Series 2, episode 3
At the start of the episode, Abby is, not unreasonably, irritated by Connor stopping to see Caroline when they are going to be late for work. She keeps making impatient gestures as she waits by the car for him, but when Connor kisses Caroline, Abby looks away.
At the ARC, Connor presents his new ADD to the team. Abby doesn’t actually say anything throughout the presentation, but at the start when Connor is babbling she has an amused expression (as they all do, to be honest). Nevertheless, when Jenny and Leek mock Connor for building a ‘satnav’, Abby gives him an encouraging nod. She seems to be generally approving and supportive by the end of the demonstration. They may fight amongst themselves, but Abby generally always tries to support team-mates when it comes to work, especially in the face of outsiders, or people who are less than supportive.
The team arrive at the theme park, and the first thing they do is examine the body of the man who was killed. Or rather, Cutter and Abby examine it, while Connor paces backwards and forwards with his hand-held detector, and Stephen stands off to one side.
Cutter: I’ve seen enough, Abby. Zip up the body. (Abby zips up the body bag) Claw marks everywhere. He’s been ripped to shreds.
Abby: If I was back at the zoo, I’d say it was a lion. See how the bones have been gnawed?
Cutter: All right. Big cat, then.
(Cutter and Abby turn to look at Connor, Cutter with a vaguely accusing expression. Connor looks defensive)
Connor: No radio interference. No magnetic field. No sign of an anomaly. (Cutter continues to look unconvinced. Abby looks like she’s deep in thought). You know, I checked, I double checked, every chip and circuit board in that detector. It’s working, I’m telling you. If there was an anomaly, it would have shown up. Stake my life on it.
Cutter: You might have to.
Stephen: No, maybe he’s got a point. Perhaps there is another explanation for this.
Abby: There are thousands of big cat sightings every year. Pumas, leopards, lynxes.
Cutter: Yeah, but none of them are big enough to do this kind of damage.
Abby: It could have escaped from a private zoo.
Cutter: Yeah, well, find out if anything’s been reported.
(Abby leaves, presumably to do as Cutter has asked).
Abby is the one who identifies the wounds on the body as being the result of a big cat attack, and Cutter accepts her assessment without argument, even though he does quibble over the size of the animal they might be dealing with. Abby responds with an assumption that we saw her make in episode 1.1 about Rex – that it might be something exotic that has escaped from a private zoo. She isn’t actually arguing with Cutter, just laying out alternative theories in the wake of Connor’s certainty about the absence of an anomaly, and Stephen also expressing doubts. Whether or not Cutter is actually convinced by the suggestion (and it appears he is not), he trusts Abby to be the one to investigate the private zoo angle.
As we’ve seen many times before, Abby (and Stephen) are the ones providing sensible, practical suggestions, while Cutter and Connor focus on more theoretical things; in this case, Connor fixates on his ADD, and Cutter fixates on the idea that it must be an anomaly, despite the lack of evidence.
They begin to search for the creature, and we see Abby taking a weapon (again, as in episode 2.1, a tranquiliser pistol) out of the back of the vehicle. She doesn’t look overly impressed when Cutter leaves Connor the keys to the gun cases, possibly remembering what happened the last time she gave him a gun! Abby and Cutter chase off through the wood to meet Stephen, and Cutter does not appear to have a weapon at all, suggesting he is trusting their safety entirely to Abby and her pistol.
Abby seems to be spending a lot of time with Cutter today, while Stephen goes off on his own and Jenny pops in and out and Connor is repeatedly left behind. Perhaps Abby doesn’t trust Cutter not to get himself into trouble if he doesn’t have someone watching over him, and since Stephen is no longer taking that role, Abby has decided it’s her job to keep him safe on this occasion.
A little later Abby tells Cutter that she has just heard from Jenny about farmer West, who has past history of illegally importing exotic animals, including lions, for private zoos. This would seem to perhaps vindicate Abby’s earlier theory, but there’s no evidence of ‘I told you so’ in her tone. Then we have a lovely scene where Abby gently teases Cutter, saying that Jenny obviously doesn’t trust him to deal with the public by himself. Cutter takes no offense at the teasing, and they laugh together. Abby is no longer quite the same ‘junior’ member of the team as she was in series 1, and it seems that her relationship with Cutter is on a slightly more equal footing than Connor’s relationship with Cutter, which still comes with the baggage of the student/teacher dynamic.
This impression is further reinforced when they set off into the woods at night to look for the creature. Cutter refuses to let Connor have a gun, and tells him, “If you’re worried, stay close to Abby.” As the others all smirk, it’s obvious who they all think is the sensible, practical, action hero of the pairing, and by extension, the one who wears the trousers!
Abby appears to be the one doing all the actual searching, while Connor rambles on, trying to justify his actions earlier when he accidentally shot the man in the lion costume. Abby takes the opportunity to have a little dig, but then, Connor accidentally shooting people may still be a sore spot for her. When Connor comments that Abby looks, “really hot,” through the infra-red night vision goggles, Abby responds with a long-suffering, and slightly irritated, “It’s infra-red, Connor, not X-ray.”
The following day they start with Cutter, Stephen and Abby having a meeting about where to lay traps. Cutter tells Stephen to take Connor with him, implying, presumably, that Cutter intends to be working with Abby again.
As they prepare the traps, we see Abby driving and competently using a JCB. This is a new and previously unknown skill set, but perhaps not entirely unreasonable with her zoo background? She puts it to extremely good use to distract the sabre-tooth when it attacks Cutter, and successfully manages to whack the cat quite hard a couple of times before Cutter decides to lead it away by himself. Abby definitely gets bonus points for improvised weapon use here. She also wins the ‘sensible plan’ award, by following Cutter and turning up with an extremely large rifle and scaring the sabre-tooth away before it pounces on Cutter (I’m fairly certain it’s a tranquiliser rifle, but it’s difficult to tell). This the first time that Abby has solo-saved one of the others on the team, and she did it without being showy or throwing herself unnecessarily into danger. It’s typical Abby, in other words.
Abby doesn’t do a lot of note in the rest of the episode, although when they are discussing the buried body, Abby is the one who catches onto Cutter’s train of thoughts first – that someone is covering for the cat and hiding it. Abby and Stephen are the ones who confront farmer West and rescue Jenny, with Connor as (fairly useless) backup. As they leave the farm, Abby says to Connor, “Happy now?” when he finally gets his hands on a gun by taking West’s shotgun. Judging by her expression, I have no doubt Abby will be taking it away from him at the earliest opportunity.
When Stephen chases Valerie’s car and confronts the driver and checks the back for animals, Abby consistently backs him up with her tranquiliser pistol, although she lets Stephen do all the talking.
In the final confrontation with Valerie, it’s difficult to tell whether it is Stephen or Abby who actually shoots the sabre-tooth and saves Cutter. I always assumed it was actually Stephen, but cordeliadelayne thinks it was Abby (link to her Stephen meta). If it was Abby, it means that she has saved Cutter’s life twice in this episode.
Back at the ARC, when Leek attempts to blame Abby for the ‘death’ of the cat, suggesting she may have overestimated the tranquiliser dosage, Cutter immediately jumps to her defence.
Cutter: Don’t you dare. Abby knows exactly what she’s doing.
This episode is a good one, probably the best one, for showing the relationship between Abby and Cutter, and the mutual respect and trust between them. Abby may be young, but she is the undisputed go-to member of the team when it comes to animal care and tranquilising. And pretty nifty in a fight, too.
Link to part 8 - episode 2.2
Link to part 10 - episode 2.4