[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Squid Game: The Challenge Episodes 1-5. Read at your own risk!]
Squid Game: The Challenge is here, and the first batch of episodes featured some of the most iconic games from the Korean thriller. Just like in the record-breaking series from Hwang Dong-hyuk, "Red Light, Green Light" and "Dalgona" kicked off the challenges. But it didn't take long for a new game to be introduced: "Warships." The life-sized rendition of popular board game Battleship resulted in the shocking eliminations of some major players.
Forming alliances also became more important than ever in Squid Game: The Challenge because the reality competition series included opportunities in which players could vote out their targets. The Gganbu Gang was one group that quickly formed and grew in dominance, before a few of its core players were eliminated in Episode 5.
Though 456 players entered the competition for the chance to win a whopping $4.56 million, the number quickly dwindled by Episode 5's end. And since it's nearly impossible with such a massive group to follow every contestant's journey, we asked key figures from the early episodes burning questions we had.
TV Guide: You were eliminated in "Warships." Have you played the game before, and did you volunteer as captain?
Bryton: I did play Warships as a kid. And then when we got there, there was just this big argument about who should be captain. I kind of put my hand in there and I was like, "Hey, I really think I should be captain." They weren't listening at all, nobody wanted to listen to me in there. And then I got in the battle ship, me and the guy next to me, we sunk three on our own because we were helping our captain. We were like, "Damn, we should have been the captains." But I mean, [the captain and lieutenant] did a great job, no disrespect to them. They did fine.
Have you talked to either the captain or lieutenant since filming ended?
Bryton: [Laughs] no.
TV Guide: You were eliminated by Phalisia, who knocked out three contestants after opening her jack-in-the-box in Episode 5. Looking back, do you think the Gganbu Gang was too visible?
Rick: Today I think it was. I didn't back then. And I'm thinking being the old man of the group, I'm probably the safer man of the group. Because we had some powerful people there. And if somebody was going to be selected, I would have picked Dan, I would have picked Stephen. They were the powerhouse and I would have put money on them today that they would win the game. Being picked, that was crushing, that was unexpected. Stephen had to expect it, or at least understood it.
TV Guide: Stephen, what are your thoughts on whether the Gganbu Gang was too visible?
Stephen: I thought the Gganbu Gang was good to go, flying under the radar. Our policy was, it was an open door policy. Pretty much whoever wanted to be in the group would be in the group. Purna just literally came out of nowhere, was like "I'm here, I'm part of the gang." I was like yeah, with open arms, we were letting everybody in. And it's not even like we were going out and seeking people strategically, we were just chilling, minding our own business, and whoever came up and talked to us and vibed, they stuck around. So I thought we had a really good thing going for us and apparently we made a little bit too much noise. I'd like to say we had the oldest and smallest guy in the show. And we had the smallest and I don't want to say weakest, but smallest girl of the whole show. So I thought we were good to go.
TV Guide: Being a mother and son team, LeAnn and Trey are obviously a duo. Why do you think the contestants did not vote her out in the round where you nominated LeAnn for elimination?
Lorenzo: They didn't even vote because I introduced her three quarters of the queue. If I nominated her [as the] second person there, maybe. But also, maybe people are like, feel empathy towards, oh, there's the mother and the son. Maybe people liked their stories. Mine was more retaliation, just straight up retaliation. I knew I was gonna go out and I was like, I just want to vote her back to make her feel a bit of spice. But I knew she wasn't gonna go out.
TV Guide: The players before you were eliminated in Episode 2 when they couldn't reach a majority decision for deciding the shapes in "Dalgona." What made you decide to go with the umbrella?
Spencer: I was in the show to ultimately try to win the money and to make as many friends as I could. And if I didn't make a decision, someone else would have to. So if I didn't make a choice with this group of three other people, then the three of them would have to be leaving as well. If I gave myself the harder route, then I know at least I'm making their time a little easier.
The first five episodes of Squid Game: The Challenge are available to stream on Netflix, with the next batch of episodes premiering Nov. 29.