Series 3, epsidoe 9
Abby comes round to visit Connor in Lester’s flat. She is carrying a large cardboard box, which we find out in a minute contains Rex. It seems to be an unexpected visit, because Connor looks both surprised and puzzled by her sudden appearance. It does rather beg the question how and when Abby actually found out where he was, since he had previously been maintaining the lie that he was staying with friends.
Abby: (Looks round at all the post-it notes telling Connor what not to do, and gives Connor a slightly nervous looking smile) I expect you’re wondering why I’m here.
(Connor pulls a face and shrugs. Abby puts the box down and opens the lid to allow Rex to clamber out. They both chuckle.)
Abby: Rex was lonely.
Connor: (Whistles) Guys. (Sid and Nancy come running in and have a little reunion with Rex, while Abby and Connor watch, smiling) That’s cute.
(After a moment, Abby stops smiling and looks a little awkward, and turns to Connor. Connor senses the mood change, and watches her, his smile fading.)
Abby: I wanted to... I just don’t want things to be weird between us.
Connor: Absolutely. Me neither. Don’t want any... any sort of weirdness with... (puts on a silly voice) No weird areas here.
(Abby stares at him with a ‘what the hell?’ expression.)
Connor: I’m being weird, aren’t I?
Abby: (Still staring) Yeah.
(Connor looks nervous, and Abby just looks incredibly uncomfortable and won’t look at him)
Connor: Uh... I don’t suppose now Jack’s moved out that, you know... (he makes an odd gesture with his hand) Mmm? (Abby smiles) Yeah?
Abby: Yeah. Yeah, they can move back in (looking at Sid and Nancy with a huge grin).
Connor: Wicked. That’s just great news, ‘cause I think their lives are in danger here living with Lester. Literally, I think he...
Abby: Connor, it’s fine. (Her tone is now impatient, and her expression suggests she is still slightly weirded out. Connor looks nervous again.) We’ve missed them, anyway. Haven’t we, Rex? (She looks to Rex, who responds to his name and looks at her and chirps. She turns back to Connor.) See?
(Abby looks around the room)
Abby: Nice place. (She goes to the sofa and moves two of the post-it notes telling Connor not to sit here, and she sits down) You must love it here.
Connor: (Pulls a fake enthusiastic expression) Oh, yeah. It’s not home, though, is it?
(Abby leans forward, looking like she is preparing herself to say something she is not looking forward to)
Abby: Connor, um...
(Connor’s hand-held detector goes off, and Abby sighs and gives up).
Abby appears to have done another one of her complete about-turns, and it’s possibly the most spectacular one yet. As happened with Stephen in series 1, she acted on the spur of the moment (in this case, kissing Connor in the previous episode), but once she had time to go away and think about it, she seems to have realised it may have been a step too far, and now she wants to back off again.
But what is actually going on in this scene? For starters, Abby seems to be using Rex as an excuse to come round and see Connor, and for the first half of the conversation she keeps deflecting the focus of the conversation onto the animals rather than talking about herself and Connor. It’s similar to what we saw in 3.4, when she kept putting off the moment when she had to tell Connor about Jack and ask him to move out. Whatever it is that Abby wants to say to Connor, she is not looking forward to it in the slightest.
She also appears to deliberately misunderstand or avoid the subject when Connor asks about Jack moving out. It is obvious to everyone, including Abby, no doubt, that Connor is really asking if he can move back in, and yet Abby again deflects the question and makes it about the animals, at the same time apparently refusing Connor’s desire to come home. Is she perhaps waiting until after they have had the conversation about their relationship (or lack thereof), and intending to see how it goes before deciding whether to allow Connor to move back in? It also raises interesting questions about the exact status of their living arrangements, if Abby has the power to refuse to let him move back in, but we’ve already discussed this in the meta of episode 3.4.
Abby’s statement, “I just don’t want things to be weird between us,” is revealing. It has to be said that Abby is the one who seems to be acting the most weirdly out of the two of them, but she turns that on Connor and makes it seem like he’s the one acting strangely when he attempts to hide his confusion and inexperience with humour. Nevertheless, it does seem to indicate that she is acknowledging that something happened between them, but that she wants them to return to their previous platonic friendship. Is this Abby’s way of apologising for (possibly inadvertently) leading him on? Now that I really think about it, I’m struggling to think of a single occasion where Abby has ever properly apologised to Connor for anything, so it also suggests that she knows she may have messed up big time on this occasion. Even so, Abby is either being extremely naive, or incredibly self-centred if she believes that Connor will just forget all about the kiss on her say-so.
Of course, Connor doesn’t help himself, because he beats around the bush and allows Abby to deflect him, rather than asking direct straight questions. This gives Abby lots of ways to avoid giving him a straight answer. When she does finally seem to be working herself up to saying what is on her mind, they are interrupted, and she bottles it (a circumstance which echoes the last time that they almost had an honest heart-to-heart about their relationship, at the end of 2.4, when Caroline interrupted just as Connor looked like he was about to tell Abby he loved her, again).
One of two things seems to have happened. The first possibility is that Abby only meant the kiss as a thank you, and realised later that Connor had probably got the wrong idea. It has to be said, if she did only want to say thanks, a peck on the cheek or a hug would have done the job just as well, with far less likelihood of anyone getting the wrong idea. The second possibility is that she did mean something more than just a thank you with the kiss, but has since started to have second thoughts, and now wants to back off again. This would be consistent with her behaviour on previous occasions with men she has feelings for.
Unfortunately, Abby really doesn’t come out of this scene well. For many people, this seems to have been the final straw on the subject of her blowing hot and cold over Connor, and if you were feeling uncharitable, it could be said that Abby ends up looking like a heartless bitch with the way she treats him. Of course, we will never know what it was that she intended to say to him before the detector went off. Based on what we know of Abby, though, it seems likely that it is not her intention to deliberately hurt Connor, but for whatever reason she is terrified of relationships and commitment, and she is trying to protect herself from being hurt. Between Abby’s fear, and Connor’s inexperience, neither of them are handling a difficult conversation very well, and it all ends up in a confused and painful mess.
At the anomaly site, Abby, Connor, Sarah and Becker, along with Becker’s men, arrive at the large campsite, and as they are walking from the cars Abby come between a group of men tossing a rugby ball around. Abby catches it, and tosses it back to them with a quick smile.
While Connor and Sarah faff with their hand-held detectors, Abby asks were Danny is. Then they hear the noise of what sounds like a large animal in the trees, and they all run off towards it (minus Becker’s soldiers).
In the woods they find an upturned quad bike with its engine still running. Abby switches it off, presumably so that they can listen for animals more easily, but also perhaps so that the noise doesn’t disturb or frighten any animals.
They find the herd of embolotherium, and for a moment Abby can only stare in shock and awe, and comments, “There’s so many of them.” She doesn’t seem particularly bothered about what they are, so much as the fact that there is an entire herd of them.
Becker leaves, saying he’s going to get the campsite evacuated, and while Sarah looks worried, Abby and Connor both seem impressed and awestruck by the creatures. Abby says, “They’re incredible.” Connor then explains what they are to Sarah. It seems that in the absence of Cutter, Abby and Connor have both taken on aspects of his role – Abby the wonder and love of the creatures, and Connor the palaeontological facts and theories. Abby then spots a ladies’ bra on the ground, and picks it up, looking at the others with a puzzled expression.
They hear someone (John, according to the subtitles) calling for help from inside the tent, and immediately move towards it, Abby saying, “Come on.” Then they see the embolotherium bull on the path behind them, and Abby decides that he is disrupting the herd, and that it’s not safe for them to try to get through the herd in that state. Someone needs to distract the bull. Abby and Sarah both look at Connor. Connor initially protests, but Abby gives him her version of the hopeful puppy eyes and says, “Please,” and Connor gives in. As he moves off to attract the attention of the bull, Abby and Sarah exchange a smile, presumably at having got Connor to do that particular job.
They don’t even wait for Connor to get the bull out of the way before Abby and Sarah make a move, Abby suggesting they should split up and try to move through the herd. This doesn’t actually sound like the best plan ever, and results in Sarah having a few close shaves and almost getting trampled, but she reaches the other side and finds Abby standing there looking amused at Sarah’s antics. In the meantime, Connor is being chased by the bull, and yells for Abby as he runs away.
It’s presumably supposed to be a funny scene, but in fact, Abby’s plan has just put both Sarah and Connor in serious danger, and Connor is still in danger, and yet Abby seems more interested in getting to the stranger inside the tent. Apparently it never occurs to any of them to call Becker for backup.
The herd begin to move off after the bull, leaving Abby and Sarah at the tent. They hear the cries of a baby animal from within, and Abby crawls under the side of the tent to investigate. Inside, she finds a man dressed only in boots, socks and boxer shorts (John), and after a moment of surprise, Abby has trouble suppressing her smirk as she looks him up and down, and comments, “None of my business.” He explains it’s his stag weekend, but before Abby can comment further, she hears the baby embolotherium squealing again, and immediately shushes him.
John asks what’s going on, and what the creatures are, and Abby responds, “Let me get you out first and then we can chat.” As usual, she wants to deal with the practical problems first, and since John doesn’t appear to be hurt or panicking at this point, she isn’t too concerned with keeping him calm or creating an even vaguely plausible cover story. Then John gives her a funny look, and asks if she’s the stripper. Abby responds with her best possible condescending glare (she’s been taking lessons from Lester, by the look of it!), and says, “Do you want to get out of here alive, or not?”
Abby goes to investigate the baby, giving John an impatient look when it seems he is thoroughly uninterested in the creature. She sees the baby is trapped, and is immediately concerned and compassionate towards it.
Abby: (To the embolotherium baby) What have you done to yourself? Listen, don’t worry, we’re gonna get you out of here. I promise.
She’s definitely shown more compassion, reassurance and comfort to the baby creature than she has towards John so far!
Then, in another comedy moment, she asks John, “Do I look like a stripper?” and when he doesn’t immediately deny it, she interrupts him with, “Don’t answer that.”
The mother embolotherium returns and begins to wreck the tent trying to get to its squealing baby. Abby tells John he’s going to have to help her get the calf out, and calls out to Sarah to calm the mother down. In the chaos, Abby falls on John and ends up on his chest, and they both pull away, with John apologising.
They do eventually work together (with Abby taking the lead) and manage to free the trapped baby, and Abby slices open the tent walls to create a gap to let the baby run out and go to its mother (at first I wondered if she had a penknife or multi-tool on her, but when Abby comes out of the tent she is holding a large steak knife, so presumably she found it inside the tent).
As the mother and baby go off together, Abby and Sarah have an amusing exchange.
Sarah: You all right?
(Sarah spots John lurking by the tent)
Abby: (Watching the embolotheriums and oblivious to Sarah staring at John) Sweet. (Abby finally catches onto Sarah’s expression) Not him, them.
Sarah: What’ve you been doing in there?
Abby: Never mind.
Sarah: (With an incredibly suggestive expression) Oh.
We very rarely see Abby having what could be described as a ‘girly’ conversation, but it does happen occasionally, particularly in series 3 with Jenny (episode 3.2) and Sarah (here, and 3.6). It’s possible that we don’t see more of this simply because a lot of the time Abby tends to be surrounded by male colleagues, so there is no one available to have this kind of exchange with.
In the aftermath, John eventually thanks Abby for saving him, and she tells him the creatures are a rare species of rhino. Then Abby presents him with the bra that she found earlier and asks, “Is this yours?” John takes it and gets into the car looking embarrassed, as Abby smiles, knowing she has got the last word after his stripper comments earlier. In the background, Becker and Sarah have been watching the conversation, and both of them look amused, but Abby takes it in good humour.
Then they’re back down to business, wondering how to get the herd back through the anomaly. Abby sees a large JCB digger, and gets a speculative expression. The next thing we see is Becker and Sarah standing off to one side watching as Abby directs the driver of the digger, herding the embolotherium ahead of them. This is a nice bit of continuity with series 2, where Abby used a JCB in episode 2.3. It works, and the creatures head towards the anomaly. Then Abby realises that the anomaly is closing, and shouts to the others that they need to get the creatures moving faster. This results in Danny driving his car behind them, occasionally ramming (slowly) into the creatures’ backs to push them along.
Abby calls Connor, telling him to lead the bull to the anomaly, but moments later the anomaly closes, and she tells him to keep the bull away. By this point it’s too late, however, and Connor appears round the corner with the bull in hot pursuit, and the herd stampede out of the woods towards the campsite.
Abby naturally seems to take charge of the situation, and the rest of the team defer to her without argument, especially when it comes to dealing with creatures here. It’s only when Danny reappears that Abby seems to stop being quite so proactive and ‘in charge’.
Abby helps the team attempt to clear all the civilians out of the campsite (let’s not ask why this hasn’t happened already, after Becker left them intending to do just that about half an hour earlier). As the herd get closer, Becker fires into the air, and then he and his soldiers take up firing positions. Abby looks horrified, and screams at him, “No! Becker, stop!” In the confusion that follows, it’s not clear whether Becker stopped firing on her order, or whether the soldiers simply backed off as the creatures were almost upon them.
‘Eve’ opens an anomaly and the creatures all go home, and Abby stares in shock alongside Connor when he asks about the technology. ‘Eve’ persuades Danny to take her to the ARC, and Danny tells Abby to come with him.
When they get to the ARC, Danny tells Abby to watch ‘Eve’. Abby doesn’t look entirely comfortable, but does so, following her very closely as she wanders further into the main ops room. Abby doesn’t seem to entirely trust the woman, but makes small talk until she gets too close to the artefact, at which point Abby tells her, “Don’t touch it.”
Then Abby sees the hologram flicker, and stares at ‘Eve’. When ‘Eve’ questions what’s wrong, Abby brushes it off, and says her eyes must have been playing tricks. It’s almost the same reaction we saw in 2.4 when she thought she saw a mer in the water, moments before it grabbed her. Given that they deal with highly unusual things as part of their day job, it’s interesting that Abby is so quick to dismiss such things when she sees something out of the ordinary. Abby has always placed a high value on other people’s respect for her abilities, and for her as a person, so it’s possible she doesn’t want to appear foolish in front of people by claiming to have seen apparently impossible things.
Abby comments, “It’s been a long day,” to which ‘Eve’ replies, “Trust me, it’s only just beginning.” Abby gives her a curious look. She’s definitely suspicious, but as yet the woman hasn’t given her any serious reason to mistrust her, and Abby may be placing faith in Danny that he knows more about the woman and knows what he’s doing bringing her to the ARC.
A short while later, Abby’s suspicions apparently get the better of her, and she approaches ‘Eve’ and asks, “I know this might sound weird, but have we met?” This time it isn’t small talk, this time there is an almost outright challenge to Abby’s tone. She is beginning to have serious misgivings about the woman now. ‘Eve’ makes a grab for the artefact, and Abby lunges to get in her way.
The situation goes downhill rapidly as ‘Eve’ takes Christine hostage and reveals herself to be Helen Cutter. Abby doesn’t do a lot in the ensuing confrontation, but she gives Connor a supportive look as he quietly tries to remove the artefact, and then gives him a pained and sympathetic look when Lester insists that Connor give Helen the artefact. Abby knows how much it means to Connor, and knows how much it is hurting him to hand it over to the woman who killed his mentor.
Abby tries to help in the mad scramble to save Christine, but she is ripped out of their grasp, and they all jump backwards when a predator appears through the anomaly.
Danny announces they have to go after her, and Abby immediately points out they don’t know where the anomaly went to. Danny then explains it goes to the same place as the anomaly at the racetrack (presumably he hadn’t mentioned this to the others before now, only to Lester).
Finally we get a rather amusing team power walk as they all exit Johnson’s building, with Danny in the front and centre, and Abby and Connor to either side of him, and Sarah and Becker on the outside and further back. Abby and Connor have come a long way from being the ‘junior’ team members in series 1. Now they are core team members, only second in rank to the leader.
Link to part 21 - episode 3.8