The Walking Dead: The Further Confessions of Father Gabriel

On AMC's zombie horror series, one character acknowledges his own projection.

Posted Oct 19, 2015

The Walking Dead ep. 6-2 "JSS" - original screen capture.
Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) acknowledges he projected his own worst qualities onto others.
Source: The Walking Dead ep. 6-2 "JSS" - original screen capture.

Previously on The Walking Dead:

When Father Gabriel Stokes first appears in The Walking Dead #61 in comics or in episode 5-2 "Strangers" on television, the priest carries a heavy burden. He has a secret. Soon he reveals that he had been too cowardly to unlock his church and let members of his congregation inside when their lives were in danger and, as a result, they all died, killed by walkers. His guilt keeps growing. He tells Alexandria's leader, "Rick, his group, they're not good people. They've done things. They've done unspeakable things.... They can't be trusted. They're dangerous. You may believe that they did what they had to do, that they were afraid and so they-- The day will come when they'll put their own lives before yours and everyone else's and they will destroy everything you have here, everything you're working so hard to build." 

From The Walking Dead Psychology: Psych of the Living Dead chapter 15, "Eros, Thanatos, and an Armory of Defense Mechanisms: Sigmund Freud in the Land of the Dead," p. 201:

  • Projection involves perceiving one's own undesirable qualities in others, for example, when the inveterately deceitful Governor rejects Rick's peace offering by whispering, "Liar." When Father Gabriel warns Alexandria's leader that Rick's people will betray others to protect themselves, the guilt-driven Gabriel is projecting his feelings about himself onto them.

Gabriel soon attempts suicide by walker, standing ready to let one of the zombies bite and kill him, but he finds he cannot go through with it. He provokes another character, Sasha, into nearly killing him until Maggie intervenes and all three pray together. Having gone so far, he now faces the unpleasant truths. In episode 6-2, "JSS," he all but uses the word projection when acknowledging this to Carl Grimes.

Gabriel: You heard what I told Deanna about your group.

Carl: What do you want?

Gabriel: It was about me, not you. Or your group. I know that now.

He still has a long way to go, but he's trying to face his hard truths instead of clouding them with defense mechanisms. 

It was an interesting admission for an episode that ended with several characters in guilt-ridden states. Aaron, Carol, Morgan, Denise.... The guilt goes around. 

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