Rosie Zhang In ‘Sweet Tooth’ Season 3, Explained: Did She Finally Escape Her Mother’s Clutches?

Family ties are an important theme explored in Netflix’s Sweet Tooth—and a recurrent one at that, given how all three seasons of the series took turns delineating the subject through different characters. Pubba and Big Man’s presence in Gus’ life was significant, as they became father figures to him. Similarly, Aimee Eden’s hybrid children had a happy and safe childhood thanks to the love and care their human mother had showered upon them. Through proper upbringing, these human parents had formed a strong character foundation for the young hybrid children, which allowed them to appreciate humanity and become better beings as well. In the third season, we see the other side of the spectrum through Zhang family issues, which clearly highlights how the toxic traits of families transfer through generations, be it in the case of humans or hybrids. 


The ruthless warlord Helen Zhang was introduced during the second season, and her close relationship with her family was strongly conveyed through her action of eliminating the remaining two warlords to secure more places for her family in General Abbot’s planned secure township of ‘Evergreen’. In the third season of Sweet Tooth, Helen Zhang turns out to be an absolute diabolical figure, almost on par with General Abbot, and through her actions, she brings humanity closer to extinction. However, even with her menacing presence, the breakout character of the season turned out to be her elder daughter, Rosie Zhang, and the mother-daughter relationship made for an interesting binary as compared with the other parental relationships showcased in the series. 

Spoilers Ahead


Why Did Rosie Surrender the Lives of Her Children to Her Mother?

In cases of overly controlling parental figures, it often happens that their children spend a lifetime living up to their ideals, only to realize too late that they have lost control over their own being—something that happened to Helen’s elder daughter, Rosie Zhang, as well. Rosie had eloped with a nobody during her youth, much to her parents’ dismay, and birthed quadruplet hybrid wolf children. However, after her husband turned out to be a loser who abandoned Rosie and her children, she had no other way to turn except towards her family. At this point in time, Rosie was completely at the mercy of her mother, the conservative southern warlord, Helen Zhang, who decided to bring her daughter back to her family. However, the despotic matriarch had harbored a deep hatred for the hybrids since the very beginning and perceived them as abominations born as a mockery of natural order. Helen and her late husband wanted to have ‘normal’ human grandchildren who could carry their legacy, something Rosie failed to provide; therefore, Helen’s disdain for her elder daughter increased even more.

However, the worst effect of Helen’s malevolent influence was seen on Rosie’s hybrid sons, who were denied the chance of being raised in a loving, caring environment that Rosie wanted to provide them. Helen never saw them as equals or even capable of tender feelings, and since the earliest phase of life, they were treated like caged hounds. Rosie’s sons could have had a childhood like Aimee’s children had in the Preserve; they could have become more than bloodthirsty mongrels if they had the chance to get in touch with their human side; instead, they were denied any identity and became trapped in muzzles and electric collars to do their grandmother’s bidding. This was the hefty price Rosie had to pay her mother in order to return to her family. Later, during a conversation with her younger sister Ginger, Rosie mentions the cost of her freedom, but in reality, she had given away the freedom of both her and her hybrid children to Helen the moment she agreed to live on her terms. 


Did Rosie and her children finally escape Helen’s clutches?

While Rosie remained occupied with regaining Helen’s favor, she and her children were treated as nothing more than enforcers who did Helen’s dirty work on her behalf. So much for Helen’s proud remark of blood being thicker than water, when the most evil acts performed by the matriarch were targeted towards her own blood. Gradually, Rosie started becoming more like her mother than she would like to admit—ruthless, sadistic, and obsessive—and remained deliberately unmindful of the tortures she was subjecting her children to at the same time. So much so, when Helen commanded her to leave one of her dying sons to his fate, Rosie took him down to put him out of his misery. Rosie had recurrent conflict with Bear, aka Becky, as she was the person who had fatally wounded her son, but the realization didn’t escape her later on: Becky was a better guardian to her hybrid sister, Wendy, than Rosie ever was to her own children. Rosie’s helplessness to protect her sons and Zhang’s cruelty to her grandchildren stand in absolute contrast to the relationship Gus and Big Man share with each other or how Aimee treated her adopted hybrid children. 

Finally, the cathartic moment that allowed Rosie to finally break free from Helen’s oppressive grasp took place when Ginger gave birth to a hybrid child after going through a prolonged, tumultuous labor. Rosie’s conflicted state of mind was noticeable from the moment she lost one of her sons, and Helen’s increasing apathy was only pushing her towards her inevitable escape. Finally, seeing her sister share a similar situation—being the mother of hybrid children—Rosie musters the courage to ask her to take charge of her own life by not repeating the mistakes she made. Seeing Ginger and Tex embracing their newborn hybrid children, Rosie lets out a sigh of relief, as she no longer feels the burden of parental expectations pulling her down any longer. Helen wanted to eradicate hybrids entirety from the world, went to heinous lengths like selective birthing program— and even though Rosie abhorred her mother’s worldview, she hadn’t dared to assert herself, until this moment. Rosie did the simplest yet most effective thing to thwart Helen once and for all—she turned her back on her mother. In fact, Helen’s entire family, her extended clan, turned their back on her, as, after going through a near-death experience, no one wanted to end their legacy to be carried with hate. Helen Zhang’s old-world regressive ideology and puritan mentality get abandoned by her so-called close ones, and she is left to freeze to death in the Arctic. 


As for Rosie, after a long time, she truly expresses her affection towards her children and frees them from their shackles. Fate has given her a chance to rectify her mistake, and she will make sure that the world eventually becomes a better place for her wolf children. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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