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Abby Meta - Part 18. Episode 3.5

Sorry I've got a bit behind posting these. I've been distracted lately by that great eater of time known as GIMP!

Series 3, episode 5

We first see Abby in a lab in the ARC spraying a variety of strange looking plants (possibly samples from anomalies?). She has never previously expressed any interest in botany, but perhaps she is branching out? Connor comes in looking for Sid, and Abby tells him to come in and close the door, and is surprisingly enthusiastic about explaining to Connor that it’s a climate controlled lab. So enthusiastic that she tells him twice! Of course, this is mostly in order to make sure we (and Connor) all know it’s got perfect temperature control for when it becomes plot relevant later.

As she’s enthusing about the lab, she finally notices that Connor is distracted, and prompts him with a comment, “That was your cue to tell me how clever I am.” Connor finally starts paying attention, and belatedly tells her she’s brilliant, but Abby is practically rolling her eyes.

Then they have a slightly awkward conversation about the fact that Connor has moved out. Abby asks him how it’s going staying with his friend, and Connor hesitates for a moment before giving a reply that is actually not a direct lie, but manages to imply that everything is fine with his friend (the viewers already know that he is actually sleeping at the ARC). Connor asks how it’s going living with her baby brother, and Abby’s shoulders slump and she looks less than happy, but doesn’t actually reply. Connor throws in the question, “Are you missing me yet?” Abby looks like the beginnings of a smile is forming, but then someone opens the door and Sid escapes, and we see a return to Abby being irritated with Connor for letting the diictodon out, and she lectures him about the climate controlled conditions of the lab (in case we hadn’t got it the first time).

At no point does Abby seem to pick up on the fact that Connor is lying about being at a friend’s, and neither does she question his less than plausible explanation for why Sid is in the ARC (why have Sid and Nancy gone with Connor rather than staying with Abby anyway?). Again, when it’s convenient for her to do so, Abby accepts everything that Connor tells her at face value and doesn’t probe any deeper.

At the anomaly site in Sir Richard’s apartment, Abby discovers a patch of fungal growth on the floor, and takes a sample of it, warning Connor not to touch it when he gets too close. Then she gives the sample to Connor and tells him to go and analyse it. This is odd, because back in series 1 it was Abby who we saw doing the tests on the water samples in 1.3, and it is Abby who seems to have the most general ‘biology’ related skills in the group. Also, if we are to believe she has a new interest in anomaly-related botany, this ought to be right up her street. So why does she delegate to Connor? There is no sensible answer to this, other than to suggest it is another one of those occasions when character continuity is ignored to serve the needs of the plot.

Jenny knows they need to find Sir Richard, and it is Abby who finds a book in the apartment with Sir Richard’s photo on the back cover, so at least now they will recognise him when they see him. It’s typical Abby, thinking of the practicalities of the problem.

At the train station, Abby, Jenny and Becker are searching for Sir Richard. Abby has, sensibly, taken the book cover and is showing the photo to random people asking if they have seen him. When they initially fail to find him, Abby says to Jenny that they might be lucky, that he might not be infected. Then Abby spots Sir Richard in the crowd, and calls out to him, but he vanishes as soon as he realises they are looking for him. Abby chases after him, but there’s now no sign of him.

Abby’s comment to Jenny is odd. She is just stating facts - he might not be infected, but they all know they can’t take that chance and they do have to find him.

It’s Abby who spots Sir Richard again a little later, and again they give chase and follow him to some tunnels.

When they eventually find the fungus creature that Sir Richard has became, Jenny alerts Abby first, rather than Becker. Abby has no idea what it is either, but everyone looks serious and concerned when bullets don’t appear to hurt it, and one of the soldiers becomes infected.

Abby explains to Becker that it’s a fungus, and it likes damp and dark places, so chances are it will stay in the tunnels. When Jenny tells them that Danny is on his way with flame throwers, Abby responds with a faintly incredulous, “Danny?” Then, when Jenny says he volunteered, Abby comments, “He’s keen.” She sounds less than impressed at this turn of events.

When Danny turns up with the flame throwers, Abby is the one who questions their approach.

Danny: So look, we corner it, then we grill it.
Abby: Isn’t that cruel?
Danny: What?
Abby: Well, that thing was a man not long ago. Suppose he’s still in there somewhere?
Danny: Okay, so, we ask it nicely, and then we grill it. Right.
Abby: Thank you.

Abby knows that realistically they are probably going to have to kill it, and accepts this without argument, but she had to make the point and ask the question. It seems from this, and later episodes, particularly 3.7, that in the absence of Cutter, Abby has become the team’s moral compass, at least in relation to how they deal with the creatures. Although it has to be said, especially in series 3, but less so in 4 and 5, Abby is often rather more pragmatic than Cutter was when the creature is a predator intent on killing them all.

They follow the fungus creature deeper into the tunnels and Abby tells Danny, “Dark and damp, just like I said.” As they search, it appears Abby knows how to use the flame thrower. When they finally corner it, it is Danny, Becker and Abby who are in the front line, until Jenny tells them to stop, and they all duck out of the way as the creature escapes.

They chase it upstairs, and Danny has a plan about containing it in a truck. Abby asks, “What then?” and Danny responds, “I’ll get back to you.” Abby turns to Jenny with a wry smile, “For a minute there I thought he knew what he was doing.” She is warming to Danny enough to joke about him now. The same is true in the next scene, where Jenny comments about Danny, “He’s really overdoing the alpha-male thing,” and Abby smiles and shares the joke.

Abby presumably rides back to the ARC with Becker, which may be more by necessity than design, since their earlier conversation in the tunnels is the first time we have ever seen Abby and Becker have a one to one conversation.

Once they get back to the ARC, Connor explains they are using freezing carbon dioxide to corral the creature and to eventually kill it. Abby sees that there aren’t enough fire extinguishers to go round, and immediately says there are more in the ops room, and sets off to get them with Jenny.

Jenny stays behind and is trapped in the ops room by the creature. When Abby sees it, she shouts a warning, and tries to go back in to help, but Jenny shouts at her to stay outside, that it’s too dangerous. The others all arrive, and they watch through the window as Jenny battles with the creature. When she finally goes down due to the cold, there is a heated exchange about whether to turn off the cold air or not. Abby is the one who says Jenny is going to die if they don’t. As usual, Abby sees the short term problem – Jenny is dying from the cold – rather than the long term problem – the need to kill the fungus creature, and the fact that if the cold doesn’t kill Jenny, the creature will.

When the creature is finally dead, they all rush in to Jenny. Connor tells them not to touch her until the fungus is dead, and Abby agrees with him, despite her earlier arguments.

They bring Jenny out and attempt to revive her, and Abby takes charge of the air bag, and checks for a pulse. As they work, Abby says if she stays out for much longer they are going to lose her. She is also muttering, “Come on Jenny,” as she works. She is scared, but she is focussing on the task at hand. Abby continues monitoring Jenny’s pulse and announces when they have saved her. Here we have more evidence of Abby’s first aid/medical knowledge, but applied to humans rather than animals on this occasion, as in 3.3.

When Jenny wakes she asks for Nick, Abby tells her with a sympathetic look, “He’s gone, remember?”

Lester presents Danny to Christine as the new team leader with the team all watching. After she has gone, Lester tells Danny that it was the team’s idea for him to join them, and Abby and Connor share a laugh and a smile. They all look uncomfortable when Danny asks where Jenny is. They already know she is leaving.

Link to part 17 - episode 3.4
Link to part 19 - episode 3.6

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23 comments or Leave a comment
freddiejoey From: freddiejoey Date: June 13th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great analysis. Thought provoking as always
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 14th, 2012 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
telperion_15 From: telperion_15 Date: June 13th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
neither does she question his less than plausible explanation for why Sid is in the ARC (why have Sid and Nancy gone with Connor rather than staying with Abby anyway?)

My initial assumption about this was that Abby wants them out of the flat so Jack doesn't spot them and start questioning what they are (Rex is a lot easier to explain away as an exotic lizard), but upon reflection, that's rubbish. a) Jack's been in the flat for a while by this point - he must have already seen Sid and Nancy, since they're not contained in any way and are scuttling around the place. And b) even if you could buy that it's to keep them away from Jack, how is Connor taking the two diictodons to a friend's place (as she assumes) any better. Surely any friend is going to ask exactly the same questions about them as Jack would?

*eye roll*
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 14th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Damn good point! The whole thing with Sid and Nancy was almost certainly intended purely for the comedy moments with Lester, but it's yet another thing that really makes no rational sense the more you stop to think about it!
knitekat From: knitekat Date: June 13th, 2012 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great look at the episode.

Sid and Nancy moving out of Abby's flat didn't really make sense - apart from that it let them annoy Lester in later episodes ;)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 14th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
yes, I suspect that whole plotline was purely for the comedy moments with Lester. It's just silly when you really think about it.
knitekat From: knitekat Date: June 14th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Definitely, although Lester and Connor were good ;)
fredbassett From: fredbassett Date: June 13th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Abby's skill set does seem a little all over the place at times in the series.

I actually quite like this episode, although I wasn't keen on it the first time around.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 14th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not a huge fan of this ep, but thee are a lot worse episodes in series 3! But this is one of the worst of several examples in series 3 of them ignoring characterisation to fit the plot, rather than fitting the plot around the characters.
flaccidduck From: flaccidduck Date: June 13th, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like this episode. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 14th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
crystalmoon222 From: crystalmoon222 Date: June 14th, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked this ep too, despite the fact that Abby is both a zoologist and suddenly a plant expert. Actually that's the main thing that bothered me in the ep.

One thing, though, when Connor and Abby are talking, I thought he said "You missed him, yeah?" referring to Jack. I didn't think he asked about himself there, but sometimes Andrew's accent makes it hard for me to hear what he's saying. I think if he'd have asked about himself, she'd smile or laugh at him. Instead, she looked thoughtful. Anyway, that was my take.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 14th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm pretty sure he says, "you missing me yet?", and that does seem like a Connor-ish thing to say. It is often quite hard to tell what they're saying, though, and the subtitles don't help, as I'm pretty certain they're wrong on several occasions (usually with Connor or Cutter, suggesting whoever is doing the subtitles has problems with strong accents as well!).

But Abby's sudden interest in plants is completely random, and is never referenced again in any episode. It seems to have been there purely for that one scene.
nietie From: nietie Date: June 14th, 2012 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Sid and Nancy moved out with Connor, because it suited the storyline and the comedy relief in Lester's flat.
IMO it would have been more logical if they'd stayed with Abby.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 14th, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I entirely agree. It makes no rational sense for them to go with Connor, and I'm sure it was only done so they could have the comedy moments with Connor and Lester.
dreamer_98 From: dreamer_98 Date: June 14th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Reading through your analysis, it's frustrating how much the writers pushed aside character continuity for plot purposes (such as Abby's giving the testing samples to Connor instead of doing it herself, and her sudden interest in botany).

I think Abby has always been the character with the most compassion towards the creatures and not wanting them to be harmed/killed, but you're right in that she has to be more practical when the situation is dire.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 14th, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
it's frustrating how much the writers pushed aside character continuity for plot purposes

I know! I didn't notice them doing it quite so much in series 1 and 2, but series 3 is terrible for doing it in several episodes, which just suggests shoddy writing to be honest.
cordeliadelayne From: cordeliadelayne Date: June 14th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting! This meta certainly highlights just how often the writers have zero grasp of any continuity, story-wise or character-wise!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 16th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very much so. I think series 3 is the worst of the lot for doing things like this. I don't recall it being quite so bad in the earlier series, or in 4/5.
judithjohn From: judithjohn Date: June 15th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
You've a fantastic job on this meta. I'm enjoying every analysis as they appear.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 16th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you're enjoying them.
celeste9 From: celeste9 Date: June 15th, 2012 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Abby does seem to be someone whose skill set changes when it needs to in order to suit the story! And lol at the extremely subtle use of the climate-controlled lab at the start of the ep. :)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 16th, 2012 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
It really was a gratuitous plot device to have her explaining about the climate controlled lab! Subtle as a brick in a proverbial sock!
23 comments or Leave a comment