The Challenge: Double Agents player Devin Walker-Molaghan unpacks his 'Jedi mind trick'
How did he convince his partner, Gabby Allen, not to take on the easiest elimination win yet?
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: Double Agents.
Walking into the Crater and seeing a Hall Brawl setup is always a daunting sight on The Challenge. But in this week's episode of Double Agents, rookie Gabby Allen had the perfect opportunity to get her first elimination win and her gold skull in a Hall Brawl round stacked in her favor. And in what might have been the dumbest move in Challenge history, she didn't take it.
While Allen didn't know if it would be a female or male elimination week, as the Double Agent she knew that if she competed, her opponent would be tiny rookie Amber Martinez — pretty much a guaranteed win. And yet somehow her partner, Devin Walker-Molaghan, convinced her not to volunteer herself (so he wouldn't have to risk his own gold skull). Allen sent in Amber Borzotra instead, gifting her an easy gold skull win in one of the most anticlimactic elimination performances ever.
"Personally, I think this elimination sucked," Walker-Molaghan tells EW. "I don't think anyone's going to watch this and say, 'That was great!' Amber vs. Amber is one of the worst eliminations in the history of the show. It was not what the game makers had in mind when they tried to make a ramped-up version of Hall Brawl." And while the outcome meant he didn't have to risk losing his spot in the game, he admits that watching the battle of the Ambers "was as defeating a victory as I've ever had."
Despite the disappointing elimination, Walker-Molaghan pulled off an impressive strategic move by manipulating his partner to do what he wanted. Below, the veteran Challenge player unpacks how exactly that happened, why no one in the house would work with him this season, how being self-aware helps and hurts his game, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was that elimination really as bad as it looked?
DEVIN WALKER-MOLAGHAN: It was worse. Me and Gabby looked at each other at one point like, "We thought Jay and Theresa were bad Double Agents? Move over, let me hold your beer." It was just unbelievable. We were disappointed in ourselves, for sure. And by the same token, I missed a golden opportunity to go rogue here. If I had voted for us to go in, we're likely going down there, Gabby likely wins, she's likely mad at me because I sent her down there blindsiding her, so she picks a different partner; whoever she picks, their partner's f---ing definitely not picking me after I just threw my own partner in! I could have played my cards right. It would have been guys' elimination next week, I'd be in that coveted rogue-agent position of not having to compete in the challenge and being ineligible for elimination but also still having a vote. And considering that I am 100 percent public enemy No. 1 for every guy without a gold skull that's looking at me like a piece of meat, it would have been like, now you've got to go after one of these other guys with gold skull, and good luck against Fessy, Kyle, Josh, or Leroy in something physical. But as someone that is self-aware, I can acknowledge when I blow it.
Usually I interview whoever gets eliminated each week, but this week I had to find out how you convinced your partner not to put herself into a Hall Brawl against Amber M., since that's pretty much a gold skull on a silver platter.
It was a true Jedi mind trick. That part of it was actually a little easier than maybe it comes across. Let's just say when Gabby saw the Hall, she wasn't exactly signing up to go down there.
Really? I would have thought that's exactly what she'd want.
That's what I thought too. And we saw this with Fessy as well in the first elimination, where he ends up throwing in Kyle against Joseph and TJ looks up and he's like, "Are you sure you don't want to come down here?" And he did that a few times with Gabby. So at that point we kind of knew it was going to be a woman's elimination, but still in my mind it's just not worth running the risk of having to go down there and be in a Hall Brawl against Cory, in which I don't think it's impossible but I don't love my odds there. And we actually hadn't seen what happens if the Double Agents don't agree. I think that part of it kind of shook her as well, because I told her straight up there's just no way I'm going to send us down there. And Amber M. kind of put our back against the wall in terms of making a bigger move, because we can talk about my manipulation all we want, but Cory somehow convinced Amber M. that it was her moment to shine in a situation where it was so obvious that she should want to stay as far away from elimination as possible and hope to get lucky at the end. She just got all gassed up and volunteered herself. Then you've got to put into account that Gabby and Amber were best friends or whatever you want to call it, even though they met four weeks ago. And then it's, "Do I really want to go down there in a Hall Brawl?" In her mind, it wasn't going to go the way that it went, which was two bobblehead dolls running into each other.
Even though you didn't know what would happen if you disagreed on the vote, she had nothing to lose in that situation since she should want to get her gold skull. It's insane that you got your way when you both had equal power in that moment and you had more to lose.
She really had all the power, in my opinion, and that's what everybody in the house kept trying to remind her. Let's put ourselves in Gabby's shoes: If I had voted one way and she voted another, in all likelihood, and we don't know for sure, but TJ probably would say, "All right, you guys disagree, you're coming down." And say it even is a guys' elimination and I lose, Gabby gets a new partner, which she probably would be pretty happy about. [Laughs] So if I were her, I would have 100 percent voted us in, because I need my skull and because if it's not a girl day and I can't get my skull, at least I get a different partner that isn't Devin. So I really don't understand why she didn't do it. I think just in that moment fear got the best of her. It was a golden opportunity lost. And Amber M. was talking a big game. I don't know what Cory put in her cereal, but she was all fired up. I think Gabby kind of believed the hype a little bit and then we saw what actually happened, which is Amber M. got absolutely obliterated. It wasn't even close. So Gabby was definitely kicking herself after the fact. But we still did get a win and it definitely changed the arc of the game, for better or for worse.
This season has been the most unpredictable game yet. How did you adapt your strategy to stay on top of that?
I've got to be honest with you, I didn't really have much control over my strategy. [Laughs] My strategy was pretty much dictated because no one wanted to work with me. So just try to win and if you don't, hammer down some beers and try to have a good time. When I say that I was pretty much in this one completely by myself, there is thankfully a 16-episode season of TV that can back that up.
In this episode after you get the Double Agent power, you say something about how difficult you are to deal with when you don't have power, so imagine how difficult to deal with you're going to be when you do have power. It was so incredibly self-aware and honest, and I couldn't stop laughing.
Oh yeah, that's one thing no one will ever be able to say about me, that I lack self-awareness. [Laughs] Because I realize exactly what I'm doing. That has come across this season, and that also will speak to some of my rivals in these games as you look back over my history on The Challenge — most of the people that I end up getting into it with really truly do lack self-awareness. And I'm looking at them being like, "Wait a minute, you can't actually think this is how you are, right? Because you're not like that at all." I wouldn't consider Josh to be a super-self-aware person, I wouldn't consider Fessy to be, and those are the people that I end up getting into it with just because it's hard to come from a background of acknowledging mistakes and then deal with people that just completely ignore theirs.
It makes for a lot of entertaining moments because you often say exactly what viewers are thinking.
I am a man of the people. [Laughs] One thing that people always say is that I'm very relatable, and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
But also because of that, your way of playing the game and just living in the house makes a lot of enemies. Do you think that makes your path in this game more difficult than it would be otherwise?
One hundred percent. Everybody says this — it's the most cliche Challenge line of all time, but it's actually accurate with me — I am my own worst enemy. I put myself in worse positions, but that is mainly because there's not a big line of people that are trying to work with Devin, for whatever reason. My honesty and my inability to just blow smoke and tell people what they want to hear — and this gives me problems in real life too — is what puts a big target on my back. A lot of people can see somebody doing something stupid and just laugh at them and walk away, and for whatever reason I have to tell them that they're being an idiot. That definitely hurts me! [Laughs] And that goes along with my deal-making too. No one likes a realistic deal. Everybody likes the deal that's too good to be true. If ever you play the game, I would not recommend using logic in an alliance. People are not into it, it's not what they want to hear. I've been shopping an Are You the One? alliance for literally half a decade with zero takers, over and over and over again. They just get s--- on by everybody else. I'm like, guys, what are we doing here? Big Brother's been on this scene for what, two, three years, and they've pretty much dominated the game. And Are You the One's been in there for six years and we just refuse to work together.
Where does your game go from here?
We had yet another opportunity where the kind of mezzanine players, the people in the middle, have sided with Big Brother. The line in the sand was officially drawn after this week's elimination. And there is now one side that's stacked. And there is another side that is kind of clinging to life, and that is me and Gabby, Nam and Lolo, CT and Big T. This is kind of really us vs. the entire rest of the house now at this point. And throughout this game as we've seen, when we need it the most, when our side has to have it, we somehow get it done. Without saying too much, the theme of the underdogs stepping up when it matters the most is something that we're not quite ready to get rid of. Everybody that's watching this is going to be very pleased with the performances of those people that have their back against the wall. It gets better. If you are a Challenge fan, this is a really bad time to stop watching, because it's about to get really good. I will just say that my best work is yet to come.