What do you do after finding out your life is a lie? Gus has spent the entire season uncovering the truth about his upbringing, which has fueled resentment and sadness as he realizes he was lied to by the person he trusted most. He’s lost his faith in humanity after learning about his origins as a test-tube baby, so he turns his back on humans and chooses to embrace his hybrid nature. The Sweet Tooth season finale shakes things up a lot as all of the show’s disparate plotlines converge, delivering major revelations while also pushing characters into new situations that create loads of storytelling opportunities for the second season.
The opening scene kicks off the episode with humor as two workers in hazmat suits sanitize the area around a hospital, with one of them taking off his mask because he’s not taking this seriously and wants to hit his vape pen. His opinion is a familiar one after the past year of people denying the seriousness of COVID-19 and arguing with those who do, and their banter sets a lighter tone that dramatically shifts when Jepperd drives his SUV into the maskless man. This is the day his wife gives birth, and Jepperd is in a panicked rush to get her to the maternity ward in a hospital that is at full capacity.
The finale’s title indicates that Jepperd is the central figure of the episode, and the flashbacks recount the day that upended his entire life. The military and hospital staff do a poor job of keeping Jepperd and Louisa (Luciane Buchanan) out of the hospital despite having no room at the inn, but it’s possible that they recognize Jepperd from his football career and make an exception for a celebrity. Louisa gives birth, and all Jepperd wants to know is if the child is fully human. The nurse answers his question by not answering it, and surely enough, Jepperd finds a black sheep hybrid in the incubator. Seeing the boy’s hooves sends Jepperd into a full breakdown, and he runs off to scream in the halls and get away from the abomination.
There are a lot of tidy coincidences in this episode that connect characters in different ways. Jepperd’s wife gives birth at the hospital where Adi works, and when Jepperd is in the elevator, ready to flee, Adi convinces him to go back up to his wife and child and be the father they need. We don’t see what happens next, but we hear about it when Jepperd finds Gus by a downed plane. After seeing Gus’ reaction to being lied to, Jepperd decides that it’s time to tell the truth about his past. He’s honest about his first fearful reactions to his hybrid son and the heartbreak of discovering that his wife and son had already been removed from the hospital by the time he had a change of heart in the elevator. Running away from his son is a decision that will haunt him for his entire life, and he sees Gus as an opportunity to make amends by being the parental figure this boy desperately needs.
Unfortunately, this tender moment is interrupted when Jepperd is shot by Last Men, who throw Gus in a cage while Jepperd bleeds out on the grass. Gus really needs to stop making decisions of any kind when he gets angry, because he puts his life in jeopardy every time he does. His rage fire almost got him killed by poachers in the pilot, and in this episode, he uses the downed airplane’s radio to call The Preserve, not knowing that it’s been taken over by Last Men. All of the stuff with The Preserve in this episode is very sad, and once we see Abbot’s army marching through the streets, complete with tanks, it becomes clear that Aimee and the hybrids don’t stand a chance. Aimee’s explosives take out some soldiers but mostly just give them a celebratory fireworks show as they seize The Preserve, and when the hybrid kids make it to the church, they’re greeted by Last Men, who scoop them up.
As dire as the circumstances are, this episode is not without hope. Gus’ voice saves him from being dissected by Adi, and Gus’ ability to verbally communicate makes it too difficult for Adi to view him as a test subject rather than an autonomous person. Gus is despondent in the hybrid pen, but his attitude changes considerably when he realizes that he’s not alone. He’s finally with his people, and he looks genuinely content when they all gather around him to give him a group hug. Gus has spent so long looking for family, and he finally finds it with kids like him.
Jepperd isn’t the only character who reveals their history in this episode. Bear finally opens up when Judy asks about her real name. It’s Becky, and her parents called her Becky Bear. They weren’t killed by Last Men, but died from the Sick, and she had a hybrid baby sister who was taken away after their parents passed. She was alone for a long time until she met Tiger, and they created a new family for themselves with other kids who had suffered similar trauma. In another of the episode’s key coincidences, Wendy is Bear’s little sister, and there’s also a black sheep hybrid at The Preserve who may be Jepperd’s son given how the camera lingers on his face. These developments all feel a little too neat, and given that a decade has passed, it’s awfully convenient that all of these characters find themselves in the same general vicinity at the same time.
My biggest issue at the end of Sweet Tooth’s first season is the show’s two-dimensional villain, General Abbot, who feels like a caricature in a way the other characters don’t. Part of this is the performance: Neil Sandilands’ uneven dialect combined with exaggerated line delivery makes the character seem especially artificial. A lot of work was done to humanize Dr. Singh, so even though he’s cutting up living hybrids at the end of this episode, the audience still empathizes with his plight. Abbot has gotten no such attention, and other than the scene he shared with Dr. Bell, we have few details about why he hates hybrids so much and how he has such little regard for living creatures.
Abbot functions as a symbol of the most inhumane elements of military authority, but that doesn’t make for a very compelling villain. There’s an opportunity to give Abbot some more depth when he talks to Adi about the new wave of the Sick that’s coming, but that conversation ends with him reinforcing that he doesn’t care about saving lives, only power. Abbot doesn’t want to find a cure to help all of humanity. He wants just enough doses of a cure so that he can decide who lives and who doesn’t, which would elevate him from general to king. He’s so overtly evil, and while that jibes with the show’s fairy tale vibe, it clashes with the ways the show tries to create an emotional reality for these characters.
There are a lot of cliffhangers at the end of this episode, and Jim Mickle effectively sets the stage for a very exciting second season. Aimee rescues Jepperd, presumably because she was listening in on the radio and tried to respond to Gus’ call before the Last Men. She didn’t make it in time to save Gus, but she’s able to mend Jepperd’s gunshot wound, gaining a very valuable ally in her fight to reclaim her home and save her children. And then there’s the final scene, which takes us back to Alaska for the return of Birdie, whose phone is ringing with a call from Bear. “Who are you?” Birdie asks as the music builds and the screen cuts to black, a question that is going to pull her back into the fray when she finds out Gus is alive and has made his way back home.