Season 36 of the MTV competition series premieres Wednesday

By Dana Rose Falcone
December 07, 2020 01:50 PM
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Tori Deal The Challenge 35
Credit: Riccardo Giardina/MTV

"When in your life are you going to get the opportunity to go to Iceland and body-slam bitches?" Tori Deal asks.

The answer: on season 36 of MTV's The Challenge: Double Agents.

The competition series returns Wednesday, with the new season bringing 20 vets and 10 rookies to Iceland amid the COVID-19 pandemic to compete for their share of $1 million. Before stepping on set, competitors quarantined in a hotel for one week, during which Deal says she couldn't stop guessing what was ahead for her on the show.

"While we're stuck in the hotel room, let me tell you what we're not thinking about: anything not Challenge related," the 27-year-old tells PEOPLE. "We're all trying to figure out the plot and what could the season possibly be? We don't know anything."

When Deal and her castmates started filming, they learned that Double Agents would be the format for this season. While she remains tight-lipped about what, exactly, that means for how the game will be played, Deal teases, "It's literally the most complicated, but still intense, game I've ever played. The game makers and the producers really figured out how to f— the cast in the best way possible."

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Quarantining in the same hotel as her competitors, without knowing who they would be, added to the intensity of the game this time around.

"You're looking out the rooms hoping to see somebody else from the cast, but nobody really knows who's there," five-time competitor Deal says. "So when people do find out that other people are there, that's when those people start talking and it's almost like this preseason gameplay and it gets kind of political. The mental game starts from the jump."

Being sequestered in a hotel room also gave her a chance to hone in on her puzzle skills for the show. "I've never practiced math and puzzles before," she admits. "Let me tell you what I was doing when I was quarantined in that hotel room. I was doing long division."

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Walking in and seeing how many rookies — including Olympian Lolo Jones, former WWE wrestler Lio Jones and Survivor winner Natalie Anderson would be competing made Deal nervous, she admits.

"It's always scary when there's a big number of new people because you just don't know how they play the game," Deal explains. "When you play with a bunch of vets, you kind of have an idea. You do like to see familiar faces, believe it or not, but then again sometimes you see people and I'm like, 'He never liked me, or he never liked [ex-fiancé] Jordan' so I'm like, 'Is that going to bleed over into my gameplay?'"

Deal competed without Jordan Wiseley — who she split from last month after getting engaged on War of the Worlds 2 in 2019 — and appreciated the opportunity to navigate the game on her own.

"It was good to see what it felt like to try to play that game by myself with my own way of doing it because I play very differently than Jordan," she says. "It was nice to experience that alone again."

The Challenge
Jordan Wiseley and Tori Deal
| Credit: MTV

Deal says Jones, 38, and Anderson, 34, brought "another level of athleticism" to The Challenge. "It's terrifying seeing girls who are that physically strong come on the show, because as a female you're like, 'Oh my God, am I going to go into Hall Brawl against her?"' the Tori Dealing with... podcast host adds. "Knowing that there are girls on the cast that are so fit, it's always scary."

But Deal looked forward to competing against them. "Hell yeah!" she says. "I might lose, but at least I'm going to go down saying I lost to Lolo Jones."

tori deal, Aneesa Ferreira
Tori Deal (left) and Aneesa Ferreira

Deal will relive all of the upcoming season's challenges, eliminations and drama on the new iHeartPodcast podcast MTV’s Official Challenge Podcast, which she'll host with fellow vet Aneesa Ferreira. And Deal promises they'll reveal "every dirty little secret" from the show on the weekly episodes.

"There are so many differences between what you see on TV and what you're going to hear on this podcast, because we lived it," she continues. "We know all of the little things that production changed around. This is the first time that MTV's ever letting us go behind the scenes of The Challenge, so you're going to hear so many things that you would never see because we are unfiltered."

The Challenge: Double Agents Declassified sneak peek special airs Monday (8 p.m. ET) on MTV ahead of Wednesday's premiere (8 p.m. ET). The first episode of MTV’s Official Challenge Podcast drops Thursday on the iHeartPodcast Network.