"My inability to be quiet was probably my Achilles heel, and I went ahead and learned how to just shut right up."
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Devin Walker knows his biggest liability is also why The Challenge fans love him so much: He knows how to push other players' buttons to the point where they'll blow up, ruining their own social game as a result. It's a talent that makes for great reality TV moments — but it has also continually prevented Walker from getting his own long-coveted first win. That's why he made some major changes heading into season 37.

When fans see Walker arrive on The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies, they'll see a new and improved player on all fronts: mentally, politically, and yes, even physically. And debuting his upgraded gameplay couldn't have come at a better time. "I could not be happier about this one, theme-wise and the cast, so I'm excited," he tells EW. "It's going to look like a full-blown action movie, there's no way that it won't. We're talking explosions, helicopters, mountains, oceans, caves. You name it, it's in here. You want to talk about detonation stations? You want to talk about active bombs? That's what we're dealing with. It is bigger and better than I've ever seen it."

The Are You the One alum, who placed third in his rookie season on Rivals 3, is now on his sixth season of The Challenge. And he promises that this will be the best yet. "There isn't one that compares in terms of the missions and the house and the cast," Walker says. "It's high-ranking in every major category. And I gave it my all, 110."

Below, Walker discusses what fans can expect from his this season, the shocking way he finally fixed his biggest weakness in the game, and so much more, all in one hilariously honest and self-aware interview. (What else would you expect from him?) In Walker's own words, "Let's go!"

The Challenge
Devin Walker on 'The Challenge: 'Spies, Lies and Allies'
| Credit: mtv

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you find out you were invited back for this season?

DEVIN WALKER: You never really know officially until a few weeks before you leave, and because things can change on the fly you're really never positive that you're in the game until you get to the house. And then at that point you can assume, okay, we're here. But then again, you never know if there's going to be a first-day purge or if the last team to finish the first challenge is eliminated. You can never be comfortable. So I assumed I would be on this show soon after The Challenge 36, but I'm really never confident until I'm in that house, I've got myself a bunk bed, and a cold can in my hand.

After your elimination on Double Agents, what did you do to train differently for this season?

I actually own not one, not two, but three different versions of that same exact tanagram. I went on Amazon, I found the exact tanagrams, and I purchased three copies of it, as well as several other tanagram books, puzzle books, and different math cheat codes. In addition to just kicking up my cardio and trying to put some mass on, because I am a little sick of everybody looking at me and thinking, "All right, physical elimination, we're calling him out." Fine, if you want to feel that way, you're going to have to move a big boy now. I think that people will be very happy to see that whatever I was doing in the offseason seems to deter the target from being placed on me.

You really leveled up on the mental and physical weaknesses you've had in past seasons.

After a three-season break I wasn't sure if I would ever play this game again, and I'm very happy that I'm now back in a position to be on the cast and receiving this opportunity, so I did not take it for granted. I have focused my training and I've really dedicated myself to being the best version of myself that this game has ever seen.

One of your biggest downfalls has always been your ability to push people's buttons, because that puts a bigger target on your back. Did you go into this season with any new strategy politically?

At the end of last season, the only thing I could think of that would have propelled my game in a better direction is to bite my tongue. In an interview after my elimination I said, "I don't know what I need to do. Maybe I should go to a silent retreat." Well, I did just that. In preparation for season 37, I did a 10-day, fully silent retreat in an attempt to learn to bite my tongue. I have downgraded from a ladle probably to a teaspoon for my stirring utensil. I've said for a long time that you have to play the game, you can't let the game play you. As we've talked about, actually in our wrap-up interview from Double Agents, the best thing that ever happened to most of those other players last season was that me and Josh [Martinez] put a target on each other. And without any spoilers, you will see both of us having learned from our lessons dramatically, and my inability to be quiet was probably my Achilles heel, and I went ahead and learned how to just shut right up.

I'm impressed by this new and improved Devin!

Sometimes you have to make a decision on whether or not you want to be — I don't want to use the word "entertaining," because I am still very entertaining. But you have to make a decision on whether or not you want to be in the limelight, or you want to play your game from a reserved perspective, maybe from the shadows if you will, and watch other people's game more than they're watching yours. I'm surprised that for someone that prides themselves on intelligence it took me this long to figure this out. But we cannot dwell on the past! We have to focus on the future, and that is just one of the many new tools that I have in my tool belt. And don't get it twisted, if someone still needs a stern talking to, they're getting it. But I just decided to let many more things go, and it turns out that there's someone else that can fill that role, and I'll let you figure out who that person is on your own.

When we spoke after Double Agents, you said that you and Josh bonded and got over your beef. Does that mean you two made an alliance and worked together this season?

The Josh-and-Devin saga continues, but there's nothing worse than when people just won't let something die. Our feud is so season 36. Josh and Devin feuding is so Double Agents. If it's not broke, don't fix it; if it is broke, fix it. And me and Josh broke each other, and we had to fix that. So without saying too much, people may be disappointed in this, they may be surprised to see it, but two of the strongest political players in the history of The Challenge just may have decided that we are better allies than enemies. I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised to see the behavior from myself and young Josh.

The Challenge season 37 cast
'The Challenge' season 37 cast
| Credit: MTV

What can you tease about who you get partnered up with at the start of the season?

As we know, partners in this game can come and go. And I just keep leveling up. I've had some great partners in the past, but this season of Spies, Lies and Allies, I really get what I've always wanted. And the amount of rookies in this game, and the power that they possessed, the control that they had of the game if they wanted it, was something that, as veterans, we were all concerned with. And that makes who your partner is extremely important. So in a game where partners have never been more important, I just hit the jackpot.

Tell me more about that, because for the first time the rookies actually outnumber the vets. That could mean disaster for all of you.

And these are not normal rookies, these are superhuman rookies. We're talking about people that played Survivor for five months, we're talking about winners of those shows, runners-up of those shows. We're talking about people from all different walks of life, and some of these international agents had us shook because they did their research. And they not only did their research, but pretty much wrote a master's thesis on who we all were. So although we've seen some strong rookies in the past, this particular crop was very impressive. They forced the veterans to come correct or risk losing your spot in this game. And I'm very happy with how we may have come together.

I know I won't be the only one who is happy to hear you say that.

Every single person I've talked to that's seen a promo for it, or people at the network or that have worked on the show, are saying — and these are valued sources — this one is one of the better ones in the last decade. This season is hard-hitting. We've got hookups, we've got drama, we've got insanely challenging missions, we've got very dangerous missions, we've got political games like you've never seen, twists at every corner. It is going to be an absolute thrill ride.

Now that's a great sell.

And I pride myself on being someone that tells the truth here, so I'm telling ya, if anybody reads this article and then watches this season and tells me that I'm wrong, then we've just got different perspectives on what absolutely fire television looks like.

With all your talk about improving your physical game and going on this silent retreat and learning how to shut up, did you still end up getting into any rivalries this season?

I am surprised at the way that a few people moved, and I can't blame them for it. When you see somebody like me that you may consider to be low-hanging fruit, I understand the idea of trying to take a shot early and often, but I was so focused on myself and my own game and not being a part of rivalries and not being a part of losing my perspective on the game and taking my eye off the prize. Old Devin would have had a real hard time because people were trying to lay traps. They were setting bait. But my training, my meditation comes into play, and my now newfound unique ability to ignore is on full display. Yes rivalries, but no distractions.

Based on everything you're saying, it sounds like this may be your best season yet. Would you call it that?

Man, it's hard to top a rookie third-place performance, pulling seven white skulls in a row, but I would say that I do very well, all things considered, and I am proud of my performance and of the game play that I executed, given how difficult this season was. It was a long one, it was a very hard one, and there were twists and turns throughout the season that there is no way you could have speculated about or have an idea of. I mean, TJ really took the whole spies thing seriously, and we had no idea what was coming. So short answer, yes, I'm the most proud of my gameplay this season, without a close second.

Last season and even with Total Madness, all the players have spoken a lot about how mentally stressful and anxiety-ridden the game was. How does this season compare to last season, especially since the spy theme has carried over?

The biggest difference in all of that is the house, because on Double Agents there was not a place to have a private conversation. And immediately you will see that there's about over 100 places to have private conversations, so that alleviated a lot of the anxiety and a lot of the stress of, "Oh my God, someone's always listening." Location makes a big difference this season because it's the best house we've ever seen. And this is from everybody, even CT [Tamburello], Aneesa [Ferreira], people who have done a lot of seasons are saying easily top five, probably top three, potentially best house ever. So that took the anxiety level down a lot. People were able to get their stress out in any way they wanted to.

The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies premieres Wednesday, Aug. 11, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.

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