Spoiler warning for anyone who has yet to watch The Walking Dead's latest episode, "The Big Scary U."
Walking Dead fans knew that this week would take us back to Negan and Father Gabriel's situation within their temporary safe haven, and many were worried for Gabriel's safety. Though that was mostly because of Negan's violence-happy presence, while the episode actually made it look like the lament-laden priest had potentially fallen victim to a walker bite or some other sickness. But is that what actually happened?
After Gabriel and Negan's pow-wow, which gave audiences some insight into the villain's backstory, they went the "Guts" route of covering themselves in walker goo as a way to walk amongst them undetected. Upon reaching the Sanctuary, Negan reestablished order and set Gabriel up inside a cell like the other prisoners that have been held there in the past. Even without any sign of dog food sandwiches on the menu, Gabriel looked extremely sick when Eugene checked in on him. I mean, he already looked like hell for the entire episode, sweating buckets and not moving much, but that ending made it seem like he might be worse off than we expected.
Gabriel's dialogue at the beginning of the episode either proves or disproves his current state, as he was talking all about how his biggest fear was dying without a purpose. So there's no way he's going to die without bringing some kind of fresh hell to Negan and the Saviors, but it's altogether unclear if Gabriel is just faking an illness at this point in order to fool Eugene and the others, or if he's actually sick or bitten, knowing he has to pull out all the stops with one last heroic moment to send him off.
On the side of Gabriel faking it: Negan now seems intent on taking Gabriel under his wing and turning him into some kinda protégé, which is something that Gabriel definitely doesn't want. And after hearing Negan refer to himself as "strong" so many times, Gabriel likely isn't planning a very physical escape, so he would need to try something a lot more devious and embeded with mental dexterity. Such as faking an illness in order to touch base again with former Hilltop physician Dr. Carson, which could possibly lead to the two of them using medicinal means to take Negan out of the picture. Or something along those lines, and possibly with Eugene also joining them.
On the flip side, in which Gabriel is indeed sick, the dude looked miserable for the entire episode, and was sweating to the point where he might die of dehydration at any given moment. Plus, whenever he and Negan were going through the big walker herd outside, they were alarmingly haphazard about protecting themselves from all the walkers behind them. So it's more than possible that Gabriel was bitten at some point during this escape, but managed to keep it a secret from both Negan and audience members.
In fact, it would be extremely interesting and selfless of Gabriel if he intentionally got himself bitten by a walker specifically so that he wouldn't need to "fake" any injuries when inside The Sanctuary. After having confessed to allowing so many people to die so that he could stay alive, Gabriel might very well have realized that he would need to sacrifice himself in order to try and save everyone else. Or at least to try and avoid any pregnancy problems for Maggie by bringing her doctor back. That would definitely make his death fruitful and redemption-worthy.
Unfortunately, we're not at all sure when Father Gabriel's story will continue, considering the way this series bounces between timelines and character groups. And next week looks to be all about Rick and Jadis. But everyone's story continues every Sunday night on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what else is coming to the small screen in the near future, head to our fall TV premiere schedule and our 2018 midseason premiere schedule.