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Season 15: Episode 1 - SURVIVOR: CHINA Begins
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

The highly anticipated SURVIVOR: CHINA has begun. On night three, the journey ends for Steve "Chicken" Morris, the 47-year-old chicken farmer from Marion, Virginia. Stubborn and unable to coexist peacefully in his new tribe, he is the first person voted out of the game. After his torch is extinguished at Tribal Council, Chicken gives his final words. "It was kind of a shock that the young group didn't come together. I don't think they ever will. They're just playing by the seat of their pants. It's truly an honor to be here with out a doubt."

Welcome to China
Transported back in time, 16 Americans from various walks of life begin the adventure of a lifetime in the mysterious land of China. Upon arrival at an ancient Buddhist temple, the Survivors are greeted by host Jeff Probst and participate in a traditional welcome ceremony. Tears streaking her face, Peih-Gee, the 29-year-old jeweler from Marina Del Rey, California, describes the emotion of being in the land of her ancestors. "Being Chinese, it's so amazing, coming to do Survivor in China. My grandfather passed away a couple weeks ago. He would have just gotten such a kick out of seeing me here, doing this." Leslie, a 38-year-old Christian radio talk show host, quietly stepped out of the ceremony and wept for her own reason. "I'm a believer in Jesus Christ and in the Bible it said thou shall not bow down to any other god. It really felt like worship." Out of her element, Courtney, the 26-year-old New York City waitress, finds the ceremony exasperating. "I'm not trying to be a monk here. I'm tired; I want to go sit back with a lemonade, I don't wanna be like bowing 37 times. We bowed for like days, I swear to God."

Jeff Probst tells the castaways they will be wearing the clothes on their backs for the next 39 days. He then divides the Survivors into tribes and sends them off to their new homes. The yellow tribe, Zhan Hu, meaning Fighting Tiger, consists of Frosti, Dave, Jaime, Erik, Peih-Gee, Sherea, Ashley and Chicken. The red tribe, Fei Long, meaning Flying Dragon, consists of Jean-Robert, Leslie, Amanda, Courtney, Denise, James, Todd and Aaron.

First Impressions
Arriving at their new home in celebration, the Fei Long tribe prioritizes working on their shelter before nightfall. As work continues, Courtney becomes increasingly annoyed at her new tribe's positive energy. "I seemed to be marooned in a land of flight attendants and Sunday school teachers. This is like my own private hell." Meanwhile, while exploring the land surrounding their camp, Jean-Robert approaches Todd in order to test his strategy. Calling on his professional poker player skills, Jean-Robert explains, "My conversation with Todd was deliberate. I wanted him to know, listen, I know that you're the clever guy. I'm on to you."

Frustrations Begin
Upon arriving at their barren tribe camp, the boisterous Zhan Hu tribe assesses their bleak situation, while Ashley sizes up her competition. "I wrestle for a living," she explains. "There is a competitive nature that you have in the locker room. That's a great positive that I'm going to have going into this game." Later, as the tribe squanders precious time with no plans to build a shelter, frustration sets in for camping-savvy Chicken. "I live in the woods," explains Chicken. "I got a lot of experience over these characters. I was just giving my opinion and nobody wanted it so you know, I'm done suggesting."

Grave Concerns
Back at Fei Long, James and Aaron hack through the surrounding trees for lumber to reinforce their shelter. When Leslie approaches a quiet James in order to get to know him, James confides his concerns about the social aspect of the game. "I'm a gravedigger. I like that work because I'm by myself. That's part of my problem over here now. The whole initiation of the social thing, talking and trying to strategize, that's going to kill me."

Looks Can Be Deceiving
As a heavy lightning storm rips through the Zhan Hu camp, the shelter-less tribe huddles together for warmth in the pouring rain. At sunrise, Ashley lays crippled on the ground, as she has fallen ill while the rest of the tribe works on the shelter. "I've wrestled with a hundred and four fever before," moans Ashley in disbelief. "I have to stay in the game. Hopefully it'll pass." Observing Ashley, Dave is unimpressed with the tough-nosed woman of the WWE. "I thought [Ashley] would be a much stronger person considering her profession and how her demeanor is, but if Ashley's health stays the same, Ashley's going first."

Follow the Leader?
Anxious for their first Immunity Challenge, the Fei Long tribe looks to the Art of War for guidance before battle. The text details the need for a commander, so Todd seizes the opportunity to deflect responsibility off of him and coyly elects Aaron as Fei Long's leader. "Aaron's a very strong player," explains Todd, wheels in motion. "I'm very smart in trying to push the leader role onto Aaron because I don't want to take that position." Hesitant at first, Aaron reluctantly accepts his position in the tribe. "Being in the leadership role," says Aaron, "It's not someplace that I want to be. But leadership is going for it and I'm ready."

Immunity Challenge: Dragon Dance
The tribes meet for their first Immunity Challenge, where Jeff Probst explains the rules. Each tribe will be connected to and carrying a heavy ceremonial mascot. They will maneuver through a series of obstacles on their way to a locked gate. Once at the gate, one tribe member will scale two walls, releasing a drawbridge at each wall, retrieve a key, and race back to unlock the gate, freeing the rest of their tribe. Next, they will make their way through a swamp to the finish platform, where they will solve a puzzle. First tribe to do so wins flint and Immunity.

The race begins with the tribes trudging through the muddy course, maneuvering side-by-side as they make their way to the locked gate. Frosti and James are neck-and-neck as they catapult themselves over the walls. But when Frosti forgets to lower the drawbridge and has to go back, he gives James from Fei Long a narrow lead.

Carrying the awkward and heavy mascots, both tribes make their way through the waist deep swamp. Fei Long reaches the finish platform first. They start on their puzzle as the swamp slows the Zhan Hu tribe. Zhan Hu can never catch up, as Fei Long solves the puzzle, winning flint and Immunity.

Worth Your Weight 
With Tribal Council looming, an emotional Peih-Gee clashes with Chicken as they attempt to reinforce their shelter. He refuses to lend his expertise. Exasperated, Peih-Gee laments. "Chicken won't give an opinion on how he thinks anything should be done. It's not worth anything to me if he chooses not to apply his strengths." Confident his work ethic is an essential contribution to the tribe, Chicken targets the once-sick Ashley. "I feel like Ashley's going. She ain't done nothing since she landed down there." Meanwhile, realizing she may be a target, Ashley worries about her own fate. "I would hate to think that one day of being sick would dominate over everything."

In the end, at Tribal Council, Ashley is spared when the votes are read. Chicken gets plucked from the game and becomes the first casualty of SURVIVOR: CHINA.