WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 11
Father Gabriel has been on a huge journey over the last few seasons of The Walking Dead, none so more than in this week’s episode entitled ‘Dead or Alive Or’, which sees him losing not only a dear friend, but also his ability to see. We were very lucky to catch up with actor Seth Gilliam on a well-earned break amongst the hectic festivities of this weekend’s Walker Stalker Con in London…
This week’s episode was a huge turning point for Gabriel, losing Carson, going blind… How did you feel when you first read the script?
It was a fun episode to do! I got to play with having with some kind of handicap; the onset of not being able to see in dire moments of the script. So that was fun to play. Every way you turned, it was like the blind leading the blind. Faith was rewarded. It was a beautiful episode to make.
What does this mean for Gabriel? Has his sight completely gone?
I’m not sure. I’m not sure yet what it means for him… Only time will tell!
I must admit, when Gabriel was in that bed in The Sanctuary in the midseason, I was certain he was gonna die, and yet Eugene helped him escape. Why do you think he let Gabriel go?
I guess Father Gabriel was able to reach him in some way. He saw that it was necessary for Maggie to have the doctor, that Carson was more necessary for Maggie than he was for The Saviors. That got through to him. It took hold and spurred his actions. It’s an earned relationship. He recognised that he was weak when he could have been strong in the past, and I think that Father Gabriel is trying to convince Eugene to have another strong moment. But Eugene’s got his own plans! He’s got his own survival mechanism, which is very different from Father Gabriel’s.
Gabriel’s survival mechanism has always been his faith. Will that change given the events of this week’s episode?
Faith is tested at different levels and different ways. Gabriel’s was throughout that episode. It doesn’t seem to end on the best note for him, but, again, only time will tell!
So sneaky, Seth. So sneaky…
Gabriel has been through one hell of an emotional rollercoaster during his time on the show. Which do you enjoy playing more; cowardly weasel Gabriel, or the more heroic figure we’ve come to know more recently?
I prefer wherever he is in the journey! It’s fun to play cowardly, it’s fun to play heroic. It’s just fun to play opposites of what everyone else is playing on the show. To be a different strand in the music. I’m up for whichever way it goes! I get to pretend for a living; how could that suck?
Of course, the Gabriel in the comics never becomes the hero he is on the screen…
Well, I never read much of the comics. Only the one where Gabriel is introduced. I figured I couldn’t catch up, quite frankly! And they mix around with the story-lines enough for them to be two separate things. I figured I was existing in the TV world of The Walking Dead, and that should have my full participation.
On the topic of the “TV world”, when we met up last year, you, Ross and Alanna really showed what a family feel the cast has between them. This season, you’ve been very separate from the others. Was that a bit of a struggle for you?
It’s been a little more isolating. In the first few episodes that I was on the show, I kind of chose to be in a separate space from everyone else. But this was not by my choosing, so yeah, I miss people.
(laughs) Awww Eugene…
In a world where Rick doesn’t win, where do you think would Gabriel end up?
In a world where Rick doesn’t win? I think Gabriel survives! I think if he doesn’t go down in a blaze of glory, throwing himself in front of artillery fire in Rick’s direction, then Gabriel has proven himself to be a survivor at this point. I’m not sure as to what capacity he’d be “Father” Gabriel. Negan would call him “Gabey-Boy” or some such shit.
Do you think Gabriel believes Negan is redeemable at this point?
Gabriel thinks everyone is redeemable. Anything’s possible until your heart stops beating. That’s what he said to Rosita. That would be his mantra!
The Walking Dead, Mondays at 9pm, only on FOX