Movie Reviews

Sweet Tooth's Susan Downey & Amanda Burrell Talk Epic Final Season, Big Man's Fate & Sherlock Holmes 3

Warning: Major SPOILERS lie ahead for Sweet Tooth season 3!


Summary

  • Gus’ journey in
    Sweet Tooth
    season 3 offers higher stakes and darker tones than before.
  • Team Downey’s Susan Downey and Amanda Burrell break down the behind-the-scenes challenges of creating some of the season’s biggest set pieces, as well as their thoughts on Big Man’s fate.
  • Downey also assures that
    Sherlock Holmes 3
    is still alive and well, though has no update on its development.


Gus’ journey has never been more higher-staked or darker than in Sweet Tooth season 3. The Netflix show based on Jeff Lemire’s comics of the same name served as one of Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey’s first major ventures into the realm of fictional television via their Team Downey production banner, alongside the HBO reboot of Perry Mason. Thanks to a combination of their and Netflix’s support, the show has not only garnered consistent acclaim from critics and audiences, but has also made it through creator Jim Mickle’s three-season plan for the show.

Led by Christian Convery in the titular role, Sweet Tooth has explored deer-hybrid boy Gus’ journey across a post-apocalyptic America with the help of former pro footballer Tommy Jepperd, as well as hybrid freedom fighter Bear, in search of his mother. Season 3 of the show sees the duo and fellow hybrid child Wendy heading to Alaska after getting a radio signal from Gus’ mom, Birdie, though find themselves contending with the elements and vengeful warlord Mrs. Zhang and her family. Birdie also finds herself in danger as she continues to investigate the source of the world-ending Sick, which seems to go back centuries.


Related

Sweet Tooth Season 3 Soundtrack Guide: Every Song & When They Play

While some songs in Sweet Tooth season 3’s soundtrack add more intensity to its upbeat tone, others bring more emotional heft to its poignant moments.

Alongside Convery, the ensemble Sweet Tooth season 3 cast includes Nonso Anozie as Big Man, Adeel Akhtar as Dr. Sing, Stefania LaVie Owen as Bear, Naledi Murray as Wendy, Rosalind Chao as Zhang, and James Brolin as the narrator. Amy Seimetz has also been given a bigger role as Birdie after appearing in a recurring capacity in prior seasons, with Star Wars alum Kelly Marie Tran joining as Zhang’s estranged daughter, Rosie.

Prior to the show’s final return, Screen Rant interviewed executive producers Susan Downey and Amanda Burrell to discuss Sweet Tooth season 3, their “bittersweet” feelings on bringing the show to a close, the challenges of expanding the world with some of the season’s bigger set pieces, their thoughts on Big Man’s fate, and the long-gestating Sherlock Holmes 3.



Downey & Burrell View Sweet Tooth‘s 3-Season Journey As “Incredibly Fulfilling

Wendy (Naledi Murray) resting her head on Gus (Christian Convery)'s shoulder in Sweet Tooth season 3
Image via Netflix

With three seasons and multiple years of filming behind them, Downey and Burrell express a feeling of sadness to be leaving behind the world of Sweet Tooth, particularly as they found themselves amazed to see “what kind of new hybrids” Mickle and the show’s creative team created each season. Ultimately, however, they also believe that the show getting to deliver a proper ending is both “incredibly fulfilling” and “a real catharsis“:


Susan Downey: Well, it’s bittersweet. We’re very proud of the work that we’ve done, I think that the story that Jim Mickle told in the three parts, in terms of seasons 1, 2, and 3, is the perfect telling of it. Watching Gus, his journey, and his and Jepp’s journey, and their growth, all of that stuff’s incredibly satisfying. But it’s sad, because we’re gonna miss spending time with them, and we’re gonna miss having our weird little deerboy show, and seeing, each season, what kind of new hybrids we can create. But it has been incredibly fulfilling.

Amanda Burrell: I think what’s great is that the three seasons allowed for a real catharsis, and a real coming of age, and a real journey for Gus, which is really satisfying, and watching him really grow up. But we’re gonna miss all of these characters and all these people. Jim Mickle’s the best, just talking to him every day was such a joy.

Sweet Tooth Season 3’s Darker Tone Is A “Natural Progression” For Gus’ Story

Gus (Christian Convery) and behind him Wendy (Naledi Murray), Jepperd (Nonso Anozie) and Becky (Stefania LaVie Owen) in Sweet Tooth season 3
Image via Netflix


While previous seasons have certainly seen darker moments, Sweet Tooth season 3 is arguably the show’s darkest yet in regard to its tone. Between Jepp’s own concerns about his mortality and completing Gus’ journey to multiple near-death experiences for the group, and Zhang’s own murderous streak, Mickle and co. pull very few punches as they deliver the highest-stakes season yet, and in the eyes of Downey and Burrell, this was a “natural progression” not only for the show, but for Gus’ story in particular:

Susan Downey: I think we felt like it was a natural progression, as we were watching the coming of age of Gus. He went from being very naive, very innocent in season 1, and seeing the world for the first time, to, obviously, the second season, where he’s in captivity, and starts to understand the true evils of people, and then coming out. What is good about it is that he is still a beacon of hope, so, for that hope to shine through, he needs to face things that are dark. So, I don’t think we had a fear. There are things that we are and aren’t going to show on camera, but the suggestion that he has to face some of the darker aspects of people, I think it just led to his ultimate growth that he had to get to, to have that full cathartic circle to get to the end of our story.


Amanda Burrell: And there’s truths being uncovered, and I think that he’s ready for them now. And the truths are a bit dark. I think it happens when you get older, you start to be able to handle bigger, darker things, and he was ready for it.

Susan Downey: I think you brought up something interesting, Grant, which was Jepp dealing with mortality. Gus is dealing with mortality, and again, that’s something that we all know, growing up, you do reach a certain point in your life — and obviously, his is contracted, he’s getting there much faster in like dog years. [Chuckles] But he has to face that truth, as well.

The Cave & The Boat Were Important For The Duo To Create “Cinematically

Big Man, Dr. Singh and Gus on a boat in the ocean in Sweet Tooth season 3


As the season sees Gus and his friends venture to new territory, Sweet Tooth season 3 also includes a number of major set pieces and locations, including a deserted cargo ship and mystical cave home to a tree whose sap is the key to discovering the origin of The Sick. For Downey and Burrell, these two locations were both the most challenging and important to get right “cinematically” for their appearances, as they really wanted to “deliver on all of the promises” set up in previous seasons:

Amanda Burrell: That’s a great question. The boat was hard. [Laughs] There are so many, I mean, we knew that the third season was going to be this journey across New Zealand, and there was a lot of challenges, but we knew we had to get bigger. I think the cave was super fun.


Susan Downey: I was gonna say, the boat was probably the biggest challenge, and the cave was the most important to get right. And what he finds in the cave, and what that looks like, and how he confronts it, and how that is actualized, cinematically, that really mattered, because so much of the season is leading us towards that destination. It had to really work.

Amanda Burrell: But we also had to create Alaska, in New Zealand, not the time of year. [Chuckles] There’s a lot of challenges, but we knew it had to be expansive, and really deliver on all of the promises of what we’d set up previously, so we went big.

In order to capture these locations authentically, Mickle and the team were also very devoted to making it as “practically as possible“, with the creator largely inspired by the work of iconic puppetteer Jim Henson. Burrell did, however, go on to praise not only the production design supervisor, Nick Bassett, but also visual effects supervisor Matt Holmes for their work to bring these locations to life:


Amanda Burrell: Jim Mickle always set out in this show to do as much practically as possible. He was really inspired by Jim Henson’s work, and we had these incredible puppetteers and artists in New Zealand, so honestly, a lot of it was practical. Our production design team there, Nick Bassett being our leader was just incredible. But also, our DP, we had LED all around, we had a lot of layers to the practicality, so that the lighting could be right. When you walked on set, you felt like you were there. And then our VFX supervisor, Matt, is amazing, and he tweaks, he elevates, he sharpens, but I would say a lot of what goes into it was made in New Zealand.

Downey & Burrell Have Their Own Thoughts On Big Man’s Fate

Tommy Jepperd, with traces of snow, opens his eyes and is surrounded by children in Sweet Tooth season 3
Image via Netflix


One of the biggest moments in the Sweet Tooth ending comes when Gus’ efforts to get the mystical tree in the middle of The Cave to let everyone live, it transports him to another realm in which he has a conversation with the tree personified as his father, Will Forte’s Pubba, who hasn’t been seen outside of flashbacks since his season 1 death. Though Downey and Burrell don’t mention whether his return was included in Mickle’s original three-season pitch, they did always intend to bring the actor back for the finale:

Susan Downey: I don’t think the specificity of his coming back was, but from the pilot, when we hired Will Forte, and he was in the pilot, we knew he was coming back.

Amanda Burrell: He just had to resonate, he resonated, we had to keep going to this very clear touchstone. It had to be there to feel full circle. Also, Will Forte really wanted to go back, but we all knew that we’d had to have him again, and how important it was.


In looking at Big Man’s fate, in which he seems to be succumbing to his wounds before making it down the mountain, though a flashforward from Gus’ point-of-view shows him in the hybrid sanctuary, Downey and Burrell have very different thoughts on the matter. The former takes a more hopeful stance as she holds on to the hope he makes it, though much like Burrell’s more realistic stance, she notes that there is one detail in this flashforward that could hint at his ultimate fate:

Amanda Burrell: I don’t know what this says about me [chuckles], but I really firmly believe he did not make it down the mountain. For me, it’s important that Gus really goes on that journey, and has to experience death again, and that it’s really full circle, and that’s what the journey is set out from. But I think that Jim was so inspired to have that final moment where you could still maybe believe.


Susan Downey: Yeah, so emotionally, I believe he made it down, because he’s eventually gonna die. It’s gonna happen, so he’s still dealing with that reality, and so I want to believe it. Now, technically speaking, if you look at what he’s wearing, he really hasn’t worn that in a really long time on our show, so it probably lives in Gus’ memory, and it is saying he is still there with him.

Amanda Burrell: He is always with him.

Susan Downey: He is going to always be with him, and I think, honestly, that’s the more emotional and poetic version of it. But as I’m watching it, I’m not gonna believe it. That they just left him up there like a climber on Everest? No! [Laughs]

Sherlock Holmes 3 Is Still “Very Much Alive” For Team Downey (Though They Have No Updates)

Watson and Holmes in Sherlock Holmes


In looking to the future of Team Downey, Susan Downey was asked about any progress made on Robert Downey Jr.’s long-awaited Sherlock Holmes 3, which has lingered in development hell for over a decade, along with two spinoff shows in the works for Max. Though she notes that she doesn’t have any proper update for the threequel, she does assure that it is “still very much alive in our hearts“, and that the biggest hurdle they’re currently facing is determining “What is the best next version of that?“:

Susan Downey: I mean, look, no, there’s no update, other than it’s still very much alive in our hearts. Every day we talk about, “What is the best next version of that?” Because anytime I see Robert and Jude together, which fortunately, I do get to see a few times a year, we hang out, and I’m just like, “Can I get these guys back on screen together?”, it’s magic. There needs to be a really strong reason, it needs to be a great story, and we do have some things in the works.


About Sweet Tooth Season 3

Having defeated General Abbot in the battle at Pubba’s Cabin, Gus (Christian Convery), Jepperd (Nonso Anozie), Becky (Stefania LaVie Owen), and Wendy (Naledi Murray) embark on a journey to Alaska in search of Gus’s mother, Birdie (Amy Seimetz), who has been working to uncover the mysterious origins of the deadly Sick. Along the way, they are joined by Dr. Singh (Adeel Akhtar), who may have his own dangerous beliefs about Gus and his role in reversing the virus. Meanwhile, a new threat emerges in the form of Helen Zhang (Rosalind Chao), her daughter Rosie (Kelly Marie Tran), and the ferocious Wolf Boys, who seek to restart human birth and view Gus as the solution to their plans.


As they navigate through perilous terrain, Gus and his group of friends find refuge at the Outpost in Alaska, where they meet a new ensemble of characters including Siana (Cara Gee) and her hybrid daughter Nuka (Ayazhan Dalabayeva). With the clock to find answers running out, alliances are tested and destinies intertwine, all leading to a thrilling climax that will determine the fate of humanity and hybrids. Based on the DC comic book series by Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth is executive produced by Jim Mickle, Susan Downey, Robert Downey, Jr., Amanda Burrell, and Linda Moran. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television.

Check out our other Sweet Tooth season 3 interviews with:



Sweet Tooth

season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.

Source: Screen Rant Plus

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