Challenge Final Reckoning Game Breakdown: The Tori Dilemma
Tori Deal is a mostly enjoyable presence, whose personality might have been filtered into the Challenge world a little too much. Despite this only being Tori’s 2nd season on the main show, she has already appeared on 5 Challenges (including spin-offs) and has appeared in 7 MTV shows in the last 26 months.
On June 13th of 2016, Tori Deal appeared on the premiere of Are You The One? Season 4. She wore a cute blue dress/romper, impressed people with her twerking skill, and seemed like an all-around fun girl. Tori had an up and down season, where she eventually stuck to one guy (Morgan St. Pierre) in the second half. She was a fun and flirty girl who could also strike relationships and connections. I feel confident in stating that Tori was the star of the season. Following this appearance she dueled with Devin on AYTO Second Chances, finishing in 2nd with Morgan. While Devin won the show, it was apparent that Tori would be the more dangerous competitor on the Challenge.
When Tori finally appeared on the Challenge, she crushed it by winning challenges, winning an elimination, socially maneuvering through the game like a pro, and finishing 3rd in a final where she held her own against two champions. Tori was primed to succeed and she did just that. She was a hit with fans and MTV alike.
During Champs vs Stars 2, Jenna got injured, Camila DQed, and Ashley had to quit, therefore Tori joined the Champs team, it seemed premature, but understandable, given that she was a last minute replacement. Similarly, when she appeared as a Mercenary on Vendettas, it seemed a bit too early to name her a heavy hitter. Then again, the other female mercenary was Aneesa who has had her strong moments, but not as many in recent years. At the end of the day it was fine, just as it was when she appeared on Champs vs Stars 3 considering the rest of the cast.
The REAL issue is that Tori is now on her 7th show and we still do not know her. Seriously, Tori gives cute confessionals and reactions, but how often do we get to see Tori actually talk about her wants and desires. On Dirty 30, she briefly mentioned that if she won she would visit the Grand Canyon with her father. This season, she made a callback to that remark by saying she could buy the Grand Canyon with the win. I’m guessing only about 20 challenge fans figured that out in the moment. However, that small moment in which she talked about her family and the things she cares about outside is where we got to see the real Tori.
So much about Tori on the Challenge and on MTV in general has been about her relationships. Her first season on the Challenge, she came in with a boyfriend in Derrick Henry. During the first few episodes, she was always hoping Derrick would do well alongside her. When he got eliminated, she had to become her own competitor and, during this time, she mostly took a backseat to all the drama around her, except when she was one of the few outsiders to actually curse out Camila.
After this, her entire storyline became wrapped up with Jordan. They made a connection at the end of the season, developed feelings for one another and hooked up. Revisionist history likes to say she was carried by Jordan, but in reality, she was a good competitor who also hooked up with Jordan. The reunion had a long section dedicated to the fallout of Tori and Derrick’s relationship. Obviously, cheating on your boyfriend who is also part of the show is not cool and should be noted somewhere — it sucked on the reunion and was honestly irrelevant, considering Derrick was not on Dirty 30, for the most part. Thereafter, Tori’s mercenary elimination against Kam created an entire “Rookie of the Year” debate. Fans got caught up on this debate way too much, often dragging both girls for their weaknesses and dissing them for whenever they fail rather than simply acknowledging both are awesome.
It is MTV’s fault as well, they stirred that pot way more than they needed to.
So much of Tori’s life on the Challenge is directly correlated to people around her, which sucks because her stand-alone character cannot be grown. Moreover, productions give her all the extra confessionals and reaction faces to fill in the gaps and narrate, similar to how Paula Meronek and Sarah Rice would fill in during their time on the show. We are getting so much Tori on our television screens without actually getting to know her, and getting tired of it. Tori is like a piece of white bread who has been in the toaster for nine seconds — a piece of food that is palatable, but unfortunately, is not something you want day in and day out.
At the same time, it is also Tori’s fault. She plays a veteran type game, trying to befriend everyone whilst remaining low on drama. Maybe Tori is not giving confessionals where she talks about herself, or maybe we’re simply not seeing the footage. She has become a caricature on this show because we do not get to see the real Tori. If you deep dive through all of Tori’s outside endeavors, she is an interesting person; she played college soccer, makes her own music, spent time working as a journalist interviewing musicians, owns a clothing company with a friend, and is grinding for her chance to make it to the next level. We do not see that Tori on the show. The most recent episode saw Tori strike a deal with Zach and getting pissed when she learns Cara (who she is aligned with) did not vote as agreed. That was awesome because we saw active gameplay and we need to see more of that, more of Tori talking about her life, more of Tori providing opinion rather than summarizing events and then we get a more entertaining Challenger.
Tori has gotten a bad wrap within the franchise, where fans diss her as a competitor because they are tired of the version they are getting. In reality, Tori is a good competitor who will only improve over time. Hopefully, we get to see a more of Tori’s true personality during the rest of Final Reckoning and in the future.