Father Gabriel is not crazy. He’s just feeling a little unwell, and right now, you actually can tell. And it may prove Negan’s plan to infect Team Rick valid, though it still doesn’t solve the massive, gaping plot hole that Negan’s plan presents.
Minor spoilers for The Walking Dead ahead.
In “Dead or Alive,” Father Gabriel’s entire plot is dealing with an illness that’s only gotten worse since it was vaguely introduced several months ago. Could Gabriel’s illness prove that Negan’s plan might work, despite the years of continuity it would be throwing out?
Earlier this season, Gabriel teamed up with Negan (temporarily) to escape a trailer surrounded by a walker horde. To escape, Gabriel and Negan covered themselves up in walker guts to cancel out the scent of their living flesh.
It’s a very old trick in The Walking Dead lore, something even the characters of Fear the Walking Dead have used to survive. Shortly after, Negan tossed Gabriel into a cell that belonged to Sasha and Daryl when they were prisoners of the Saviors. That’s when Gabriel started to get sick, something observed by the turncoat Eugene, who helped Gabriel break out with Dr. Carson.
Fast forward to “Dead or Alive,” Gabriel is feeling worse — it’s by sheer luck that Gabriel escaped with a physician. The biggest symptom of Gabriel’s illness is his rapidly deteriorating eyesight. In another stroke of luck, Carson and Gabriel stumble upon a batch of antibiotics that will help cure Gabriel’s illness, which it does, but Gabriel’s eyesight is permanently ruined. To make the situation even worse, the Saviors recapture Gabriel and Carson, where a desperate move by Carson costs him his life.
Without Carson to analyze Gabriel’s illness further, we can only speculate the nature of his “flu.” Meanwhile, Negan concocts a plan to infect Team Rick with walker guts, effectively rendering them too sick to fight. This would be smart, if it were not already established that walker guts are non-toxic. Since the beginning of this franchise, survivors have used walker guts to smear themselves to escape walkers when direct fighting was ill-advised. If smearing oneself in guts were infectious, then everyone, including Rick and Negan, would have turned by now.
Maybe Gabriel didn’t catch the infection from walker guts. Maybe Gabriel caught the infection from the cell that was previously occupied by Sasha and Daryl, who stayed there for weeks without proper care and hygiene. Who knows what bacteria they left behind?
There’s clearly information missing here, and without a doctor character to dump exposition, we’ll just have to tune in to find out more. And that’s how The Walking Dead became one of the biggest TV shows today.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMC.