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Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead Season 8.
All season long, as it has gone since their introduction, The Walking Dead has been thinning the Saviors' herd in big ways, usually with Rick the Savage shooting, stabbing and bludgeoning anyone who holds Negan's rules near and dear. But in "Worth," Negan himself caused the Saviors' newest administrative shakeup, and Simon's brutal strangulation reminded everyone who their boss really is within the Sanctuary's walls. CinemaBlend spoke with star Steven Ogg ahead of the episode, and I asked him if he felt the way Simon died was justified, or if he would have preferred becoming Lucille's latest victim.
No, I liked the fight. The bat was like...the one thing [I'd have liked] with the bat is if it was going to be: I kneel, I turn around, I stare him straight in the face, eye to eye, and he takes the bat down on me, onto my skull. That, I would have been happy with, too. Like if it was literally smashing my skull in while I looked him in the eye. That, I'd be totally cool with. Outside of that, I'm glad it was Fight Club, bare-knuckle. Whoever wins it, deserves it.
To be fair, there was still some eye-to-eye happening when Negan choked Simon out. It didn't have nearly the same impact, though, since Simon's engorged face looked like a sack of potatoes that got stung by bees. (Here's what he actor told us about how much that hurt.)
A certain amount of importance is embedded in the particulars of Simon's onscreen death, but it still would have been awesome to see things play out as Steven Ogg described them. Had Simon and Lucille gotten intimate in such a sadistic way, the tension in those moments would have been thicker than Eugene's hair. I have some trouble believing the Savior really would have just calmly stayed on his knees while meeting his maker, considering Simon so quickly got invested in fisticuffs after Negan made that the go-to plan. But he did seem resigned to die earlier in the episode, saying "No move to make" after it was seemingly revealed that Simon killed off the Oceanside males at his own behest. So perhaps he would have indeed kept his impulses in check.
No one can deny the testosterone-soaked glory of Negan and Simon's sloppy donnybrook, since there has always been a rivalrous force simmering beneath the surface of their power dynamic, with much of it necessarily going unspoken until recently. But while Simon seems to have wanted Negan's death for quite a while now, the opposite wasn't necessarily true, since Negan obviously saw his second-in-command as a powerful resource in keeping others in dutiful line. That Negan didn't sentence Simon to a Lucille thwacking is telling, and he showed a modicum of respect and sportsmanship by allowing the fight to play out as neutrally as could be.
Flaunting his unique sense of noble justice, Simon started the fight by backhanding the dogshit out of an unsuspecting Negan, a WWE-shaded move that no doubt incited many ebullient cheers from viewers. (And on WrestleMania night, no less.) And it turns out Steven Ogg had a little something to do with that distinct opening, which played into him wanting to make viewers think Simon's chances of winning were as feasible as possible.
I wanted that whole sort of idea, because initially it was this big haymaker at the beginning, and I was like, 'No, no, no. I think this would be kind of a fun idea. It's a bit backhanded.' That's literally the joke of it, is he's literally backhanding him. And to start things off, I want people to think that, 'Wow, this is the end. This is the end for Negan.' That was my only concern is that I want to sell it, that everyone's gonna [say], 'Oh, wow, it's gonna change!'
As the fight got underway, I admit my sense of logic and pragmatism voluntarily stepped aside so I could ponder a timeline where Simon actually would emerge the victor. I mean, I knew that Negan would end up winning and killing his subordinate, but for a few brief moments, The Walking Dead and Steven Ogg half-convinced me that Negan wouldn't even live long enough to make Rick choose whether to spare his life or not. Alas, the unexpected was averted, and Simon was sentenced to un-live out his days strapped to the Sanctuary's fence. But at least we got that backhand.
With a lot more chaos coming in its big Season 8 finale, The Walking Dead will wrap things up on AMC on Sunday, April 15, at 9:00 p.m. ET, to be followed by Morgan's introduction to the Fear the Walking Dead universe. And if you need to know what other shows are also on the way, shamble over to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer premiere schedule.