The Walking Dead midseason finale “Hearts Still Beating” saw a character die who might have fit within Negan’s army…or would he?
Negan is a smart guy. He is intriguing because he understands the way of the world, and even though he does some atrocious things, he still lives by a code and he follows his own rules. He expects his Saviors to do the same, since they have all lost their identities and have become extensions of Negan himself.
With that in mind, why did Negan kill Spencer? Wouldn’t Spencer have fit nicely in Negan’s world? How does Spencer differ from someone like Simon, and why does Simon work but not Spencer?
Spencer thought he had it all figured out. He went out and found a nice stash of goods to present to the Saviors, and he took his best booze to Negan to have a drink with him. The cocky bastard even told Rosita that he was going to get in good with Negan so they can use it against him at some point, but the fact is that he likely would have remained Negan’s man so long as it afforded him safety and some semblance of leadership over Rick, which was his goal.
In talking to Negan over a friendly pool game it was clear that Spencer was using this opportunity to get into Negan’s good graces, thinking that kissing his ass and trying to attack Rick would curry favor with Negan. That didn’t work. Despite his best efforts, all Spencer did was make it sound like he was trying to get back at Rick. His argument to replace Rick was empty. Negan saw right through it, and Negan had the foresight to know that people like Spencer are like viruses. If you let them continue, the infection gets worse.
What Spencer didn’t count on is that Negan would see right through him, and see that everything he was doing was a misguided and spineless attempt to get back at Rick. Negan doesn’t respect a guy who doesn’t put any effort into getting what he wants. The irony here is that while Spencer argued that putting him in charge instead of Rick would be a favor to Negan, it was Negan who ended up doing Rick a favor by getting rid of Spencer, who would only continue to be a thorn in Rick’s side.
Negan respects people with motivation. That’s what intrigues him about Carl. Carl risked everything to get to the Sanctuary in order to get revenge. That takes gumption, and gumption is something that Spencer was sorely lacking. Spencer rode his mother’s coattails, and instead of rising to the occasion and embracing what Rick is doing, Spencer spent all of his time plotting against Rick.
In Spencer’s mind, he could be one of Negan’s faithful lieutenants. But Negan didn’t see it that way at all. That’s why guys like Simon are more adept at serving Negan. Simon isn’t interested in running everything—he’s interested in running his little corner of the world and reporting back to his boss about what a great job he’s doing. Simon isn’t interested in Negan’s job, and Negan knows that. Simon is nothing if not loyal to Negan, and as a result he is rewarded with leeway to run his own Savior satellite.
Spencer is a snake in the grass. Spencer is manipulative and only really cares about himself. With Simon, what you see is what you get. He doesn’t pose a threat to Negan at all. If you watch Negan’s actions carefully you’ll see that he moves through life as one would move through a chess game. He’s always thinking and calculating about his next move. Negan saw through Spencer’s act and figured out that Spencer would be a problem for him at some point. I also think that he respects Rick enough to know that if Spencer wanted to take Rick out then the issue was more with Spencer than Rick. There was no way for Spencer to win in this situation.
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Simon represents the kind of guy that Negan doesn’t have to worry about. Unlike Simon, Spencer would never be trustworthy. By killing Spencer, Negan is making sure he doesn’t have a problem on his hands. It’s a matter of cold, hard efficiency.