"They deserved to be there," executive producer Stephen Lambert tells EW about the three players who will battle it out for the $4.56 million prize.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Squid Game: The Challenge episodes 1-9.
After nine episodes of brutal games, savage betrayals, and dramatic eliminations, only three players remain heading into the season finale of Squid Game: The Challenge.
While 456 players entered Netflix's Squid Game reality spinoff, only Player 287/Mai, Player 451/Phill, and Player 16/Sam are left to battle it out in next week's finale for the $4.56 million prize. They each cemented their spot in the final three in episode 9's Circle of Trust game, which eliminated six players.
A blindfolded Phill was targeted in the game twice when Player 51/Rose and Player 278/Ashley each put the small gift box on his desk, leaving him up for elimination, but Phill correctly guessed who did it both times, sending each of them home instead. He also secretly targeted Player 355/Hallie, who couldn't figure out it was him and she was eliminated as a result. Mai successfully eliminated two players, first by placing the box on the desk of her ally, Player 418/Roland, but evading his suspicion. Then, she correctly guessed who targeted her, sending Player 429/Elliott home. Meanwhile Sam was neither targeted or had to target any other players, and he skated right through to the top three without any blood on his hands. Mai later lied to Phill and Sam about who she sent home since she didn't want either of them to distrust her heading into the finale.
"They clearly had come on a long journey, and they deserved to be there," executive producer Stephen Lambert tells EW of the top three. "It's a game of skill and luck, and they certainly had a lot of both of those things. It is a good mix, they're all interesting characters. We're glad that we had the diversity that is there among those three, and they all deserve to win."
Executive producer John Hay explains that, for the crew, it wasn't a surprise to see who made the final three. "We watched them earn their places through this very heightened game of Circle of Trust in different ways," Hay says. "Right at the outset, we knew we had to cast 456 people, any one of whom would've been an interesting and worthy winner. Fortunately, that did work, and they are all really interesting, impressive individuals."
The season finale of Squid Game: The Challenge premieres Wednesday, Dec. 6 on Netflix.
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