Firstly, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been following and commenting so far.
Secondly, I've been posting pretty frequently for the last couple of weeks in an attempt to get as much posted during the April team fest as possible. Now, however, I'm intending to slow the pace down a little, probably no more than two or three posts a week, mostly to avoid spamming people, but also to allow me time to catch up with actually writing the rest of it, as I've still got all of series four and five to do at the moment.
In other news, the total word count has now hit 38,000, and at the current average word count per episode, I'm beginning to suspect it may end up somewhere in the region of 50 - 60,000 by the time it's finished. *flails*
Series 2, episode 4
Abby is working out, punching a punch bag in the middle of the flat. She becomes aware of Caroline watching her, and there follows an exchange where Caroline criticises Abby’s technique, pushes her out of the way, and demonstrates a more effective type of kick. Abby is, unsurprisingly, extremely irritated, and is clearly unhappy with Caroline’s presence in the flat, let alone her presuming to give Abby advice on one of the things that she has always prided herself on – her ability to take care of herself. However, she forces a smile.
Then they get an anomaly call, and Abby grabs her things and calls Connor to follow her, almost in the way she would call a dog to heel. She can’t get out of the flat fast enough, but she has no intention of letting Connor have a moment with Caroline either.
Abby’s bad mood is fairly understandable – she is having to put up with someone she doesn’t like constantly in her flat, and now having the woman criticising her directly, and apparently showing herself as being better. Abby is both territorial and proud, so she must hate this situation with a passion. Nevertheless, the fact that she holds back and doesn’t tell Caroline to get lost does show that she is honouring her promise to Connor that she won’t ‘muck it up’ for him with Caroline.
She won’t say anything to Caroline herself – yet – but that doesn’t stop her taking it out on Connor, as we see in the next scene on the dock. Here’s the entire conversation, because there’s a lot going on:
Connor: I’m going to have to say something to Caroline, you know. It’s weird us rushing off together all the time.
Abby: Here’s what you can say: Stop coming over to my flat every five minutes.
Connor: Our flat. (Abby gives him a look). All right, your flat.
Abby: Why is she at mine so much anyway?
Connor: Don’t be naive Abby, you’re looking at the reason aren’t you (meaning himself).
Abby: (Abby gives a derisive laugh) Not much going on there though, is there?
Connor: (Defensive) We’re taking it slow.
Abby: Yeah. She is.
Connor: (Beginning to raise his voice in anger) Do you know what? You don’t know what you’re talking about, why don’t you just stay out of it.
Abby: (Surprised by his sudden change of tone) Connor.
Connor: No. I don’t care what you think, all right.
Abby’s expression by the end of this conversation is a combination of shocked and confused. From the first half of the conversation it is clear that she is used to being the dominant one in their relationship, she is used to leading and Connor following. She isn’t used to Connor having other friends, or more specifically, bringing other friends round to ‘her’ flat, a fact that she feels the need to remind him of here. Why does she make the point about it being her flat? As a less than subtle hint that he should go round to Caroline’s rather than her coming to him? Or is it more a way of slapping Connor back down and reminding him of his place? I suspect a little bit of both.
When she finally pushes too far and Connor turns and pushes back, it is clear that Abby has no idea how to react. If she isn’t used to Connor having other friends, she is even less used to him arguing back, and disagreeing with her over something that matters (DVD choices aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things). Given that Connor is normally the type to want to please everyone and avoid confrontation, the fact that she has pushed his buttons so hard that he snapped back at her shows just how unusual this situation is for both of them.
They continue bickering over trivial things while in the boat, to the point that Jenny loses patience with both of them. Then Jenny falls overboard, and Connor, Abby and the driver of the boat seem to temporarily forget that the boat can actually move, because instead of going to pick her up, they just sit there yelling at Jenny to swim, even when she is being chased by a shark. Perhaps the motor cut out on them?
As they all arrive back on the dock, Abby is examining the mammal skin that Cutter found with a slightly disgusted expression, and Connor is hovering at her shoulder, also looking at it. It’s not clear whether they are talking to each other or not at this point.
Abby is present at the dissection of the shark, along with Cutter and Stephen. This is consistent with what we saw in episode 1.4 with the dodo autopsies. Abby shows regret for the way Lucien (presumably) died, but appears interested and intrigued when Cutter announces it must be the future evolution of the shark. Whatever it did, it is still a fascinating animal to her. They empty it’s stomach, and find no human remains, and Abby is the one who confirms the shark can’t have eaten Lucien – sharks take days to digest their prey, but the boy went missing only hours ago.
Despite her contributions to the discussion, however, Abby is not included in the report to Lester. Again, still consistent with series 1, where Cutter, and often Stephen dealt with Lester, while Connor and Abby barely interacted with him. Even with Abby’s apparent higher standing within the team now, she is still not on the same level as Cutter and Stephen.
Connor and Abby arrive home late at night, and Abby is incensed to discover Caroline has stayed at the flat apparently all day, waiting for Connor to come home. It’s a perfectly understandable reaction - the woman has had free rein of the flat and all their personal possessions while they weren’t there, and considering she already doesn’t like or trust Caroline, Abby has every right to be pissed off.
Things get even worse when Abby discovers Rex in the fridge, shivering and frosty. Abby cries out in fear and anger, and demands to know how this happened. Connor tries to help, and at first she tells him to get tin foil. Caroline suggests calling a vet, and both Abby and Connor shout, “No!” Abby essentially tells Caroline to get lost, and Connor protests a little, but not very much, and not enough to stop Caroline going. Again he tries to help, and Abby turns on him, and tells him angrily that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and to keep his girlfriend away from Rex in future.
As in episode 1.5, when Rex is threatened Abby overreacts, and lashes out at Connor. On this occasion he may not have put Rex in danger himself, but in Abby’s mind he is guilty by association. Connor doesn’t argue this time, and simply backs off with his kicked puppy expression.
The next day, when Cutter, Connor and Abby discuss the ‘cleaner’, Abby says they should get Stephen, but is ‘shushed’ by Cutter. Whatever she feels about Stephen personally, she apparently still believes that he should be included in discussions that affect the team and the job.
She and Connor continue to bicker, and when Abby brings up the subject of Caroline, Connor attempts to defend Caroline, insisting it was an accident. Like Jenny the day before, Cutter loses patience and tells them both to shut up. Interestingly, the situation now is no longer paralleling episode 1.5. Abby is still holding a grudge about what happened to Rex, presumably because the underlying problem – Caroline – is still there, and Connor is still disagreeing with her, whereas on the previous occasion Connor acquiesced to Abby’s demands.
Abby sees one of the mer creatures in the water, but then doubts herself and says it was nothing. This is unlike Abby – she has a great deal of confidence in herself, and wouldn’t normally doubt herself, no matter how weird the situation. Perhaps the issues with Connor have thrown her more than she is willing to admit.
And then she is taken by the creature.
When we next see Abby, she is underwater, and comes up for air in what appear to be a large, underground tank of water. Lucien is also there, and Abby screams for help, and tries to force the grating off to escape, encouraging Lucien to help. When that fails, Abby reassures Lucien that her friends will be looking for her, and that they will be rescued.
Cutter calls Connor while Abby is missing, presumed dead, and in the course of the conversation he describes Abby as, “A very brave, very beautiful girl”.
We see Abby and Lucien again, still trapped, still screaming for help. Abby comes to the conclusion that if the creatures wanted them dead they would have killed them already, so they are being kept alive for a reason. It’s decent logic, and a good way of reassuring Lucien (as long as they don’t speculate too hard about what the reason might be!). She even jokes, “Who’s afraid of an overgrown tadpole?” She is being calming and reassuring, just as she would be with a frightened animal, and trying to keep a sense of humour for Lucien’s benefit.
Abby and Lucien continue to scream for help, but Abby is dragged down and away by something. When she resurfaces, along with a mer creature, Abby gets to her feet and launches an impressive flying kick at it, knocking it back into the water. Connor arrives, but Abby still looks tense, watching the water intently. Possibly she could see something moving, because a moment later the massive mer queen emerges from the water to threaten Abby. Connor runs towards them, and Abby yells at him, “Connor, no!” She screams when it appears Connor has been knocked into the water, possibly killed. When the mer makes a final grab for Abby, she doesn’t even appear to attempt to escape or fight back.
Why doesn’t she keep fighting? It’s tempting to say that she is no longer capable of fighting back. Abby has been trapped in the water for perhaps hours at this point. She’s exhausted, freezing cold, at the end of her strength reserves, both physically and mentally, and she has just seen Connor apparently killed trying to rescue her. Plus, this mer is huge, and a kick is unlikely to put it down in the same way it did the previous one. Still, even given all that, it seems unlike Abby not to put up any more resistance.
It is worth noting, though, that Abby does still have enough sense and bravery to warn Connor to stay back. She doesn’t want him to be endangered as well, no matter what happens to her.
We next see Abby on the other side of the anomaly in the future. She has managed to escape from the mer queen, and is trying to get away from another mer. Exhaustion seems to have got the better of her, because Abby seems to be incapable of fighting now, she is just trying to escape. She does make a good attempt to climb up the cliff with Connor’s help, but again, exhaustion takes its toll, and she can’t hang on. While Connor keeps insisting she can do it, Abby begs him to let go – she can see Connor is slipping as well, and again she doesn’t want Connor to die pointlessly along with her. Connor’s declaration of love is enough to make her want to hang on, but of course the laws of dramatic licence dictate they need to get rescued at the last possible second by Cutter.
I know a lot of people are unhappy with this scene because Abby appears to be the ‘damsel in distress’ in order to give Connor his heroic moment, but, as I’ve emphasised, she is completely mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted by this point. She fought for as long as she could, but by the time she gets dragged through the anomaly she has no more reserves to call on. And even then, in what appears to be a hopeless situation, she has enough presence of mind to try to stop Connor from dying needlessly – in effect, she is willing to sacrifice herself to save him. If that isn’t heroic, I’m not sure what is!
It’s a sign of how tired and shaken she is that Abby lets Connor put his arms round her and support her as they make their way back from the anomaly. It’s also consistent with scenes in 1.3, 1.4 and 1.6, when she turned to either Connor or Stephen for comfort in the immediate aftermath of dangerous and highly charged situations. The vast majority of the time, Abby seems keen to project the image that she doesn’t need to rely on men, that she can look after herself just fine. It’s only when she’s had a near death experience that she momentarily allows that to drop, and seeks (or allows herself to accept) comfort from anyone.
What must be a short while later, she has a cheerful smile for Lucien when they meet again, but is quick to point out (still smiling) that Connor isn’t her boyfriend. There is no malice or derision in the statement (as there has been on previous occasions when she has been quick to deny anything between her and Connor), she is simply stating facts – he isn’t her boyfriend.
A few minutes later she has perked up enough to have a joke with Cutter about whether the mers are the future evolution of humanity, and Cutter puts an arm around her shoulders as they leave together. Cutter isn’t normally that touchy-feely with Abby, but apparently nearly dying warrants special consideration.
Then we get the conversation between Abby and Connor when they get home. They are both looking bruised, battered and exhausted as they come up the stairs, and Abby hangs back while Connor wanders off ahead to stand on the slightly raised floor of the living room. Abby is watching him carefully.
Connor: (With a tired smile) Maybe you should go have a lie down, eh?
Abby: Yeah. Connor? (Pause) Back there on the other side of the anomaly, you said something.
Connor: (There’s a second of ‘rabbit in headlights’ expression, before he give a very nervous laugh) Yeah. Said a lot of things, didn’t I? Mainly, “Aaaargh!”
Abby: Maybe I didn’t hear you right. I thought you said something about how you felt about me.
Connor: (Now he looks completely serious, and closes his eyes for a moment - in resignation?) Did I? (He shakes his head, as if he doesn’t know, or can’t remember. Abby continues to watch him intently. They look at each other for a several seconds, and you can almost see Connor’s mind working, trying to decide whether to take the plunge or not.) Abby, I...
And then Caroline arrives and interrupts them.
This isn’t the time or place to try to make sense of Connor’s actions, although you can almost understand why he might be reluctant to open his heart again after all the times in the past when Abby has rejected him, and made it clear she isn’t interested. Abby clearly knows she’s on tricky ground with him, because when he initially tries to avoid answering, Abby continues to push surprisingly gently, and seems prepared to wait for him to get there in his own time. This is entirely at odds with her usual straight-to-the-point way of dealing with Connor when he is dithering.
Just as it appears he might be about to repeat it, Caroline arrives again and the moment is gone. Abby can’t even bring herself to look at Connor or Caroline at first, and seems to be trying to maintain a tight control over her expression. When she does manage to dredge up a half-hearted smile, Caroline gets a dig in about her appearance. As soon as they have gone, Abby stands in the middle of the flat looking like she is about to cry. As usual, she’s hiding her real emotions until no one can see her.
It’s another interesting scene for their relationship. Abby knows what he said, but wants to hear him say it in a situation that isn’t a life or death panic. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to her before now that his feelings are so deep, despite being aware of his crush on her for some time. It is impossible to say how Abby might have responded if Caroline hadn’t interrupted when she did. Nevertheless, you have to assume that if she was intending to outright reject him again, then she wouldn’t have brought the subject up at all, and they could have both pretended to just forget about it. Despite their arguments, she isn’t callous enough to want to hurt Connor like that. It is possible that she may have been intending to let him down gently, but again, why force him to say the words again if she was intending to do that?
What is also interesting is that prior to this moment, Abby has never really shown any romantic or sexual interest in Connor at all. Bearing in mind that her previous romantic interest was Stephen – a strong, confident, independent, decision-making action-man – it may not be coincidence that she starts to notice Connor as more than just a friend only after he has finally stood up to her and proven that he is not just a puppy who will obediently follow her anywhere.
Whatever her feelings towards him, their relationship has altered, and the almost sibling-like friendship they enjoyed in the first half of series 2 has just become a lot more complicated.
Link to part 9 - episode 2.3
Link to part 11 - episode 2.5