The Walking Dead

Walking Dead Season 11 Confirms A Gabriel/Reaper Theory

The Walking Dead season 11 returns for part 2 and in its first episode, confirms a theory about why Gabriel didn't kill a Reaper in season 11 part 1.

The Walking Dead season 11 returns with part 2 of the long-running AMC show’s final season, and in its first episode, confirms a theory about Gabriel and a Reaper from season 11 part 1. The final season of The Walking Dead is being aired in three parts and will conclude later this year. From there, the story will continue in spinoffs and movies, keeping The Walking Dead brand very much alive. Some characters are already set to return in these projects, like Carol and Daryl for their spinoff and Rick Grimes in the first movie, but the fate of others like Gabriel is more up in the air.

First introduced in The Walking Dead season 5, Gabriel has changed immensely over his time on the series. He begins as a cowardly priest who carries a lot of guilt (and rightly so) for letting his whole congregation die when he was too frightened to let them shelter inside his church. Across the intervening seasons, Gabriel has transformed into one of The Walking Dead’s most formidable characters. No longer distrustful and constantly afraid, he is a member of Alexandria’s council and has even entered into a relationship with Rosita. Gabriel is also among the group Maggie leads to Meridian and takes part in their fight with the Reapers. In The Walking Dead season 11 episode 7, Gabriel chooses to spare a Reaper, and at the time, his reason for doing so was a mystery. But now, The Walking Dead has confirmed a theory about why Gabriel didn’t kill the Reaper.

The Walking Dead season 11 episode 9, “No Other Way”, finds Gabriel coming upon that same Reaper again, only this time, he does not spare his life. Before Gabriel delivers the final blow, however, the two share a brief conversation that confirms a theory about why he didn’t kill him the first time. In that earlier episode, Gabriel spies the Reaper, Mancea, while he’s praying over the graves of his dead comrades. It was theorized that observing another person practicing their faith is what gave Gabriel pause, and ultimately led him to sparing his life. This is confirmed in their conversation during The Walking Dead season 11 episode 9, with Mancea evening going as far to say that God told him Gabriel would not kill him. This time, though, Gabriel has no mercy for a man who prays for murderers. When Mancea tells him, “No one is above saving“, Gabriel stabs him in the gut and responds, “I don’t believe that.”

Gabriel’s faith and his relationship with God are complicated. On the one hand, he tries to stay true to his religion, but he’s witnessed too much evil to be entirely pacifistic. Now, Gabriel is more than willing to break the “Thou shall not kill” commandment if it means he can protect those he loves. And while he may have previously believed that anyone’s bad deeds could be forgiven, he’s certainly less likely to believe that now – especially when it comes to himself. Though it’s been years since the deaths of his congregation, it’s a guilt he’s never quite shaken. With every subsequent kill, Gabriel believes himself less deserving of redemption, but it’s a sacrifice he makes if it means others may never have to face those same hard decisions. This attitude is exemplified by his complex and nuanced approach to the Repaer.

Gabriel has gone on quite the journey in his six seasons on The Walking Dead and is now one of the most ruthless characters on the show. Still, he’s shown he has the capacity for mercy, even if he later regrets sparing the life of someone he actually despises. This inner struggle is part of what makes Gabriel such a fascinating character, and he’s easily among the most improved from his comic book counterpart. What’s in store for Gabriel in The Walking Dead‘s final season remains a mystery, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see how his moral code will be tested by their newest adversary, the Commonwealth.

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