The Walking Dead Villains: Who ISN’T The Worst? Part 5

Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead -- AMC /
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Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead — AMC /

The stress of The Walking Dead can have horrible effects on people, even turn good people bad, but, we can’t forget, at one time, these WERE good people.

The theme of Season 5 of The Walking Dead was “Good people going bad”, and boy, did we see a lot of it: Murder, cannibalism, cowardice, selfishness, rape, deceit, more cowardice, and abuse. That said, we need to remember the first part of that theme: Good people. Deep down within most (Not all) of the villains we encountered this season, beat the heart of a good person, or, at least, someone who used to be. That, of course, is our whole exercise, isn’t it? We’re going to get to the bottom of who, amongst these erstwhile heels, is, in fact, redeemable. Just as we did last time, we start off…with Gareth.


Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead — AMC /

As mentioned in my previous article, Gareth was the leader of Terminus, and, so far as we know, the originator of its “You’re the butcher or the cattle” philosophy, which resulted in he and his community ultimately leading countless unsuspecting survivors to a very brutal and savage end.

Worse still might be that he had, along with convincing his community to become cannibals in the first place, convinced at least a few of them to allow him and his people to eat their children; an especially monstrous act (Actually, it’s becoming more monstrous the more I think about it…), that is, frankly, too horrible to ignore.

It takes an especially charming and charismatic person to be able to convince people, even in a zombie apocalypse, to take such a drastic step as to allow someone to eat one’s own children. Furthermore, it takes an especially heartless person to be able to rationalize and convince a whole community to start murdering, butchering, and eating total strangers, never mind children.

Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead — AMC /

Or, does it? When Martin (THAT GUY!!!!!) captures Bob and brings him to Gareth, Gareth makes a point of pleading his case to Bob.

Gareth explains to Bob his philosophy about cannibalism, specifically in regards to children, using an analogy of bears in the wild eating their cubs as part of his rationale. But, along with that, Gareth explains that he himself is not especially proud of his and his group’s new diet, nor is he especially proud of the way they went about sustaining it. To him, cannibalism isn’t something they want to do, but rather, something they have to do.

What this shows us is that, apparently, if nothing else, Gareth has some level of remorse for what he and his group had been doing. Unlike, let’s say, Tomas, who seemed to be making a point of displaying how violent and brutal he was when he killed Big Tiny, Gareth seemed to take no pride or joy in the fact he had led his community to become cannibals, it genuinely appeared that (To him, at least), cannibalism really was something they were left with no option but to do.

And to those who may think he was lying to Bob, what reason would he have had to lie about it? They had planned on eating him, there was no one else around, it wasn’t like he had to try to lull the rest of The Group into a false sense of security or anything, it was just him and his remaining Termites with a captured (And bitten) Bob, Gareth had no reason to lie.

Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Andrew J. West as Gareth, The Walking Dead — AMC /

Perhaps further proving just how much Gareth may have been bothered by, if nothing else, Terminus’ eating of children, when trying to force half of The Group to come out of hiding in Father Gabriel’s church, upon hearing Judith cry out, Gareth suggested that he and his compatriots keep her.

Now, this could have just been him saying it, but, if what we saw of him while talking to Bob was, in fact, true, it’s possible that for Gareth, “adopting” Judith might have been his way of trying to make amends for all the children he and his community had eaten since they became cannibals.

Andrew J. West as Gareth, Owen Harn as The Crazy Man, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Andrew J. West as Gareth, Owen Harn as The Crazy Man, The Walking Dead — AMC /

And, of course, we can’t overlook why that happened in the first place. It wasn’t as if Terminus had always been cannibals; As Gareth explains, when they first founded the community, the signs were real: They put them up with the intent of providing a sanctuary for other survivors.

Sadly, their invitations attracted the wrong kind of attention, eventually bringing The Crazy Man and his lecherous ilk (Or, were they Randall’s Group?), who invaded the community, apparently killed many members (Though, admittedly, this may have happened during the reclamation — Man, wouldn’t that be interesting to see?), and began a campaign of rapes and beatings on the community.

Anissa Matlock as Terminus Woman, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Anissa Matlock as Terminus Woman, The Walking Dead — AMC /

It was during this period of terror, that Gareth (With perhaps a little inspiration from his brother and mother) struck upon this idea, this philosophy of “You’re either the butcher…or the cattle.“, which went on to become the defining principle of Terminus. This period was what set Gareth down the path of evil, and he, in turn, took his community right down into Hell with him.

Now, do I think this excuses Gareth’s (Or anyone in Terminus’) behavior? No. I happen to believe that, simply being attacked by monsters does not give you a right to become one. As mentioned in my assessment of The Governor, in the end, what makes a person good or bad is their choices.

While I imagine the Termites would have exacted a frightening vengeance against The Crazy Man and his group, they didn’t need to do it the countless innocent people that came to them for sanctuary. In fact, God only knows how many experienced hunters or survivalists (Who could have taught them how to hunt, by the way), they consumed before Rick arrived, throwing away a perfect opportunity to abandon evil and stay human, but, they let their paranoia and resentment take them over, and marched themselves down a path they couldn’t come back from.

In the end, do I think Gareth is redeemable? …I’m not really sure. While what he did was evil, Gareth seemed to still have remorse for what he’d done (Which is more than some can say), and disgust at what he and his people had become. Can that redeem him (Or anyone from Terminus, for that matter)? Can his remorse outweigh the evil he created? For me, it might if he and his Termites turned away from it, and set about finding more conventional diets, which…they wouldn’t. Without stopping the evil, Gareth could never truly be redeemed.

Next: Is Forgiveness Possible?