The Walking Dead Finale: Can the Audience Forgive Father Gabriel?


Father Gabriel was on everyone’s “Finale Hitlist” except mine.  I fully expect a flood of comments desiring to send me to crazy town and I’ve been Twitter-yelled at already by many of my Walking Dead Twitter friends.  I cried, hand-over-mouth, tense and shouting, “No,” when he whistled for the walkers in his clean, white shirt. You can infer your own metaphors and symbolism about that. By the end the Father starts his healing and forgiving process with Maggie and Sasha, but can the fans and audiences forgive him?

Grief has many phases and Father Gabriel is going through those phases very differently and in differect timing than most of our survivors.  We saw him through denial back at the church. He scrubbed blood from the floors and was the Doubting Thomas who didn’t believe Gareth and the hunters could possibly have done what they did to Bob until he “touched the wound” himself at the school. Denial is powerful.

Gabriel has fluctuated between denial, bargaining and anger at different times along the road. He’s burned his collar, torn up a Bible, tried befriending, tried betrayal.  Tried deflecting, tried more denial. The final step of grieving, and one doesn’t always stay there, is acceptance, but I think forgiveness should be part of the formula and it is here.  Nobody could have expected a flock full of screaming people covered in undead to come knocking one morning. He did what he did and he can’t change that. All of the survivors have had to make decisions at one time or another to leave people behind or protect themselves when they couldn’t do anymore to help them. Father Gabriel was not equipped to help his flock at that point.

The Walking Dead always talks about dominos and Father Gabriel was a crucial domino in the way events unfolded for Rick to kill Pete, sway Alexandria and help Sasha and Maggie deal with their grief by forgiving him and starting their own forgiveness process.

I hope the audience can forgive Gabriel and that Gabriel can start making decisions that will help him help himself, help his family of survivors and help the Alexandrians to face the horrors that exist and the enemies sure to present themselves. We need our survivors to survive their inner demons because I imagine real demons are coming.

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