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Steve "Chicken" Morris the first castaway cut from 'Survivor: China'

By Christopher Rocchio, 09/21/2007 

After getting off to a rough start with his fellow castaways, Steve "Chicken" Morris decided to turn tail and keep his opinions to himself rather than ruffle any more feathers.  However his new strategy also failed and as a result, the 47-year-old chicken farmer from Marion, VA became the first castaway eliminated from Survivor: China during last night's premiere broadcast of the long-running CBS reality competition series.

"There's no one more proud to have been such a small part of one big adventure," Chicken said once he was booted.  "It was truly an honor to be here, without a doubt."

Survivor: China's premiere episode began with the fifteenth season's 16 castaways leaving the bustle of downtown Shanghai and traveling to HuangPu Mountain's Mi Tuo Temple to participate in a Buddhist ceremony.  While host Jeff Probst described it was a welcoming ceremony and not worship, it still struck a religious chord with Leslie Nease, a 38-year-old Christian radio talk show host from Tega Cay, SC.

"I'm a believer in Jesus Christ, and in the Bible, it says 'though shall not bow down to any other gods,'" said Leslie.  "It really felt like worship... I just couldn't do it.  It was emotional for me because I knew I did the right thing but it was so hard."

Once outside the Temple, Jeff asked Leslie about her decision to leave the ceremony before it was over.

"I'm not a religious person but I have a relationship with Jesus Christ," she answered.  "The only time I'm going to put my face on the floor is for Him... I really don't want to be disrespectful but it felt like worship."

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Jeff then instructed the castaways to leave all their worldly possessions behind before they would travel to Zhelin Lake, an enormous man-made reservoir lake in China's Jiangxi Province.  But first tribes were decided.  Each castaway had a bag with their name on it, and each bag contained either a red or yellow buff.  Red buffs represented Fei Long ("Flying Dragon") and yellow buffs meant Zhan Hu ("Fighting Tiger"). 

The Fei Long tribe consisted of Leslie; Jean-Robert Bellande, a 36-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV; James Clement, a 30-year-old grave digger from Lafayette, LA; Todd Herzog, a 22-year-old flight attendant from Pleasant Grove, UT; Amanda Kimmel, a 23-year-old hiking guide and Miss Montana USA 2005 from Los Angeles, CA; Denise Martin, a 40-year-old school lunch lady from Douglas, MA; Aaron Reisberger, a 32-year-old surfing instructor and bartender from Venice, CA; and Courtney Yates, a 26-year-old waitress from New York, NY.

The Zhan Hu tribe consisted of Chicken; Dave Cruser, a 37-year-old former model and bartender from Simi Valley, CA; Jaime Dugan, a 22-year-old student from Columbia, SC; Erik Huffman, a 26-year-old musician from Nashville, TN; Peih-Gee Law, a 29-year-old jeweler from Marina Del Rey, CA who was born in Hong Kong; Sherea Lloyd, a 26-year-old elementary school teacher from Atlanta, GA; Ashley Massaro, a 28-year-old WWE professional wrestler from East Northport, NY; and Michael "Frosti" Zernow, a 20-year-old parkour athlete/student from Chicago.

Prior to embarking to their camps, which are situated on two separate islands, Jeff gave each tribe a copy of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" as well as a map to find where they were going.

As Fei Long rowed across the lake, Aaron said he was thinking about how he could be the tribe's leader but do so as "subtle as possible."  Once they arrived at their camp, Fei Long found they were given rice and realized the importance of keeping it dry, which was magnified when it immediately started raining.  They also decided that constructing a shelter by nightfall was their highest priority, however Courtney quickly became annoyed by her tribe's whistle-while-you-work mentality.

"I seem to be sort of marooned in a land of flight attendants and Sunday school teachers," said Courtney.  "I live in New York, people don't act like this.  This is like my own private hell.  These are like the exactly kind of people I don't like being around."

Jean-Robert and Todd went out for a walk and were able to locate where the tribe's Tree Mail would be delivered, but the professional poker player also took the opportunity to try and read the young Survivor fan's approach to the game.  Despite the personality Todd had displayed so far, Jean-Robert called him a "clever guy."

"My conversation with Todd was deliberate," explained Jean-Robert.  "I wanted him to know, listen, I know that you're the clever guy. I'm on to you."  But Todd also knew what he was doing.

"Jean-Robert was very right.  I will do whatever I need to do to win that $1 million," said Todd.  "I can't have someone walking around saying, 'Watch out for Todd.'  I'm saying, 'Watch out for Jean-Robert,' now."

Sherea was the first to encounter a problem at Zhan Hu, as she found herself wearing a dress and high heels, explaining she's "not an outdoorsy girl" and so far Survivor was "way harder" than she expected.  As Zhan Hun began to construct their shelter, it was a slow-going process and Chicken's suggestions on how to help were not being heeded.

"I live in the woods," he said. "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."

As it started to rain and Ashley explained her role as a WWE "diva," Peih-Gee began to share in Chicken's frustration and described her tribe as "lazy."  When she asked Chicken what he thought should be done for shelter, he was apparently still stung from not being listened to earlier.

"I'm just along for the ride," he told her.

Fei Long was working well together as a tribe, chopping down trees to build their shelter.  Leslie noticed James was being quiet and decided to chat him up, only to learn that he works as a grave digger, hence his poor social skills.

"I like that work because I'm by myself," explained James.  "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."

It rained all night on both tribes, and Chicken called it a "reality check" for the shelter-less Zhan Hu.  He couldn't have been more correct, as Ashley spent the whole day "pretty sick" as she dry-heaved, had the chills and rolled up in a ball on the ground.  Dave commented how he thought she would have been a lot stronger but assured her that the weak condition she was in wouldn't cost her if they went to Tribal Council.  Apparently, he lied.

"If Ashley's health stays the same, Ashley's going first," he said.

The tribes then received their first piece of Tree Mail, which led them to believe they'd be competing in their first Immunity Challenge.  Fei Long decided it might not be a bad idea to read some of "The Art of War," which they proceeded to do.  Upon reading about the need for a leader, Todd instantly nominated Aaron to take the focus off of himself.

"I'm very smart in trying to push the leader role onto Aaron because I don't want to take that position," explained Todd. None the wiser to Todd's scheme, Aaron accepted the position.  "Being in the leadership role, it's not someplace that I want to be. But leadership is going for it and I'm ready."

Once both tribes arrived, Jeff explained the rules for the first Immunity Challenge. 

Each tribe would be tethered to and carrying a heavy ceremonial mascot, which they'd have to maneuver with through a series of obstacles on their way to a locked gate. Once at the gate, one tribe member would scale two walls, release a drawbridge at each wall, retrieve a key, and race back to unlock the gate to free the rest of their tribe. Both tribes would then have to make their way through a swamp to the finish platform, where they would solve a puzzle. First tribe to do so won flint for fire and Immunity.

Denise fell early for Fei Long but it didn't impact them too severely, as both tribes were neck-and-neck as they approached the locked gate.  In the front for their respective tribes, James and Frosti began to launch themselves over the walls without the use of ropes and continued to stay even until Frosti -- the youngest castaway in Survivor history -- forgot to lower one of his drawbridges, allowing James and Fei Long to take the lead.

Both tribes maneuvered through the cumbersome swamp while carrying the heavy mascots, but Fei Long was able to reach the finish platform and solve the puzzle first, claiming the first Immunity Challenge as well as flint (Zhan Hu received their flint at the upcoming Tribal Council).

When Zhan Hu arrived back at their camp, Peih-Gee immediately began to cry.  "It is hard out here," she said.  "More so than I ever imagined."  David implored the tribe to continue to work together as a team and not dwell on the "unfortunate business" of Tribal Council.  However problems quickly arose between Chicken and Peih-Gee, as he still stubbornly would not give any thoughts on building the shelter while she took a hard-lined leadership role and sought out his opinion.

"Chicken won't give an opinion on how he thinks anything should be done," commented Peih-Gee.  "It's not worth anything to me if he chooses not to apply his strengths." 

Ashley criticized Peih-Gee for taking a leadership role only minutes after crying, and also assured that she was no longer sick and ready to compete.  But Chicken still talked with Frosti about voting Ashley out because she did so little work the previous day.

"I feel like Ashley's going.  That's what I'm writing down tonight," said Chicken.  "She ain't done nothing since she landed down there."  He also told Frosti how he too felt insecure.  "Whatever happens happens.  I don't even know if I'm 100% safe tonight."  Dave explained that in his opinion, Ashley, Peih-Gee and Chicken were the ones on the chopping block.  However he still assured Chicken he wouldn't vote for him to be eliminated.

Survivor: China then held its first Tribal Council, and Peih-Gee immediately complained about having to sleep in mud instead of a shelter.  "It took us two days to [build a shelter], we should have had it by dark the first day," Chicken told Jeff, who asked if Chicken decided to take a leadership role.

"I'm not grabbing the bull by the horns," he said.  "But I guess somebody's going to have to."  Jeff then asked who wanted to be the leader, and Dave and Peih-Gee both nominated themselves.

Dave said Zhan Hu needed to "trim the least productive people" out of the tribe; Chicken said the "person who's done the least the last three days" would receive his vote; and Eric added "contributions are huge" and so "we're going to have to hold each other accountable."  All of those comments made Ashley feel uncomfortable.

"I kind of feel like if you broke it down by day, I was throwing up, I was laying down," she said.  "I pretty much was feeling like I was going to die.  I guess if you put that in the equation, then I would have technically been the one who's done the least amount of work.  I don't think I should be judged on that."

Jeff then asked Chicken how he was fitting in.

"I don't fit in," said Chicken.  "But I'm not the one who's done the least amount of work.  When you're outside in the middle of a jungle, do you want the guy that don't fit in, or do you want the guy who works?  If we don't open our eyes, we're going to be seeing you a lot."

Chicken didn't have to worry about having to face Jeff again at Tribal Council, as Zhan Hu voted him out of their tribe.  Frosti, Jaime, Eric, Peih-Gee and Sherea all voted for Chicken; he and Dave voted for Ashley; and she voted for Peih-Gee.

"Chicken, the tribe has spoken," said Jeff as he snuffed out the oldest Survivor: China castaway's torch. 

"I heard 'em," answered Chicken.

"It was kind of a shock the young group didn't come together, and I don't think they ever will," said Chicken once he was ousted.  "They're just playing by the seat of their pants.  I put a lot of thought into it, but I never got nowhere."

Survivor: China's next episode will air Thursday, September 27 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.

(Photo credit Monty Brinton/CBS)

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