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.
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