The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies eliminated player breaks down that 'night of pure hell'
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies.
After Neagu was called into his first elimination ever earlier in the night, he sent his own friend Logan Sampedro home and rejoined the rest of the cast. Everyone assumed that would be the last elimination before the final, and that they were all safe. But TJ Lavin announced that two more eliminations were imminent — one for the women and one for the men — so about an hour later, Neagu was voted in to his second elimination of the night, making Challenge history. But his luck ran out and he lost the three-puzzle challenge to Devin Walker, ending his rookie season right before the final began.
"The chain of events that night was crazy," Neagu tells EW. "It sucked." Below, Neagu tells EW what happened to land him in two eliminations in a row after avoiding eliminations all season, why he lost, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You made it to the very end of the season without seeing an elimination, only to get thrown into the last two in a row. Brutal. Were you hoping to slide to the finale without doing any eliminations?
EMANUEL NEAGU: I was hoping that I'm never going to get called down or sent into elimination. That night, if Logan wouldn't have picked me, then probably he would send Devin or someone else home and then everyone would vote for Logan because I had more social game than Logan in the house with a lot of people. I'm still hurt by that night, to be honest, even now I'm still like, f--- man. And it was so crazy because I had this elimination with Logan where my girl Tori was rooting for Logan and it felt like she wanted me [sent] home. And then I did another elimination and I went home.
How much time did you have in between your win against Logan and when you were sent in again against Devin?
Maybe an hour or something like that after Logan went home, because it was the girls' elimination and then I had my elimination. It was pretty quick. I knew I was going to go the second time because I was the only rookie. CT was looking at me and he was like, [whispers] "Kyle, Kyle, Kyle," like to vote for Kyle. But then when Devin said my name I was like, yeah, no.
Did you need a lot of time to recover from the elimination against Logan? That looked so exhausting and then you had to go in again so soon.
It was, yeah. It looked easier on TV to be honest. We were going for like an hour and more. But I was ready to go in another physical elimination. That's what I was expecting, that's what I wanted. I didn't really need time to recover from that. Physically I'm very strong, I have a lot of endurance.
The first elimination was definitely perfect for you, but what was your reaction when you learned your second was three puzzles?
I started laughing. At first I was like, alright, I get it. That's fine. Let me try it. But I knew I was going to go home because that was Devin's strength. But then when we started, I was like, wooo! I surprised myself. Devin is like one of the best, like CT, with puzzles, and I finished the first one so quick. Then the second one, the numbers, that f---ed me. On TV it looks like I got help from people, but I couldn't hear them. So I was just like doing s--- and I waited for Devin to finish his and then I was peeking [at his], did mine, and run forward.
That's not at all what it looked like in the episode. We didn't see you looking at Devin's and it looked like Tori was telling you how to solve it.
They only said, "Put the five in the middle." And that was Kaycee that said it. And you can hear it on TV, Kaycee was the first one to say put five in the middle and then also CT shouted at me at one point saying eight to be the first one. I don't know why people started going at Tori because she helped me because she was helping Devin too. Why, because I'm a rookie? Everyone voted for Amanda instead of Emy, so why's that?
I was wondering that too. So much for the vet alliance when it came to the women — it somehow only mattered for the guys' vote.
It's obvious that they didn't want me in the final. They'd rather have Devin than me in the final.
That's a nice compliment I guess?
Yeah. [Laughs] I hate it.
What was it like competing while all that drama on the sidelines was happening with Tori and Nelson? Was it hard to focus?
No, I was really focused on what I had to do. And you can't hear them that good from down there. It's not like how it looks on TV. At first, when Tori and Nelson got into a little argument before we started, I don't even know why Nelson got angry because he voted for her first and then she voted for him. It doesn't make sense. And then I was just trying to calm Tori down.
Did it surprise you that your former partner and teammate Kaycee voted for you, too?
No. I mean, she could have said a different name because I had the most votes already. But of course, she had to stick with the vets. In that moment, right that moment, not before or any other moment, it was about the vet alliance. If Kaycee would have voted for anyone else, they'd be like, "What about the vet alliance?" But for just that moment! [Laughs] So yeah, I wasn't shocked. I even said to Kaycee, "Yeah, do it, just vote for me, it's okay."
Did you always know you were going to pick Devin as your opponent?
No, I always wanted to pick CT.
CT was, for the whole season, even before when I was home, I said if I ever get to do an elimination and I have to pick someone, I'm going to pick CT. I even said that in my interviews, but because I didn't pick him, they didn't use my interviews talking about that. But then when I got there, I had with Devin a little deal made a few weeks before where we said we're never going to call each other into elimination. And he didn't call me into an elimination but he still voted for me knowing that everyone else is going to vote for me, so to me, that was the best reason to call him down. And of course, it was close to the final. If I was in the middle of the game, I would have picked CT. But because I was right at the end, I was like no, I'm not going to take a chance. I need to get to the final. I'm so close. I don't have to do like a superhero move or whatever. That's why I picked Devin.
Do you regret picking Devin and not CT?
Even though CT is even better at puzzles?
I mean, you never know! But probably I would have beat him. I don't know! Maybe he [would be] slower. But I do regret picking Devin and not CT.
You did solve that first puzzle a lot faster than Devin, which surprised everyone, including yourself.
I'm happy everyone saw that. So next time if I'm going on The Challenge, they'll be like, "This guy is good with [physical eliminations] but is also good with [puzzles]." So don't call me in!
When you got to the last puzzle, it looked like you actually solved it before Devin. But you didn't call for a check and he did. Did you actually have it right first?
I think I had it right. I kept doing it and there was a piece that couldn't fit anywhere. But then I had the last piece and — I don't even know. Probably the experience that Devin has, when even if he doesn't have it, because he called check even when he didn't have it — but that's experience. You call it just in case. Probably I had it right and I didn't call it. I was maybe checking one more time or whatever, but he was quicker so ... [sighs]. It just sucks.
So now are you going to learn from this and call for a check all the time when doing a puzzle?
Yeah, but every time you call check, you have to wait 10 seconds before you start again. Otherwise I would be like moving a piece, check! Check! Check! Check!
So there is a risk with calling it too early.
Yeah, but you better call the check. [Laughs] I mean, it can be your win.
What happened with your relationship with Tori after the season ended?
They stayed for three more days [for the final] so I waited for Tori in Spain. [She came] with Nany, Kaycee, and I met Josh in Spain too. I was with Logan because we got eliminated in the same night, so we flew to Spain and then they finished after three days and we stayed in Ibiza. The relationship went further than the game.
What's your relationship with Tori like now? Are you still together?
We don't have a label for this relationship. Obviously it's hard to see each other because we live on the other side of the planet. But we're talking.
You also had something going on earlier in the season with Michele, so what's your relationship like with her now?
Yeah, we're talking as friends. We recently had the reunion and we had a serious talk where I told her exactly how [Tori] happened. And she was cool. Hopefully she's going to come on the next season so we — [laughs] no, no, no! So we can be in an alliance! But you never know.
What's the biggest lesson you learned from this season?
I need to control my actions more when I'm emotional. I knew that when I came on the show, but then I started hooking up, I started having feelings for Tori, I was kind of blind in the game. It affected my game. And then obviously, I got angry with Devin because he said my name first. But if I had been calm, I would have seen that maybe that's not the best way to do it, you shouldn't call Devin.
You still had an amazing rookie season.
I stayed away from The Lair. Everyone was like, "How did you do it?" That happened on my Survivor too, I was the only one in the whole game without any votes. There's a lot of people saying now on social media that I'm so boring, I haven't done anything, I've been just carried by Kaycee and everyone. But my problem on this season was that, on our Survivor, you had to depend on audience votes so whatever you do in front of the camera, it counts for the votes. I was used to doing strategies and talking to people more [while] not being seen by anyone. [Laughs] I did a lot of that [not on] camera and now everybody thinks I've just done nothing.
Do you have any regrets from how you played this season?
I wish I would have played tougher, but that's going to happen [my] next season. This was my first season, so coming in hot would send me home. That happened with Kelz and a lot of people. So I don't have any regrets, to be honest. I was more laid back and more in my corner than I'm usually on a game like this, but I had to because that was my strategy to just make it further.
What are you doing to prepare for future seasons?
Physically, I'm training a lot. I'm talking to Logan even more than before. Don't tell anyone, but I'm trying to make him my No. 1 guy in the game. [Laughs] Hopefully we're both going to be on the same season. And now I have alliances, new friendships, and I'm taking that for the next season. [My] next season is going to be way different. Probably I'm going to win. [Laughs] I was saying to everyone if I'm doing the final, there's no way I'm not going to win. I'd need to break a leg or something because I'm doing puzzles, I'm running fast. [Laughs] But imagine, I'm going to the final, I'm talking big, and then I just leave the first time I go in.
What was your favorite part of this season?
The challenges. I'm an adrenaline freak. [Laughs] I love adrenaline. I love competing. I love when I see people nervous, it's like I'm feeding myself with their nerves. And because I'm a dancer, I do like really big warm ups, and it's kind of intimidating. That happened with Kyle, too, when he was about to call me in. I was also bluffing, talking big like, "Call me in, I need to go down, I need to send you home." [Laughs] I was doing big stretches, big trainings so he is not going to call me in and it worked.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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