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The Medical Detail That Has Sweet Tooth Fans Scratching Their Heads

Netflix's new show "Sweet Tooth," which hit the service on June 4, 2021, offers a much more pleasant take on the apocalypse than many viewers are used to seeing. Still, its premise is unmistakably grim. Based on Jeff Lemire's comics of the same name, it takes place in a world where a deadly virus known as H5G9 (aka "the Sick") wiped out most of the human population a decade ago in an event known as "The Great Crumble." At the same time the virus began spreading, every human pregnancy inexplicably resulted in hybrid babies who were half-animal and half-human.

The show primarily follows Gus (Christian Convery), a hybrid deer-boy who enters the outside world for the first time after spending most of his life sheltered in a forest hideaway. When he emerges, Gus learns that when the pandemic began, many people blamed hybrids for somehow causing the end of life as we know it. Viewers learn much more about Gus and his fellow hybrids as Season 1 progresses, but one question is still puzzling people.

Some fans wonder how the hybrid babies were a complete surprise

As the first "Sweet Tooth" explains, the birth of the first hybrid babies coincided with the onset of the H5G9 pandemic. In a striking early scene, Dr. Aditya "Adi" Singh (Adeel Akhtar) is interrupted from his work treating sick patients by a nurse who nervously asks for his help in the maternity ward. "It just started this morning," the nurse says, and Adi discovers that all the babies have been born as hybrids of different animals. No one in the "Sweet Tooth" universe knows whether the virus or the hybrids came first, leading to widespread prejudice toward the children.

This sudden emergence of a new species was a complete shock to both doctors and new parents, which confused some viewers. As Reddit user BEGOODFORDOMME pointed out, "Why can't they do an ultrasound to see if the baby is hybrid before the parents give birth. Why is it a surprise?" 

Since new parents presumably had normal ultrasound appointments before The Great Crumble, this suggests that the babies suddenly became hybrids in utero. But how is that possible? Or does the show's premise simply defy logic?

Season 1 revealed that the first hybrid was actually man-made

"Sweet Tooth" still hasn't revealed exactly how hybrids were born, but the show did give fans a lengthy backstory about Gus' origins. It turns out he was the first hybrid, and is a test tube baby who was created by his "mother" Birdie (Amy Seimetz) at Fort Smith Labs around a year before natural-born hybrids started appearing. 

The greatest clue about their sudden origins comes from Birdie's former best friend Judy (Jodie Rimmer), who tells Gus that the virus and hybrids are "two sides of the same coin." Flashbacks reveal that the Fort Smith scientists found strange microbes in Alaskan ice which Birdie hoped to use to create new vaccines. The microbes were grown in chicken eggs during a series of experiments, one of which resulted in Gus. But Birdie warned that if the wrong microbes were grown inside the eggs then "all hell would break loose."

It seems like the virus and the hybrids were first created in Fort Smith labs, and the virus somehow began spreading among the general population sometime afterward, potentially mutating all unborn children into hybrids.

The "Sweet Tooth" comics offer other answers about the hybrids and the virus

The original "Sweet Tooth" comic offers a more mythological explanation for the Sick, as well as the hybrid children. It reveals that the virus first showed up in 1911, when a man named James Thacker travels to Alaska and becomes part of the native people's tribe. Later, he accidentally enters a forbidden holy cave and finds ancient bones of hybrid-esque people believed to be gods in human form. There's even one with antlers — the Inuit god Tekkeitsertok. In disturbing these remains, James accidentally unleashes the virus and creates hybrid children.

At the time, this "plague" only impacts the local population. But around a century later, Fort Smith scientists experiment on the remains, triggering a resurgence of both the virus and the hybrids. In the comics, Gus has odd visions that seemingly link him to Tekkeisertok. But whether the show will choose to embrace this origin story or continue to stick to the science remains to be seen.