meeting was short-lived. Birdie died in that cave, and Gus couldn’t do anything to save her. When Zhang stabbed Big Man in the stomach and unleashed the virus in the cave, Gus wanted to make a difference this time and didn’t want to lose Big Man like he lost his mother. But unfortunately, some things are beyond our control.

Big Man rescued Gus from the cave and walked with him for a few miles to give him company, but deep down, he knew that his end was near. From the very beginning of Sweet Tooth season 3, Big Man knew that he wouldn’t survive for long, and maybe he was right. He had broken his knees, which symbolized the end of his professional career. He had lost his family, which symbolized the end of his last connection to the human world. Big Man was just living because Gus gave him a new life and a new purpose to live, but with the end of The Sick, Big Man’s journey, too, came to an end.

Looking at the beautiful landscape of Alaska, Big Man took his last breath. But before leaving the world, he asked Gus a very simple question: “Did Big Man make it back with Gus?” Gus obviously knew the answer, but stories aren’t for people looking for answers. Stories are for those who need comfort. It is for those who want to escape. As the Big Man died before his eyes, Gus comforted him with a story about returning to Yellowstone with him and sharing a bottle of maple syrup. It was a fictional reality, but both Gus and Big Man wanted it to be their only reality. Gus wanted Big Man to fill his Pubba’s seat and stay with him till the end of his time, and maybe he actually did, just not the way they imagined.

Did Gus and Wendy get married?

After lifting the curse from the face of the Earth, Gus and his friends (except for Big Man) went back to Yellowstone, where they created a new Eden for themselves with Bear’s help. Bear, who was once the leader of the animal army, helped the hybrids build a fortified kingdom of their own so as to protect their new sanctuary from human intervention. A few years later, as Gus grew old, he narrated the tales of his glory and talked about his best friend to the new hybrids.

The ending of Sweet Tooth season 3 implied that the hybrids didn’t go extinct, as Birdie feared. Instead, they started to reproduce biologically, therefore bringing a new race of hybrids into the world. After the end of The Sick, the humans might have stopped hunting the hybrids because they didn’t have any use for them. Or maybe the hybrids stayed in their own sanctuary and cut all ties with the human world in order to protect their own. In the end, while an old Gus narrated the story, a young hybrid with a piggy nose and deer horns asked him about Big Man. It was through memories that an old Gus kept his Big Man alive. The appearance of the youngling, on the other hand, suggested that he might be Wendy and Gus’ biological son or grandson. An old Wendy was also seen sitting in a chair beside Gus, thereby suggesting her romantic association with him. The ending here is trying to imply that even though Gus and Wendy had become old and weary, their stories, and most importantly, the people in them, Birdie and Big Man, would live among them forever as future generations would keep sharing those tales and passing them down through generations till the end of humanity.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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