The Walking Dead's Seth Gilliam Explains Surprise Father Gabriel Return (Exclusive)

Here's where those Jadis-Gabriel flashbacks fit into The Walking Dead timeline.

[Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 5.] Faith. Forgiveness. Redemption. Those were the themes in Sunday's penultimate episode of The Ones Who Live, which featured the surprise return of a Walking Dead character who exemplifies all three: Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam). The episode, titled "Become," revealed that the last time the priest saw his then-girlfriend Anne/Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) on a season 9 episode of The Walking Dead was, in fact, not the last time that they would meet after Anne vanished aboard a Civic Republic Military helicopter with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).

As Anne — now CRM Warrant Officer Jadis Stokes — pursued an AWOL Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) following their escape from the CRM, a series of flashbacks taking place over years revealed that Jadis secretly met up with her confidante Gabriel in the woods outside of Alexandria once a year. The first, to "three years ago," was set during the post-Rick timeline between The Walking Dead seasons 9B and 10, as noted by Gabriel telling Anne he tried to find her using the ham radio that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) got working at the tail end of season 9.

The second flashback, to "two years ago," took place after Michonne's exit from The Walking Dead in the season 10 episode "What We Become." (Gabriel told Anne Michonne was "away helping people:" the mobile group that would ultimately lead her to Rick on The Ones Who Live.) Gabriel then told Anne that the Whisperers compromised Alexandria's walls and the community was starving, placing Gabriel and Anne's second meeting after the Whisperer War ended in the season 10 episode "A Certain Doom." Alexandria was still rebuilding in season 10C, and the community had a week's worth of food left in the "Acheron: Part 1" season 11 premiere.

A third and final flashback, to "one year ago," took place around The Walking Dead season 11C. No, Gabriel didn't cheat on Rosita (Christian Serratos) when Anne kissed him: Gabriel and Rosita's relationship had already ended off-screen during a six-month time skip, and The Walking Dead's "Rest in Peace" series finale concluded with a final one-year time jump after Rosita's death.

Were these secret meetings set during previous episodes of The Walking Dead always the plan? As Gilliam told ComicBook, he only learned of Gabriel and Anne's clandestine confessionals during a phone call with series co-creator and showrunner Scott M. Gimple.

"I had the initial actor's thing of, 'You know, you could have told me this some years ago, it would have informed my performance,'" Gilliam joked. "No, he had no idea some years ago that this is the route he'd be taking with the characters, so I couldn't really hold that against anybody. It was just one of those things, 'This would have been fun to wink-wink to myself.'" 

Even with Gabriel's "clergy confidentiality," Anne never tells him the truth about Rick or the CRM. She only admits to being part of another faraway community, and that she's done "cruel and difficult things" to keep herself and the rest of the world alive.

"I think he has to trust her. I think that's part of the deal with taking on that position," Gilliam explained. "You have to believe what people are telling you and you have to do so without thinking that they have ulterior motives because they need to be heard more than they need to manipulate you. You have to believe in that kind of ideology."

He added, "I think it would be interesting to look back and splice the two shows together, timeline-wise, and see if there's anything in the performance from years ago that would connect the two worlds. That'd be really kind of interesting."

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live finale airs Sunday, March 31, on AMC and AMC+. Stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD and follow on Facebook for more TWD Universe coverage.