If you haven't seen last night's episode of The Walking Dead, there will be potential SPOILERS below, especially concerning the fate of Father Gabriel Stokes, played by Seth Gilliam. For fans who have been following The Walking Dead comics, last night's episode included a very specific Easter Egg, which could be foreshadowing the fate of Father Gabriel in next week's Walking Dead Season 8 midseason finale. This is your last chance to avoid spoilers, so read on at your own risk
Father Gabriel Stokes has had a rough season so far, after being stranded by former Hilltop leader Gregory (Xander Berkeley) in the Walking Dead Season 8 premiere, which resulted in him getting stranded in a trailer with none other than Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). In last night's episode, Rick was at the junkyard with Jadis, having persuaded her people to join his alliance made up of Alexandria, Hilltop Colony and The Kingdom. Rick then climbed a water tower near The Sanctuary, only to find that all of the walkers he left for Negan had been cleared, but the Easter Egg in question came on the way up the water tower, when Rick found one of his snipers had fallen and gotten his foot stuck in the ladder near the base of the tower, where walkers were feasting on his flesh. This is very similar to how Gabriel Stokes dies in the comics, so it's possible that his journey may be coming to an end.
You may recall in Season 6 that the show used an iconic death scene from the comics to kill off a different character, with Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merrit Wever) being killed by Daryl's crossbow, wielded by the Savior Dwight (Austin Amelio). Many were surprised because that scene was used in the comics with Dwight killing Abraham Ford, just before the introduction of Negan. This lead to Negan's introduction changing slightly, with Negan killing Abraham Ford first and then, after Daryl tries to attack Negan, the Savior leader decides to kill another member of Rick's group as punishment, Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), the same character Negan kills in the comics. This Easter Egg for Gabriel could be an indication that he will be killed off in the mid-season finale.
What's interesting is that, in the comics, Father Gabriel doesn't die during either of the All Out War comics volumes, and instead he dies much, much later, during the 27th volume known as The Whisperer War, six volumes after All Out War came to an end. There are several characters that die much earlier and/or later than their comic counterparts, with Laurie Holden's character Andrea killed off in the comics just this past May, although she died in Season 3 of the TV series. With all of that being said, we won't know for sure if Gabriel will be one of this season's victims until the mid-season finale that airs next week.
During both volumes of the All Out War comics, there are no true major characters that die, with the possible exception of Shiva, the pet tiger of King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), so it's possible that, in an effort to raise the stakes from the comic book story, Gabriel Stokes' character will be killed off. It remains to be seen if any other major characters will lose their lives in the midseason finale, airing Sunday, December 10 on AMC. Head on over to Screen Rant for their report on this Easter Egg.