I know I said the last time that I haven’t read Sweet Tooth in its entirety, but I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that, well, what I have read hasn’t really told me anything about what’s going on. Some of the characters are there, and the basic outline of the story is there, but then there are other things going on and the whole tone is different.
See, maybe it was just the state of the artwork, but the comic version of Sweet Tooth was often bleak and frightening. Gus looked petrified in just about every panel, and many characters took advantage of him, thinking he wasn’t quite human so it was OK.
The Netflix version is bright, cheerful, and plays like a fairy tale. Gus seems more naive in a cheerful way. He has lived a secluded life, but he isn’t exactly living in mortal terror of everyone and everything he meets.
This is an episode that opens with Aimee, a therapist who, before the Sick, was barely listening to her patients, but then when the Sick happened, a stampede of elephants made her feel enlightened enough to move into the zoo, let the last animal there free (a falcon), and set up a shop to do…something the narrator says is important.
That is very different sort of show than the comic its based on, and while there was a lot to like about the comic, I find it makes for an interesting contrast with the show. Here, the Big Man would like nothing more than to get rid of Gus, but Gus seems to be a little too trusting or dumb or something to realize that. Much of the episode deals with the pair finding a visitor’s center deep in the woods where a family of three is staying. The boy is a little bit older than Gus, and he may be among the last of the “normal” human children. Gus and the kid seem to get along, even if Gus’s enhanced hearing makes various games a little unfair.
It’s enough for Big Man, a fellow who played for the NFL and sees no harm in basically using his size and reputation to get what he wants, to simply ask the mother of the family to take Gus in. The only thing stopping them is a gang of hoodlums who apparently want to bring Gus in to somewhere else themselves.
Big Man takes all of them out, but Gus has to take care of the last one for a few minutes himself. Big Man can kill things. The family, well, they can’t. It makes sense for Big Man to, reluctantly, take Gus on to the next town which may or may not be where his “mother” is.
And despite all that, the series still has this light, fairy tale air to it. It makes even the violent moments seem more magical and whimsical. We have women living in zoos, deer kids who can count the number of people who are hiding from him, and a moody killer who is almost certainly going to show some warmth before all this is over.