SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for tonight's episode of AMC's The Walking Dead, "Worth," which as of publication has not yet aired on the west coast.
Tonight's episode of The Walking Dead saw one of the Saviors’ most upsetting lieutenants finally get put down. Simon’s plans to stage a coup on Savior leadership were neatly foiled by Negan, but instead of just bashing his old friend’s head in with Lucille, Negan offers Simon the opportunity to save his own life and become the Savior leader by engaging in some hand-to-hand combat to the death. Predictably, despite the fact that he’s unburdened by anything resembling a heart and/or soul, Simon loses and Negan strangles him to death while screaming about how it’s Simon’s fault that Negan’s only option to end the war is to kill every last enemy. Like Rick, he also doesn't give a f**k about Carl's dying wishes.
First off, let’s pour one out for Simon. He’s always been a dependable bright spot in the Savior storyline since Rick & Co. were unlucky enough to cross their path. And Steven Ogg was brilliant at hiding Simon’s violent intentions just beneath the service of his ever-present geniality. His scenes at the Hilltop were probably far more high-stakes than they had any right to be, just based on the fact that Ogg made Simon both terrifying and unpredictable.
Terrifying and unpredictable used to be something The Walking Dead did very, very well. But in the last two seasons, Simon’s been the only person on the show who’s reminded us of how frightening it used to be. It was a shame he had to die in service to streamlining this season’s flagging narrative.
"All Out War" has turned out to be remarkably tedious, with episode after episode hammering home the less-than-groundbreaking idea that maybe killing humans when there are so few humans left is a bad idea for everyone’s survival. Simon’s dark horse duplicity building to a slow simmer and finally boiling over two episodes ago was the only wild card the finale had going for it. Despite his psychopathy, the character’s never been stupid -- far from it, in fact. A coup organized and staged by Simon had a decent chance of succeeding, and that prospect was more exciting than watching Rick and Negan try to kill each other again. Would he steal enough support from Negan to create yet another adversary for Rick and the remaining Saviors or would he commit yet another characteristically extreme attack forcing Rick and Negan to work together to bring him down?
Unfortunately, we’ll never know how Simon’s treachery would’ve effected the outcome of the war because his movement died before it even got off the ground. In the space of one afternoon, Negan almost effortlessly unravels Simon’s plans and eliminates him in front of his entire crew while simultaneously running an op on Dwight. By the end of “Worth,” Negan’s fully resolidified his power and laid a trap for the other communities. Now that nothing’s in their way, Rick and Negan are all set to spend next week's season finale duking it out over which of their philosophy’s should govern the new world.
So far, whatever character development Carl's death could've wrought has been put off in favor of Negan and Rick continuously doubling down on the necessity of totally eliminating their enemies. Presumably one or both of them is going to realize the futility and stupidity of that strategy sometime before the end of next week's finale, and "All Out War" will (thankfully) come to an end. Here's hoping at least some part of it will still be a surprise.