Two years ago, as the world was beginning to open again, Netflix introduced us to Sweet Tooth, a show about a world ravaged by a pandemic, a world afraid of change, yet with hope on the horizon. As James Brolin’s omnipresent narrator would say, this is the story of Gus (Christian Convery), a human-deer hybrid, who seems to have led the way for a whole slew of other child hybrids, which started to appear around the same time as this pandemic began to wipe out all humans. In the first season, Gus started to find some answers about who he was and where he came from, thanks to the help of his de facto family that included Tommy Jepperd (Nonso Anozie), a former hybrid hunter who found the error of his ways after meeting Gus, and Bear (Stefania LaVie Owen), a teenager who fought on the side of the animals in a world that’s out to get them.
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But as shows naturally do, Season 1 ended giving the slightest hope of further answers, while separating these three to build anticipation for a potential second season. When we last saw them, Gus was trapped along with a bunch of other hybrid kids by the evil General Abbot (Neil Sandilands) in order for Dr. Singh (Adeel Akhtar) to operate on them and find a cure for the humans. Jepperd united with Aimee Eden (Dania Ramirez), the caretaker of many hybrid kids, in order to try and get their kids back, and Bear has just gotten in contact with Birdie (Amy Seimetz), the creator of Gus and the closest thing the kid has to a mother. If Season 1 was about finding a family and something to fight for, Season 2 with the separation of its main characters is about protecting those you love and the desire to move beyond the past and look toward the future.
While it’s understandable that Sweet Tooth would want to isolate these characters in order to build tension and have these characters grow on their own, Season 2 simply uses this separation as a way to reiterate details we already know about them. Gus is becoming an impressive leader, Jepperd and Aimee will do anything for their kids, and Bear is dedicated to helping those in need. And even though Sweet Tooth is attempting to build suspense with detachment, there’s very little forward momentum or any real danger at hand when these three are apart from each other. Despite the dark tone of Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel which the show is based on, Sweet Tooth isn’t the type of show that will assassinate a group of adorable child hybrids or find a cure for the pandemic that has destroyed the world. And, unfortunately, for the majority of Season 2, we’re left watching these characters apart from each other, spinning their wheels while we learn slightly new details about who they are that we already could’ve gleaned from the first season.
Because of this, however, we are able to spend time with the supporting cast and learn more about their contribution to the larger story. This is especially true in the story of Dr. Singh and his sick wife Rani (Aliza Vellani), who like the hybrids, have also been trapped in General Abbot’s zoo. While we saw Singh’s dedication to saving his wife in the first season, this season certainly pushes what we know about this character to another level, in a way that the show simply doesn’t for its other main characters. But this further exploration of Dr. Singh’s commitment is aided by an expansion of Rani as a character with her own agency, as well as Johnny Abbot (Marlon Williams), the brother of General Abbot, who isn’t dedicated to his brother’s mission. Through Dr. Singh, we get to see how this series could expand what we know of its main characters, as well as the supporting cast, but the rest of the storylines don’t follow suit in a similar way.
Instead, Sweet Tooth Season 2 largely seems like it’s using its time to get the pieces in the right place for a theoretical third season. In many ways, Season 2 still follows much of the path that Lemire’s graphic novel series did, but without the danger or building tension. Sweet Tooth still struggles with the tone of the series, as if it wants to both be a cute story with adorable kids dressed as animals, but with a very real sense of peril that anyone could very well be murdered out of hatred at any time. It’s as if Sweet Tooth is only dancing around the stakes, without ever making them feel truly real for our characters. And especially in keeping our main cast apart from each other, it feels like this season is building towards the inevitable reunion that we all knew was coming. While it does eventually get back to the charm and love that resonated in the first season, it takes far too long to get to that point. That being said, the final third of Sweet Tooth Season 2 does get this season back on track in a major way and makes it hard not to get excited about a potential third season, one that looks to get back to more of what the wonderful first season did.
This isn’t to say that Season 2 of Sweet Tooth is a massive disappointment, but it does feel like a step down from the debut season — the show doesn’t quite know how to function when it separates these characters in this way. However, the cast is solid enough to keep this season engaging. Christian Convery is still a joy as Gus as he not only is learning how to be a leader to the other hybrid children but has to reckon with who his mother is as well as his importance in this new world. Regardless of what the story asks of Convery, whether it’s to mount an attack against Abbot’s men or to simply show the joys of being a kid, Convery is a delight to watch in every scene. The team-up of Tommy and Aimee also makes for a decent change of pace for both of these characters and does show the possibilities of accepting a future without humans. But still, it’s Bear—who wasn’t in the graphic novel—who feels like a character that the show doesn’t know what to do with. Again, this is something it seems to figure out by the end of this season, but more than any other character’s story, hers is certainly the most aimless.
Sweet Tooth Season 2 attempts to up the stakes, but in the process, it often loses the charm and love that made this show great in the first place. What could’ve been a story that takes up a few episodes ends up dominating the entire season, and without the character development or tension to back up this choice, it is left doing little more than setting the table for a possible third season. When this season finally finds what made Sweet Tooth great, it makes the viewer wonder why they had to deal with the runaround of everything else to begin with. At the very least, if Sweet Tooth does continue with another season, it seems like everything will be in its right place, but it’s just a shame it took the majority of a season to get us there.
Sweet Tooth Season 2 comes to Netflix on April 28.