Among many things, Netflix’s ‘Squid Game: The Challenge‘ is most well-known for its ruthless nature as each and every player tries to put their interests in front of everything else. Hence, the friendships that do come alive in this competition are certainly some things that we cannot help but be interested in. Consider the connection that blossomed between Timothy “TJ” Stukes (Player 182) and Mai Whelan (Player 287), which did see its fair share of ups and downs, making the world very interested in whether or not this connection has stayed strong.
TJ and Mai’s Squid Game: The Challenge Journey
Over the course of events that unfolded in season 1 of the Netflix competition series, TJ Stukes and Mai Whelan came to respect each other very much and were tentative allies. “Mai, 287, is wise, super wise, and genuinely cares about people,” TJ shared in the show while talking about his fellow competitor. “There’s an age gap between us. However, I see her in me, and she sees me in her.” However, there did seem to be a bit of friction between them when the last 31 players were asked to choose a leader, a role then taken up by TJ.
Mai, who was also close to Chad Van Horn (Player 286), commented that she did not trust TJ, something that the latter agreed with. “TJ, he’s an entertainer. So, uh, in my mind, being an entertainer, they project a character that, you know, people want to see,” Mai explained. Even some of the other contestants could easily see Mai and Chad’s dissatisfaction with the idea that TJ was chosen as a leader.
On the other hand, TJ’s respect for Mai remained strong and steady, as evidenced by the fact that it was her that he chose to save first when given the chance to select one of the Top 20. This certainly seemed to change Mai’s attitude toward TJ, whom she later caught up to in order to express her gratitude. “Heart-to-heart. I owe you my undying loyalty. You have shown me actions are more powerful than words,” Mai told TJ emotionally. “You keep saying you got my back, but today, you have proven… you got my back.” She even confessed later to regretting her distrust of him.
In fact, TJ once again proved his regard for Mai during the bear claw game when he chose to have Mai be the last person to be on the Glass Bridge, an advantage that certainly helped her easily move through the challenge. Unfortunately, since TJ himself had been chosen as the first person to be on the same bridge, his chances were certainly slim. Even with the new strategy that the participants adopted, TJ, unfortunately, was evicted from the show while Mai went on to become one of the finalists.
TJ and Mai Likely Remain on Good Terms
Given how TJ Stukes and Mai Whelan interacted last in ‘Squid Game: The Challenge,’ we are inclined to believe that the two have remained friends. Given Mai’s lack of social media activity, one might not find the two often interacting on social media. However, that is far from the only measure of a friendship, and given how the two came to respect each other during a show that is well known for its ruthlessness, we are hopeful that this duo was able to maintain their friendship with each other. Presently, Mai serves as an Immigration Adjudicator in Fairfax County, Virginia, while TJ is Northern New Mexico College Men’s and Women’s Assistant Basketball Coach.