The new season of The Walking Dead is just getting started, but the preview last Sunday provided one very major clue as to what is happening this week: It's time for The Walking Dead comics character Father Gabriel to join the fray. Last week, the group destroyed Terminus (or so we are to believe that they are destroyed) and are on the road to Washington D.C. (By the way, has anyone noticed that it hasn’t once snowed in Georgia? Isn’t there usually snow?) Regardless — it’s time to get the team on the road again and to know the very important character that is Father Gabriel Stokes.
Seth Gilliam was cast as Father Gabriel, but at first, he didn’t even know that was his role. “I actually did not realize I was reading for the role of Father Gabriel during the casting process,” he told Entertainment Weekly, adding, “The sides were for a school guidance counselor named Michael, who had an issue with a couple of his students.” When news got out, folks who'd read the comics were naturally excited and while his TV show character may be different (The Walking Dead tends to take liberties with its page-bound counterpart), we can get many clues about Father Gabriel by digging through his comic book history. But first, here's our first glimpse of the new addition:
Father Gabriel was first introduced in Issue 61 of The Walking Dead comics. The group runs into him shortly after the Governor raids the prison, which means he’s coming into the TV series much later than he did in the comics. The group's distrust of outsiders is obviously higher than normal after everything that happened with the Governor, so when they meet Father Gabriel on the road, no one is really open to having him join them. However, this is Rick's group, so Father Gabriel ends up tagging along with them anyway.
The Dale Factor
One thing to note about the differences between the comics and the TV show is that at this point in the comics when Gabriel shows up, Dale is still alive. Remember Dale? You know, the only guy on back on the farm that had any humanity left? In the books, he is abducted by the hunters in the comics (aka the jerks at Terminus, except it’s not called Terminus in the comics). So when the group finds Gabriel in the books, they are still on the hunt for Dale. That's certainly going to make for a different trajectory on the show.
The Hunters Problem
In the books, the hunters are actively hunting the group and on top of abducting Dale and, spoiler alert, using him as bait to lure the group out of Gabriel’s church, they shoot Glenn in the leg. Rick is over the annoying cannibals, so he forces Father Gabriel to show them where the hunters live. When he does, Rick and Co. murder them all, kind of how Carol did that last week on the show. Father Gabriel is appalled and angry with them for the mass murder even though he's not so great either.
The Big Picture
The main thing that you need to know about Father Gabriel is that when the outbreak started, he went to his church and locked the doors. Apparently, the local community tried to seek refuge and he selfishly wouldn’t let anyone in, so they all died. Way to go, Father. He tells Rick and the group that he has been living there until he ran out of food and ventured out.
He accompanies them to D.C. though and in the comics universe he’s still alive (that means he's made it from Issue 61 to Issue 132, so that's not bad), so if AMC sticks to the comics storyline at all, we can expect Father Gabriel to be around for quite a while.
Images: Gene Page/AMC (2); Wifflegif