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Abby Meta - Part 19. Episode 3.6

Series 3, episode 6

The scene opens with Abby, Connor, Danny and Sarah dressed in extremely smart evening wear, in an unknown location. Abby and Connor are dancing to 1940s music, laughing and enjoying themselves. Sarah reads out loud from a journal, then they hear a noise outside, and Abby asks, “Have they found us?”

Cut to 8 hours earlier.

Abby and Jack are at Abby’s flat, kickboxing with each other. Jack says he doesn’t want to hurt her, and Abby laughs and tells him he’s all talk. She goes on to prove this by getting the better of him and kicking him backwards, where he crashes into some furniture, dislodging Rex from his perch. Abby tells him to be careful (of Rex), and goes on to say Rex is more valuable than Jack – Rex is priceless.

Abby then says she has to go, and asks Jack what he’s doing today. Jack replies with a noncommittal, “This and that.” Out of Abby’s earshot, we see Jack phone someone and tell them that she’s going out, so they’re on.

Abby was definitely enjoying herself with the kickboxing, especially the part where she beat Jack, which implies they are quite competitive and she likes to get one over on him. The fact that Jack is inviting friends round shows how much he has made himself at home, but he isn’t telling Abby that he is inviting people round. Presumably either Abby doesn’t like his friends, or more generally she dislikes having people she doesn’t know being in the flat when she isn’t there (something we already saw in series 2 with Caroline).

When Christine invades the ARC, Abby helps out with taking the car as they get out of the ARC, but doesn’t do a lot else during the escape from Christine’s soldiers and car chase (to be fair she is sitting in the back, so there’s not a lot she can do).

They arrive at the ‘safe house’, a dilapidated timber building in the middle of woodlands somewhere, and Abby’s reaction is amusement, a kind of, ‘every day is an adventure in this job’ sort expression. She does become more serious as they check out the house, but there is still the sense that this is turning into an adventure for them all. Nevertheless, as she and Danny set tripwire warning signals, Abby asks how long they are going to be there, and points out that they don’t have any food. She becomes more serious when she says, “They’re going to find us, aren’t they?” (‘they’ being Johnson’s soldiers), but smiles and agrees with Danny that they won’t give up without a fight.

As usual, Abby is the one asking the practical questions, but there is a sense of fun and adventure about her that we haven’t really seen since before Cutter died, possibly even as far back as series 1. After all the upheavals within the team, they are finally starting to settle down into a new team dynamic with Danny, and Abby is definitely extremely relaxed with him, although it’s by no means the same sort of relationship she had with Cutter.

Abby has a suitably sarcastic reaction to the thought of out of date corned beef, but has an impressed, “Wow!” for the two gorgeous evening dresses that Sarah finds in a wardrobe (let’s not ask how the clothes survived in pristine condition for all this time). Again there’s that sense of fun, despite the seriousness of their situation.

When they find the mummified body in the viewing room, it’s Abby who asks the obvious question – what happened here and where did everyone go?

We next see them back where we started the episode, with music playing, and they are all wearing the 1940s dresses and tuxedos. Connor asks Abby to dance, and she accepts, both of them play acting at being posh and formal. They are laughing and enjoying themselves as they dance. We haven’t seen them like this together for a long time, and it shows how close and relaxed they can be together when outside influences (such and Caroline or Jack) aren’t getting in the way.

Sarah spoils the mood by reading from the journal about how the original research team were attacked by a mysterious ‘them’, and then the gramophone record suddenly stops being music and plays a loud squawking noise. Abby identifies it as some sort of bird’s distress call, but she doesn’t know what sort of bird.

Then they hear the tripwire warning outside, and as they all head out, Abby and Sarah find the anomaly in the bunker.

A car chase with a terror bird ensues, in which Abby is in the back of the car, and again can’t actually do an awful lot apart from periodically urging Connor to drive faster.

The car crashes into an overturned tree, and as Danny gets Sarah out of the car, Abby is focussed on Connor, who appears to be unconscious. It’s as near to panicking as Abby ever gets when she is telling Connor to wake up and speak to her, and she appears almost tender as she touches him. When Danny tells her to go back to the safe house with Sarah, Abby looks like she is going to argue, and Sarah has to physically pull her away, while Abby continues to urge Connor to wake up. Abby would worry about any of her team mates if they were injured, but when it is Connor, there’s always a much greater degree of urgency about her reactions.

Abby is the one who says she knows the way when she and Sarah are heading back to the safe house. Abby stumbles on the long dress, and stops to tear a large strip off the bottom, making it easier to run. Sarah follows her example. This is exactly the sort of reason why Abby always wears trousers!

They are surrounded by the sounds of terror birds, and Abby suggests they hide in the long stalks of a crop field. The sounds subside, and Abby thinks they’re okay, but as soon as they stand up they see a flock of terror birds right behind them, and they have to run again. This is one occasion when Abby’s usual tactic of not moving and not attracting attention when faced with a predator seems not to work. You would think that they would actually check properly before standing up in plain sight, but until this point they had no reason to suspect there were more than one or two terror birds. Still, that doesn’t explain their lack of care, and it’s tempting to blame it on yet another occasion of clumsy plotting to maintain tension and peril.

It’s interesting to note that while Abby and Sarah simply run away from the birds, at the same time Danny is getting proactive, constructing improvised traps to capture one of the birds. It’s possible that Abby didn’t want to try to engage in combat with any of the birds because she has Sarah with her. Sarah isn’t really an action type person, so perhaps Abby thought the best way to keep Sarah safe was to run. The more reckless Danny, on the other hand, is quite happy to endanger Connor by using him as bait.

Later, as they start to cross the minefield, Sarah asks, “How was your hopscotch at school?” to which Abby replies, “You know what, pretty good.” I don’t for a moment believe that Abby did play hopscotch at school, but the fact remains she does the kickboxing and yoga, so chances are she is pretty dexterous and athletic, which is what is important right then. It’s possible that Abby didn’t know what Danny was planning to do with the mine (i.e. blow up one of the terror birds), but she doesn’t object, either before or after the event.

They run into Captain Ross on the road near the safe house, and he attempts to arrest them. Abby seems to be the first one to notice the terror bird stalking one of Ross’ soldiers, and watches in horror as he is attacked. She moves to help Connor when he is in danger of being run over by Ross, although they both end up rolling out of the way under their own steam.

It’s another interesting point to note that not one of the team attempts to warn Ross or his soldier that they are in imminent danger. Admittedly Ross is trying to arrest them and is ostensibly the enemy at this point, but nevertheless it seems unusually callous to just let them die in this way. This, however, is more a comment on series 3 in general, where the team seem to be far more blasé about collateral damage, especially when it’s someone whose death is convenient for the team (such as the reporters in 3.4).

They barricade the safe house with whatever they can find, Abby mucking in and helping with the heavy lifting despite her size (something we’ve already seen before, back in 1.3). Connor optimistically suggests the terror birds might have been scared off by the explosions, but Abby tells them all that the birds are more likely to be regrouping, like hyenas preparing to steal a kill. Even though Connor hasn’t even had chance to tell them anything about prehistoric terror birds, Abby has discerned enough from watching them to suggest possible behaviour patterns.

Abby athletically dives out of the way when a terror bird breaks through their defences, and then they all prepare to fight the birds off. Abby accepts a thick heavy chain from Connor as an improvised weapon.

A fairly disorganised melee ensues, in which Abby, Sarah and Danny fight off the birds, while Connor tries to hold a door shut. They are eventually overrun, and retreat further into the building, where they all attempt to brace the door against the creatures while Danny goes off to cause a distraction. Abby cries out in fear when she hears Connor outside, apparently screaming in pain. She climbs up onto the roof, leaving Sarah behind, although it’s not clear whether that is an attempt to get to Connor, or simply to escape from the birds. They are all in peril until Danny manages to play the record with the bird’s distress call and lure the creatures back to the anomaly.

What is interesting about this episode (and also the previous one) is the change in the team dynamics. In series 2, Cutter and Connor were the ones with the theories, while Stephen and Abby tended to have the practical ideas and solutions. Now, Connor and Sarah are the ones with the theoretical ideas and knowledge, and Abby and Danny are the practical ones. This rather leaves Abby at a loose end, because, as team leader, and now nominal hero of the show, the vast majority of the driving force behind the ideas and plans in this episode, and in 3.5, came from Danny rather than Abby. Abby takes part and helps, and is still the go-to person for animal knowledge, but unfortunately she seems somewhat less proactive than she used to be now that Danny is in charge.

We don’t see Abby’s expression when Becker turns up to arrest them, but she does shake her head, perhaps in disbelief, or disappointment, at this turn of events.

Once they get back, and Lester returns, Abby can barely contain her giggles as Christine is outmanoeuvred, and bursts into laughter along with everyone else when she has gone. As they leave, Abby says to Lester, “You missed us, didn’t you?” and has a knowing smile when he tells her not to be ridiculous. Things are back to normal once more, and Abby is feeling relaxed enough to joke with Lester. The last time we saw them have a conversation (as opposed to a meeting) was in 2.6, but this is an altogether more relaxed and friendly exchange. It may just be the mood of the day, but it seems as though the relationship between Abby and Lester has mellowed as a result of all that they’ve been through recently. Abby enthusiastically joins in with the applause and support as Lester appears on the balcony while Christine is escorted from the building.

Abby comes home (still in the posh, although now rather battered, evening dress), and finds Jack playing with the table football. When he asks what happened to her, she brushes him off, replying, “Just another boring day at the office.” She spots all the beer bottles scattered around the room, and asks if he’s been having a party. Jack replies just a few friends, and he’ll clean up later. “Yes, you will,” Abby says, although we don’t see whether she makes him clear up, or whether she ends up doing it herself.

She asks where Rex is, and Jack says he’s up in his room. Abby accepts this quite happily, and carries on filling the kettle. As soon as she isn’t looking at him, Jack looks worried – the viewers know he has gambled Rex away playing poker.

It’s interesting that she takes Jack’s word for it that Rex is in his room, rather than calling out for Rex, as we have seen her do on several previous occasions. Abby apparently thinks she has no reason to mistrust Jack, and while she probably isn’t blind to his behaviour, she also probably assumes he wouldn’t go so far as to steal her possessions, or harm her pets. It’s an assumption that will put them all in danger a couple of episodes later.

Link to part 18 - episode 3.5
Link to part 20 - episode 3.7

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25 comments or Leave a comment
freddiejoey From: freddiejoey Date: June 22nd, 2012 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely adore this episode!

Thanks for bringing back so many great memories of the first time I watched it.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 22nd, 2012 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
This one is probably my favourite from series 3 as well. It's fun, and it's got Connor in a tux!
nietie From: nietie Date: June 22nd, 2012 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
This, however, is more a comment on series 3 in general, where the team seem to be far more blasé about collateral damage, especially when it’s someone whose death is convenient for the team That is an interesting observation. I think all the experiences and deaths around them must have hardened them.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 22nd, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Possibly, but I'm more tempted to put it down to bad writing. In both cases - Captain Ross and the reporters - they needed a way to get rid of them, and having them eaten by creatures was the easy way out. Even though they were 'enemies', though, I'd have preferred to see some sort of reaction from the team.
dreamer_98 From: dreamer_98 Date: June 22nd, 2012 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is one of my favorite episodes in the series; I think like you said, it's mainly because it has more of an adventurous tone, and while the situation they're in is still dangerous, there's more of a sense of fun when they're in the cabin.

I'm surprised Abby liked and wanted to try on the dresses, as that seems opposite to her usual apparel, but like she said in early series 1, she can "do the girl thing" too.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 22nd, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this ep for the fun and adventure, and Connor in a tux, of course.

The whole thing with them getting dressed up is a bit silly, considering they're all in imminent danger, but they did seem to be enjoying themselves.
darkhorse_99 From: darkhorse_99 Date: June 22nd, 2012 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
You are so devoted to this meta, I'm so impressed!

This episode was a lot of fun, and it did show up a bunch of things that I tended to gloss over like how they didn't warn Ross's men, Danny using Connor as bait and Abby thinking they can just outrun a creature, which made no sense at all. They could barely outrun it a truck!

deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 22nd, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
This episode was a great deal of fun, and it's probably my favourite ep in series 3, but yeah, it does suffer from some the general writing flaws that are entirely too frequent in series 3.
celeste9 From: celeste9 Date: June 22nd, 2012 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've always loved this episode and one of my favorite moments is when Abby tears the dress. Always practical!

You made an interesting point about the change in the team dynamics. I wonder if the fact that Danny is also such a big personality might contribute to him always seeming to have more of the spotlight?
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 22nd, 2012 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Re Danny's personality, possibly yes. I noticed as I was doing the meta that once Danny is on the team Abby seems to do far less practical plans and action stuff (except on the occasions when Danny physically isn't there with her, as we'll see in the next ep).

The only explanation I can come up with is that because Danny is the leader and the big action hero, the writers felt he needed to be the one doing all the big action stuff. And that, unfortunately, tends to be at Abby's expense.
natchris From: natchris Date: June 22nd, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Abby is especially great in this ep. That tattered dress is a stand out.

Thank you for the analysis

Edited at 2012-06-22 08:06 pm (UTC)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 23rd, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you enjoyed it.
knitekat From: knitekat Date: June 22nd, 2012 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is one of my favourites. Great analysis of the ep.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 23rd, 2012 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. This is probably my favourite epiode in series 3, it's fun and it has the boys in tuxes! (it's just a shame we didn't get Becker and Lester in tuxes as well, but then if we had, I suspect several fangirls might have spontaneously exploded!).

Edited at 2012-06-23 01:40 pm (UTC)
knitekat From: knitekat Date: June 23rd, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mmmm, very nice image.
reggietate From: reggietate Date: June 24th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is such a fun episode, even though large parts of the plot are rather pants :-) The whole cabin in the woods being left untouched for so long, the minefield, etc, is just, well, not exactly believable. But the terror birds are great, and it feels a lot more like old Primeval. even without Cutter.

The treatment of Captain Ross did annoy me, though. His original appearance in ep 3.01 made it seem like he was going to rebel against Christine, which would have been great.

Interesting point about the change in team dynamics. Abby does rather lose out, which is a pity.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 24th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep, I love this episode, but as you say, it has plot holes you could drive a herd of diplodocus through! But on the other hand - Connor in a tux! I forgive this ep *a lot* simply because it gave us Connor in a tux :-) And I agree, it did feel rather more like old-style Primeval, with all the adventure and improvised weapons.

It's just a shame that Abby seemed to lose out on so many things that used to be her area when Danny took over.
fredbassett From: fredbassett Date: June 26th, 2012 06:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I love this episode, even if I did hate the casual way the writers treated Ross and turned him into a coward just because he was on the wrong 'side'.

It's always interesting to look at Abby's interaction with the hideous Jack. She certainly has a blind spot where the little toad is concerned.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 26th, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, they very much treated captain Ross the same as the two reporters from 3.4. The team didn't even seem to attempt to save them from the creatures, because it was convinient for the plot/writers to have them die. They may not have been 'innocent civilians' but I can't see the team being happy about it, or simply letting it happen in the way they did.

Gah, Jack is a horrible little shit, and I really genuinely wanted the insects in 3.8 to eat him!
lsellersfic From: lsellersfic Date: June 27th, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know why I don't really like this episode since I know its a favourite and your analysis shows why, with the relaxed and playful dynamic within the team. It may be that I was thoroughly fed up with S3 by this point, though also lots about the secret hideaway and the team's behaviour there really doesn't make sense to me.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: June 27th, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
There are some pretty major plot holes (not least being why they would play dress-up when they were in iminent danger of being hunted down by Christine's people), but I think it stands out for a lot of people as being one of the first times in series 3 that it recaptured the fun and spirit of series 1, after all the angst.

It was certainly the first episode in series 3 that made me want to write episode-inspired fanfic, so it must have been doing *somethng* right!
cordeliadelayne From: cordeliadelayne Date: June 30th, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very nice write-up!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: July 1st, 2012 08:34 am (UTC) (Link)
thanks! I do like this ep, but mostly for the shallow Connor-in-a-tux reasons!
wild_force71 From: wild_force71 Date: July 12th, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
To be fair, Danny did warn Captain Ross that there were Creatures about; Ross brushed him off with an 'all in good time' and Danny didn't press it.

I love series 3. These posts are brilliant. :D
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: July 12th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you're enjoying them. True about Ross, I think it's a problem with the writing rather than the characters, and the writers taking the easy way out to get rid of 'bad guys'.
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