When Father Gabriel was first introduced in The Walking Dead in season 5, he didn’t make a good first impression on anyone. He was cowardly and hid behind his collar and church walls. Portrayed by Seth Gilliam, Father Gabriel is one of several characters who have made a drastic transformation since their introduction and one who was always in search of redemption for past actions. The series finale featured an emotional call back for Gabriel, for which he was able to redeem his past sins.
During the series finale episode of The Walking Dead, “Rest in Peace,” our survivors joined with rogue Commonwealth forces to come against Governer Pamela Milton (Laila Robins). Even Mercer (Michael James Shaw), her military general, could take no more when he saw that the soldiers were killing innocent citizens.
Milton locked the gates of the Commonwealth with many residents on the outside of the walls. She ordered the military to shoot them when they proceeded to climb over. Even when the massive horde of walkers, complete with variants, were closing in, she refused to open the gates.
The Walking Dead – Father Gabriel
As our survivors tried to reason with Milton, Gabriel stared at the locked gates, heard the screams of the people fearing for their lives, and he had to take action as his past crept in.
Early in the outbreak Father Gabriel holed up in his church, complete with food stores destined for the food bank. He hid away, being the coward that he was. And to add to his selfishness, he had the audacity to lock himself away while his parishioners, the very people he preached to each Sunday morning, screamed for help while the undead devoured them.
This is a burden Gabriel has carried throughout the series. He wrestled with his religion for years, and the Commonwealth provided him a place to finally find his faith once again. As he stood staring at the locked gate, likely with many of his current flock on the outside, he knew he couldn’t let this happen again.
He told them to stop him, they would have to shoot him as he approached the gate, intent on unlocking it and allowing the people to enter the Commonwealth, where it was safe.
Watching Gabriel all these years struggling with this faith and finally finding it again has been a wonderful thing. But he also experienced sadness with the tragic loss of Rosita (Christian Serratos). At least he has Coco as a beautiful reminder of her mother.