The Walking Dead Just Got Strangely Religious With Father Gabriel's Story

father gabriel car

The story below has major spoilers for The Walking Dead's latest episode, titled "Dead or Alive Or."

As The Walking Dead's resident holy man, Father Gabriel has been known to drop some biblical wisdom time and again on folks like Rick and Negan, and for the most part, star Seth Gilliam helps those moments feel more humane than outright preachy. Gabriel's attempted escape with Dr. Carson provided a curious dose of religious vibes, though, which stood out against the franchise's generally secular approach. Was this a metaphor-laden parable that struck at the heart of this series' jaded views on fate? Or was it just an awkwardly coincidental way to get the sickened Father Gabriel and Eugene back together?

Our introduction to Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson's medical pilgrimage was notable for a pair of moments. One: that grounded walker, which foreshadowed the mostly empty abode we'd later visit (both with the trap and the chain's sounds), and also highlighted the unwavering persistence of the undead. Two: Gabriel's rapidly degrading eyesight, which indicated his condition is getting worse, even though he seemed to have more energy than ever later on. While Father Gabriel's vision loss could obviously lead to future repercussions, its purpose in this episode provided the priest a chance to rely on his faith in a higher power over his natural senses. Along with everything else, this gave viewers Gabriel's supremely excellent "footprints" joke, which was easily one of the funniest lines in The Walking Dead's history.

I usually enjoy when Walking Dead characters come across a new standalone location with its own mysterious history that never gets fully explained. And such was the case with the home that called out to Father Gabriel, what with all of that radio equipment and its bed-cuffed previous owner. (More on that here.) And score! This place has the antibiotics that Gabriel needs to help bring him back around to health! Plus a vehicle, which is made usable after Gabriel "accidentally" knocked over the piggy bank with the car keys and map inside. Because putting keys inside a piggy bank is about as rational a choice as warning potential trespassers with a big sign about the bear traps, I guess. (I know the traps were mostly for walkers, but come on.)

the walking dead father gabriel dr carson

Despite his shitty vision, Gabriel is somehow able to read that warning sign, though Dr. Carson still pays for his earlier skepticism by getting his foot clamped. Points again went to to the faithful once Gabriel pulled off his eyes-closed, crackerjack shot that killed the walker atop Carson; something that happened after Gabriel stepped on two different bear traps without setting them off. Things went straight to hell once the Saviors arrived, though, and Carson once again ignored Gabriel's advice that inaction was the best action, resulting in the doc getting shot in the head.

Gabriel ended up back under Negan's thumb, now as one of Eugene's direct lackeys within the newly in-development ammo factory. And there was very much a veil of Judas-ness hanging over it all, with Negan looking for a traitor to blame, and Father Gabriel choosing not to throw Eugene under the bus for betraying the tyrannical leader. Not that Eugene seemed all that grateful at the time.

It's unclear how that situation will unfold, and that's not the only question left unanswered. Was The Walking Dead trying to show us that Gabriel was right all along in saying God was leading the way, and that Dr. Carson's less faithful impulses were the inferior angle? Or was this just the show providing another tale in which all good things must end in tragedy, regardless of religious context? Plus, if Gabriel really only just has a normal flu or something, WTF? Any way it goes, nothing was made any clearer by Siddiq's miraculous timing in asking about filling the physician role within Hilltop. Here's hoping Gabriel hid some of those antibiotics somewhere safe.

Check out Simon Ogg's reason for Simon being more interested in Father Gabriel than other characters, and be sure to watch The Walking Dead every Sunday night on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. While waiting for more coverage, head to our midseason premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.