- Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “The Walking Dead.”
- Seth Gilliam told Insider that Father Gabriel considers Negan a friend.
- Gilliam joked that he would have killed Maggie’s people to save Negan on the season premiere.
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) claims to not have a friend in the world on “The Walking Dead,” but Seth Gilliam says that isn’t true.
Whether or not Negan realizes it, Father Gabriel is on his side.
“I think [Father Gabriel] views Negan as a reclamation project that was successful, that he has successfully rehabilitated this totally self-driven man into being a member of a community,” Gilliam told Insider when we asked if his character trusts Negan.
Gilliam said Father Gabe is so much in Negan’s court that he likely would have had his back on the two-part season premiere even when everyone else wanted to kill him.
“I kind of backed away from the group that was swarming Negan at the subway door and threatening to kill him,” Gilliam said of not really taking sides on the season premiere when everyone was gunning for Negan after they learned he left Maggie for dead outside a subway car.
“I had this joke with Jeffrey,” Gilliam added. “It was like — I think Gabriel was ready to start shooting people in the back for Negan at that point, because these are Maggie’s people. I don’t know these people. You know what I mean? I spent years working on this dude. You know, this guy is a friend at this point.”
That’s quite the opposite of what Norman Reedus said Daryl would’ve done. Reedus told Entertainment Weekly if he was in subway car in that moment that Daryl wouldn’t have hesitated to “slit” Negan’s throat.
Though no one came to Negan’s defense for leaving Maggie with the dead, Gilliam pointed out there’s one thing Father Gabriel did on the two-part season premiere to help Negan out in a tough spot. It’s something you likely overlooked.
When Maggie tells the survivors that Negan left her to die and he responds with “So what?”, Gabriel steps in to ask, “You’re just admitting it?”
Gilliam told Insider that small line wasn’t meant to show that he was against Negan, but, rather, to help him before he said or did anything else foolish.
“I think, [Gabriel’s] only lie to [Negan] was [saying], ‘You’re just admitting it?'” Gilliam told Insider. “[Gabriel hoped] that would draw out a more extensive answer so that the people could see that Negan is not just this evil dude, that there may have been something else going on there.”
“But he’s not given the opportunity to answer that because they thrust him up against the wall and started threatening his life,” Gilliam added. (For what it’s worth, Negan quickly mentions he didn’t save Maggie because she has it out for him.)
Gilliam’s perspective on that exchange makes it worth revisiting. (You can catch it about 17 minutes into season 11, episode two.)
Rewatch that entire scene and you’ll notice Gabe makes a point to not take one side or the other in the subway car. For the most part, he lingers in the background.
In fact, when one of Maggie’s group claims that you don’t need fingers to count how many people would step in to save Negan, you can spot Gabriel in the background. Did you spot him in the photo above?
Gabriel’s appearance in that shot likely isn’t on purpose, but knowing what we do know, the sight of Father Gabe out of focus as that line is delivered plays brilliantly in that scene.
If Negan was really in any danger, Gabe probably would’ve stepped in to save him (or at least Gilliam likes to believe he would have).
Regardless of whether or not Negan is a good guy or totally self-serving, Father Gabriel sees value in Negan as a survivor and someone who can help keep him alive in a tight spot. Negan previously helped Gabe get out of an impossible situation at the Sanctuary. The event left Gabe blinded, but alive.
Negan could use a friend right about now as he, Maggie, Elijah, and Gabriel march toward the Reapers with an army of the dead. Negan has no idea if he can fully trust Maggie.
Despite the promise she makes to him on Sunday’s episode, for all he knows, Maggie would sacrifice Negan in order to save her life. (Who could blame her?)
We’re overdue for another Negan and Gabe tea mup on “TWD.” Maybe we’ll get it when the group attacks the Reapers.
You can follow along with our “Walking Dead” coverage here all season long.