Review: ‘Sweet Tooth’ season 2 ticks all the right boxes, but fails to recapture the magic
After becoming one of Netflix’s Top 10 most-watched English-language original shows of all-time following its release in June of 2021, Sweet Tooth was virtually guaranteed a second season renewal to avoid becoming the latest high-profile episodic exclusives to bite the dust after a solitary run of episodes.
On paper, it was always destined to be a massive success given the sheer number of marketable boxes it ticks as a comic book adaptation set in a post-apocalyptic future rooted firmly in the fantasy genre, but it also helped that it was a riveting introduction to the mythology bolstered by some stunning visuals, intriguing world-building, and top-notch performances from the ensemble cast.
Season 2 retains all of those elements – and even adds a few more into the mix by upping both the action and emotion in equal measure – but it always feels as though something is missing across the latest eight installments. It’s bigger, more expansive, and more ambitious as recurring shows tend to be, but Sweet Tooth can’t shake that it’s missing a certain spark that would elevate it onto the same pedestal as its widely-acclaimed predecessor.
Things pick up right where we left of last time; Christian Convery’s Gus is trapped by the nefarious Last Men army alongside a myriad of other hybrids, who are all desperately trying to formulate an escape plot. Meanwhile, Adeel Akhtar’s Dr. Singh is doing the villains’ bidding in trying to create a cure for the virus that eradicates humanity, all while desperately trying to save the life of his ailing wife.
Elsewhere, Nonso Anozie’s Tommy Jepperd has been saved from certain death by Dania Ramirez’s Aimee Eden, with the two working together to achieve the shared goal of breaking out the hybrids from a future that’s got nothing in it besides experimentation and ultimately execution. Throw in the dovetailing subplot that finds Stefania LaVie’s Bear contacting Amy Seimetz’s Birdie to try and reunite Gus with the closest thing he’s got to a mother, and that’s a strong handful of subplots.
Sweet Tooth‘s second season never feels overstuffed or swamped by superfluous material – something many Netflix originals have succumbed to the longer they wear on – but it never feels as engaging as it should. Season 1 was all about finding a family and a reason to keep fighting in the face of insurmountable odds, with the sophomore adventures evolving the narrative throughline to tackle themes of separation, protection, and daring to consider that their might be a future.
Creator, showrunner, occasional writer, and regular director Jim Mickle has done a fantastic job of creating a rich lore and immersive reality, and even if Sweet Tooth‘s return does everything right in terms of freshening up the formula, moving its major players forward, and placing new pieces on the board to be moved around, watching the entire eight episodes never creates the same feelings of excitement, intensity, or engagement as the first did.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Sweet Tooth‘s latest stint in the slightest, but the underlying feeling is that it’s leisurely strolling towards its ultimate destination instead of putting pedal to the metal and accelerating at breakneck speed, and that luxuriance in its own tropes and trappings can occasionally feel stodgy as each individual chapter takes its time in reaching a resolution that would have been twice as gripping had it unfolded in half as many minutes.
When it’s incredibly obvious and signposted from the get-go that every single one of the central protagonists in the story will be reunited eventually, it’s hard to create genuine dramatic stakes. It’s commendable to keep the core cast away from each other for so long, too, but the downside is that there’s no chance they won’t be reunited eventually, which makes large parts of the journey redundant by default.
The principal players might be splintered off into different groups spread out across the ravages of world, but their goals haven’t shifted in the slightest. That makes it hard to forge the same sort of emotional connection that came easy in the first season, even if there’s always either a superbly-acted exchange, profound character moment, or breathless set piece lurking around the corner to add much-needed jolts of excitement and intrigue.
Familiarity hasn’t come anywhere close to breeding contempt; there’s a lot to love about Sweet Tooth‘s return to the small screen, and anyone who loved the first season is going to get a kick out of the majority of what unfolds. On the other side of the coin, a greater shakeup would have benefited things immensely, even if “more of the same” isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this instance.
It might only be eight episodes long, but it would have been exponentially better to tell this particular story in six, or dive deeper into something other than the obvious. Sweet Tooth season 2 is good, but it’s not great, which has to be deemed a disappointment given the expectations placed upon it by its phenomenal forebear.
'Sweet Tooth' delivers everything expected of it in a bigger, bolder, and more ambitious season 2, but it's lacking the spark that made its debut run such a runaway success.