Out of the Deep Woods
Episode 1 of Sweet Tooth Season 1 begins before The Great Crumble, with Doctor Singh working tirelessly, noticing a lot of people growing sicker. What begins as a simple cough soon grows to become the deadliest virus seen in our lifetime – the H5G9 strain. Even worse, Singh’s partner Rani falls ill too.
In the wake of all this, hybrid babies are born. No one really knew which came first but our attention soon turns to a hybrid out at Yellowstone National Park called Gus.
Gus is half-deer/half-human and grows up with his “Pubba”, learning the ropes and growing up in the tranquil bliss of the wilderness. However, a plane flies overhead dropping flyers out about a refuge for hybrids. Pubba simply grabs the flyer and screws it up, shielding his child from the outside world.
When Gus turns seven, his Father tells him all about the world outside. Specifically, the self-destructive way humanity consumes everything in its path. Gus is warned that humans are dangerous and warned against getting mixed up with humans. When the attention turns to Gus’ Mother, some things are too painful to reveal. Pubba buries his memories of the past -both figuratively and literally.
Gus grows older, and as a pre-teen he begins to venture out further into the woods. Pubba is not happy though, worried that Gus is questioning too much. Unfortunately this doesn’t make a difference, as the arrival of a guest outside the camp prompts Pubba to head out with a shotgun and wards them away. A cry pierces the air though, as Gus is startled from trying to connect with a deer.
Gus heads out with his slingshot, ready to take aim, when Pubba staggers up to the house and collapses. “He won’t hurt you now,” Pubba says weakly, before collapsing on the ground. When he does finally awaken, Pubba is clearly sick but reveals the truth about Gus’ Mother. Her name is Birdie.
Unfortunately Pubba passes away, dying in his armchair some time later. Gus is eventually left all alone but that doesn’t stop him from using his imagination to keep positive. Months pass and Gus uses his imagination as the months pass, trying to keep his spirits up while working his best to fix up the house. Unfortunately things don’t go to plan.
Gus winds up starting a fire, allowing thick plumes of smoke to rise into the air. Eventually Gus composes himself and puts out the fire, following a map on the table to the lockbox Pubba buried earlier in the episode.
Within this box are money, credit cards, a photo of his Mother, Birdie, and a poster for the hybrid refuge. Realizing this could well link back to his Mother, Gus sets out to journey across to Colorado.
Unfortunately this plan immediately goes awry when two hunters grab him and decide to take him East given he’s “special”. Just before Gus is killed, arrows come whistling through the air, followed by several gunshots as Gus charges through the woods to escape.
He doesn’t get far though, as Gus learns that his fire is what’s attracted these men to his house. The Big Man who saved Gus is actually a hunter by the name of Tommy Jepp, eventually going on to help patch up his house. Tommy warns Gus about the outside world and reminds him he needs to be careful. Tommy eventually leaves, calling Gus “Sweet Tooth” and giving him advice about maintaining his farm before he does.
Gus eventually makes his choice and decides to break the rules Pubba has given him all this time. He charges across the beautiful landscape, out the National Park and into the apocalyptic world beyond. As he spies Tommy from afar, he shouts down to him “Big Man! Take me!”
The Episode Review
What a wonderful and gorgeous world this is. Sweet Tooth gets off to a marvelous start here, weaving a distinct fairy-tale tone with its narrator and origin story for Gus and his Father. It was perhaps inevitable that Pubba would pass away but it’s still a poignant moment for this hybrid child, who’s now forced to try and adapt to the world outside.
Sweet Tooth does a great job introducing the world and characters this early on, with some gorgeous cinematography that allows for the beauty of New Zealand (under the guise of Yellowstone National Park.) to be shown in all its glory.
The show itself is really solid so far, with an interesting premise and a pretty good soundtrack, feeding into the tone and vibe of Netflix’s latest fantasy offering.
So far so good, Sweet Tooth looks like it could be a very solid fantasy series. After the success of Shadow and Bone, Netflix seem to have hit a good stride with its fantasy/sci-fi hybrids. Roll on the next episode!