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Abby Meta - part 12. Episode 2.6

Series 2, episode 6

Abby is lifting weights in the ARC gym, and talking to Connor. She tells him that they have to tell Cutter about what has happened to Rex, and gets a dig in about how it’s Connor’s fault because he dumped Caroline by text. Connor asks her not to say anything yet, and promises that he will get Rex back. Connor takes the weight from Abby, and clearly has trouble holding it, and has to put it down. It's another nice little reminder that Abby is the tough, strong action hero and Connor is the geek.

Abby remains silent throughout the conversation with Cutter about the possible traitor, and as soon as the ADD alarm goes off she moves to get her stuff and go.

Cutter, Abby and Connor arrive at the motorway, and Cutter dispenses factual information about the Columbian mammoth. Abby stares in awe, and then adds that it is a herd animal, and that it can’t smell its mates. Cutter’s knowledge is based on fossils and research, Abby has surmised an explanation for its behaviour from a few moments of observation, and applied knowledge of modern elephants.

Abby appears at Cutter’s side with a large rifle (tranquiliser, presumably, but it’s impossible to tell), and Cutter says it isn’t enough, they need more firepower.

Abby is the first one to run after Cutter when he goes to help the trapped woman, and she takes the little boy, Jake, from the back of the car. She then leaves Jake with Connor, stating the obvious fact that that they need to get the mammoth back through the anomaly, and that she has an idea. Her parting shot is to tell Connor to distract the mammoth, and then she runs off. She spots a sporty yellow open top car, and jumps in and drives off at speed.

As we’ve come to expect, Abby has identified the problem, come up with a practical solution, and acted on it without delay. It’s up to Connor and Cutter to keep control of the situation in the meantime.

When Abby returns, she has a large container with a spray nozzle, and tells Cutter it is female elephant urine, and that the mammoth will want to follow the scent. There’s a safari park one junction down, apparently. Ignoring the logistics of getting hold of it so quickly (see darkhorse_99’s excellent meta about Abby and the animals for a great comment on this!), it’s a brilliant piece of on-the-fly planning, and one of the best demonstrations of her practical knowledge in the whole of the show.

However, it is left to Cutter to actually use the spray, and Abby can only stand by and watch when the anomaly closes, and Cutter has to find an alternative solution. As soon as she sees the truck that Cutter is aiming for, she tells him Connor is in that truck. How does she know? Unless she perhaps saw him on her way back from the safari park, but with all the abandoned cars and an angry mammoth, one suspects she had better things to be looking out for. It’s probably just a clumsy way of ramping up the tension, putting more of them into a peril situation and not just Cutter, but, however she knows, Abby is concerned for Connor.

Interestingly, when they return from the situation, Connor is the one looking after the little boy still. Another show might well have dumped a small child onto the female character to look after, but Abby has had barely any contact with him, and it has been left to Connor instead. This is perhaps yet another nod towards the fact that Connor and Abby both tend to reverse the normal gender stereotypes, especially when in contrast with each other. This isn’t to say that Abby isn’t good with kids, because she got on fine with Ben in 1.1, but it’s a nice touch, especially considering that Jake is a great deal younger than Ben.

We next see Abby back at the ARC, feeding the mammoth with what appears to be fruit. Lester wanders over and tells her not to get attached, she can’t keep him. Abby tells him some mammoth facts (she must have done a bit of research, or more likely she was paying attention in the car while Connor and Cutter enthused about it), and gives Lester a hard stare when he makes a joke about the tusks being worth a bit. She also throws in a comment about how the mammoth will attack predators if it senses danger.

The last line is clearly setting up a scene for later, although it’s worth noting that this is only the second time we have ever seen Abby and Lester have a real conversation (the first one was in 1.1, when she was complaining about the Home Office scientists’ treatment of Rex). It’s definitely the first time we’ve ever seen them have what might pass for an informal chat.

Lester leaves, to be replaced by Stephen, who stares in awe at the mammoth. Abby deliberately closes the bay doors to block his view, and tells Stephen, “Pity you missed him in action.” This is obviously a barely veiled reproach for the fact that he failed to show up at the anomaly site to help them deal with it. Stephen apologises, but Abby merely shrugs. Stephen presses on, asking Abby whether she agrees with keeping it all secret. Abby’s reply is definitive:

Abby: Yeah, I do. Look at the way we treat animals now, Stephen. Every day a new species disappears. What would people do to creatures they don’t understand?
Stephen: This isn’t just about the creatures, this is about our future.
Abby: Bottom line: Whatever Cutter decides. I’m with him.

Her statement about the treatment of animals is clearly a defining motivation for Abby, and something she holds incredibly dear. For once she is thinking of the wider implications rather than just an immediate problem, and it seems this is something she has given a lot of thought to. The parting shot is a final and definitive rejection of Stephen. Throughout series 2 she has repeatedly attempted to include Stephen and to treat him the same as she did before when out in the field. It’s only now that she finally takes sides.

Abby is angry with him for abandoning them out in the field with the mammoth, and further, for then turning up at the site with Helen and rubbing Cutter’s nose in it in public. Abby takes this as a betrayal of the team and reacts badly, and appears to take it quite personally. She doesn’t want to hear Stephen’s side of the argument, and seems to have made her mind up already and is resigned to the inevitable split between Cutter and Stephen. This goes back to the suggestion I made at the end of 1.6 – that she somehow expects people to let her down sooner or later, and she will lose faith and turn against people if she thinks that they have betrayed either the team, or her personally.

Cutter, Abby and Connor are at a church, waiting to spring the trap on the traitor, and Abby decides, apropos of nothing, to drop into conversation the fact that Caroline has taken Rex. Connor stares at her in shock, he had previously asked her not to say anything, but Abby continues to drop him in it with Cutter, explaining the situation, and then she sits back and smirks while Connor squirms. She is understandably angry about Rex going missing, but it does seem a particularly catty thing to do to Connor, especially considering that after everything that has happened with Stephen that day, Cutter may not be in a mood to take the situation in good humour.

For plot purposes, Cutter needs to know about the situation with Rex for later developments to happen, but the way in which Abby does it is slightly unexpected. As usual, Rex is in danger, and Abby blames Connor.

There follows a brief conversation explaining why they are there – Cutter and Connor know about the plan, but Abby doesn’t. It’s a particularly clumsy bit of info-dumping, because it seems hard to imagine they wouldn’t have explained it to her on the way. From an in-character perspective, it suggests that a) Cutter and Connor are caught up in their own little world and haven’t bothered to tell anyone else the details, and b) Abby trusts Cutter enough to follow him without actually knowing where they are going or why.

Later, Abby and Connor appear to be comfortable with each other again, because they start singing a hymn together (yeah, because that’s exactly what you do when lying in ambush for a traitor!).

Back at the ARC, Abby finds Connor trying to hack into Leek’s personal files. As it becomes apparent this isn’t the first time he has hacked personal files, Abby’s eyes narrow as she puts two and two together. She asks him casually “What’s my middle name?” and when he answers immediately (it’s Sarah), her suspicions are confirmed. Connor knows he’s been caught, and rather sheepishly agrees when Abby tells him to stay out of her personal information.

It’s a scene that is played for comedy, but considering that Abby tends to be quite private with information about her past (a fact that becomes more obvious in series 3), it’s surprising that she takes it so calmly. She would be well within her rights to tear a strip off Connor for that sort of behaviour. Perhaps the ARC personnel records don’t actually contain much in the way of family information, maybe just your basic CV and contact details, so she knows that he can’t have seen anything particularly incriminating. That’s not the point, though.

Later, when they are discussing the predator’s neural clamp, Abby waits until she gets Cutter alone, and asks if they should get Stephen. Cutter refuses. Even now, after the earlier conversation with Stephen, Abby still thinks that this development is important enough to include him, even though he has been fired.

Connor works out how to track Caroline’s mobile using the ADD, and Abby looks pleased, and determined. When they get to the site, however, Abby doesn’t look impressed, and questions whether Connor has got it right, that it doesn’t seem like the kind of place Caroline would go. Nevertheless, they continue to follow Connor. They eventually walk into a room full of soldiers and Cutter is knocked out, and Abby, along with everyone else, can only stand and stare in shock.

One thing that is clear from this episode, is that whatever proto-feelings Abby may have been entertaining towards Connor have been forgotten in light of the Rex situation.

Link to part 11 - episode 2.5
Link to part 13 - episode 2.7

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37 comments or Leave a comment
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dreamer_98 From: dreamer_98 Date: May 7th, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's interesting that you point out the gender role-reversal they seem to have with Connor and Abby, not only with Abby being physically strong but also not sticking her with the kid on the motorway. I think it was smart to leave Connor with Jake, not because he's necessarily better with kids, but because he's in a way like a kid himself.

Also interesting about Abby's reaction to Connor reading her personnel file. I imagine if she had that reaction then, she probably wasn't best pleased later on when Jess read her file.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 7th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's notieable from series 2 onwards that they seemed to be going for something of a gender role-reversal with Connor and Abby. Even some of the series 2 and 3 promo pictures tended to show Abby in front with a gun, and Connor behind her unarmed, so I'm assuming it's deliberate.

Although yes, given the nature of their charatcters, I can actually see Connor being better with small children than Abby is.
darkhorse_99 From: darkhorse_99 Date: May 7th, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I swear someday I'll make the time to go back and read all of these. You've gotten so in depth with Abby character, it's awesome. I didn't even catch them explaining why they were in the church with Abby instead of doing it in the car on the way over. You're right, that was really clumsy.

This is really well done. *applause*
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 7th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. Well, they're not going anywhere so there's no rush to read them! I honestly had no idea there was so much to write about Abby until I started doing this, though!

BTW, were you intending to do a second part to your 'Abby and the animals' meta, because the first part was fascinating?
From: sandyleepotts Date: May 7th, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
A lovely insight into our Abby. She is quite a feisty character.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 7th, 2012 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. Abby is a great character, and surpisingly complex when you really look at her.
clea2011 From: clea2011 Date: May 7th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure whether it's just as well Cutter refused to get Stephen or not. I suppose they'd just all have been captured.
I do love this episode though (probably mostly because it features the mammoth *g*).
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 7th, 2012 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of this episode at all, and I don't tend to rewatch it very often. I'm not entirely sure why, possibly because Connor doesn't do much, lol!

Certainly the first half is good for Abby, though, with all the mammoth stuff.
telperion_15 From: telperion_15 Date: May 7th, 2012 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
(yeah, because that’s exactly what you do when lying in ambush for a traitor!)

LOL, I know! They're not exactly experts at this espionage malarkey, are they? *g* Also the soldiers that arrive with Jenny must be completely blind not to notice the heads poking up over the top of the pew, but whatever...

And don't even get me started on how the mammoth would never have fit inside that truck...
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 7th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is epic levels of espionage!fail in this ep, it has to be said! Between Cutter's secret meeting in the middle of the ARC, Cutter and Connor reprogramming the ADD right in front of the saboteur, and their hiding!fail in the church, they all suck!
reggietate From: reggietate Date: May 7th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
When Connor's reprogramming the ADD, he attempts to broach the subject of Stephen, and when Cutter says 'Don't go there', he says, 'At least I can tell Abby I tried' which suggests despite her rejection of Stephen to his face, she still hasn't given up on him entirely. And as we see later, she seems to think that Stephen should be included as part of the team.

If only Cutter had listened!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 7th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
That bit where Connor says "At least I can tell Abby I treid," I've often wondered if he just said that to deflect Cutter's displeasure away from himself.

It is possible that he and Abby and spoken to each other about the situation with Stephen and agreed Cutter has gone too far, but the way Connor phrases his conversation with Cutter sounds far more like he is expressing his own opinions rather than Abby's. Then, when Cutter shuts down that conversation, Connor looks uncomfortable, and makes the comment about Abby. I do wonder if he's just saying it so that he stays onside with Cutter, and that Cutter doesn't think he (Connor) is disagreeing with him.

Of course, if you *do* take it at face value that Abby has asked him to have a word with Cutter, then yes, it does show that Abby hasn't entitrely given up on Stephen. And she does try to talk to Cutter about it later herself as well, perhaps still hoping Stephen may come back.
knitekat From: knitekat Date: May 7th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great look at Abby in this ep. Hee over the total failure to be sneaky in this ep - from reprogramming the ARC in full view of Leek to singing in 'ambush' with their heads on view.

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 8th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. Clearly the moral of the story is to not let Cutter be in charge of any sort of sneaking and espionage! He's useless, bless him!
freddiejoey From: freddiejoey Date: May 7th, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really nice analysis of Abby in this ep.

I love the bit about her middle name.

Edited at 2012-05-07 08:20 pm (UTC)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 8th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. I do love it when they drop in random little bits of information about the characters like that. And somehow I don't think Connor is going to be disuaded from trying to find out more info about Abby.
flaccidduck From: flaccidduck Date: May 8th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Great look at Abby here
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 8th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
joshinator From: joshinator Date: May 8th, 2012 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm enjoying all your Abby meta.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 8th, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you like them.
fredbassett From: fredbassett Date: May 8th, 2012 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting point about the role/gender reversal re looking after the kid. I hadn't thought of that before.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 8th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think there are any other examples in canon, although on the two occasions when Abby does interact with a child (ben in 1.1 and the girl in the red dress in 3.2), both of them are older/more mature, while Connor ended up looking after Jake who was much younger.

It's quite well done, because it's not in-your-face role reversal, but just lots of little hints that Abby is the action fighter and Connor is the more sensitive one.
nietie From: nietie Date: May 9th, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rejecting Stephen was essential for the storyline and I think Abby did it Abby-like and consistent.
My poor heart broke though.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 9th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
At least she gives some valid reasons for why she doesn't agree with him about going public, it's not as if she's rejecting him just because of the affair.
samueljames From: samueljames Date: May 10th, 2012 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Connor having looked at Abby's file is one of the few things I dislike. I think Abby kind of under-reacted. I did like her conversation with Lester though.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 10th, 2012 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suspect the bit with Connor hacking Abby's file was intended to be a light-hearted comedy moment in amongst all the angst and tension of the episode. Unfortunately, they really didn't properly think it through about how Abby would have reacted to it.
celeste9 From: celeste9 Date: May 11th, 2012 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I always loved the way they reversed the stereotypical gender roles with Connor and Abby, it was both refreshing and sort of humorous. LOL at the hymn singing when they are meant to be keeping quiet! Clearly they didn't quite get the point of setting an ambush.

It's funny that Lester and Abby actually have so little on-screen contact because I have so firmly in my head their sort of sweet, father-daughter thing. I must have got that more from the latter seasons... or possibly mostly from fic!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 11th, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know what you mean about Abby and Lester, as you say, it's probably down to fic. They barely speak to each to each other at all for most of the early searies, although there are some lovely scenes with them in series 4.

I do love the role reversal stuff about Connor and Abby, and I like the way that's it's been done fairly consistently, but also done in a way that seems plausible, without using it to make fun of either character (except for the odd joke at Connor's expense).
lsellersfic From: lsellersfic Date: May 13th, 2012 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's interesting, reading these metas to note when an episode is good for Abby and when it isn't. Even though she has nice moments here, it feels like her characterisation is being allowed to slip a bit and she's doing a lot of stuff just to move the plot along, rather than because its particularly in character.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: May 13th, 2012 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I noticed that as well. It's also odd, because sometimes there are episodes that you don't think of as having very much Abby, but then realise that actually she does loads. Or alternately, there are ones that get remembered as being good 'Abby' episode, but it's actually due to only a couple of key scenes.

There are a few more eps in series 3, in particular, when Abby's characterisation gets somewhat mangled for the sake of the plot, unfortunately.
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