Well, here we go again! This time it's an episode by episode meta for Connor Temple, and, as suspected it's going to be a biggie. The word count so far is almost 7000 words, and I've only done the first three episodes!
Anyway, let's begin at the beginning, and see where it all started for the other one of the only two characters to have appeared in every single episode of Primeval.
Series 1, episode 1
We first meet Connor Temple as he is chasing behind Cutter and Stephen, calling out to the professor repeatedly, and largely being ignored until he is practically right behind them. As he runs he manages to drop most of the things he is carrying (mostly consisting of papers and folders), and somehow lose his shoe as well. Cutter clearly has no idea who he is – he doesn’t recognise Connor, or even recognise his name, despite the fact that Connor informs him he is one of Cutter’s students.
According to the subtitles, when Cutter asks why he doesn’t recognise Connor, Connor replies, “Well, you’ve never actually turned up for the seminars.” I’m in two minds as to whether this is one of many occasions when the subtitles have got it wrong (a frequent occurrence with both Connor and Cutter, possibly due to their accents), and I wonder whether Connor actually says, “I’ve never turned up for the seminars.” He does look rather shifty and less enthusiastic then he had been before when he says this, and Cutter promptly dismisses him and carries on walking, ignoring him, afterwards, although these reactions may also be consistent with the first version.
If Connor has never turned up for the seminars, it implies he’s something of a lazy student. If the opposite is true, then it implies that he is eager to learn, and keeps turning up despite repeated no-show’s by his tutor. Either way, Cutter does not seem impressed by his first meeting with the boy.
From this opening scene we catch the first glimpses of Connor’s enthusiasm and hopefulness, and also his desire for attention – he keeps following Cutter and Stephen and trying to attract their attention despite the fact that they are quite clearly ignoring him at first. We also see he is a little clumsy, dropping his things and gathering them up in a hurried, haphazard armful (including his shoe) in order to catch up with the others.
It’s not the most auspicious of introductions, but it does rather set the tone for series 1.
Connor follows Cutter and Stephen to Cutter’s office, where Cutter seems to have finally acknowledged him and introduces Stephen. We (and Cutter) learn that Connor’s dissertation involves an argument that life on earth originated from organisms carried here by alien spacecraft, an idea that Cutter is clearly extremely unimpressed with. Connor backtracks a little when he realises this is not helping him to win Cutter’s favour.
When Cutter actually engages him in conversation and starts enthusing about the sarcopterygian, and that fact that he is interested in the unexplained aspects of evolution, Connor smiles and nods. He is caught up in the enthusiasm, and obviously believes that Cutter is someone with whom he has shared interests.
Connor then rather breaks the moment by showing Cutter the newspaper report of the unknown predator in the Forest of Dean. Cutter is dismissive, but Connor is not so easily put off, and maintains his enthusiasm, even when Cutter tells him to go out and get a girlfriend. He continues to press the point, claiming there is an eyewitness.
Cutter: People claim to have seen the Loch Ness monster. It doesn’t mean to say it’s there.
Connor: Not now, obviously, because it died years ago. The government took the body away and they covered the whole thing up.
It appears that Connor a) completely believes this is true, and b) is completely oblivious of the fact that saying such things is not winning him any points with Cutter.
Then, in a last ditch attempt to make Cutter listen, Connor says, “Your wife wouldn’t have ignored it.” The change is Cutter’s demeanour and tone is obvious to everyone, even Connor, who is suitably contrite when Cutter defends Helen’s reputation. Cutter tells him its okay. Ironically, this may actually be the first point in the whole conversation that they actually connect with each other, rather than simply talking at cross purposes. Connor finally seems to give up, and is slowly meandering towards the door when he throws in a comment about the location – the Forest of Dean.
It’s interesting that Connor knows of Helen’s work, even though the last time she would have been published (at least eight years ago), Connor can’t have been more than a teenager. It implies that he is prepared to go looking for more obscure works in pursuit of things that he is interested in, rather than just being spoon fed information by lecturers. However, he can’t have delved too far into Helen’s story because he seems unaware of the significance of the Forest of Dean, only mentioning it as an afterthought.
Connor travels with Cutter and Stephen to the Forest of Dean to investigate, but it seems initially that he is only there as a hanger-on. Cutter continues to largely ignore him, and after making a few fascinated comments about the gouge marks, Connor says, “You know, if you want my opinion, I think it’s...” He catches Cutter’s look. “You don’t, do you?” He finally appears to be catching on that his wild theories are not winning any favour with the others, and voluntarily stops rabbiting on. If they’ve been in a car together for the last hour or so, that must have been a fun journey!
When Cutter wanders off, yet again ignoring Connor’s attempt to attract his attention, Connor asks Stephen whether Cutter is okay. Only then does he (and more importantly, the viewers) learn about Helen’s disappearance. Connor looks shocked at the news, and glances back at Cutter as he takes this in.
While Cutter is off meeting Claudia Brown, Connor is showing off his creature database on his laptop to Stephen.
Connor: This database contains constantly updated information on all known extinct vertebrates. I’ve been building it every spare second since I was 14.
Stephen: It’s impressive.
Connor: It’s pretty cool, huh?
Stephen: And slightly sad.
Connor: (Apparently undeterred by Stephen’s comment) You know we’re not talking about a wild cat, don’t you?
(Cutter and Claudia arrive)
Cutter: This is Claudia Brown from the Home Office. She’ll be coming with us.
Connor: (To Stephen in a completely not-whispered stage whisper) I knew it. It’s a cover up.
Claudia: What’s he talking about?
Cutter: (Smirking) Connor never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like.
(Connor eyes Claudia suspiciously as they all get in the car)
I’ll start by mentioning that, again, I’m choosing to ignore the subtitles, which claim he says “...all non-extinct vertebrates...” which makes no sense whatsoever in the context!
This is actually a conversation that tells us a lot about Connor. In the absence of Cutter, he is clearly trying to impress Stephen instead, by showing him the database. This constant attention seeking and wanting to impress people with his knowledge and skills is a character trait that stays with Connor throughout all five series, no matter how much he grows up later. It seems to be an almost pathological need to gain the approval of people who he works with, or sometimes even people who are all but strangers. It’s tempting to put it down to confidence issues, but the truth is he actually seems to have a great deal of self-confidence, both in his abilities (mostly justified), and in his social skills (mostly not justified!).
Stephen’s comment about it being slightly sad does not seem to deter or offend Connor in the slightest. If this is how he acts with everyone, he’s probably used to such comments. Cutter’s line at the end is another reminder of Connor’s obsession with conspiracies (which will be important in later episodes with regard to Tom and Duncan). It also perhaps suggests the group are becoming more comfortable with each other – the joke is on Connor, but it is not an unkind joke at his expense, and he takes no offence from it.
As they walk through the forest, when Cutter regales Claudia with tales of Stephen’s tracking abilities, Connor joins in, saying, “Not to mention wrestle an anaconda, and save a whale.” He’s clearly making it up, and this time Connor is the one making a joke at Stephen’s expense, poking the action man image.
When they find the cow in the tree, Connor seems more interested in the fact that, “The compass is going haywire.” Again he addresses this to Cutter, and shows him the compass, bypassing Stephen who is standing between them.
They find the scutosaurus, and Abby, and Connor spends most of the time staring at the creature in shock, and possibly a little nervous. He does eventually say, “I was right, it was a dinosaur in that warehouse.” In fact it isn’t a dinosaur, something that Connor probably already knows, but presumably for the benefit of the viewer, ‘dinosaur’ is easier to understand than ‘pareiasaur’. Connor then takes a picture of it on his phone, with no regard whatsoever to the fact that the flash might scare the creature (which Abby has already told them is nervous). Connor looks rather disgruntled when Claudia snatches the phone out of his hand and tells him it’s classified.
Connor is left with Stephen watching over the scutosaurus while the others go and deal with Ben. While Stephen cautions that they don’t know what they’re dealing with yet, Connor’s imagination is already running away with him, and he claims this is going to win him the Nobel Prize, and that he discovered it. Stephen doesn’t say much, but his expression suggests he is eye-rolling in the background. When they chase the scutosaurus and find the anomaly for the first time, Connor’s expression simply says, “Wow!”
As military backup arrive later (by this time it’s getting light, so early morning), Connor is pondering the anomaly, and realises his pen is being pulled towards it. When he lets the anomaly take the pen out of his grasp altogether, he comments to Cutter, “That explains the compass going crazy.” For a moment Cutter is engaging with him on the scientific questions posed by the anomaly when he wonders out loud about the magnetic field. Unfortunately, Connor then spoils the moment by saying it might be an alien spacecraft, and Cutter just gives him A Look.
While Cutter and Claudia discuss the anomalies, Connor is apparently having fun testing the magnetic field of the anomaly with anything that comes to hand, and is delighted with the results. Until he realises it has taken his front door key. As usual, he’s getting carried away with the excitement of the moment, and not thinking through what he’s doing.
We next see Connor with Stephen as he tracks the gorgonopsid through the forest. Connor is very much following, and admits to Stephen that he isn’t really ‘outdoorsy’, and has allergies. It mostly seems to be a scene contrasting the two of them, with Stephen obviously being the action hero, and Connor the comic relief sidekick. Connor does do as he’s told when Stephen tells him to be quiet, although as soon as they start moving again he asks if they should wait for Cutter (who Connor frequently refers to by his title of ‘Professor’ rather than by his name).
When we next see them, Connor asks for Stephen’s advice about Abby, hinting (rather blatantly) that he is interested in her. Stephen smirks and is clearly amused by Connor, and points out that Connor already has a girlfriend. Connor admits she’s actually more of a ‘pen pal’, again causing much amusement from Stephen. Stephen eventually becomes impatient with Connor’s questions and tells him to just ask her. Connor pauses and becomes distracted, and by the time he turns around Stephen has gone, forcing Connor to chase after him once again.
It’s the first of many times that we see this kind of conversation and interaction between the two of them, and already there is a brotherly type of relationship forming, with Connor looking to Stephen for advice and approval, and Stephen being generally amused and making gentle fun at Connor’s expense.
Stephen finds a footprint and shows it to Connor, who then consults his database (apparently he had been carrying his laptop around with him in his rucksack since the previous day). He identifies the scutosaurus they saw earlier, and the time period it came from (the Late Permian). He also identifies that the footprint is from something else, and suggests it is most likely to be a gorgonopsid. He proceeds to show Stephen a remarkably accurate picture of a gorgonopsid, and imparts information about the creature. This is another job that frequently falls to Connor throughout all series of Primeval – explaining information about the creatures for the benefit of other characters, and the viewers.
Connor tells Stephen that he (Stephen) has to find the gorgonopsid. Connor apparently has no intention of going with him, and says, “You mighty hunter. Me, I’m more logistics and, you know, backup.” Again they seem to be highlighting the differences between the two characters, but it also shows that, despite his ‘mighty hunter’ jokes, Connor seems to have complete faith in Stephen’s ability to find the creature. That’s a lot of trust and belief to say they only met each other about 24 hours earlier. That, again, demonstrates another one of Connor’s enduring traits – his willingness to trust people.
While Stephen went off tracking, Connor apparently managed to find his way back to the anomaly site by himself, and is there while Cutter is preparing to go through the anomaly. Cutter asks him to try phoning Stephen again, a little redundant since Connor is already on the phone, but there is no answer. It seems they have all swapped phone numbers at some point in the last few hours.
Connor and Abby stand together as they watch Cutter and Ryan go through the anomaly. Not long afterwards, however, Connor drops some stuff out of his pocket (there’s that clumsy streak again), and immediately realises that the magnetic field of the anomaly is fading because it didn’t take his pen (and just how many pens does he have in his pockets?). He concludes the anomaly must be getting weaker.
Connor being oblivious is something of a fandom favourite, but while he may be clueless at dealing with people in a social way, when it comes to situations like this he is clearly paying attention to the details, and is able to apply his knowledge and observations to quickly draw scientific or practical conclusions.
When Cutter and Ryan dive back through the anomaly, moments before it closes, Connor is among the first to go to them and he helps Cutter to his feet, asking what it was like. He’s clearly overjoyed that they have got back safely.