Spoilers for the March 11 episode. The Walking Dead has always loved a good mini-road trip, and Sunday’s episode found a particular good match, albeit a tragic one, with Father Gabriel and Carson. While their escape from the Sanctuary ended up failing, they did make an interesting discovery. Who was the radio operator on The Walking Dead? The priest and the doctor were saved by an unseen optimist — and not just by Gabriel, whose vision is depleting quickly.
On the run, and heading for the Hilltop without many resources, Carson and Gabriel discover a house that used to be occupied by a radio operator. In his office was a script of reassuring messages that he was using to try and find other survivors. Carson finds a zombified man on the ground who had suffocated himself to death — and declares, quite metaphorically, that clearly the messages were not enough for this man’s survival. Was that the operator? It’s a decent guess, but we can’t know for sure.
This wasn’t a radio station, or a tower or anything. What Gabriel and Caron find is the remains of a “ham radio,” just an amateur with good equipment and the right frequency. Said operator also left behind a decent cache of antibiotics that helped with Gabriel’s infection. Thanks, friend! Too bad he didn’t have enough food to send to Maggie. The Hilltop’s rations are running thin, and that’s going to be a problem sooner rather than later.
Then, inside a jar, they find car keys and a map to the Barrington House Living History Museum — wait a second, isn’t that the Hilltop? Barrington House is where Gregory set up shop. Why was this person heading towards Hilltop? Did they make it? Maybe the dead man on the ground is an unrelated, later visitor, and the original operator is a Hilltop resident that we have already met on The Walking Dead.
In a world devoid of modern technology, radios are used quite a bit to communicate — whether it’s a man-made station like this or a short term walkie talkie situation. There were Rick Grimes’ nightly messages to Morgan in the early seasons. Remember Terminus? They used friendly messages to lure in human bait. For all Gabriel and Carson know, this radio operator was just as sinister as any of them. Whoever this man was, he died or abandoned his post a while ago. Rick and Negan would have picked up the signal by now if he was still broadcasting.
Father Gabriel is searching for signs and purpose. He claims to have been lead the radio operator by a ringing sound, like a bell. Maybe it was a calling. Maybe his hearing is heightened now that his sight is going. Maybe the ringing was in his ears, just another part of the infection, and the fact that they found this radio operator was blind (pun intended) luck. All of those good vibes landed them right back in the hands of the Saviors, and while the radio operator inadvertently saved Gabriel’s life, Carson is dead. Just like those messages that the radio operator tried to put out into the universe, these signs may have been ultimately meaningless.
It is sad to see Carson go. The two of them have a real “Man of Science/Man of Faith” vibe, to use a Lost reference, in this episode. After all of that, Gabriel found himself working for the worst of the worst, Eugene.
That said… you know who could probably get a radio
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