Father Gabriel actor Seth GIlliam refuses to be blamed for Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) most recent escape from jail on The Walking Dead. In its Season 9 midseason finale, Negan was accidentally let loose when Gabriel stormed out of Negan’s cell after receiving distressing news about girlfriend Rosita (Christian Serratos). Negan ultimately returned himself to Alexandria, spurred in part by a stern Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming), but Gilliam blamed that first incident on a guard he said failed to secure Negan’s cell door. When attempting to clear Gabriel's name during a convention appearance last December, Gilliam feigned an attitude, saying Gabriel “slammed the f—ing gate shut and it locked. And there was a f—ing guard standing by!”
Negan is once again a fugitive, making his escape in Season 10 episode 4, “Silence the Whisperers.” Negan was forced to flee after the accidental slaying of Margo (Jerri Tubbs), killed when Negan tore her off Lydia (Cassady McClincy) during a scuffle. Gabriel was tasked with acting as the deciding vote on Negan’s fate and was horrified to discover an empty cell after taking the night to deliberate.
This time, at least, it's clear Gabriel is not to blame — and Gilliam stressed that fact on a recent episode of Talking Dead.
“It’s very rare that I read the scripts and I’m like, ‘Yeah! That’s right!’ And I was like, ‘Okay, look, that’s right, it’s not Father Gabriel. He’s nowhere near it, has nothing to do with it. Not in the room, not in the building, not even in the compound,’” Gilliam said. “I think he might have even been out picking grapes. I was very happy that Father Gabriel had nothing to do, nothing to do, nothing to do with Negan’s escape.”
As of the Season 10 midseason finale, the real culprit has yet to be revealed. Suspects include Carol (Melissa McBride) — she has motive to unleash Negan against Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton), who has since accepted Negan into her cult — and Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas), who made a point to mention Negan after being outed as a Whisperer spy.
There’s also cause to suspect Daryl (Norman Reedus) over a growing list of evidence pointing in his direction.
“I don’t think Daryl holds grudges. I think he’s seen everybody do bad stuff, come back around, and redeem themselves however it’s appropriate at that time and space,” Reedus said of the Daryl-Negan relationship on Talking Dead. “If he’s gonna punch him in the face, he’d just punch him in the face. I don’t think he’d be like, ‘Are you a good guy now, or are you a bad guy now?’ That’s not how Daryl thinks. If Lydia says that Negan protected her, I believe her. So I think my only plan to go forward with that is to go look him in the face and see if he’s lying to me. But if he’s not lying to me, that means all these other people are in the wrong. And if he’s telling the truth, good on him.”