By Sydney Bucksbaum
December 09, 2020 at 08:00 AM EST
Credit: MTV

It can't be denied that Jay Starrett was put through the wringer last season on The Challenge. The Survivor alum's rookie season saw him get sent into the first three male eliminations, as all the guys kept targeting him. He survived the first two, eliminating another rookie threat as well as Challenge legend CT and gaining two red skulls in the process. But one nasty tackle from Rogan in his third elimination saw Jay get medically disqualified for a potential head injury, ending his impressive rookie run.

Jay is back for The Challenge: Double Agents (premiering Wednesday), and he's ready for another shot at the title of champion. "I just came in with a better mindset," he tells EW. "I felt more confident because I was training more and I knew what to train for and how to get ready for the show. But also you never know what they're going to throw at you so, surprise surprise, I thought I knew everything, but… [Laughs] I just love it, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be back and to get to compete again."

Below, Jay breaks down what fans can expect from him this season, whether he's got a rivalry with CT, if he managed to stay out of any romantic drama this time around (definitely not!), and more.

Credit: MTV

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you prepare for this season now that you know what actually goes into the daily challenges and eliminations?
JAY STARRETT: Hall Brawls and things like that, I know that I'm never going to be as heavy or as strong as these guys. Maybe I could train probably to get there, but I'll definitely never be as heavy. So I had to get my speed up, my agility up, my endurance up, my strength up — like every aspect that you can think of, I went for it.

And at least this time around you've got an ally in fellow Survivor alum Natalie Anderson joining the cast.
I know! Isn't that so sick?! I'm so happy that I got to be the first [Survivor alum on The Challenge], and now there's a second following me and it's a winner and she's a legend. I mean, she almost won the last season of Survivor, Winners at War. She got second place! She's a beast. Let's go!

Did you talk with her before the season began about making a Survivor alliance?
Yes, we did talk. We've got to be Survivor strong, baby.

Who else did you want to be in an alliance with at the start of the season?
You know, I'd like to pull a card from Wes' deck and just say I'd like to align with everybody so no one can get rid of me.

That’s definitely a strategy that's worked well for him so far.
Yeah, he's won before! [Laughs] I just went in there and gave it my all, because at the end of the day, you only have yourself to blame for all the failures or anything that happens. So if you didn't do something correctly, it's your fault. As much as everyone wants to blame everyone else, like yeah, Rogan knocked me out, it is his fault that he knocked me out but it's my fault that I went down there because [laughs] I made out with his chick.

Luckily Rogan isn't here this season, but CT is. Considering how you took him out last time in an early elimination, was there any rivalry between you two this season?
If he was mad about that, I don't know, maybe he hid it well or he was just doing things behind my back. We'll have to see once the show airs because I don't even know what the hell he was doing behind my back. But in my face, we shook hands and it was just like, "Yeah man, what's up? Good to see you." So it was sick.

What can you tease about how this season went for you?
[Sings] All the training worked, baby! [Laughs] I felt so f---ing good.

So how did this season compare to last season?
I don't think anything could get worse than getting thrown into every elimination, in a bunker. So I would say it was better just because it's my second time going in, I know what's up, kind of but not really because TJ has always got some trick up his sleeve, but it's not like you're walking in like a sheep into a lion's den. Now you're kind of like, "All right, I'm a cub. What's up, fellow lions? I might grow up to be better than you." [Laughs] Mentally, it can't get any worse than [last season]. I just took it on the chin, said, "This is what I signed up for, so let's do it again."

What did you learn from your time on last season that you applied to this season?
You know, just stop making out with everyone's girlfriends.

You did get entangled in some romantic drama last season that had a negative impact on your game. Did you find yourself in complicated romantic situations again this season?
[Sighs] You know, I love love.

Okay, that sigh probably said more than words ever could.
[Laughs] Oh man, I don't know. I don't know what it is, but I know how to pick 'em, that's for sure. And Bananas knows how to pick 'em too.

What do you think is going to surprise everyone about this season of The Challenge?
All the backstabbing. There is a lot of backstabbing, there's a lot of twists and turns that you do not see coming. I had to pick up my jaw from the ground a few times because that thing just fell off. This season I was like, "What the f--- is going on?"

And now that MTV and CBS are owned by the same company, does that open up possibilities for you —
Let's f---ing go, baby!

You already know what I’m going to ask!
I know what you're going to ask me! And if Survivor called me back and MTV is cool with it… but here's the thing, if Survivor calls me back and MTV says, "You can go, but you can never come back to The Challenge," I'm not freakin' doing it. But if The Challenge was like, "Hey, man, go on Survivor real quick and then you can come back on The Challenge," hell yeah I'll do it! I'll do both shows back-to-back for however many years they want me to do it, because I love both shows. I would love to go back to an island and fish and starve again. [Laughs] No, in all honesty, it'd be sick because now this time, considering I'm training for The Challenge, to go back on Survivor, I don't know if my body would eat itself or what would happen, but it'd be good to go in with some stronger muscles this time than the first time when I was just young and dumb.

But then again, you'd probably be viewed as an even bigger threat on Survivor now that you're on The Challenge.
Ah, yeah that’s true. Damn, way to spoil it! But please call me back for it. Please!

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