By Sydney Bucksbaum
December 09, 2020 at 09:30 PM EST
Credit: MTV

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season premiere of The Challenge: Double Agents.

The Challenge season 36 is already living up to the Double Agents name. In the premiere, nearly the entire cast took advantage of the new twist of secret voting to send veteran pair CT Tamburello and Ashley Mitchell into the first elimination. As the only team made up of two previous Challenge champions, it was a smart call for all the rookies and non-winner veterans to take aim at the biggest threats in the game the first chance they got, but getting voted in by their friends and former allies stung.

And because the house went big with voting in CT and Ashley, the winners of the daily challenge — Aneesa Ferreira and Fessy Shafaat — went big as well, sending Wes Bergmann and Natalie Anderson into elimination against CT and Ashley. That meant three Challenge champions and a Survivor winner were going against each other in the very first elimination. And then host TJ Lavin dropped the bomb that it was actually just a female elimination, so CT and Wes were safe. It was just Ashley vs. Natalie, and Natalie won, sending Ashley home first.

"Let's be honest, people don't want to ever give someone credit, especially a girl who has as much money as me," Ashley tells EW. "They're not ever going to give me credit, so any excuse that they have to vote me in, whether it be 'I got in a fight,' whether it be 'I have a good partner,' they're going to have an excuse besides just to say, 'I'm scared and I know I can't beat her in a final.' If they would tell the truth, then they're going to look like they're not as good as me, which in a final, they're not."

Ashley was the only female winner on the cast this season, and that's the reason everyone gave for why she was voted in so early. "And people know my weakness is eliminations, so they've got to take advantage of it where they can, and I can't blame them for that," she says. "Everyone on this show has such big egos I'm surprised we all can fit into one house. So no way is someone going to be like, 'I'm voting for Ashley because she's going to outrun me and beat me in a puzzle and kill me in a final.' They're going to say, 'I'm voting for Ashley' for some beating-around-the-bush answer."

What really bothers her, however, is how some of her closest friends and allies she's helped in the past were the ones responsible for her getting voted into elimination. "Even some of my friends, they don't want me to have three wins," she says. "It was said many times around the house, they don't want any other people who's won before to win again, even though in the past I've had people's backs and helped them make it to the final. Two seasons before, I just helped you get to a final and had your back the whole way!"

She signs, then continues: "Honestly, it's heartbreaking but it's eye-opening. You really can’t trust anyone, and I forgot that this season. I've been playing like a naive little innocent baby when really I should have been playing like a ruthless snake because that's the rumor about me! I really can't catch a break. No one's ever going to trust me unless I cut off my left hand and give it to 'em. From now on I just learned it's me, myself, and I, and that really, truly probably always has been."

Below, Ashley breaks down what happened in the premiere, how she's feeling about being sent home first, and more.

Credit: MTV

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I'm so sorry that you were the first one eliminated this season.
ASHLEY MITCHELL: Girl. [Sigh] I swear I have the biggest target on my head, ever since I won just a little million dollars. [Laughs] I don't know why they're all so jealous of me.

Not only that, but you were partnered with CT this season, arguably putting the biggest target on your back you've ever had.
I really wasn't thinking about it. I mean, when CT looks at you and says, "Do you want to be my partner?" There's no one in this darn world that's going to turn him down. It's freakin' CT. And then afterwards when we got into the house, I'm thinking, "What the hell did I do to myself? This is probably not the best idea I've ever had. And I've had a lot of bad ideas."

How are you feeling about how it all went down now that you've had some time to process everything?
I haven't gotten to see the episode, but I'm just not sure who to trust. I mean, my own friends who I've had their backs throughout the seasons stabbed me in the back and then are trying to tell me, "Well, we thought it was going to be a boy's day," even though we didn't know it was going to be a girl's or boy's day. They're trying to B.S. me and be like, "We thought it was going to be a boy's day, it was nothing against you Ashley," and then they were saying the same thing to CT. These people are faker than my boobs.

Did you know who voted for you?
I had a pretty good feeling that just about everyone voted for me. We were definitely kept in the dark, they didn't want to tell us who voted, it was the first elimination so people were really keeping their cards close. But I had a good feeling just by the way people treat you in the house. I've done this many freakin' seasons, and then you just start getting this vibe, the way people avoid you, the way people talk to you kind of changes a little bit. They can't help it because they feel bad. So it's pretty easy to tell, when you're a vet, who is a backstabber and who is a liar after they voted.

When did you start feeling that vibe that you were being voted in?
To be honest with you, I was not even like playing the game. I really didn't think that I would have to be convincing people like Kam [Williams] and Leroy [Garrett] because I have put my neck out for them many times. I was kind of taking a step back for the first elimination because I thought we were going to do what we always do: put rookies in there. And then the morning of nominations, I started realizing, "Oh my gosh, these snakes, these f---ing bastards, are going to vote me in!" I just couldn't believe it. I started listening to conversations and people saying, "We don't want to run a final against her," and this and that. Believe me, I got ears around the house and that's probably why they call me Paranoid Pam, but it's not paranoia if it's true! [Laughs] That's called intuition, not paranoia.

Do you regret partnering with CT now that you know being the only pair with two winners meant being targeted right away?
Yes and no. I love working with CT, that's one thing I'll never regret, obviously. He's literally a Challenge god. I always have weird intuitions about seasons. And this season before it started my heart told me we were going to get to pick our partners. And for some reason, I was like, "Man, I'm going to pick Josh Martinez." And I don't really know why because we both have crazy personalities. But looking back at it, hell yeah I wish I would have picked someone like that because the target would have definitely, maybe not been on me as much.

Credit: MTV

What went through your mind when TJ announced that the elimination was just for the women and it was you vs. Natalie?
Oh, I s--- myself! Like, "You have to be f---ing kidding me." I was so mad. I'm looking over at TJ like, "What the heck did I ever do to you, man?" I'm going against Natalie, the winner of Survivor, just got second place on the Survivor all-star season. I'm going against one of the toughest girls in the country. Only Ashley. This is my luck. But I tell you one thing, if I'm going to go down, I want to go down swinging big. If I had to beat someone in a final, then I'm going to have to beat them in elimination, so I was ready. Was I happy? [Laughs] No. But I wasn't scared. I'm never that.

What was it like competing against Natalie?
Natalie is a CrossFit queen. Her whole job is like jerking her body around, lifting weights. The only time I've been tied up is things that we shouldn't talk about. [Laughs] How the hell am I going to do this? I had no idea. It was just trial and error. And when I took the lead at first, honestly, I knew, I'm not sure how long it's going to last, this little lead I have, because hoo, my muscles were burning. And it was muscles you wouldn't think, like my calves, my forearms. And it was freezing cold outside, so your muscles are cramping really bad. I just knew I was going to give it my all. But I'm going against the CrossFit girl in a CrossFit game almost, like this can't get any worse.

Do you have any regrets about how you played this season?
Oh my gosh, girl. I have so many regrets. I wasn't going around plotting with everybody, but I try to be nice to everyone and especially newbies, because I have been a newbie before. And I know that uncomfortable feeling. And so I definitely just try to talk to everyone and give them advice. But I think that put a big target on my back because people think I'm running around and plotting and planning with everybody. And also just trusting people that I've trusted in the past, that was a really big mistake for me. I didn't have to kiss Kam's ass to be her friend, but she's one of those people in the game, if you're not up her ass constantly talking game to her, then she doesn't trust you.

I made a lot of mistakes. I worry too much, I got too anxious, way too much in my head this season. I was my own worst enemy in so many different ways. But as long as I get to come back and try again, I'll try to learn. [Laughs] But it's like no matter what angle or approach I go about it, people don't trust me. Like I did something wrong when really the only thing I did wrong was get revenge on my enemy many seasons ago. That's the only time I've ever turned my back on my alliance, on a friend, on a partner. People are taking this one chance I had to win a million dollars from my enemy, taking it out of context, and making me the bad guy. Honestly, it's not fair. But it's a burden I have to pay and, honey, I got the money to pay it. So let's go! [Laughs] I don't care. I'll do it over and over again.

Are you interested in coming back to The Challenge after this season?
Until I get that third win, I'm coming back. There are girls that have won three times; I can't have the most money but not the most wins, because that's just not going to work for me. And also Johnny Bananas winning more money than me? Yeah, that's not really going to work for me either. So we're going to have to do something. I'm definitely training harder, I'm definitely going to get more focused, more confidence in myself. Once I get into that elimination, I am my own worst enemy. I get in my head. You can see it in my face. I need to learn to trust myself because back in the day I used to be a badass in eliminations. I know I can do it. I just have to get back into the right mindset.

The Challenge: Double Agents airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.

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