[WARNING: Potential spoilers for both the comic book and television series]
Ever since it was announced that Seth Gilliam of The Wire had been cast for Season 5 of The Walking Dead, fans have speculated that he will play the role of Father Gabriel Stokes from the comic book series. When Deadline broke Gilliam’s casting news, the site reported that he would join the series as Michael Todd. However, fans of Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels know that Michael Todd isn’t a character in those books. And while it was possible for the AMC series to introduce a brand new character, the description of his role has led some folks to speculate that Michael Todd is actually going to be Father Gabriel Stokes.
While AMC has not officially confirmed that Gilliam will be portraying this character, photos from the set indicate that this is probably the case, or at the very least that Gilliam has been cast in a similar role.
So, who is Father Gabriel Stokes, and if the show stays reasonably true to the comics, what should we expect when The Walking Dead returns in October? In the comic book series, Father Gabriel was the pastor of a Catholic church before the apocalypse, and when walkers began to overrun his town, he locked himself inside the church due to his own cowardice, refusing to let anyone inside. Even though the church was well-stocked with enough food and supplies to last a large group for months, Father Gabriel still refused to unlock the doors, which resulted in the entire town being eaten alive.
Rick initially encountered Father Gabriel after the prison had been destroyed by The Governor and about the same time when “The Hunters” were introduced, which is an even bigger clue that Gilliam will be playing the role of Father Gabriel. After all, while it has not been confirmed that the Terminites are cannibals, most believe that they at least practice cannibalism and that Terminus is an elaborate spin on the Hunter story line from the comics.
If all of this turns out to be true, the big question is was it Father Gabriel who sped away with Beth Greene at the end of the season four episode “Alone”? We should recall that the car had a white cross on the rear windshield, and the person driving was probably the same person keeping up the funeral home and attempting to give the dead decent burials. Does this sound like the actions of a priest? Yeah, probably, especially if you consider that Father Gabriel may have thought he was rescuing Beth from the walkers who had overrun the funeral home. The good news is if Beth is with Father Gabriel, she’s likely still alive, which will debunk all of the crazy rumors that Beth is dead and waiting to be roasted at Terminus.
As of now, AMC is mum on the casting of any new characters for Season 5, but San Diego Comic-Con is next month. And, as most fans know, that is usually when big casting and storyline announcements are made.
The Walking Dead returns for season five October 12th at 9/8c on AMC.