Sweet Tooth season 1 has begun to unravel the mystery of where the hybrid children and the H5G9 virus came from, and how they’re connected, but there are still many questions left unanswered. The Netflix fantasy series is based on the Vertigo comics of the same name by Jeff Lemire, which did eventually reveal the origins of the sickness and the hybrids, but the TV adaptation could end up putting its on spin on the virus.
Sweet Tooth ended up accidentally becoming very timely as its production was disrupted by the real-world coronavirus pandemic. Filming resumed in New Zealand from September 2020, and elements of life in the COVID-19 outbreak – from face masks to social distancing measures – were folded into the series. Though Netflix’s Sweet Tooth is less dark and violent than the comics, it does provide some commentary on how a tragedy like the H5G9 pandemic pushed people apart instead of bringing them together, and how people full of anger and fear ended up searching for a scapegoat to blame.
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The chosen scapegoat was the hybrid children, who began to be born around the same time as the virus, and were therefore blamed for it. Flashbacks to life during the “Great Crumble” show protestors holding signs that demand the extermination of the “pests,” and a decade later hybrids like Gus are hunted down and killed or vivisected in the search for a cure. But where did the virus really come from? Here’s every clue in Sweet Tooth season 1.
The Virus and the Hybrids Were Both Created In A Lab
The biggest hints at the origins of the H5G9 virus come from Judy, a woman who worked with Gus’s mother, Birdie, at Fort Smith Labs. After Gus goes through Birdie’s things and realizes that he was a test tube baby created at Fort Smith Labs, Judy suggests that the virus was another project that was being worked on at the same time. Even Judy is uncertain exactly how Gus was made and how he’s connected to the virus, though, since Birdie kept the details of her project carefully guarded. The only clue that she gave was describing the virus and the hybrids as “two sides of the same coin.“
The outbreak of the Sick and the arrival of the first natural-born hybrid children both happened after a Fort Smith science team found unique microbes in the ice of Alaska. Birdie intended to use these microbes to create vaccines for conditions like hantavirus, which her husband died from, and the microbes were grown inside chicken eggs. One of these experiments accidentally created Gus, but Birdie darkly hints that if the wrong microbes were grown inside the chicken eggs then “all hell would break loose.” It seems likely that this is exactly what happened, and what led to the virus outbreak.
The Pandemic Began Before Birdie’s Lab Was Raided
While it’s all but certain that the virus and the hybrids both originated in Fort Smith Labs, background clues in Sweet Tooth indicate that the virus got out into the general population before Birdie’s lab was raided. In episode 7, “When Pubba Met Birdie,” a news report can be heard saying that “flu season has come early to the Midwest, and seems to be accelerating nationwide.” The H5G9 virus was initially mistaken for the flu by Dr. Singh, since it has many of the same symptoms, and it wasn’t until about a week later that he realized something was seriously wrong with his patient. It’s possible that Dr. Singh’s first patient was also Patient Zero – perhaps an employee at Fort Smith Labs who contracted the virus while working there. The realization that a virus had gotten out of the lab may even have been the reason the lab was raided in the first place.
Some People May Be Immune To The Virus
While the H5G9 virus was contagious and lethal enough to wipe out most of the human population, some people seem to be naturally immune to it. Adi Singh, for example, carried Rani to the hospital when she first started showing symptoms, but he never got sick himself. Bear lived with her foster parents when they caught and died from the Sick, but she herself never got sick with the virus. The hybrid children also seem to be universally immune to the sickness. When asked by Gus why he doesn’t get the Sick, Tommy drily replies “I eat a lot of Wheaties,” before admitting that he has no idea and suggesting that “some people are just born lucky.”
The Purple Flowers
A curious phenomenon linked to the virus is the sudden appearance of purple flowers, which begin to grow near places where people are infected with the Sick. One such field of purple flowers, called the Valley of Sorrows, grew up on a mass grave for victims of the virus. Tommy describes the flowers as an “omen,” and they are destroyed as soon as they appear by the people in Adi and Rani’s community. But while the flowers’ pollen does cause Gus to have some wild dreams, they don’t appear to infect people with the Sick. On a metaphorical level, the appearance of the flowers represents nature returning to dominate the planet after humans are wiped out – a theme that’s central to Sweet Tooth‘s story.
What the Sweet Tooth Comics Reveal About The Virus & The Hybrids
Warning: Possible SPOILERS for Sweet Tooth season 2 ahead.
So far, Sweet Tooth has been leading its audience to the conclusion that both the virus and the hybrids hail belong to the genre of science fiction – but if the show remains faithful to the comics, this could be the set-up for a bait-and-switch. Beginning in Sweet Tooth #26, Lemire’s comics reveal that the sickness and the hybrids are both the work of the Inuit god Tekkeitsertok. The short story arc is set in 1911, when a naturalist set out in search of a lost missionary expedition that included his brother-in-law, Louis. He found that all the other missionaries had died of a terrible sickness, and only Louis had survived, integrating into the local Inuit community. He’d fallen in love with an Inuit woman, and the two of them had an infant son – a deer-boy hybrid with antlers just like Gus.
Louis explains that both the sickness and his son’s unusual appearance are his own fault. While exploring one day, he entered a cave full of stone tablets resembling doorways, and opened one of them to find the skeleton of a deer-man. Too late, he was dragged out by the local shamans, who explained to Louis that he’d disturbed the tomb of Tekkeitsertok, the deer-god of hunting. When Louis’ hybrid son was born a few months later, the missionaries began to fall sick and die. Horrified by this story, the naturalist’s team slaughters the local Inuits and murders Louis’ deer-boy son, sealing the baby up in the cave. They too die of the sickness, and a century later Fort Smith’s scientists open up the cave and unleash Tekkeitsertok’s wrath on the world again.
Sweet Tooth has already dropped a major hint in the direction of this storyline, when Richard and Birdie are walking home and Richard points out the stars – specifically, the Orion constellation. In Greek mythology, Orion was a demigod and a fearsome hunter. However, Richard notes that the same constellation is called Mriga (the deer) in Eastern texts. The two interpretations of the constellations combine to create a god of hunting and a god of deer – like Tekkeitsertok.
While some aspects of Sweet Tooth have been changed for the TV adaptation, the flashback story is pretty integral to the comics. Speaking in a 2013 interview with EW, Lemire said that he couldn’t imagine not including that origin tale, because “it ended up informing so much of the end of the series.” After Sweet Tooth season 1 focused largely on the science of the virus and the hybrids, it would be an interesting twist if season 2 revealed they were actually the work of an angry god.
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