The Challenge: Double Agents eliminated player speaks: 'I'm trying to learn to forgive, but I won't forget'
Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Challenge: Double Agents episode 4, "Duplicity."
It sucks to get eliminated on The Challenge. But Nelson Thomas exited The Challenge: Double Agents this week with an even heavier heart knowing that he was stabbed in the back by people he thought were his real friends outside the game.
In Wednesday's episode, "Duplicity," Nelson was betrayed by members of his own alliance due to being viewed as having a weaker partner in Amber Martinez. After the house voted him and his partner into elimination, Tori Deal (who won the daily challenge) and Fessy Shafaat conspired behind his back on who Nelson's opponent would be when they saw the elimination would be Hall Brawl. Despite Tori saying she wanted to go in herself, assuming it would be a female elimination, and despite everyone thinking Josh Martinez and his partner, Nany Gonzalez, were being voted in, Tori gave up her chance at a gold skull and voted in Fessy (and his partner, Aneesa Ferreira) instead. All because Fessy whispered to her that he wanted to go against Nelson himself. Tori's partner, Devin Walker-Molaghan, who already has his gold skull, voted the same way she did, officially sending Fessy and Aneesa into elimination against Nelson and Amber, and the shocked reactions from everyone on the sidelines spoke volumes.
It was then revealed to be a male elimination, and Fessy and Nelson faced off in one of the most aggressive and dirty Hall Brawl performances in the history of this show, ultimately ending with Nelson's elimination. "We all knew why I was down there. They were scared it was going to be a girls day, and they wanted to go to Amber, and that's straight facts," Nelson tells EW. "Tori plays that card every season, every time she tries to go against the weakest player, and I don't even know why. She's so athletic, I respect Tori for what she's done in the past, but these last two seasons she's tried to go against the weakest player in the game."
Nelson quickly adds that he loved having Amber as his partner, but due to her being the smallest female competitor, it put a target on their backs early. "It sucks but they size her up, they look at a Hall Brawl, and they're like, 'That's easy,'" he says. "But Tori didn't even take the chance to go down there to even see if it was a girls day because she was so committed to Fessy. And everyone all realized how messy Fessy was doing me. Everybody was shocked. So it feels good that they're cheering for me and not him and blah blah blah, but I still went home."
Below, Nelson breaks down that emotionally draining betrayal, where his friendship with Fessy stands now, what he regrets from this season of The Challenge, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I'm so sorry you were eliminated like that, Nelson. That was not an easy one to watch.
NELSON THOMAS: I wish we were talking about something else. [Sighs] Hopefully one day we can talk about me winning and the conversation will be, "Nelson, you're a champion now! How does it feel?" [Laughs] I cannot wait until we can do that. I am manifesting that.
How are you feeling about everything now that you've had some distance from that night?
Trust me, the feeling hasn't changed. I haven't spoken to Fessy since that day I left the battleground. Fessy and I were actually friends outside the game. We talked almost every other day, I mean me and this guy were supposed to live together, we were supposed to travel together. I considered him family, and you know how I'm ride-or-die for my family no matter what. So for him to do that, it made me really think about this game. I had to question myself, "Nelson, are you too loyal in this game? Is what I'm doing wrong? What did I do for a friend to backstab me in the way that he did, especially after we worked together last season and we got so close?" I just don't see how anybody can just do that to a person they care about. Him being a friend, and not just a friend but him being family, and for him to do that to me, it was devastating. I'm trying to learn to forgive, but I won't forget. I'm still upset about it. I have no reason to talk to the guy at all. Not at all.
Has he tried to reach out to you at all to apologize or talk things out?
Yes, he did. He reached out to me on my birthday. He had the nerve to text me, "Happy birthday, Nelson. I apologize for what I did. If I can take it back, I would. I was in the moment, I wasn't thinking." I have that text message still saved in my phone. I contemplated about texting him back. And I was like, "Nelson, you need to let this go." But it's heartbreaking. So ultimately I did not reply.
Wow. I feel like that says something, how he didn't try to reach out immediately after.
It says a lot about his character, let's be honest. And you know, I've heard from other cast members that he was telling people that him and I weren't working together, we weren't as close as we were. And I'm like, bro, hold up. We were just cheers-ing a beer together, talking about living together in Miami. Me and you had plans! And now you want to sit there and tell people we weren't a team and we weren't working together? Now you're just lying. You admitted it on the show that your alliance was Josh, Cory, and then me. A lot of people don't know this, but I defended him. I was in a room with Leroy, Kam was there all the time, Jay, and Josh. They wanted to throw Fessy in against CT right off the jump. First elimination. I was like, no, I could not vote for Fessy, I'm ride-or-die with Fessy, he has my back, I have his back. I was going to battle for him. Even Leroy questioned me like, "Are you sure?" Even Kam was like, "Do you trust this man? Think about it." She's always said I had bad intuition. I said, "I got him, and he got me." I kept him out of elimination. And so for him to send himself down there against me and not even give me a heads-up? I shook Josh's hand, looked him in the eye and told him, "Are you ready for this?" And he said, "Yes, let's go down there, let's go to war." Fessy knew it, Fessy had no reason to throw himself down there. He's trying to say, "I was trying to protect a friend." What about your other friend? "If one of my friends had to go home, I want it to be me." That was your excuse, bro?! And then I find out later on after the show, Tori tells me that Josh never wanted to go into elimination at all. But then he's looking at me in my eyes saying he wants to go. So I don't know who was lying and who was not. And for Tori to play like she did, that was mind-blowing.
I knew the entire time that Fessy and Tori had something going on. We all knew it in the house. Everybody knew they were flirting and they had something going on and it was more than just friends. I've known Tori a lot longer, I was closer to Tori outside this show, I was like, "Whoa, you let a man make that decision? Tori, come on, I'm your friend. This guy is just trying to get in your pants." That was very upsetting to me. And excuse my language, I'm getting frustrated even thinking about it now. It was definitely out of character for Tori. It was foul. She chose a guy over me and I had her back the entire time. This game is crazy. I know this is a selfish game, and I've getting a look at that more and more [laughs], but you can't even trust the people you have a relationship with outside the show. Money changes people. And Fessy was paint on the wall last season. He didn't say much. He's very athletic, he did really good in the challenges, but he was paint on a wall! So I think he felt that he needed to do this to put his name out there. But out of all things, he did not have to do that. There's always ways to make a name for yourself in this game, but what you did was foul. Nobody in this game is ever going to trust you again. Fessy always wants to talk about how he's been on a football team, blah blah blah, my team is my family. He preaches sports all the time, 24/7 talking about college ball. But, bro, we were a team. Where was your loyalty there?
And he wasn't just betraying you, he was going against bascially his entire alliance.
He didn't care about anybody. He didn't even have the balls to tell Josh. But think about last season what he did to Cory: Fessy and Cory had a deal at that nighttime challenge, and he didn't pick Cory. It was a big argument because Fessy didn't keep his word. I had a big talk with Fessy after about how it didn't matter that Fessy knew Cory wasn't in danger but the fact that he went back on his word. We forgave him for that, thinking it was a mistake. But that just means his word doesn't mean s---. He showed his true colors this season. Everybody sees he's selfish as s---. He'll call you his friend and then backstab you the next moment.
What did you think when you walked into elimination and saw Hall Brawl set up, especially with your Hall Brawl history?
Walking into the battleground and actually seeing the Hall Brawl, it brought a lot of memories back from me going against Rogan. And I'm like, "This is not happening to me again." But I knew in my head that I could beat Josh. But people don't know this, I had a dislocated finger, because I dislocated my finger in the last challenge. And I told Cory and Fessy that I can barely make a fist right now. Fessy knew about it! So the fact that he knew I was injured and still called himself down there just makes it more bad. It makes me f---ing pissed. I was emotionally f---ed. I was not in the zone anymore. I was shocked. I didn't know what to think. My head was not even in the game. The whole time I was like, "Nelson, you're so f---ing dumb. You're so stupid. This man just backstabbed you and now you're in a Hall Brawl with him?!" But I watched the episode and I was so close to winning the first one.
That first round looked extremely tough. What happened in there?
He was playing dirty as hell. He was ripping my mask off, putting his knee into my hand, I'm literally screaming, "My hand!" because I'm going in there with a dislocated finger and he knew this s---. That's what's even more upsetting. He's playing dirty as s---, I'm your friend and you're going to treat me like dirt in the sand? He will do anything to win. And then after it was over, he has the balls, the nerve, to come up to me like, "Let me get a hug?" Bro. If you don't get the hell away from me right now… You drew the line in the sand, and I know where we stand now. We are not friends. No, I don't need to hear from you, I don't need to see you, we're nothing. And when it comes to this game, you best believe you have a target on your back. You better watch your back. I didn't realize how dirty he got until I was watching it back over again. No matter how dirty a game is, I would never do that. He crossed a line there.
What have you learned from your time on Double Agents?
I've realized that you just can't trust anybody and have your guard up no matter who it is, because they're going to do what they want to do to get to the next level. If I'm talking to you outside the game, maybe I'm too open-armed to people. Maybe my kindness, people take that as weakness a little bit? I'm not going to trust people next season. I'm not going to be this kind. If this is the way it's going to be, then this is the way it's going to be. I would never sit there and do what Fessy did to one of my friends, ever. It's a lesson learned, for real. I hope Fessy gets what he deserves because he lost a friend and showed his true colors. I hope it was worth it for him. But you can be a hero and win this game. You don't have to do what Fessy did to win.
The Challenge: Double Agents airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.