The Challenge: Double Agents eliminated player speaks: 'I was blinded by vengeance'
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: Double Agents, "Tinker, Tailer, Bunny, Spy."
The self-proclaimed "puzzle master" was beaten at his own game when Devin Walker-Molaghan chose Darrell Taylor as his elimination opponent on The Challenge: Double Agents, thinking he had the win in the bag. But the first round of this week's double elimination ended in a face-off with a tangram puzzle and Walker-Molaghan lost to Taylor, ending his time on season 36. "I had everything I could have possibly wanted and I blew it," Walker-Molaghan tells EW. "It was a tough L, but I'm hoping that I can learn something from it and become a better Challenger."
Below, EW unpacks that elimination loss with Walker-Molaghan, what exactly he learned from this season, and the surprising end to his extremely loud and public feud with this week's other elimination loser, Josh Martinez.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What happened with that puzzle?
DEVIN WALKER-MOLAGHAN: Well, I'll start a little further back. The whole thing was a disaster, including the puzzle, because Kam and Leroy, to their credit, had the entire house completely fooled. I was under the impression that Darrell was the swing vote, but Leroy and Kam had both burned their votes, so really my issue should have been with Leroy because at least Darrell picked a side. That hurts less than someone pretending to be on your side and then being neutral. I probably should have called out Leroy. Instead, I called out Darrell because I was under the impression that Darrell had been the reason I was down there. But I learned a very valuable lesson, which is if you see a tangram, don't call out somebody with children, because they have been doing those puzzles for the last decade. I don't think it's a coincidence that both of the dads ended up winning this tangram challenge.
I've got to be totally honest, I would still be down there trying to solve that. My brain is really strong in some areas and incredibly vulnerable in others, and I've never done well with shapes. I'm really good with numbers and with memorization, but I'm not great with shapes, I never have been. I was really struggling as the pressure was mounting. And I'm not going to lie, this thought crossed my head also when I called out Darrell, "This is another name on Mount Rushmore. If I beat him in this and I go back into the game, it not only shifts the game entirely, but I'm a f---ing legend." At that point, I'd have beaten Wes, Johnny, and Darrell? No one has that resume. I'm usually really good at blocking stuff out in the moment, and I was unable to do that for some reason in this event. And that is not an excuse, it's just the truth. I probably should have won this. And it's no one's fault but my own. I just choked.
You call yourself the puzzle master, but this is arguably one of the most common puzzles used on The Challenge. Had you really never thought to practice tangrams?
This season had two firsts for me, which I think I will definitely be better at the next time around: I had never done a trivia challenge and I have never done a tangram. For whatever reason in the seasons I was on, for the amount of time I was on them, I never was there for trivia or for a tangram. I knew what a tangram was because I've seen the show, but I have no practice with them, I've never done one in my own regular life. That was the first tangram I've ever done. And they're for 6-year-olds! So like, I should have figured out. [Laughs] They're literally for toddlers. But I don't know, it was just the pressure. When you talk as much s--- as I do, great risk comes with great reward, but that also comes with great pressure. I made things a little bit more difficult on myself. But if I could do it again the same way, I would! I am that way, I'm going to continue to be that way. And there's nothing that upsets me worse than when people lose and they try to make excuses or they try to take it away from the other people. Darrell had just as much pressure on him — he got completely blindsided, he thought he was safe, he was down there against somebody that's known for puzzles, and he was able to, in that moment, focus and get the job done. So it's all credit to Darrell, taking absolutely nothing away from him, and I wish more people took the L this way because nine times out of 10, it wasn't something that someone else did. You lost, and you should own it and get better from it and move on. Hopefully, for me, it was a wake-up call.
So how are you learning from this experience to prepare for future seasons?
I've never been somebody that likes to take the path of least resistance, and I knew there was some other people up there on the bridge that would have been an easier route. I knew Nam's back was hurt. I knew Kyle wasn't great at puzzles. I know that historically Leroy's not great at puzzles. I don't imagine that Fessy would have wrapped his head around the tangram. There were four easier options up there. Two of them were a no-fly zone because of loyalty, and the other two, although they had been in reality more problematic for my game, I was blinded by vengeance. All I saw with tunnel vision in that moment was: Darrell's the reason I'm down here, and how cool would it be if I cross off three names from Rushmore? The biggest lesson I learned from this elimination is that moving forward, I need to put my pride aside and take the path of least resistance if I want to be a Challenge champion. And that is my full intent of doing these, to win.
That makes sense because with your normal strategic thinking, I was actually expecting you to pick someone with a gold skull like Leroy or Fessy. That way if you beat them, you'd free up their gold skull and then the guys without one wouldn't come after yours – they'd just go for the one up for grabs.
Yeah, that's the thing, I was so caught up in getting my feelings hurt. Darrell, I mean, we're not like super-close. But I consider him to be a friend. He's someone that I really think is a good person, we've got a lot in common. So in that moment, I was so blinded by being hurt and in wanting revenge, that that's how much I blew it. I didn't even weigh a tactical option in my head of, "Why am I not calling out someone with a skull?" It didn't even cross my mind.
On the flip side of losing against Darrell, it must have at least felt great watching CT demolish Josh in the second elimination.
I didn't even get to see it! We had just solved the same puzzle, so me and Darrell were in a holding area that was away from the game so that we couldn't give hints or help the other competitors. I just heard TJ blow the horn, and 90 seconds later I heard a crowd eruption. I was like, "Someone got DQ'ed." So when I turn the corner and I come out, and CT comes over and gives me a hug, I'm thinking, "How did he do that?!" I mean, that is insane. Again, he's got a 4-year-old, does a lot of tangrams. The guy figured it out in 20 seconds.
It did look like he solved it immediately.
It's ridiculous. [Laughs] And you have to put yourself in my position and think about the 24 hours that led to these events. Josh misses the rope. I make fun of Josh. I miss the rope. I get sent into elimination instead of Josh. Wait, twist! Josh is also in elimination. You both lose! And now you're going home and you have to stay in the same hotel room. [Laughs] It was a lot to deal with.
What was it like spending so much time with Josh afterward?
Actually I'm thankful for this in a sense because I got the opportunity to understand him a little bit better. It isn't in my character to want to dislike people. It is just something that happens to me when I get locked in a house with certain people. I was thankful to get to know him better and realize that it wasn't as personal as I was taking it. One thing we both realized as soon as we got eliminated was that we had played ourselves. The best thing for everyone else in that house was for me and Josh to continue fighting with each other and the whole house got the perfect result, which was that both of us were gone and we're sitting there in the hotel room looking at each other, like, how were we so blind? How did we not realize that as two of the considered to be weakest players in the house, how did we not team up and run this? Because if you look at it, from that perspective, if me and Kyle and Nam join up with Josh and Fessy, none of the rest of it matters. Cory, Darrell, CT are all on the outside looking in. So that was dumb of us. And we realized it. He was fueled by revenge just as much as I was. We've seen that twice now backfire. Although it is the funner thing to do, I've probably got to steer myself away from it if I want to win.
It sounds like your beef with Josh has actually been… squashed? Is that put to bed now for future seasons?
Oh man, I have to remember I'm being quoted on this. I think that as far as it goes from my end, I would like everybody on next season not to make the same mistake that we made this time, which was attacking each other from the beginning. And that goes for me and Josh, me and Fessy, me and Cory. I do not want an early problem with anybody. Later in the game, once we understand the rules, when we have a better idea of things, it's inevitable that people are going to have to go after each other. But season 36 was a blueprint in how not to operate as a vet. And a lot of us are paying the price for it. So short answer, the Devin-and-Josh feud is tabled for now on my end. But you never know. You get a couple beers in me, you give me a little power, maybe some immunity, anything's possible.
What wasn't shown this season that you think is important for viewers to know happened in the house or in the game?
One point I have wanted to drive home is the level of stress that was part of this game, I don't think it is getting conveyed. I hope that the viewers can look at it and see what really it was, trying to put themselves in our position where all the bedrooms have no doors, the whole property is essentially three big rooms, there's nowhere to hide. But there's also a secret vote. You never know who's doing what, you never know who's telling you the truth and who's lying. It was incredibly stressful and tricky. It made this the most difficult game that I've ever played. A lot of people feel the same way. And it wasn't because the daily challenges were the hardest, it wasn't because the eliminations were the hardest, it was the mental part of this. It was incredibly taxing. You can't really film that and show what's going on in someone's head but all of us, every single one of us was questioning ourselves, questioning our friends, questioning everything the entire time. It was rough.
That seems to be a trend after last season's bunker/Total Madness theme was really tough on everyone mentally. This one appeared to be better in that regard, but it sounds like it wasn't?
Yeah, multiple people said, "Take me back to the bunker. I'd prefer to be there."
Wow, strong statement!
And they didn't even have a bathroom! So I know I'm not delusional when I say it sucked. The food was great. The rooms were clean and nice. The house was fine! It was just the rules of the game. Something as little as having to put your uniform on every single elimination, no matter what, is so stressful. The double agents are either your friend and you're afraid you're going to get backstabbed, or it's your enemy and you're afraid you're gonna get front-stabbed. Looking over your shoulder does you no good because the threat could be coming straight forward. There was a lot of factors that were out of our control. But I wouldn't trade it! With that being said, bring it on, Challenge, because this is an absolute hitter. And I think we've found people that give the least amount of cares are thriving in this season, the Big Ts, the Kyles, the mes, because everybody else is like, wondering what's going to happen, and we just hammered beers and won dailies.