Sweet Tooth: What is in the Cave? What is Blood of the Earth?

Nature flips for humans in Netflix’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ when a deadly virus sweeps over the Earth, killing humans so swiftly that almost all of them are wiped away over a matter of a few years. There is no cure for this disease, known simply as the Sick, and the desperation to find it increases with time, turning decent human beings into monsters who are ready to taint their hands of blood, not caring about the innocent lives they are taking. The search for the cure relates to the origin of the Sick, and in Season 3, everyone converges to Alaska, where a cave hides all the answers they need. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Cave Holds the Origin of the Hybrids and the Sick

While trying to find a cure for the Sick, Dr. Adi Singh realizes that the answer to this problem will be found where it started. At first, he thinks that the Sick was created at Fort Smith Labs, and so he scours the place for something that will help him understand how to reverse this curse on humanity. But then, amidst the purple flowers, he has a vision of a cave. In a different place, Gus also has a vision of the cave where he sees his mother, Birdie, calling out to him for help.

With each step they take, it becomes clear that they must move towards the cave, which seems to be calling out to them. And their instincts turn out to be right, espceully after they discover that this is the same cave that Captain James Thacker went in, looking for a cure for his own affliction. What did he find in the cave? Turns out that there is an ancient tree that Thacker hacked at. The wound made the tree bleed; its sap was as red as blood, which is why Thacker calls it the Blood of the Earth. What does it mean exactly?

The origins of the tree aren’t touched upon in the chaotic final episode, but it is clear that this is something ancient, something to be respected, revered, and taken care of. But human nature knows nothing if not how to exploit anything that holds even an ounce of potential. When Thacker found the tree, he thought it would cure him. Without giving any thought to the consequences of his actions, he set out to make the tree bleed for his personal gain. He didn’t care what he was destroying for his greed and what horrors this audacity would unleash on him.

Through the tree, we get concrete answers to all the questions about the Sick and the hybrids and everything else that had us puzzled for three seasons of ‘Sweet Tooth.’ However, that is not the only purpose of this plot device. Since its beginning, this Netflix series has underlined the importance of living in harmony with nature and the ill effects of human greed and the overexploitation of natural resources. With almost ninety-nine percent of the human population eradicated from the face of the Earth, Nature doesn’t just heal but flourishes, while humans continue to die to the point of extinction. The tree adds to this narrative and works as an effective metaphor, highlighting the message of the story.

The tree represents the Earth, nature, and the biodiversity humans are out to destroy while serving their bottomless greed. We hack away at trees, polluting the rivers, destroying species after species, blissfully ignoring the consequences that will eventually befall us when Nature finally takes its course and renders us completely powerless. People like Thacker, Singh, and Zhang represent the facet of humanity that only knows how to exploit nature and its resources. They make the Earth bleed due to their actions and want to lick up every last drop of blood to serve their purpose.

In ‘Sweet Tooth,’ the repercussions are swift. As soon as the tree bleeds, the Sick takes over the people in its vicinity. When the scientists at Fort Smith try to create a cure for everything, they end up unleashing a disease with no cure, triggering their own end. In real life, the consequences don’t show up instantly, but that doesn’t scale down the enormity with which it will eventually hit us. In the show, Gus has to burn down the tree to let Nature take its course and decide what it wants to do with the world, making us wonder if that’s what it will take to save our world, too.

Will we also have to watch it all burn, to let Nature take its course and destroy humanity to heal itself and allow other species to flourish? Or will we learn our lessons in time and co-exist peacefully before the end becomes imminent and inescapable? At one point in the show, a former environmental activist says they’d worked hard for many years to save the environment, but all it took was taking humans out of the picture. Through the tree’s metaphor, the show asks us whether we are waiting for the same thing to happen.

Read More: Is H5G9 Based on an Actual Virus? What is The Sick in Sweet Tooth?