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Abby Meta - part 1. Episode 1.1

I have to admit, when lsellersfic asked me to do an Abby meta for the primeval_denial team fest, I had no idea I was going to enjoy it this much, and I also had no idea it was going to be quite this long (it's almost hit 30,000 words at the last count, and I haven't even got to the end of series 3 yet!). Anyway, I've tackled it on an episode by episode basis, because, as one of the core characters, it's impossible to summarise everything about Abby in a short post.

I've adopted a similar approach as cordeliadelayne's Stephen Meta (and which I may occasionally reference where it's relevant for the relationship between Abby and Stephen).

It probably goes without saying, but there will be spoilers for all episodes ;-)

So, let's start at the beginning...

Series 1, episode 1

The first time we meet Abby she is sitting inside a reptile enclosure watching two lizards, and talking to them.

Abby: Come on guys. What are you waiting for? Soft lighting and a Frank Sinatra record?

When her boss, Tim, approaches and asks about the lizards, she jokes about their lack of mating with comments like, “Oh, totally, gay,” and, “Maybe they just don’t fancy each other.”

Tim then tells Abby that the sponsors have pulled out and he has to ‘slim down’ the reptile programme. Abby immediately understands where this is going and looks away from him for a moment before replying, “And let me guess. My job comes under the heading of instant weight loss.”

Tim is extremely apologetic, and suggests an attachment going at the bug house, and that he will put in a good word for her. Abby replies, “I’m a lizard girl, Tim. You know that.”

Tim drops a pile of papers he’d been carrying, and Abby picks them up and sees photos of Ben and Rex, and she immediately seems interested and smiles again, despite her understandably upset and angry mood only moments before. In the time it takes for Tim to answer his phone and get rid of the caller, Abby has apparently come to a decision, and offers to go and collect the lizard in the photos, and then asks about the attachment at the bug house with apparent enthusiasm. Tim tells her it’s a six month project studying the life cycles of parasites in elephant dung, to which Abby replies (while walking away with a spring in her step), “Sounds unmissable!”

We learn a lot about Abby in this first scene. She loves animals, and describes herself as “A lizard girl”. She has a sense of humour, making fun of the lizards’ refusal to mate, and more likely at the fact that the zoo clearly brought the two animals together with the express intention of breeding, and yet the animals simply follow their instincts and don’t conform to what humans want from them.

It also shows her as being flexible and pragmatic – after the initial hurt reaction has worn off, Abby decides to accept the alternative job even though it is not in her area of interest and expertise, because she presumably recognises that any job that allows her to continue working with animals is better than no job at all. And, possibly, she may also be thinking that if she stays with the zoo and further funding appears at a later date for the lizard programme, she’s almost certainly going to be top of Tim’s list of people to work on it.

The next time we see Abby she arrives at Ben’s house and is taken to the boy’s bedroom, where she immediately establishes a rapport with Ben by commenting on his obvious love of dinosaurs (the room is full of dinosaur toys and figures). She hears Rex chittering, and when she sees Rex for the first time there’s obvious curiosity and also pure delight in her expression.

Ben: His name’s Rex. I found him in the forest. I looked him up in a book and it said he was a flying dragon from Southeast Asia.
Abby: Draco volans. (pause) He’s not a Draco volens.
Ben: No?
Abby: In fact I don’t know what he is.
Ben: I thought you were an expert?
Abby: I am. If I’m right you’ve discovered a completely unique species.
Ben: Oh, cool.
Abby: I need you to show me exactly where you found him.

Again this shows more of Abby’s credentials as the resident animal expert, and also her love and fascination for lizards of all types. She immediately recognises that Rex is not a Draco volens, and must be incredibly sure of herself to announce that he’s a unique species without consulting any sort of reference first. She is intrigued and excited, and wants to know more.

We next see Abby and Ben in the Forest of Dean, with Abby carrying Rex wrapped in a shawl or scarf of some kind. She comments, “It’s too cold for him here. He must have escaped from a private zoo or something.” A perfectly reasonable assumption based on all facts available at this point.

Then they see the dead cow up in the tree, and hear a roar in the distance. Abby’s reaction is entirely silent, and her expression seems to be more one of worry and shock, rather than outright fear.

Ben runs away, and Abby runs after him, but is apparently hampered by carrying Rex and falls behind. Ben suggests it was a leopard – they sometimes drag their prey into trees. Abby replies, “Don’t be silly Ben. How many leopards are there in the Forest of Dean?” Nevertheless, Ben continues to run away. Abby chases him, shouting for him to slow down and wait for her. It’s worth noting that Abby doesn’t appear to make any attempt to comfort or calm Ben down at this point, and in fact she’s a little short and dismissive at his comment about it being a leopard. True, she’s just had quite a shock herself, but she doesn’t waste time on empty platitudes, and she’s more concerned that they don’t split up.

Abby eventually loses sight of Ben, and then she either trips, or else Rex startles her, because she appears to stumble and Rex flies out of her arms. Abby stands and stares, amazed and enthralled, as Rex glides around. When Rex lands in the undergrowth, she follows and talks to him, trying to coax him out rather than attempt to follow Ben. She suddenly becomes aware of a large creature approaching, and immediately freezes and stays in the relative cover of the undergrowth, watching the reflection of the animal in the stream as the gorgonopsid goes past.

This is Abby’s first real brush with danger, and her reaction is based on her knowledge of animals – stay still and quiet and not attract attention, rather than to run screaming.

When we next see Abby she has Rex again, and it has now become dark and she is apparently lost in the forest. She stumbles across the scutosaurus, and again her reaction when faced with a large, unknown animal, is to freeze, and then to back away slowly, even when the creature bellows at her.

Cutter and the others appear, and Cutter tells her, “Don’t move,” which is slightly redundant at this point. Abby asks, “Is it real?” and Cutter proceeds to speculate about it perhaps being an experiment, before asking who Abby is. She replies, “Abby Maitland. I’m a keeper at Wellington Zoo.”

Why does she feel the need to add her job title when introducing herself? She seems rather annoyed, or at the very least put out by Cutter’s question, so perhaps she thinks that if they know she works with animals then they won’t immediately dismiss her from the conversation. When Cutter speculates that it might be, “Some kind of anapsid,” Abby responds with incredulity (and, for the benefit of the viewers, “A tortoise?”). She then proves her credentials and knowledge of animal behaviour by telling Cutter, “Stay in his field of vision, you’re making him nervous.” Cutter, to his credit, does as he’s told, implying that he recognises her skills, and is willing to accept Abby’s judgement when it comes to dealing with animals.

Throughout this exchange, Abby seems shocked, but also fascinated and intrigued. She wants to know what the creature is and where it came from, as she did when she first saw Rex. Already, Abby and Cutter are pooling their knowledge, and the mixture of Cutter’s academic theory with Abby’s practical experience of animals is something that will work well for the team for the first two series.

Later, when discussing the situation with Claudia, Abby backs up Cutter’s assertion that the scutosaurus isn’t a predator. Despite not knowing it’s exact species, or even that it is a creature from the past, Abby has recognised that it was a herbivore.

When they eventually return to Ben’s house, Abby is clearly not entirely comfortable with lying about what they saw in the forest (although possibly more because she doesn’t want to hurt Ben’s feelings rather than necessarily because she doesn’t agree with the cover up). She doesn’t object to Cutter’s cover story that she got ‘carried away’ and simply misidentified Rex, although it must grate on her to have to admit that she was wrong, when she knows she wasn’t.

At the anomaly site the following morning, Stephen brings Abby a cup of coffee, and asks how she’s feeling. Abby replies, “Confused, frightened... exhilarated.” At this point she doesn’t actually sound frightened at all, and is smiling as she adds ‘exhilarated’. As Rex is carried away in a cage, Abby asks Stephen, “You don’t think they’ll hurt him?” She doesn’t look entirely convinced by Stephen’s, “Of course not.”

In the Home Office, Abby again expresses concern for Rex when they watch the government scientists examining him. She isn’t afraid to tell Lester that the scientists are mishandling Rex, and that, “They don’t know what they’re doing.” Implying, of course, that she believes that she does know what she’s doing. In the next sequence, when Rex gets loose, we see Abby’s sense of fun even in a serious situation as she and Claudia chase Rex up and down the building, and again her rapport with Rex as she tries to persuade him to come down from the open window by tempting him with food. She seems genuinely upset when Rex flies away, and both happy and pleased with herself when he flies back into her arms.

Later, back at the anomaly site, Abby is the one who hands Rex over to Cutter as he prepares to go through the anomaly. She tells Cutter to look after Rex, and then adds, “Look after yourself, too.” And she gives Cutter a quick peck on the cheek, a surprisingly intimate gesture for someone she has known for less than twenty four hours at this point. Abby does look slightly self-conscious as soon as she’s done it, so presumably it was a spur of the moment thing considering what was about to happen.

When Ryan and Cutter return though the anomaly, Abby gathers around with the others, but as soon as she becomes aware that Rex has also returned, she slips away from the group and gathers Rex up in her scarf again. (Quite where she managed to hide Rex long enough to take him home without anyone noticing is another question entirely!)

Link to part 2 - episode 1.2

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Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

28 comments or Leave a comment
nietie From: nietie Date: April 16th, 2012 01:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for a great meta of ep 1.

I liked Abby instantly. A girl, that, despite her height and pixie looks, seems very competent.

Quite where she managed to hide Rex long enough to take him home without anyone noticing is another question entirely! LOL Indeed!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. I have to admit I think actually doing this meta has made me like Abby even more than I did before, because I've noticed so many more details.

Abby is definitely competent, and that comes out more in later episodes, I think.
From: sandyleepotts Date: April 16th, 2012 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

I really enjoyed that.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you enjoyed it.
dreamer_98 From: dreamer_98 Date: April 16th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great first part! It was cool to review the beginning of Abby's character.

I admire you for doing a complete meta for her character, doing each episode of the series. Looking forward to reading the rest.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. We got a good impression of Abby from the first episode - she may be small, but she's certainly no damsel in distress.

It's interesting doing it episode by episode, but Abby is such a core character and there are so many details it would be dificult to it any other way. Although some episodes are easier than others!

I hope you enjoy the rest, I'm intending to post more or less every day for the rest of the team fest.
luvconnor From: luvconnor Date: April 16th, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is great. I loved Abby from the get go, a very strong and self confident character. Knowing Abby as I do know, she prob gave Cutter that peck on the cheek becasue she has good instincts about people, she knew right away that he was a good man. Lookning forward to more :)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Abby is definitely very confident, but she also doesn't show off her skills and knowledge either, which is one of the great things about her. She's smart, confident and capable, without being showy or *over* confident.

I did love the way the original team all seemed to bond and trust each other right from the start, it's one of the lovely things about the show and the characters.
fredbassett From: fredbassett Date: April 16th, 2012 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great start, thanks. This brings out a lot of details I hadn't really picked up on at the time, such as Abby's reactions to the first sight of the creatures. Calm and assessing, not frightened.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've noticed loads of little details as I've been doing this that I'd never spotted before. Her 'freeze and don't attract attention' strategy with large animals is definitely a recurring theme in several episodes.
clea2011 From: clea2011 Date: April 16th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
30,000 words! That's HUGE! *g* This is great, it'll be a really useful resource. I liked Abby right from the first ep, it'll be interesting to see a detailed look at her.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is huge, I'm slightly scraed by just how long it's getting now!

I think Abby definitely gets more interesting in the later episodes, when you start to notice recurring patterns of behaviour, and see the development of relationships with other characters. Ep 1 is a good introduction to Abby, but a lot of things don't start to appear until later episodes, occasionally even later series!
celeste9 From: celeste9 Date: April 16th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, this is one ambitious meta! Very nice so far, I liked Abby from the beginning and this is pretty much why. She was wonderfully competent and she called herself "a lizard girl". :)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Abby is defintely the lizard girl, and it's great to have such a confident, competent, and kickass woman on the team right from the start.

It's scarily huge, and I'm also intending to do Connor at some point, which I have a horrible feeling will be even longer!
knitekat From: knitekat Date: April 16th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
A great look at Abby at the beginning. Cheers.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, there's lots more to come!
telperion_15 From: telperion_15 Date: April 16th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is a great meta - it really brings out Abby's confidence and competence when it comes to dealing with the creatures.

I've definitely always interpreted that scene in Ben's bedroom as being a mixture of discomfort at having to disappoint Ben, and annoyance that she's being forced to pretend she may not have known what he was talking about after all (of course, at the same time I'm also being very amused at Ben's mother's complete denial about events!).
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 16th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, that's definitely one of the things that comes out in so many episodes, and the fact that Cutter trusts her knowledge right from the start.

Gah, you know what, that's exactly what I was trying to say about that scene in Ben's bedroom, but I was having a complete fail at finding the right way to describe it! Abby has always prided herself on being an expert, it's how she introduced herself to Ben, after all, so she must hate having to stand there and listen to Cutter saying that she was wrong when she knows she wasn't.

Lol, yes, that was quite some epic denial from Ben's mum!

natchris From: natchris Date: April 17th, 2012 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Fantastic look at Abby's introduction
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 17th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you liked it.
kristen_mara From: kristen_mara Date: April 17th, 2012 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Great job, looking forward to more!

**She doesn’t look entirely convinced by Stephen’s, “Of course not.”**

Neither did Stephen *G*

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 17th, 2012 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, I don't think any of them really believed thtat Rex was going to be fine if left with Lester's scientists. It's sweet of Stephen to try to protect her like that, but he hasn't learned at this point just how tough Abby really is!
lsellersfic From: lsellersfic Date: April 17th, 2012 10:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm looking forward to these immensely. It would be great to have a better handle on Abby.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 17th, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope my thoughts and interpretations can help people with details or new ways of looking at why she acts like she does. To be honest, *I'm* noticing loads of things that I hadn't thought of before I started doing this, so it's been useful for me as well.
cordeliadelayne From: cordeliadelayne Date: April 18th, 2012 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent start! I love how competent Abby obviously was from the get-go. It's got me all nostalgic *g*
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 19th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I do love that Abby has the knowledge and the confidence right from the start, that she isn't just there as a token woman. She doesn't become totally kick ass until later i the series, but she's immediately there in the important and hands-on role of animal expert.
reggietate From: reggietate Date: April 18th, 2012 09:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Great meta - I think this is going to be a very useful resource :-)

Edited at 2012-04-18 09:25 am (UTC)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 19th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. I'm really hoping people find it useful, or that it points out details or continuity they hadn't noticed before.
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