*Comic book spoilers ahead*
That’s part of why so many comic bookers have looked at the Termites as a possible TV version of The Hunters, a cannibal group featured in the books. It’s also why, when Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) was apparently abducted, comic fans saw the cross on the back of the car and wondered if that was a tie into Father Gabriel Stokes, a character who appears in The Hunters section of the books. (Even though there is no Beth Greene in the books.) Actor Seth Gilliam was cast this season in a mystery role, but he was seen on set dressed as a priest, giving more weight to the idea that he’s playing Gabriel. Or at least he’s playing TV’s version of Gabriel, who will probably be different from comic book Gabriel. (We don't even know if he'll be called Gabriel on TV.)
Showrunner Scott Gimple recently talked to Collider after TWD picked up several Saturn Awards (woo hoo!), referencing how the group is so much bigger on TV than in the books, where fewer people survived the prison battle. Scott used to be the one pushing to stay true to the comics on TV, but he’s broadened his view now, partly out of necessity.
“Certainly, we don’t want to abandon iconic things from the comic,” Scott told Collider. “I definitely want to stick to the comic as much as possible, but that’s also impossible with Daryl Dixon [who is not in the books] and characters that are alive [on TV, but] dead in the comic. There’s a butterfly effect. But that’s actually an incredibly fun part, to do the alternate Walking Dead universe, which is what I consider what we’re doing. I would say that even the inventions we have on the show [are] pretty much inspired by the comic book."
He said Season 5 won’t really mirror the past season, because every eight episodes it’s a brand new show. “I will say that there may be some slightly familiar structural turns [in Season 5], but for the most part, yeah, it's going to be brand new — brand new versions of the comic story."
If they plan to stick with iconic things from the book but adapt them for TV, we should definitely see some version of the cannibal/Hunters story (a new Dale?), hit the road for Washington, D.C. (a storyline already planted with the arrival of Abraham, Eugene and Rosita) and possibly get to the Alexandria Safe-Zone by the end of the season. Or some version of Alexandria by whenever.
How Father Gabriel is used is ripe for re-interpretation, and we wouldn’t cry if he wasn’t exactly the same on screen as in the books. Robert Kirkman, who writes the comics and executive produces the TV show, recently talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the drama Seth’s character will bring. "Every season we try to bring in new characters that add something in their own way to the cast, much in the way that Abraham, Eugene and Rosita brought a new narrative and more character dynamics to the show. Seth Gilliam's character -- whoever it may be -- brings a lot of conflict and really cool character traits to the mix.” When Seth was revealed as a new series regular, his character was described as "having two sides, displaying a friendly, puckish humor but also having a haunted side stemming from a dark secret." The dark secret sounded like Gabriel, but the friendly puckish humor didn’t quite fit, but that could be part of the TV remix.
It will be interesting to see what new remixes The Powers That Be choose for Season 5. Let’s just hope all the changes are beneficial!
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October on AMC.