(WARNING! This article contains some big ol' Walking Dead spoilers for Sunday's episode.)
Fans knew going into "Worth," the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead's eighth season, that self-appointed new Savior leader Simon (Steven Ogg) probably wasn't going to survive his still-alive boss' homecoming. After all, you don't disobey Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) orders and then leave him to die without suffering big-time consequences.
So when ousted Hilltop leader Gregory (Xander Berkeley) finally had his long-awaited sit-down at the Sanctuary with Simon, you knew Simon was toast. Fans had been waiting for the show's two kookiest performers to reunite for the first time since Season 7, and the fact that the show bothered to bring them together indicated that Simon's fate was sealed. It seems like producers just wanted to do something purely entertaining. Considering what happened to the characters later in the episode, the scene ended up having no real narrative purpose, and it was just a chance to watch the two guys who have the most fun on The Walking Dead push each other to the limit one last time.
"It was so great to be back with Xander," Ogg tells TV Guide. "I was so glad there was, not necessarily closure, but at least opportunity to have that playtime."
At the time of that scene, Simon still thought Negan was dead, but he was disabused of that notion when Negan reappeared. Simon admitted his wrongdoing in massacring the Heapsters (it turns out he has history of unsanctioned massacre, as we learned that the murder of all of Oceanside's men and boys was his doing) and asked Negan's forgiveness. To his surprise, it was granted. But rather than returning to the status quo as Negan's right-hand man, Simon recruited Dwight (Austin Amelio) and some other high-ranking Saviors to help him overthrow Negan. However, Dwight snitched to Negan, and after killing a bunch of the betrayers, Negan challenged his wayward second-in-command to a mano-a-mano fight for supremacy. The brutal brawl ended with Negan crushing Simon's throat with his bare hands as he vowed to do the same to the Hilltop.
Ogg says that the scene was fun to shoot, though he and Jeffrey Dean Morgan were worried about it going in, both for their aging bodies and because they didn't have much time to rehearse it and make it look real.
"All I really cared about — even above and beyond Simon dying — was the audience has to believe it," Ogg says, enthusiasm building in his voice. "I wanted it dirty, I wanted it nasty, I wanted it a street fight to the death, gladiator UFC Fight Club. Just go hard, rip the shirt off, brutal, disgusting, eye-gouging, groin-kicking, whatever! To the death."
He's proud of how it turned out, even if there's not quite as much eye-gouging as he wanted. He and Morgan really went for it, doing as much as they could without stunt doubles. The day after, they were both as sore as if they'd run a half-marathon without warming up.
"The next morning I was in my typical bath which I love to take, and I had like, lavender, and probably candles burning, and Jeffrey and I are literally in our tubs soaking in epsom salts — not with each other — but texting each other 'how ya feelin'?'" he says. "Real tough guys. Super tough guys."
Ogg is bigger and more muscular than Morgan, but he's too nice to say that he could beat JDM in a real-life fistfight.
"Anyone can take anyone down given the circumstance. How's that for a complete non-answer?" he jokes. "It's horrible, because you can't say, 'yeah,' you can't say, 'no.' It depends, man. I will say that what I have on my side is that if I kick into my super-bad temper and go into my neanderthal stage of psychotic then I'd be hard to stop. But Jeffrey could do that, too. It would be a good fight."
"But we don't wanna do that," he says. They're lovers, not fighters. "We just wanna be in our bathtubs, man. We just wanna be soaking in our epsom salts, baby! C'mon, now! We're more about the bath!"
Like most Walking Dead cast members, he's effusive in his praise for the cast and crew and talks about them in terms of family. On his last day, Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln stopped by to say goodbye, and the crew put on fake mustaches in tribute to Simon's handlebar.
"It was tough because you know going into that day it was the last day and you have to just bring it for the fight and everything," Ogg says. "So you're having to go into rage mode when you're a breath away from breaking into tears and wanting to hug every single person. It was quite an interesting emotional experience just for that."
Ogg is excited to get to continue to hang out with his Walking Dead friends on the convention circuit, and when he talked to TV Guide, he was about to do Walker Stalker Con in Chicago, where he was going to give Austin Amelio a book about Picasso in Montmarte as a keepsake of a time they and their families were all in that Paris neighborhood together.
Ogg is a little sad to see Simon go, because it would have been interesting to see how the character could have continued in the postwar era, but he's satisfied with how it played out.
"He made a big cannonball going in and he cannonballed going out," Ogg says.
The Walking Dead's Season 8 finale airs Sunday, April 15 at 9/8c on AMC.