They’re all Negan. But Simon may be the most Negan of them all.
This past Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead” was a pretty damn interesting one, setting the stage for some potentially compelling storylines going forward. For starters, Pollyanna McIntosh’s Jadis, leader of the Scavengers, had her off-putting weirdness stripped away in the wake of literally *all* of her people being killed, making her feel like a real human being for the very first time. But the most interesting aspect of “The Lost and the Plunderers” was a big character moment for Simon, Negan’s right-hand man.
We first met Simon, played by Steven Ogg, back in Season 6, and it quickly became clear that he was Negan’s most trusted foot soldier. Simon has for quite some time now been the man Negan sends to deal with the various communities under his rule, tasked with flashing his sinister shit-eating grin and essentially threatening community leaders so they continue to give Negan what he needs from them. Simon has essentially been Negan’s mini Negan, so to speak, but that dynamic changed this past Sunday night.
Throughout Season 8, Simon has been questioning Negan’s way of dealing with Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom; while Negan prefers to keep those groups alive and well so that they can continue to provide resources to the Saviors, it’s become clear to Simon that they’re never going to fall in line. Simon, if he had his way, would literally kill them all, start fresh, and look for new communities to take over. During “The Lost and the Plunderers,” Simon finally took matters into his own hands, directly disobeying his leader.
Negan sent Simon on a mission to intimidate and threaten the Scavengers, giving him specific orders to only kill *one* member of the group to get the necessary message across. Simon agreed to the terms, but enacted his own plan behind Negan’s back. Rather than killing one member of the Scavengers, Simon had *all* of them executed, leaving only Jadis behind to deal with their reanimated corpses – and boy did she ever, in an EPIC zombie meat grinder sequence that even impressed Stephen King.
As brutal as we’ve come to know Negan to be, even he would never wipe out an entire community, and so Simon’s actions this past Sunday night seemed to suggest that he’s perhaps going to become the true villain of Season 8’s back half. Whereas Negan has strict policies that dictate who he kills, Simon is on a warpath with a simple “kill them all” policy, which puts him at odds even with the madman he has vowed his allegiance to. And while Simon becomes more like the Negan that comic book readers hoped to see on the small screen, Negan himself is becoming less and less the villain of the series.
“The Lost and the Plunderers” ended with a very interesting conversation between Rick and Negan, wherein Negan broke down in tears when he learned of Carl’s death. Rick was the aggressor of the conversation, vowing to kill Negan, while Negan calmly urged Rick to put aside his anger and stop making decisions that are gonna get more of his loved ones killed – dare I say, Negan seemed to be more like the Negan of Carl’s “happy ending” vision from the end of the mid-season premiere than the Negan we first met in Season 6.
So we can’t help but wonder. Has Steven Ogg, with his Simon, become so good at playing Negan that he’s becoming… the new Negan? Simon was created for the AMC series, so we can’t reference Robert Kirkman’s comic books to paint any sort of picture in regards to where Simon is headed at this point. But with the comic book version of Negan eventually becoming something of an ally to our heroes, it’s not so hard to imagine that the TV version of Negan will join forces with Rick to contend with an even more villainous force than any we’ve seen so far on the show: his good friend, Simon.
And Simon says, everyone dies.