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Abby Meta - part 6. Episode 1.6

Series 1, episode 6

When we first see Abby in this episode, she is at home with Connor, giving him lessons in how to chat up women. She seems at ease with him, the irritation from the previous episode now gone. She’s encouraging when he’s on the right track, and quick to stop him when he strays into inappropriate, and faintly despairing when he starts to talk comic book heroes. As soon as the conversation strays into more personal territory, though, she is quick to emphasise that they are just ‘pals’. She focuses on fiddling with Connor’s tie, and won’t meet his eye when he says, “You can fancy somebody who’s a pal, can’t you? The two aren’t mutually exclusive.”

It’s an interesting scene. It’s clearly meant to be fun, and to some extent a situation designed to make the audience point and laugh at the socially inept geek trying to chat up women. But throughout the scene, Abby isn’t laughing at him, she seems to be genuinely trying to help him. It would be interesting to know which one of them suggested this little role-play, whether Connor asked for help, or whether Abby offered. Given Connor’s later comments that he already thinks he can talk to women okay, I’m tempted to suggest that Abby was the one who offered.

Abby is relaxed and enjoying herself all the way through, and only appears to become slightly uncomfortable when Connor alludes to his interest in her specifically, rather than women in general. Why would she put herself in a position that is likely to bring up a subject that she is uncomfortable with? I refuse to believe she is unaware of Connor’s interest at this point, so does she simply think that if she continues to emphasise the fact that they are just friends, that he will eventually give up?

With that in mind, it’s tempting to view it as a sign of how much Abby trusts Connor, even at this early stage. That she knows he would never deliberately hurt her, or take advantage (not in a sexual sense, at least, even if he does blatantly take advantage of their friendship in other ways), and that if she was genuinely uncomfortable enough to want to stop, he would stop and back off when she told him to. Maybe this is why she goes ahead with the situation, even at the risk of a little awkwardness?

We next see them at the zoo, and Abby manages to sneak Connor into the lion enclosure, and explains that one of the lions has disappeared. They discuss whether it might have been a creature attack, but there’s no real evidence, until Connor spots a splash of blood on the ground, and takes a sample of it.

Why did Abby bring Connor in rather than Cutter or Stephen? Perhaps she didn’t want to raise the alarm on so little evidence, but did want to bounce ideas off someone else ‘in the know’. True, they are trying to keep it under the radar, and she may have thought that Cutter would come in blustering and being loud, so probably not the best person. But logically, Stephen would actually be the best person for a second opinion considering his knowledge of tracking animals in the wild, and, unlike Cutter, he knows how to be discreet. And yet she calls Connor. From an out-of-character perspective, it’s clear that in the latter half of series 1 they have increasingly separated the team into Connor and Abby in one group, and Cutter, Stephen and Claudia in another, so by now we are getting used to seeing Connor and Abby working together.

We next see Abby feeding the elephants at the zoo, a nice bit of continuity, as she is presumably still working on the parasites in elephant dung project. She is being watched by the future predator, and at one point Abby looks up and looks around, as if sensing she is being watched or that there is something else nearby, but she doesn’t see it.

Abby and Connor are at the Home Office, but excluded from the meeting with Lester about Helen. This isn’t unusual – they haven’t been included in any meetings with Lester at all for the entire series, but why would they be hanging around the Home Office if they aren’t there for the meeting? Abby comments that Stephen was acting really weird that morning, and it’s obvious that neither of them have been told what is going on. Connor, however, does have information about the blood sample from the zoo, and Abby reveals her boss has gone missing and hasn’t been seen since yesterday. It’s a particularly clumsy scene that seems to be entirely there to dispense plot information, without having any rational or obvious in-character reason for either of them being present at the Home Office.

We see Abby back at the zoo, and again she seems to sense that there is a creature nearby, but again doesn’t actually see it.

Connor tells Stephen about the missing lion and Abby’s boss, and Stephen races to the zoo when he realises Abby might be in danger. He makes her jump by appearing right behind her, and Abby smacks him on the arm and tells him not to creep up on her. Stephen insists he wasn’t creeping, he was walking normally. This is presumably him testing a theory after his conversation with Helen earlier, but somewhat at odds with the fact that we’ve seen Abby apparently aware that there is something around, even if she can’t see it.

Abby doesn’t show much of a reaction when Stephen tells her that a creature may have killed her boss, which seems a little strange considering they seemed to have a good relationship in episode 1. She immediately changes the subject and seems pleased that Stephen rushed here on his own to make sure she was safe, which Stephen brushes off with a joke about how he wanted to protect the sea lions. Just playful teasing, or is this meant to be an indication that Abby still feels something for him? Or that she thinks he may still feel something for her? Either way, they are interrupted by the arrival of the future predator, which Stephen senses approaching long before Abby is aware of it. He pushes her against the wall and tries to shield Abby with his own body, and after an initial shocked protest, Abby lets him.

Abby isn’t involved in the search for the predator; she still seems to be working while the team investigate the woods near the zoo. She hears a commotion outside, and goes to investigate, and sees Connor about to be attacked by the future predator. Abby immediately shouts to distract it, and throws a rock that hits the predator. It’s successful – the predator immediately turns its attention to Abby, but now she is defenceless, and seems to realise this as soon as it turns towards her. Then Stephen appears and shoots the predator, which runs off. Abby grabs Stephen and hugs him, although Stephen doesn’t return the hug.

This is the first time that Abby has actively saved someone else from a creature rather than just saving herself (Tom, in episode 1.4), although it isn’t the best rescue ever, and still needs Stephen to finish the job. Abby acts on instinct – she sees Connor in danger and tries to distract the creature without thought to the danger that she is putting herself in. This is still series 1 when they don’t have weapons, so there really is little else that she can do apart from throw rocks or run away, and she can’t run away without putting Connor back in danger.

Afterwards, Connor thanks her for saving his life. Abby brushes it off with a smile and a comment that she had to – he hasn’t paid this month’s rent yet. Saving each others’ lives is no longer so unusual, and Abby isn’t the type of person to show off or accept the glory. However, there is no trace of the embarrassment that she has shown when people compliment her appearance. It’s interesting that she is far more able to accept compliments and praise when someone is talking about her knowledge and abilities, rather than when it is about her appearance or personality. It shows where her priorities lie, and Abby repeatedly places far more importance on what she can do rather than how she looks or how she acts with other people.

At the anomaly site Abby seems to catch on to the look that passes between Helen and Stephen, and her expression suggests she suspects there is something not quite right. However, she shows very little reaction to Claudia kissing Cutter, except for possibly a little embarrassment.

When Cutter and Helen return, and Helen drops her bombshell, Abby spends a large amount of the scene watching Stephen. It’s difficult to read her expression, but she doesn’t seem as openly shocked as Connor, or even Cutter. Even after Helen has gone and Cutter starts asking for Claudia, Abby continues to stare at Stephen. I’m not sure that she had actually guessed about the affair, but she does seem to have picked up that there is something not quite right between Helen and Stephen. Her strangely controlled reaction seems almost resigned, like she expects people to disappoint her, and something like this was inevitable.

This is something we will see again in future – the expectation that people will let her down, no matter who they are. There are all sorts of theories about Abby’s past, and Hannah Spearritt has apparently said in an interview that she thinks Abby may have been abused as a child. None of this is ever mentioned, or even hinted at, in canon, though, so we can only speculate as to what may have caused this lack of faith in other people.

Link to part 5 - episode 1.5
Link to part 7 - episode 2.1

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33 comments or Leave a comment
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telperion_15 From: telperion_15 Date: April 24th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
This highlights how odd some of Abby's scenes in this episode are, actually - mostly down to some shoddy plotting, I suspect.

I do really like that whole scene between Abby and Connor at beginning, though. Although I suppose you could forgive Connor for having another 'go' at Abby - she has, after all volunteered to help him learn how to talk to girls. It's perfectly possible for him to interpret that offer in certain way...

Also, I would totally have that conversation about comic book characters (or similar) and enjoy it! *g*
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 24th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
There does seem to be some degree of slightly dodgy characterisation to fit the plot (wait until we get to ep 3.5. There's some spectacularly forced characterisation and complete disregard for character continuity to fit the needs of the plot in that one!).

The scene at the start with Connor and Abby is almost certainly designed to be a comedy moment, but they really didn't think it through very well, particularly how Abby would feel about the whole scenario.

I probably wouldn't be able to do comic book heroes, but I could quite happily talk about Star Wars/star Trek for hours with him! :-)
freddiejoey From: freddiejoey Date: April 25th, 2012 12:49 am (UTC) (Link)
More interesting meta.

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 25th, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
flaccidduck From: flaccidduck Date: April 25th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, great meta.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 25th, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
dreamer_98 From: dreamer_98 Date: April 25th, 2012 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Abby was trying to help Connor with chatting up girls, in part because she was being a good friend but also because she probably wanted him to pursue his romantic interests elsewhere, although we know that doesn't happen yet.

Interesting re: Abby accepting comments more about her abilities than her looks. I think that's something to admire about her character, how she prioritizes those things in terms of importance, but also could indicate some insecurity as well. Perhaps since she's not used to doing the "girl thing" she doesn't view herself that way.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 25th, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
She always dresses in a quite tomboyish way, and while she isn't untidy or badly dressed, it suggests she tends to choose clothng more for practicality than for fashion most of the time. So it seems appearance really isn't that important to her.
natchris From: natchris Date: April 25th, 2012 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
The meta in this fest have been consistently great!

Bringing up all sorts of things that I've missed or have never thought about.

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 25th, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you're enjoying it.
lsellersfic From: lsellersfic Date: April 25th, 2012 07:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's quite possible, at this point, that although Abby knows Connor is attracted to her, she doesn't perceive it as any more serious than that she happens to be a woman who he as more contact with than most. Connor gives the impression that he's desperate for a girlfriend, any girlfriend, and Abby could well be picking that up and so not viewing herself as in anyway special.

You could argue that even Connor thinks that and its not until he makes the decision to dump Caroline that he realises that any girlfriend won't actually do.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 25th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Connor gives the impression that he's desperate for a girlfriend, any girlfriend, and Abby could well be picking that up and so not viewing herself as in anyway special.

Interesting point, and not one I'd thought of. It's difficult to say for sure, since we never see him interacting with any other women in series 1, but would certainly explain why Abby lets him live with her and gives him advice on how to chat up women.
joshinator From: joshinator Date: April 25th, 2012 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
:) Thanks muchly for the awesome meta.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 25th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you like it.
nietie From: nietie Date: April 25th, 2012 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I had a feeling the writers were stretching the UST between Abby/Connor and Abby/Stephen a bit in this episode.

Thanks for another great meta.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 25th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Abby does give the impression of being more interested in Stephen than Connor in this episode, even after she has apparently given up on Stephen as a potential romantic prospect three episodes earlier!
knitekat From: knitekat Date: April 25th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting points raised. Abby does seem to expect to be let down by men.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 25th, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
She definitely has some issues about trust and betrayal, and if she constantly expects to be disapointed in people, particularly men, it would explain why she seems so reluctant to commit to relationships.
clea2011 From: clea2011 Date: April 25th, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can recall way back when this was all first showing being quite confused (and a bit disappointed!) when season one kept season one kept apparently pushing towards Abby/Stephen with little snippets in episodes like this, then totally ignored it later.

One of the reasons I'm enjoying these metas is that you're pulling out traits that are consistent about her.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 26th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. I was actually quite surprised at the amount of character consistency and continuity that I found when I really started doing this. I have to admit I'm not entirely sure how much of that was deliberate by the writers, or how much might be me stretching a little to make her actions/reactions fit with what we already know about Abby, but there do seem to be some recurring themes.
fredbassett From: fredbassett Date: April 26th, 2012 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting, thanks. I wonder how much of a hangover there still is in the storyline of the fact that Abby was originally meant to fall for Stephen.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 26th, 2012 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was wondering the same thing after some of the discussions and comments people have made to the metas for previous episodes. A few little scenes like the one at the zoo may well have slipped through the net when they had a hasty rewrite, or possibly they felt the realtionship aspect wasn't overt enough to warrant deleting/rewriting.
kristen_mara From: kristen_mara Date: April 26th, 2012 10:52 am (UTC) (Link)

That's an interesting point about Abby taking Connor into the enclosure instead of Nick or Stephen.

Poor Tim - he and Ryan can sit in the afterlife and complain about lack of character reaction *G*

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 26th, 2012 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
lol, yes. I was slightly surprised by Abby's lack of reaction to the news that Tim was probably dead. They did seem to have quite a good relationship with each other in episode 1. Maybe she just didn't want Stephen to think that she was being an overly-emotional girly if she appeared upset by the news?
celeste9 From: celeste9 Date: April 27th, 2012 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Abby's reaction to Stephen and Helen is really interesting, especially what you said about her expecting people to disappoint her. I haven't put too much thought into it, but I have always thought she must have had a rough childhood and likely a poor relationship with her father, or whatever male figure was around (or perhaps not around at all?).
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: April 28th, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
It does all seem to be pointing to some sort of bad experience when she was younger, although of course we never find out what that might have been, or even have it confirmed on screen that there may have been problems.

There's a lot more discussion of this to come when we get to series 3 and Jack's appearance.
talliw From: talliw Date: April 30th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Back then I found it rather strange that Abby reacted so strong to Stephen's affair with Helen.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 1st, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is a little odd, but perhaps she is remembering that she almost went out with him herself, as well as whatever her issues are about betrayal and trust.
samueljames From: samueljames Date: May 1st, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Too true about Nick. I can't imagine him being discreet at all. I liked your analysis of Abby's reaction after the reveal.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 1st, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lol, yes, 'discreet' is certainly not a word that you can use to describe Nick! Since Abby doesn't speak at all efter the revelation it is quite difficult to be able to tell what she is thinkng, but that's just my interpretation of what is going on.
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