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Abby Meta - Part 17. Episode 3.4

Series 3, episode 4

Abby walks into the wreckage of the main room of the ARC and sees Connor working amidst the chaos. She looks unsurprised at what she sees, but worried, and gives a tiny shake of her head. She walks closer and watches Connor working on the ADD. She asks him if it’s working yet, and Connor says no, but it will be. He’s obviously been pushing himself, trying to rebuild it and the locking device, and Abby appears anxious, and tells him he needs to get some rest. Her expression then becomes sad and resigned as he continues to work, and she nods in understanding when he tries to explain about the locking device.

It’s probably no more than a day or two since the events of 3.3, and Abby is dealing with her own grief at the same time. She probably accepts that this is Connor’s way of coping, and no amount of common sense is going to persuade him to stop until he is either finished, or dropping with exhaustion. This isn’t going to stop her worrying about him, though. Abby seems to be unusually protective over Connor this episode, although given recent events that’s probably not surprising.

When Connor goes back to work on the ADD, Abby stands behind him, leaning on his chair. She is presumably providing moral, if not necessarily practical, support.

When they go out to the anomaly site, Abby is the one with the hand held detector. Slightly unusual as that tends to be Connor’s job, but with the team so reduced in number now they’re all no doubt filling in with roles they didn’t occupy previously.

When Christine Johnson appears and tells them they can’t come into her building, Abby joins in the conversation twice, on both occasions attempting to persuade Christine that she and her people are in danger, and that they just want to check it out. Abby puts it in terms of wanting to help protect people, contrasting with Jenny’s attempt to bulldoze Christine by invoking authority.

During the report back to Lester, Abby is leaning apparently casually in the doorway, but her expression is serious, and she spends most, if not all, of the conversation watching Lester. This is only the second time that Abby and Connor have been at a formal meeting with Lester – the first was in 2.5 when Cutter and Stephen were missing, presumed dead. Abby doesn’t say anything during the meeting, but she does share an almost-smile with Connor when Lester dismisses them in a characteristically sarcastic manner. In the midst of all the chaos and upheaval, it’s no doubt good to know that some things don’t change.

Back at the ADD, Connor answers Abby’s mobile phone, and an unknown male tells Connor to pass a message on to Abby that he’s back, and that he is going to, “show her a proper good time,” and that they are going out on the town tonight. Connor is shocked, and tries to find out who the man is, but gets nothing more than, “Jack,” before he hangs up. No doubt we (and Connor) are supposed to believe that it is an old boyfriend.

When there is the next anomaly alert, Connor asks where Abby is, and Jenny tells him she had to go out and meet somebody called Jack. Presumably Connor hasn’t managed to pass on the message, and Jack must have called Abby again later. She obviously thought it was important enough to leave work in the middle of the day to go and meet him.

Abby reappears much later at the anomaly site, just as Connor finally gets the locking device to work. Abby tells him she never doubted him for a second. Despite the team’s tendency to gently mock Connor’s inventions, and a lot of eye-rolling when they go wrong, Abby has always been generally supportive of Connor and his ideas and work, and she is willing to give him praise and moral support when he deserves it. It’s possible that on this occasion in particular she is being more openly supportive than usual, simply because praising Connor’s work was always Cutter’s role, and perhaps Abby wants to reassure him now that Cutter is no longer able to fulfil that role. She isn’t normally this indulgent towards him, so this may be more of the protectiveness we saw earlier.

Then Connor asks where she has been, and Abby shakes her head, and takes a deep breath, as if preparing herself for a conversation neither of them are going to like. Jenny interrupts over the radio, though, so the conversation is postponed.

They drive out to meet Jenny and Becker on the runway, this time with Abby driving her little mini, but following Connor’s directions. When Connor drives off in the tow-truck, Abby tells Jenny he is creating a diversion (although they all fail to use the distraction to do anything but stare in horror as the G-rex attacks the truck and almost eats Connor). Abby looks like she about to run to him when it becomes apparent Connor is injured, but she sensibly stays put once the G-rex gets up. Abby watches, clearly terrified, and says over and over, “Don’t move, Connor,” willing him to come out of this in one piece. As we’ve seen on numerous occasions, Abby’s standard reaction to large, threatening animals is to freeze and not attract attention.

While Jenny and Becker worry about who is piloting the helicopter, Abby, ever the practical one, runs off to get her car, so they can get moving and rescue Connor.

In the aftermath, Connor is the one who broaches the subject of Jack, and Abby again looks like this is a conversation she really doesn’t want to have. Nevertheless, this time she gets as far as telling Connor, “We need to talk,” but then immediately defers it to, “Later.” When Connor doesn’t push it, Abby looks incredibly relieved, and can’t get away fast enough. It is clear from Connor’s expression that he has picked up on the fact that there is something very wrong, but she leaves him to worry over it until he gets home.

When Connor does get home we finally find out the truth about the mysterious Jack.

Connor: (Calls out to the apparently empty flat) Hello?
Abby: (From upstairs) Hang on.
Connor: (Hears someone come downstairs but isn’t paying attention and doesn’t see a semi-naked man in the room and assumes it is Abby) Abby, listen, if there’s a... if there’s something that you want to talk to me about, you know, some sort of problem, you can. It’s cool, I can take it.
Jack: You all right?
(Connor turns round and sees Jack, and is obviously confused. Jack just gives him a smug-looking smile. Abby comes down.)
Abby: (To Jack, exasperated) Will you just put some clothes on, please?
Jack: Relax, I couldn’t find any conditioner. (Turns to Connor) Jack, nice to meet you.
(Connor looks to Abby for some explanation, but she only stares at him with something that looks like fear in her expression. Connor turns back to Jack again.)
Connor: Connor.
Abby: (Finally smiles, as if revealing a big surprise) My baby brother!
(Abby manhandles Jack back out of the room to the stairs, while Connor breathes a sigh of relief.)
Abby: Sorry. I was going to explain.
Connor: There’s no explanation necessary. That’s uh... he’s your brother, wow.
Abby: (Coming closer to stand right in front of Connor) Couldn’t find somewhere to crash for a few days, could you?
Connor: Eh?
Jack: (From upstairs) Abby, there’s no hot water.
Abby: Jack needs somewhere to stay, and I am his sister. It’s only temporary, Connor.
Connor: Of course. That’s cool, I’ll just um... I’ll stay at a mate’s house or something.
Abby: Are you sure you’re okay with that?
Connor: A hundred percent.
Abby: (Looks incredibly relieved) Thank you. Thank you. (She hugs him)
(They are interrupted by Sid and Nancy who come over, wagging their tails at Connor. Connor crouches down to great them.)
Connor: Hello you two. Looks like we’re going on holiday.
Abby: (Making little cheering gestures at the diictodons) Yey!
Connor: (Looks back at the diictodons with a rather less enthusiastic expression) Yey.
Abby: (Breathes a big sigh of relief) Oh, wicked.

Connor looks entirely less than happy with the situation as soon as Abby isn’t looking at him any more.

There’s a huge amount going on here. Let’s start with Abby’s interaction with Jack.

She seems constantly exasperated with him, first telling him to put some clothes on in a tone of voice that suggests it’s not the first time she has made the request. She has to physically manhandle him out of the room when she decides she finally had to talk to Connor alone.

Jack, on the other hand, seems oblivious to the tension between Connor and Abby, and is already wandering around the flat and using the facilities as if he lives there. It appears that Abby has already told Jack that he can stay even before she actually managed to ask Connor about it. When he calls down the stairs that there is no hot water, it is in the tone of voice that suggests he expects Abby to deal with it and sort out the lack of hot water for him right away. True, we don’t actually see how Abby responds to him, and it’s possible that she tells him to sort it out himself, but the implication seems to be that Jack is used to having her running around after him, and expects her to drop everything when he calls. The same, of course, can be said for his initial phone call. The fact that Abby disappeared from work to meet him, even when there was an anomaly alert, further suggests that she does tend to drop everything and come running when he calls.

As for Abby’s interaction with Connor, Abby seems to have already assumed that Connor will agree to move out for a while, and asking him is merely a formality. She knows that he will do almost anything for her, and she also asks him at a point when he is so relieved to discover that Jack is not, in fact, her boyfriend, that he will agree to practically anything. I don’t think she planned it like that on purpose, but Connor’s relief certainly plays to her advantage when the discussion finally happens. She obviously doesn’t pick up on his less than enthusiastic reaction at the end of the conversation, and seems to take his assurances that it is okay at face value.

It is also worth mentioning here that they are now living in a different flat to the one in series 2, although it is no longer clear whether it is still in Abby’s name and Connor is paying rent to her, or whether they are equal tenants. The fact that Abby asks Connor to move out does suggest perhaps she is still nominally in charge, but then again, she doesn’t ‘throw him out’ as such, she asks him to temporarily give her a bit of space, and Connor agrees without argument so it could go either way. Although when they eventually talk about their living arrangements again in 3.9 and 3.10, Connor asks for permission to move back in, supporting the idea that Abby does still have a controlling stake in the flat, rather than them being equal.

Back to this episode, the obvious question, of course, is why did Abby not just tell Connor about Jack earlier? (Apart from the obvious out of character answer that the writers wanted to string it out and create tension, making the viewers, and Connor, believe that Abby has a boyfriend). On both of the occasions when Connor brought it up, Abby seemed incredibly reluctant to have the conversation, and took every opportunity to put it off until later. I don’t think Abby deliberately intended to hurt Connor (although she must have known what he would think when she was acting so evasively), but I do think she genuinely didn’t want to have the conversation, and didn’t want to talk about Jack at all, which is why she kept avoiding it. I think this also ties in with why she asked Connor to move out, rather than just asking him if Jack could have his room while Connor slept on the sofa for a few days.

Connor and Abby have been living and working together for over a year by now, and yet it seems that Connor didn’t even know she had a brother. Why has Abby never mentioned him before now? Abby clearly doesn’t talk about her past or her family very much, if at all. Either she’s ashamed or embarrassed about something, or else she is trying to move on and forget her past and not acknowledge it.

On the face of it, it looks like Abby is simply throwing Connor out with no advance warning to make room for Jack, for which many people have condemned Abby as selfish or callous for her treatment of Connor. In reality, it is perhaps a little more complicated. It seems as if Abby is deliberately trying to keep Connor and Jack as far away from each other as possible. If Connor remained in the flat and took the sofa while Jack stayed, it would be only natural for him to get to know Jack and talk to him, and no doubt learn more about Abby’s past, which is something that Abby seems to be going to great lengths to avoid. It’s a shame that we never actually find out why.

Link to part 16 - episode 3.3
Link to part 18 - episode 3.5

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35 comments or Leave a comment
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freddiejoey From: freddiejoey Date: June 3rd, 2012 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Abby is secretive at this time isn't she - and prods plenty of plot bunnies too.

Nice meta as always
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. There's definitely something going on with Jack and her past that she doesn't want anyone, even Connor, to know about. It's the only explanation I can come up with for her behaviour in this ep.
kristen_mara From: kristen_mara Date: June 3rd, 2012 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Great job at reasoning and deductions, as always! Especially over the 'oh, it's my brother' bits

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 12:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. The entire situation over the next four episodes seemed to make so much more sense once I started looking at it from the point of view of, 'Abby doesn't want Connor and Jack to interact with each other because then Connor might find out about her past'.
nietie From: nietie Date: June 3rd, 2012 11:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Jack was only introduced to heighten the possible Abby/Connor storyline.
Abby acted as it the flat was still hers, although Connor lives there for a while now.
And why couldn't Jack sleep on the sofa? And like you said, why didn't Abby ever mention him?
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Jack was definitely introduced as an artificial plot device to keep Connor and Abby apart (and a particularly clumsy one at that!). The way she fails to tell Connor right up until the 'reveal' at the end is just the scriptwriters trying to draw out the tension within the episode of who the mysterious 'Jack' is.

But my in-character rationalisation for it is that Abby simply doesn't want Connor, or anyone, to know anything about her past. So when Jack arrives, he brings back memories that she doesn't want, and he also presents a danger because he might tell Connor things that Abby has always kept hidden. That's why she had to get Connor out of the house, rather than just letting Jack or Connor have the sofa for a few days.
reggietate From: reggietate Date: June 3rd, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
The whole Jack thing was rather badly done, but I like the way you've rationalised it; it does make sense. A pity they couldn't have worked it out better on screen!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is a real shame that we never find out about Abby's past, or *why* she behaves like she does sometimes. I speculate rather a lot more about her past in the meta for ep 3.8, so there's more to come on that subject, but this was the best explanation I could think of for why she would have asked Connnor to move out like that.
fredbassett From: fredbassett Date: June 3rd, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
The whole thing with Jack does seem rather forced.

It was interesting that they'd originally intended this role to go to Abby's father rather than her brother.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
the thing with Jack was a complete mess! It was a blatant plot device to keep Connor and Abby apart, and was a squandered oportunity to really delve into Abby's character.

Oh, I hadn't heard that about it originally being her father (or if I had I'd forgotten about it).
flaccidduck From: flaccidduck Date: June 3rd, 2012 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice speculations about Jack.

Not being a really analytical person by nature, I find your meta really helpful.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, and it's good to know it's helpful to people.
knitekat From: knitekat Date: June 3rd, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting look at this ep. Jack was just so artificial a way to split them up, although your reasoning makes sense.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Jack was really not much more than a clumsy plot device to keep Connor and Abby apart. And it was such a wasted opportunity, as well, when they could have used it to explore more of Abby's past and her motivations, and why she treats Connor the way she does.
celeste9 From: celeste9 Date: June 3rd, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your discussion of the Abby-Connor-Jack situation is really interesting, I do wish we'd actually gotten to learn more about Abby's past. And I love how protective Abby is of Connor through this ep.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought quite a lot about the whole situation with Abby, Connor and Jack, especially during some of the discussions we've had on Denial, and this was the best explanation I could come up with which seemed to fit the avaialble evidence. But yes, I wish they'd done more to use it as an opportunity to explore Abby's past, even a little bit.

Abby is definitely far more protective over Connor in this ep than she normally is. Until the point where she throws him out of the house, of course!
clea2011 From: clea2011 Date: June 3rd, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting stuff. Is it just fanon that Jack and Abby don't have any other family? That would certainly explain why she runs round after him as that can change the older sister relationship to something closer to mother - particularly if the younger brother is as hopeless as Jack. If that's not the case then it is rather strange.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah ha! I go into a lot more detail about exactly that in the meta for ep 3.8, but what you've said is actually fairly similar to what I've surmised as well, and why she lets him get away with so much crap. But yes, in 3.8 she does say to Danny, "He's the only family I've got."
lsellersfic From: lsellersfic Date: June 3rd, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fascinating meta. I've always felt Abby was embarrassed about Jack in some way (which impression, his subsequent behaviour does nothing to dispel) and that is why she tries to keep him away from Connor.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
that could also work! And it makes sense, as you say, considering Jack's behaviour. Also, we know that Connor isn't always the tidiest of people, so possibly Abby doesn't want to end up running round after both Jack *and* Connor and all their clutter!
natchris From: natchris Date: June 3rd, 2012 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Terrific meta on this ep

Edited at 2012-06-03 08:13 pm (UTC)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 3rd, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
rodlox From: rodlox Date: June 3rd, 2012 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
this is a very nice meta chapter.

>Abby joins in the conversation twice, on both occasions attempting to persuade Christine that she and her people are in danger
to be fair, its a strange argument...particularly with the (ex)military people Christine can summon.

What strikes me as odd is that Jack didn't seem to notice Sid and Nancy, or didn't think they were unusual (does Abby have a history of keeping really strange-looking pets?)
...then again, he didn't think Rex was anything other than a lizard, did he?

>Why has Abby never mentioned him before now?
maybe he's the black sheep of the family? not spoken of, ever. (though the question then is "why come running when he calls? to keep him away from the rest of the family?")
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 4th, 2012 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
thanks. Perhaps she had kept the diictodons shut in a room for the day while Jack was there, and only let them out when she got home. He seems to know nothing about lzards, so she could probably get away with saying they were some exotic species if he bothered to ask questions.
judithjohn From: judithjohn Date: June 4th, 2012 12:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Your Abby analysis continues to fascinate me and always gets me thinking. Thanks!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 4th, 2012 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
dreamer_98 From: dreamer_98 Date: June 4th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Jack annoyed the hell out of me, but there could have been a lot more potential with him and learning more about Abby's past.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 4th, 2012 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
yes, it really was a wasted opportunity. But Jack really was a completely annoying selfish brat, with no redeeming features whatsoever. I think most people were actually hoping he would get eaten in 3.8!
cordeliadelayne From: cordeliadelayne Date: June 4th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Abby certainly knows how to keep a secret when she wants! The whole thing with Jack was so horribly forced and unnecessary, I like your suggestions about why Abby asked Connor to move out though. If only we got an inkling about what happened in Abby's past...
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 5th, 2012 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)
She certainly does! I'm sure the whole thing about her not telling Connor who Jack is until the last moment is purely down to the writers wanting to make the viewers think it's a boyfriend. There's entirely too much dogdy, forced characterisation in series 3 to fit the needs of the plot rather than the characters, unfortunately.
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