Over the course of “Squid Game: The Challenge,” contestants have been asked to play Red Light, Green Light for hours in the cold, cross a glass bridge and poke and lick their way through a piece of Dalgona candy as the clock ticks down. That’s why it may be surprising that all three finalists had the same answer when asked about the most difficult part of participating in the Netflix reality show: losing friends.
Spoilers ahead for Part 2 of “Squid Game: The Challenge.”
Sam, one of the three finalists of the show, emphasized to TheWrap that the “emotional” toll of the game was harder for him “than anything physical.” On several occasions throughout the series, contestants were asked to pick other players to eliminate. Sometimes picking another player couldn’t be avoided. Other times, contestants were forced to choose whether they should put themselves or another player at risk.
“When we found out we had to pick someone to eliminate it was not, ‘Oh, this person is awful. We’re going to eliminate them.’ It was, ‘Oh, great. Now we have to go around the room and figure out which person we liked the least,’” Sam said.
Mai, another finalist, agreed with that assessment. “If you don’t know a person, that is grounds for elimination,” Mai told TheWrap.
She emphasized that’s why she chose to give her number from the claw machine to No. 77, Marina. Going into the glass bridge challenge, players had to use a claw machine to select a teddy bear that had a number inside of it. Because of the nature of the glass bridge challenge, players who were given lower numbers were forced to go first and risk falling. Giving a fellow player a low number wasn’t exactly an elimination sentence, but it it did severely hurt their chances of making it to the next round.
“I guess I don’t feel guilty for giving four to Marina because I don’t know her,” Mai said. “I feel confident with that decision.”
“You really grow so close to these people after spending unlimited time for weeks and weeks with them. And so losing them in the game almost feels like losing them in real life,” Phill, the last of the three finalists, told TheWrap.
Trying to choose who to eliminate forced Phill to make several “tough” decisions. “Do I want to do this? This person, do they deserve it? And then you go through a whole ethical and moral thing in your head,” Phill said. “It’s an impossible choice.”
“Nervous,” “miserable” and “excited” were the words the three contestants used when asked how it felt to make it to the last round of this competition. Both Sam and Mai noted that they thought their nerves helped them during the Circle of Trust game. In the penultimate game, nine blindfolded players sat in a circle with a box in the middle. Each round a new contestant was selected to take the box and put it on another player’s desk. If the second player correctly guessed who gave them the box, that first player was eliminated. If they guessed incorrectly, the second player went home.
Though Phill was the one to give Hallie (No. 355) the box that would lead to her elimination, Hallie guessed that Sam was responsible due to his nervous chatter. That incorrect guess led to her being ousted from the competition. Unlike his peers, Sam never had to damn any other contestant with a box.
“I just realized that my social game carried me through Circle of Trust and partially my luck,” Sam said. “So I kept looking at Phill and looking at Mai being like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in the final three because I didn’t play a part in this elimination. So I was just nervous talking. It was just word vomit in my mouth.”
“I was pretty equal parts miserable and excited,” Phill, who was responsible for Hallie’s elimination, said. “Obviously, the chance to be in the final three is a huge honor a huge opportunity. But having to put the box on Hallie’s desk was a really tough decision. That was probably easily the toughest decision in the entire game, and it definitely it broke my heart.”
The final episode of “Squid Game: The Challenge” premieres on Netflix next Wednesday.