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Abby Meta - part 4. Episode 1.4

Series 1, episode 4

When we first see Abby in this episode, she is in the bathroom of the flat where there was a suspected creature sighting, holding a python. While Stephen appears nervous of handling it, Abby is clearly in her element, and has no trouble taking it off his hands, and actually seems fairly amused by his reaction (she probably thought someone with such an action-man image wouldn’t be afraid of snakes). As usual, Abby is the go-to person for animal handling.

Once Stephen has left the room, Connor asks for a favour, and Abby brushes him off, pointing out that she’s a bit busy right then. Connor nevertheless ploughs ahead and says he’s having trouble with his flat and asks to stay on Abby’s sofa for a few days until he sorts something out. Abby again dismisses him with a, “Yeah, whatever. We’ll talk about it later.” Abby obviously means this as another brush off, but Connor equally obviously chooses to hear the ‘yeah, whatever’ without paying attention to the second part.

Abby is again playing with Rex when Connor turns up at her place with his bags. It’s difficult to tell what her reaction is to Connor’s announcement that he’s here for the room. She initially seems pleased to see him, but her expression becomes more guarded when she realises he wants to stay. This is rapidly followed by mock outrage when he nods in the direction of his friends, and say, “You couldn’t just give us a kiss, could you?” When Abby refuses, Connor reminds her that he knows she is hiding Rex from the authorities, and Abby gives him a quick peck on the cheek before finally letting him in.

I know a lot of people use this scene as an example of why they hate Connor, and I have to admit I have mixed feeling about it myself. Nevertheless, staying on topic with Abby, I think that if Abby thought for a moment that Connor meant it as a genuine threat, then she would have threatened him back with plenty of equally damning things, and slammed the door in his face. Their relationship in the previous two episodes has been shown to be gradually becoming closer and more friendly, and despite whatever misgivings she may have, she doesn’t want to see Connor out on the street with nowhere to go. Perhaps she takes him at his word that it will just be for a few days. Either way, she lets him in.

As Connor looks around the flat, we see a punch bag hanging in the background, presumably prefiguring Abby’s fight with Tom later in the episode.

Moments later Stephen appears at the flat as well, and Abby rushes to cover up Rex’s tank before Stephen can see him. As Abby attempts to cover herself up with a dressing gown, Stephen asks if he’s interrupting anything. Abby says, “God, no,” with a nervous, or possibly embarrassed laugh. Then Connor appears in his underwear as well, and Abby is quick to set Stephen right on the situation when Connor tries to imply that there is, in fact, something going on.

There is no sign of any discomfort or awkwardness with Stephen after the events of the previous episode. The only awkwardness here comes from the fact that Stephen has turned up at the worst possible moment, and Abby doesn’t want him to a) see Rex, or b) get the wrong idea about her and Connor. They both appear to have decided to just forget about their abortive attempt at dating, and never speak of it again.

Abby remains in the background for most of the scene in the kitchen where Helen leads them to the anomaly. The first time we really see her is when they are looking at the pictures of the anomaly spaghetti junction, when she appears to be intrigued by the sight. When the dodos appear, Abby joins Stephen and Connor in attempting to round them up, and comments on how cute they are when Cutter is surrounded by them. She sticks up for the creatures when Connor says they’re dumb – Abby points out they aren’t stupid, just trusting. As we saw when she first met Rex, Abby is fascinated and loves the creatures when they aren’t posing an immediate threat to her or anyone else.

When Stephen later asks her about Connor moving in, she is yet again quick to set him straight that Connor is only staying for a short while, and that there is nothing going on. She may have given up on Stephen as a potential romantic prospect, but she is also extremely keen to make sure that he knows there is nothing between her and Connor.

Abby, Stephen and Cutter are the ones doing the autopsy of the dead dodo in what appears to be a Home Office lab. When the parasite emerges and makes a bee-line for Abby, she actively backs away from it at speed, squeaking a little. This is the first time we’ve seen her act like that with animals. Presumably the parasite has surprised her, and she’s creeped out by it far more than if they were dealing with a vertebrate animal. In the end, Stephen traps it under a jar.

Lester joins them later for the examination of the parasite, and Abby doesn’t contribute anything to the discussion, but does look on with interest as Stephen shows her the (now dead) parasite. Given she’s normally happy to contribute information about animals or animal behaviour to most team discussions, the fact that she remains silent here perhaps shows (as in episode 2) that she is less comfortable with insects/invertebrates, and doesn’t have much in the way of expert knowledge in that area.

Abby is later trusted with the autopsy of the second dodo by herself, this time in Cutter’s office at the university rather than the Home Office (why? Apart from to make it possible for Tom to get access to her, of course?). This seems to be further evidence that Abby does have some formal academic scientific or veterinary education to be left doing this by herself.

She becomes aware of someone else in the room, and pulls aside the plastic curtain to see Tom. Abby seems wary of Tom, but it’s not actually clear whether she knows that he is infected – she wasn’t present for any of the discussions once Cutter and the others learned this fact. Nevertheless, Tom’s behaviour is strange enough to make her on edge, and she keeps her distance from him. When it becomes apparent that he is really sick, Abby shows some sympathy, and approaches him, but Tom immediately warns her to stay back, says he doesn’t want to hurt her, but he will. At this Abby begins to back away again, and as soon as she sees the parasite beginning to take control she screams and turns to run.

Somehow, Tom manages to get round her and block her escape route. Abby yet again tries to reason with him, to keep him calm, and to explain the truth, or at least an edited version of the truth. Tom eventually succumbs to the parasite and attacks Abby, throwing her to the ground and attempting to bite her. Abby puts up a good fight, but Tom is simply bigger and stronger than her, and in the end she stops him by telling him she will show him the truth, appealing to his desire to understand the conspiracy rather than trying to overcome him physically.

She continues to try to convince him that she’s on his side whenever he becomes agitated, and also convinces a soldier to let them both past, despite the fact that it must have crossed her mind to enlist the soldier’s help to overcome Tom. Perhaps she thought Tom might move too quickly and manage to bite either her or the soldier, or perhaps she thinks that Tom can still be saved and she didn’t want the soldier to just shoot him, as would no doubt happen if there was a fight.

When they discover that the anomaly has gone, Abby finally seems to realise that Tom can no longer be reasoned with, and when he approaches she uses a tall wheeled set of shelves as a shield, and pushes it over onto him, and escapes, throwing furniture in his way behind her, and leaping up to grab overhead pipes to kick him in the face.

This is something that we haven’t seen before. On all previous occasions when Abby has been threatened by a creature she was with someone else who ultimately fought it off. This is the first time she has faced a creature threat alone, and she shows previously unseen fighting skills (hinted at by the punch-bag and exercise equipment we saw in her flat earlier). Nevertheless, at this point her fighting skills don’t seem particularly well developed, and she seems to be mostly attempting to slow Tom down to allow herself time to escape, rather than trying to put him down completely.

She runs and hides in a locker room, and when she is discovered she again fights him, kicking him, and throwing him against the lockers, before running yet again. Presumably she can’t get to the soldier who we saw earlier, because she eventually ends up outside in the stadium, where Tom finally catches her and attempts to bite her to pass on the parasite. She continues to try to fight him off until the rest of the team finally arrive and Connor talks Tom down from his frenzy.

As soon as Tom lets go, Abby rolls away and moves to stand by Stephen. She grabs hold of Stephen’s arm with a look of horror and fear when it appears that Tom has bitten Connor, and continues to hold onto Stephen even after the immediate danger has passed and Tom dies. This is an uncharacteristic emotional reaction from Abby, but it should be remembered that this is the closest yet she has come to being killed, and she is probably still coming down from the fear and adrenaline of that attack.

Link to part 3 - episode 1.3
Link to part 5 - episode 1.5

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38 comments or Leave a comment
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nietie From: nietie Date: April 22nd, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved the scene when Stephen enters Abby´s flats and says "Nice legs" and Connor looks at his own bare legs and says "Thanks. Oh.".

Great meta. I think you're right about Abby's uncharacteristic emotion at the end. I believe that also the fact that another human being, a friend of Connor, just died, is a cause for that reaction.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 22nd, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
yes, there was lots of lovely banter between Abby, Stephen and Connor in this episode. It was great when they were all friends like this.

True, that might well be it. She has almost just been killed herself, and then watched while Connor was also almost killed, and a friend died in his arms. She may not know Tom, but she was fighting quite hard to reason with him, so she obviously didn't want him to die. A little emotion is entirely understandable.
knitekat From: knitekat Date: April 22nd, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely look at this episode.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 22nd, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
telperion_15 From: telperion_15 Date: April 22nd, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that if Abby thought for a moment that Connor meant it as a genuine threat, then she would have threatened him back with plenty of equally damning things, and slammed the door in his face.

Absolutely agree with this! I have to admit, I've never quite understood other people's dislike of Connor due to this scene. Okay, he doesn't behave in the most admirable way, but I think we know enough about Connor by this point to know that he's most likely joking with that threat (albeit, it's a joke in fairly poor taste). And besides, he must know if he went through with it, Abby would never speak to him again, which would completely end any hope of a romantic relationship with her.

Abby is quick to set Stephen right on the situation when Connor tries to imply that there is, in fact, something going on.

I think there's a certain amount of almost instinct in Abby response to Stephen here, and later when she assures him again there's nothing going on between her and Connor. They might have both decided not to pursue any kind of romance between them, but from Abby's POV this is someone she has fancied (and probably still does a bit, despite everything) and someone she wants to think well of her, and subconsciously she probably doesn't want to give a previous prospective romantic interest the idea that she's interested in someone else, or that she could move on to someone else so quickly...
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 22nd, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I'm certain Connor was joking, and also that the 'threat' was actually in order to get her to kiss him rather than to make her agree to let him stay. And I don't think for an instant that he would actually tell anyone, because he has learnt his lesson about opening his mouth about anomaly related secrets in ep 1.2. As it turns out in series 2 and 3, in fact, Connor is actually far better at keeping Abby's secrets than she is at keeping his!

Good points about Abby and Stephen, and you're probably right. Although I'm pretty certain a good part of it is that (at this stage) she doesn't have any real romantic interest in Connor, and doesn't want people to think that she would fancy someone so geeky and immature.
reggietate From: reggietate Date: April 22nd, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seconding on the Connor 'blackmail' thing - I don't think it makes Connor this terrible sleazy person pushing his way into Abby's life. For one thing, even untrained as she is at this point, she's well-capable of kicking Connor's bollocks off, and he knows it!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 22nd, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
lol, so true!
clea2011 From: clea2011 Date: April 22nd, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another great look at Abby in season 1.

It's always interesting as well as someone who came in later to see where opinions were divided on the earlier eps as well. I had no idea anyone hated Connor. (Is it even possible with those puppy eyes? I do seem to have read a lot of fic where Connor is suffering in some way today though so maybe I'm biased *g*)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 22nd, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Possibly hate is too strong a word (or maybe not), but there are a few people who certainly dislike Connor, and they often cite that scene as an example of why he's a terrible, sleazy person.

Series 1 Connor is interesting, and his characterisation was a bit up and down, so I can see why people might be able to make an argument for him being annoying and immature, and more than a little lecherous at times. But I definitely think he balances it with more good points than bad, and in later series he seemed to grow out of some of his worst habits.

Hmmm... this is supposed to be about Abby, not Connor. We may have to discuss this again in a few months when I do the Connor meta! :-)

Oooh! Connor suffering? Where?! *evil grin*
celeste9 From: celeste9 Date: April 22nd, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I so agree with what you said about that scene with Connor and Abby at the beginning. I do think Connor was being a bit pushy, but by that point the two of them are already getting on quite well and have that joking sort of relationship, and Abby has demonstrated that she's not exactly a pushover.

I rewatched the end of this episode fairly recently when I was writing a fic, and I remember being a bit startled at how emotional Abby was. But it adds sort of a nice vulnerability to her character, I think.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 22nd, 2012 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'm sure that if Abby really didn't want him to stay she wouldn't have let him in. True, Connor was taking advantage of her distraction with the snake and, possibly deliberately, misinterpreting what she said, but they are already good friends by this point.

Abby doesn't get overly emotional often, but you're right, and if she didn't show it at least sometimes then she would just come across as cold and unfeeling, or else a superhuman nothing-bothers-me type.
freddiejoey From: freddiejoey Date: April 22nd, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for more great Abby meta!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 22nd, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you liked it.
flaccidduck From: flaccidduck Date: April 22nd, 2012 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, enjoying each one of these.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 22nd, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, good to hear you're enjoying them.
natchris From: natchris Date: April 23rd, 2012 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for this interesting look at Abby. It brings up points that I had missed.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 23rd, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you liked it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 23rd, 2012 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for all your hard work!!
I love this episode as a totally committed Connor/Abby fan. But isn't it Connor that rushes over to cover up Rex from Steven's visit and thus, shows his "got your back" relationship with Abby. And thus sets a realtionship throughout the entier series?

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 23rd, 2012 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you're enjoying it.

No, it's definitely Abby who runs to cover up Rex when Steohen arrives - Connor was upsatirs at the time, because he comes down the stairs when Stephen comes in. But Connor does go and sit next to Rex's tank and make sure the cover is pulled over it completely when Stephen looks like he might be getting too close.
judithjohn From: judithjohn Date: April 23rd, 2012 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Great work!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 23rd, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
joshinator From: joshinator Date: April 23rd, 2012 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for this - and I'm with Stephen on the python
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 23rd, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. I think I'm with Stephen as well when it comes to snakes!
lsellersfic From: lsellersfic Date: April 23rd, 2012 08:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the whole Connor threat thing is interesting. Even if not meant terribly seriously, I think it is pretty sleazy behaviour on Connor's part and, of course, helps explain why he really needs to grow up a bit before Abby is going to remotely view him as a potential romantic partner - because she knows he's sleazed his way into her flat under false pretences (when it becomes clear he's no real intention of finding his own place) and put her in an embarrassing position.

Of course, by season 3, he's prepared to leave when asked seriously and that may be more important than I thought on first viewing.

Interesting about the parasite. She's also working on the Elephant parasite project at this point so you'd expect her to be becoming something of a parasite expert and yet, as you say, she's letting others do the talking. I don't think backing away from the parasite is unreasonable, I'd guess it's the kind of creature which will take a lot less notice of things like body language - its probably seeking heat or smell and getting out of the way fast is a pretty sensible move.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 23rd, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gah! lj just ate my comment! Let's try again.

It's definitely not Connor's finest hour, it has to be said. If I haven't watched series 1 for a while, I sometimes manage to forget just how immature he was back then, especially when dealing with Abby. You're right - that needed to change, and they did tone that down a lot in later series for anything to realistically happen between them.

I'd guess it's the kind of creature which will take a lot less notice of things like body language - its probably seeking heat or smell and getting out of the way fast is a pretty sensible move.

Good point! I'd not thought of that, but now you've said it, it seems obvious!
kristen_mara From: kristen_mara Date: April 23rd, 2012 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

It was definitely an interesting and busy ep for Abby on the business and private fronts! Thanks for the insights; there are things there that I hadn't considered before.

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 23rd, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, I'm glad it's making people think a bit more about Abby and how she behaves.
dreamer_98 From: dreamer_98 Date: April 23rd, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had forgotten about the parasite, and her reaction to it does seem uncharacteristic from what we've seen so far in the series. Yet I would totally be afraid and squicked out by a giant parasite too.

It's interesting that not only does she begin to display her fighting skills, but also using reasoning to help fight Tom off initially, something that other characters in the series who aren't as physical have to utilize.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 23rd, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think non-vertebrate animals really aren't Abby's thing, to be honest. Although I'm now agreeing with lsellersfic about the fact that the parasite probably won't react to the body language of other creatures, so Abby's usual tactic of holding still and not attracting attention is unlikely to work so well on this occasion.
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