The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang has explained the reasoning behind the surprise romantic pairing of Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), which initiated sometime during the unseen six years that passed between 905 and 906.
“That’s been fun for us, playing with Father Gabriel and showing this new side of him. He has come a long way, and so has Rosita,” Kang told THR.
“A lot of the conversations Christian and I had about Rosita centered on how she feels she needs to be with a man she feels challenged by, and someone she has respect for. We felt it was a really interesting pairing. We’re going to have a very interesting story with them moving forward as well.”
Another reason behind the coupling was to stress how much had changed in the six years after the “death” of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), which resulted in major dramatic shifts for Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carol (Melissa McBride), and Daryl (Norman Reedus).
“What we’re really seeing here is characters who are in varying stages of wish fulfillment, or are retreating into themselves,” Kang explained.
“They’re taking ideas they’ve had in different ways and sometimes going extreme with them. We wanted to push all of our characters into new situations so that when we come in, we do get that sense that they’ve been through things. They’ve continued to change and grow. That’s really fun to work with on the writers’ side, and also it’s produced some great conversations with the actors about their thoughts on these characters and some of the stuff they're excited to try playing.”
The new pairing also sets up a triangle bemoaned by Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who has evolved into a braver survivor capable of slaying walkers without assistance. After summoning the “testicular fortitude” to admit his long-gestating feelings for Rosita, Eugene’s revelation was interrupted by the sudden arrival of the Whisperers — a new breed of enemy that will soon emerge as the overarching threat of The Walking Dead Season Nine.
Gabriel has usurped Eugene’s comic book storyline, which saw him tinker with a radio as a form of outreach for other survivors and communities — a story now playing out with Gabriel, and one that could culminate in a particularly tragic turn of events from the comic books.