Spoilers for The Walking Dead 8x05.
Father Gabriel's life hangs in the balance. Again.
After being trapped in a trailer with Negan and surrounded by an overwhelming horde of the undead, Gabriel and Negan struck a truce, opting to lather up in walker guts and escape. His victory was short lived: having made their way inside the Sanctuary together, Negan ordered Gabriel to be locked away (gently).
When Gabriel's old ally Eugene made a goodwill visit to Gabriel's cell with welcome gifts, he discovered a seemingly feverish Gabriel — one who looks to be on death's door. It could be a ploy to spring Dr. Carson — also Negan's prisoner, and who is needed by a pregnant Maggie — or Gabriel could be suffering from an as-of-yet undisclosed illness.
Like an illness caught from all those walker guts he smeared over his body.
As pointed out by Uproxx (originally from a theory that surfaced on Reddit), Gabriel's illness could be the result of radiation poisoning inflicted by using possibly irradiated walker guts. Episode 8x04 introduced a "dangerous substance" and walkers that may have been infected by radiation — and if some of those walkers migrated over towards the Sanctuary and assimilated into the herd that's currently pinning down the Saviors, it's possible Gabriel could have got his hands onto some even nastier walker guts.
Rick and Glenn first used walker guts as camouflage in 1x02 (appropriately titled "Guts"), and we've seen many characters — most usually Nick — cover themselves in walker blood over on Fear The Walking Dead without ill effect, suggesting people can be exposed to walker blood without getting sick. In 5x11, Sasha accidentally nicked Abraham with her blade in the same blow that took out a walker, and in 6x03, after killing a walker, Rick accidentally cut his hand. So far, nothing has ever come of walker blood.
Walker guts are fine. But irradiated walker guts could get you sick — and kill you.
A big flaw is that Negan covered himself in those same guts, and he's shown no sign of illness — but Gabriel did fall while making his way through the herd, and he had been bleeding just moments before after taking a punch to the face from Negan that drew blood.
Gabriel's potential death from walker guts could correct a longtime supposed continuity error where the innards of the undead don't seem to affect the living, even though the comics (comic book spoilers) later introduce the concept of using weapons infected with walker guts against human opponents. A way to get around it? Weapons coated not with walker blood, but the nasty chemicals from that toxic sludge ravine.
However and whenever Gabriel dies — whether it be from potential radiation poisoning or by way of his comic book death — actor Seth Gilliam promised ComicBook.com "we'll find out in good time" what happens to the priest.
If Gabriel dies rescuing Dr. Carson, it would fulfill Gabriel's desire for a "purposeful death."
"I think that'd be a really fruitful death if it is in fact to be the end," Gilliam said. "I think Gabriel is of the mind as one thing at a time."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
The Walking DeadSunday at 9PM EST on AMC
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