DC’s Vertigo imprint comics have found a home over at Netflix, with live-action adaptations of Sweet Tooth and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. For the former, the first season took the world by storm in 2021, taking a huge gamble on a post-apocalyptic story released during the early stages of the global pandemic. However, while the story is set during a viral pandemic, Sweet Tooth follows the adventures of a young hybrid boy named Gus, looking for his mother after the loss of his father. His innocence and bravery in a dark world are oddly intoxicating, so it wasn’t a surprise when Sweet Tooth season 2 was picked up.
After a very long two-year wait, the series returns with eight more episodes, higher stakes, and a nastier world. Separated from his friends, trapped in the enemy’s camp, and a newer even more deadly virus looming on the horizon, Sweet Tooth is in uncharted territory. Can he save himself and his new hybrid friends, or is the world in danger of total collapse? Read on for my initial impressions of Sweet Tooth season 2.
[Warning: light spoilers and impressions from Sweet Tooth season 2 are below!]
Gus and friends separated by circumstance
As viewers saw at the end of last season, Gus, a.k.a. Sweet Tooth (Christian Convery), and Tommy Jepperd a.k.a. Big Man (Nonso Anozie) become separated with their fates hanging in the balance. Gus was kidnapped by the Last Men, a Nazi-like militia group, and taken to the Preserve. However the Preserve is no longer a sanctuary for hybrid children, but instead has been converted to a makeshift laboratory for the Last Men to continue their experiments on hybrid children. Their goal is to find a cure for the virus that is wiping out the global population, but their actions scream villain.
Jepperd on the other hand was left bleeding out at the hands of the Last Men. But fate has other things in store for him, in the shape of Aimee (Dania Ramirez). Nursing Big Man back to health, the duo promises to save Gus and the rest of the hybrid children from the Preserve by any means necessary. A promise that I wouldn’t bet against, as both of these parents are determined to be reunited with their children. Yes, Jepperd isn’t actually Sweeth Tooth’s father, but if this show has proven anything, it’s that family that we make that is just as important as the family we’re born with.
Last but not least is Bear (Stefania LaVie Owen), who is stuck at Birdie’s old house, unaware of the danger both of her friends are currently in. However, season 1 ended with her receiving a call from Birdie, which sent Bear on her own journey to save her friends as season 2 begins.
A more cohesive story in Sweet Tooth season 2
While our three main characters are separated by circumstance, the narrative of season 2 is much more straightforward and less whimsical than the previous outing of Sweet Tooth. The story is focused on the reunion of Gus, Jepperd, and Bear, as the three refuse to give up on the make-shift family they’ve developed.
For Gus, his story is focused on breaking the children out of the Preserve, however, the only way forward is to buy them time by cooperating. Hybrid children will continue to disappear from the prison if he doesn’t, so he works along with Dr. Aditya Singh (Adeel Akhtar), who is also a prisoner of the Last Men, but under different circumstances. Aditya is seeking a cure more so for his wife Rani (Aliza Vellani) than for saving the world.
Both work under the pressure of crazed General Abbot (Neil Sandilands), who comes off as a more deranged Red Skull from the first Captain America film. Together, these two attempt to find answers, both seeking release from their prisons and the protection of those they love.
Jepperd and Aimee are on a more aggressive path, with different ideas on how to get back the children. It’s interesting to see how these two have switched their approaches this season compared to season one. Jepperd, who is more direct, seems a bit more hesitant to go forward on their mission guns blazing. His desire to save Gus overrides his conditioning to shoot first and ask questions later.
Aimee on the other hand is looking to burn the world down now that her daughter, Wendy (Maledi Murray), and the rest of the hybrid children are in a dangerous situation. I can’t say if either one of them is right or wrong, however, both have a strong desire to save them or die trying. Their story was one of the most interesting to me, as there are so many layers to their dynamics and the past that come out the further the season goes along.
Bear also has an interesting journey, taking a slightly terrifying back way to save Gus, one that I never saw coming. At times, I was confused about her true motivation, the deeper she goes into the depths she shouldn’t be messing with. However, her mission and motivations never truly waiver, regardless of whatever facade she fronts.
The good and the bad of Sweet Tooth season 2
The first thing that grabbed me about this season was the more cohesive story, as stated above. Although I enjoyed the first season, the jumble of stories without a proper structure or connective tissue made Sweet Tooth feel disjointed. However, having watched both seasons, it now feels like season one was the prologue to the true story we get in this one. Similar in fashion to earlier seasons of Game of Thrones, we needed to establish each character individually before we could bring them all together in the story begging to be told.
With a better direction and focus for these characters, Sweet Tooth season 2 feels easier to follow, with plenty of backstories of our favorite characters sprinkled throughout. This season didn’t feel like it was pulling itself in multiple different directions, which served the story well
As for the acting of this season, everyone continues to be stellar, however, a few individuals stood out in the crowd. Dania Ramirez is at the top of her game, bringing the heart and emotions needed for such a strong, but conflicted character. Her story this season is by far one of the most intriguing, especially as she and Jepperd grow closer in her journey. I love that the writers let a character who at first appears morally white dance in the gray a bit, making some questionable decisions in the name of love and getting her children back. Ramirez beautifully translates that to screen in what could be a career-topping performance.
Aliza Vellani also gave a wonderful performance as Rani this season. Rani’s story appeared much larger this season, as she stands in the middle of a world-shattering conflict. What happens when your husband works for pure evil in the name of love? That sounds like an insurmountable amount of pressure to shoulder, which Vellani showcases in an exceptional way. I found myself covered in goosebumps in quite a few scenes she was in, as a testament to her talent.
Those who loved the whimsical nature of the first season might find the tonal shift in season 2 difficult to swallow. The series becomes much darker, with long bouts of hopelessness for many of the characters. I found myself becoming hopeless in ways I never thought I would with a series like this. There’s an air of doom and gloom everywhere, feeling more like a war story than anything close to what we got in season one.
The tonal shift is jarring at first, almost upsettingly so. Sweet Tooth was this oasis in the middle of a desert type of series, but the second season rips the child-like innocence from Gus’s hands and keeps slinging more dung his way. While I thoroughly enjoyed this new season, dare I say more than the first, I do think there will be some fans of the series wishing it was more like the last.
Will Sweet Tooth continue on Netflix?
It’s unclear for how long Sweet Tooth may run on Netflix, though the way the season ends it feels like there is plenty of story left to tell. The family that was brought together through circumstances might look a little different, but they are always moving forward, hoping for a brighter future. Also, make sure you have your tissues ready, cause you’re gonna need them.
Sweet Tooth season 2 is streaming on Netflix. Have you started watching it yet? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our review of Love & Death!