A recent addition to Fear The Walking Dead has a very similar origin story to a main character in The Walking Dead. The second half of Fear The Walking Dead's fifth season sees the survivors on a mission to help others, from dying literary fans trapped in shopping malls to reclusive asthmatics. Naturally, Morgan and co.'s efforts have attracted some unwanted attention and the protagonists become embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse with an ex-trucker looking for a fabled plentiful oil supply. This setup means that most of Fear The Walking Dead's recent episodes have taken place on the road.
In "Ner Tamid," Charlie separates from the group in order to find a permanent home, and she comes across a synagogue with only a single survivor living inside, Rabbi Jacob Kessner. Offering a helping hand to Charlie, the Rabbi seems an honest and virtuous man on the outside, but when undead keep attacking the building from out of nowhere, his secret spills out into the open. Jacob reveals that he suffered a crisis of faith after the zombie apocalypse began and abandoned the congregation that had taken refuge under his holy roof. When the Rabbi eventually returned to his people, he found they were all dead and, unwilling to finish off any of his former friends, he somehow herded them into a nearby building for safekeeping. Forced to deal with the guilt surrounding the demise of his followers, Jacob ultimately joins the main group.
This backstory is incredibly similar to that of Gabriel Stokes in The Walking Dead. In both the original Robert Kirkman comics and the AMC TV adaptation, Gabriel is found by Rick's group as the lone survivor in his old church. Although nice enough to begin with, Gabriel eventually reveals that when his congregation came seeking shelter under his roof, he refused to open the doors in an act of cowardice. Gabriel struggles with the guilt surrounding the deaths of his former friends - deaths he indirectly caused - and also experiences a crisis of faith as mankind continues to be overrun by walking corpses. Meeting Rick forces Gabriel to confront his demons and his loneliness, and find a new lease of life in the outside world.
Gabriel and Jacob's stories differ in that Gabriel actively chose not to help his congregation when they needed his guidance and assistance, whereas Jacob merely left them temporarily - arguably putting himself in danger more than his fellow survivors. This detail aside, however, there are very clear parallels between Rabbi Kessner and Father Stokes and it's difficult to imagine that these similarities weren't picked up on by Fear The Walking Dead's creative team. While this doesn't necessarily detract from the Rabbi's introduction or his interest as a character, it is strange to see a storyline recycled in such clear fashion.
It'll be fascinating to see whether Jacob continues to mirror Gabriel's arc now that he's a member of Fear The Walking Dead's main team. The priest was portrayed as a liability during his early days in The Walking Dead, and even become fearful of Rick's group due to their violent tendencies - selling them out after reaching Alexandria. While Jacob certainly appears to be more capable in a fight and willing to get his hands dirty, it's possible that he too will become disillusioned should the likes of Morgan, Alicia and Dwight slip back into old habits and start shooting first and asking questions later.
Fear The Walking Dead season 5 continues September 15th on AMC. The Walking Dead season 10 premieres October 6th on AMC.