‘The Walking Dead’ Star Denies Responsibility for Negan’s Escape

The Walking Dead star Seth Gilliam continues to defend Father Gabriel, who he says isn’t responsible for Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) escape from prison.

“There was a guard there. Father Gabriel left, there was a guard there,” Gilliam told Le HuffPost with a laugh.

“I don’t think it’s any longer Father Gabriel’s responsibility. It’ll be interesting to see what happens now that Negan’s out. But aside from that, there was a guard on duty, baby.”

Frustrated with his duties as Negan’s caretaker-slash-therapist, Gabriel in November’s mid-season finale learned distressing news about wounded girlfriend Rosita (Christian Serratos).

After Gabriel stormed out of the Alexandria prison, slamming the cell door shut, a guard removed Negan’s restraints — but failed to properly secure the cell. Upon realizing the mistake, Negan immediately took advantage and fled, but was later convinced by Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) to return after a fruitless trip to the dilapidated Sanctuary.

“I imagine the time was spent with Father Gabriel trying to pull out the real person behind Negan and I imagine Negan spending literally years just basically pulling Father Gabriel’s chain, and leading him on little quests that end up going nowhere,” Gilliam said of the attempted rehabilitation sessions.

“I think it’s probably been more of a frustrating experience than not, but I also think that Father Gabriel has probably drawn out some things from Negan over the time that Negan may not have been willing to give up.”

Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang credits Judith with getting through to Negan after making repeat sneaky visits outside his cell. When the girl first catches the ousted Savior leader mid-escape, he’s able to convince her he won’t harm anyone.

“We were just thinking about this man who has had a lot of time, basically, in what was amounted to solitary confinement. Then he had a little more interaction with people, but he’s been kind of talking back and forth to Judith. I think she has had an impact on him,” Kang told EW.

“I do think that, at least from his perspective, he’s like, ‘Okay. Here’s my big opportunity to get out of here. What do I do with it?’ And he’s kind of hoping that he’ll go back, and find his people, and maybe forge a new path forward. I don’t know. But yeah, it was a fun interaction to film between those two because I think they play really interesting stuff together.”

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Morgan next hopes to see the television show adapt the comic book plotline that pits Negan against new enemy group the Whisperers, where Negan emerges as a redemption-seeking anti-hero.

The Walking Dead Season Nine airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.