Series 1, episode 2
Connor starts the episode in the university canteen (he has chosen a banana, while his friends seem to have opted for junk food), talking to Tom and Duncan.
Connor: (Enthusiastic) They’re called anomalies, but I can’t say any more. Official Secrets Act. But I will tell you this. I’ve seen a gorgonopsid. Face-to-face, and trust me, it’s not pretty.
Tom: Just how stupid do you think we are, Conn?
Connor: But it’s all true. (The others scoff). All right. I swear on my Empire Strikes Back first edition poster, signed by Luke Skywalker and Dave Prowse.
Tom: Ooh, careful. That’s invoking a sacred relic.
Duncan: Yeah, like the bible.
Connor: Yeah, I know what a sacred relic is, Duncan. I have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Tom: Space-time anomalies and dinosaurs. Sounds like someone’s been overdoing the Playstation.
Connor: I can prove it. (Pause) Only I’m not allowed to.
Connor: (Finally giving up) You know, one day you’re going to be gutted that you didn’t believe me.
Connor walks off, apparently put off and slightly irritated by their disbelief.
It’s not one of Connor’s better moments, it has to be said. We saw in the previous episode that he has a tendency to seek attention, and show off, and that apparently applies to his friends as well as people like Cutter or Stephen. He knows he’s not supposed to talk about it, which is clear from the several times he admits during the conversation that he isn’t allowed to talk about it, and yet he can’t seem to stop himself once he gets going. He also seems genuinely affronted when Tom and Duncan don’t believe him.
It’s almost as if Connor himself can’t quite believe this is real, and is treating it like the films and TV shows that they are all so clearly obsessed with, rather than a real and serious situation.
As a general comment, this over-reliance on pop-culture references to characterise Connor in the first few episodes seems like a clumsy shorthand way to portray him as a sci-fi geek. Unfortunately, while a few references would have done the job nicely, the writers seem to have gone completely over the top, and it just makes Connor look like the worst kind of stereotype. Thankfully they drop the excessive pop-culture references in later episodes, and they are only used sparingly, usually for comedy effect.
We next see Connor on his own, presumably still at the university, on his laptop. We don’t see what he’s looking at, but he smiles, and glances around the room furtively, before looking back at his computer.
He goes to Abby’s flat (they must have swapped addresses as well as phone numbers in the previous episode), and tells her he thinks he’s found another anomaly. When she opens the door, he wanders in without invitation, and is obviously impressed at Abby’s flat, but he stops in mid sentence when he turns round and realises that Abby is in her underwear. In Connor’s defence, he stares for a moment, and then looks away, and makes a comment about it suddenly being hot in here, so he doesn’t actually ogle quite as much as you might expect. Abby nevertheless decides this would be a prudent time to get dressed!
Connor tells her he has found something on the ‘weird sightings forum’, and insists that they should check it out. Abby asks what Cutter thinks about it, and Connor admits he hasn’t actually told him. Connor admits, “I could be wrong, and I don’t want him to think I’m an idiot.” Abby replies, “He already thinks you’re an idiot.” Connor takes this in good humour, and then adds, “Come on, think how impressed he’ll be if I’m right.”
Abby again says they should tell Cutter, but then Connor discovers Rex. He seems mostly amused and pleased that Abby kept the lizard, and when she asks if he’s going to tell anyone, Connor says, “No, I mean, you can rely on me.” Given that the viewers already know about him telling his friends about the anomaly, this doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Connor then immediately turns the conversation back to the previous topic, and again asks Abby to come with him. Abby is still dubious, and repeats the idea that they should tell someone else, but Connor (again) puts it in terms of showing Cutter that they are useful to the team. He then uses what might be considered a little emotional blackmail, claiming they are ‘pals’ now, and suggesting they could find a new playmate for Rex. Abby is clearly unconvinced, and it seems likely that she agrees to go along with him largely because he knows about Rex.
Throughout the conversation, he seems to be more friendly and familiar with Abby than she is with him, but that could simply be the way that Connor is with everyone, although we do know from the previous episode that he is interested in her. He repeatedly uses the argument that he wants to impress Cutter and show that they (he) can be useful, reinforcing what we saw in the previous episode. He is also impulsive, and again gets carried away with his own enthusiasm, and seems oblivious to Abby’s reluctance.
It’s also worth noting the ‘weird sightings forum’. This seems to be a site that Connor checks very regularly, since his friends know to put their fake sighting there to lure him in. This may also be where he came across the sighting of the gorgonopsid in the previous episode, although he did have a newspaper as well to back that one up. It’s yet more evidence that he can be very dedicated and obsessive, and is prepared to put the extra work in when it comes to things that he is interested in.
Out in the forest, Abby reiterates her objections that they shouldn’t be there on their own, and Connor says she can hold his hand of she’s frightened. Abby gives that comment the derision it deserves, and has much the same reaction to his comment about running away if it’s another gorgonopsid. The expression on Connor’s face suggests he is finally catching on that Abby is currently extremely irritated with him.
Abby seems to be in a better mood later, and giggles with Connor when he tells her he once did Duke of Edinburgh. For a morning. Until he sprained his ankle. It’s another comment that reinforces the fact that he’s not an ‘outdoorsy’ action man, in case we’d forgotten. Abby is less impressed with his suggestion that they huddle together for warmth. Then Abby asks him about Stephen, and for a moment Connor looks hurt and disappointed. His attempt to convince Abby that Stephen might be gay spectacularly backfires, and Abby walks off looking annoyed again.
This scene shows the developing friendship between Connor and Abby, and also Connor’s first attempts to signal his interest in Abby. To say those attempts are clumsy would be an understatement! It seems clear he has very little, if any, experience with women, and most of his ‘chat up lines’ (if you can call them that) seem to come straight out of every clichéd film you can think of. Ironically, when he isn’t trying, when he is just talking and being friendly, Abby seems to warm towards him. He just has an unfortunate tendency to then spoil what little progress he may have made by pushing it or saying something stupid. Frequently both at the same time!
Cutter and Claudia are discussing the anomalies situation and when Claudia says they have to keep it secret, Cutter chuckles, and says, “A cover up. Connor will be thrilled.” Cutter had obviously latched onto Connor’s love of conspiracy theories, and remembered it. This comment also suggests that Cutter is intending to keep Connor (and by extension, probably also Abby) appraised of the situation, and involved in the team should anything else occur.
Out in the forest, Connor falls asleep ‘on watch’, and doesn’t wake when his phone rings, or when there are sounds of a creature in the undergrowth. In fact, he is only woken by Abby shaking him vigorously. As they try to see what the creature is, Connor repeatedly attempts to keep Abby behind him, apparently trying to shield her from danger. When they realise it’s a fake, and Tom and Duncan reveal themselves, Connor stares at them in disbelief, and shouts, “You idiots!”
Connor looks anxious as he waits for Cutter to finish talking to the police, and before Cutter even speaks to him, Connor tries to get in with an apology. When Cutter is angry that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut about the anomalies, Connor replies, “It’s just so big. I had to tell somebody. I’m sorry. I am. I blew it.” Connor says nothing when Cutter throws him off the team, but his expression tells you everything about angry and disappointed he is with himself for screwing up like this, and how upset he is at this turn of events.
The fact that it is Cutter who is angry with him probably makes it ten times worse for Connor, as part of the reason why he wanted to investigate this sighting in the first place was to impress Cutter. With hindsight, Connor obviously misjudged the situation badly, and you suspect Cutter would actually have been more impressed if Connor had gone to him with the sighting in the first place so they could check it out properly, rather than dragging Abby in and going by themselves, potentially putting themselves in danger.
While the others investigate the anomaly at the underground, we briefly see Connor sitting alone at the university, still looking upset, and are treated to the first sighting of his trademark kicked puppy eyes.
When the others lose Cutter in the underground, and Claudia asks for more information on the creature, Stephen immediately thinks of Connor. He tells Claudia, “He’s like a walking encyclopaedia of this stuff. He probably has giant bug fridge magnets!” Claudia decides to bring Connor in based on Stephen’s recommendation.
It’s a nice piece of continuity that Stephen is the one who thinks of Connor when they need information about a creature. In the previous episode, Stephen was the one who was shown Connor’s database, and Stephen also benefitted from Connor’s database when he was tracking the gorgonopsid. In the absence of Cutter, Connor is the one they turn to for creature knowledge.
When Connor arrives, he is quick to provide the information they need. In his own rather unique way.
Connor: Okay, Carboniferous, so it’s probably an arthropleurid. That’s a centipede on steroids, basically. It’s more or less blind, good sense of smell and touch. I mean, this thing’s pretty big and scary-looking, but it’s more or less timid. It’s the kind of bug that’d stick to the kitchen at parties.
Claudia: This one must have a personality disorder. How dangerous is it?
Connor: According to this it would have eaten dead wood and leaves.
Claudia: So it’s not poisonous?
Connor: No way.
Throughout this exchange, Connor is referring to his database. Apparently he doesn’t have the facts in his head (as Cutter appears to do on several occasions), but he knows exactly where to go to find the information. Unfortunately, (and this is not the only time this will happen) his pronouncements about the creature being harmless prove to be erroneous, and are contradicted by Cutter only moments later. No one appears to hold this against Connor, however.
Cutter doesn’t seem particularly surprised to see Connor when he comes out of the underground, and he doesn’t appear to object to Connor following them and joining in the team talk as they try to find a way to save Stephen. Presumably, with Stephen in danger, Cutter has more important things to worry about. What is interesting is that when Cutter decides they need to get a sample of the venom, it’s Connor who he turns to, saying, “You find me something that’ll do the job.”
Perhaps this is simply Cutter utilising all available resources in an emergency, or perhaps he is giving Connor a chance to redeem himself. It may well be a bit of both.
When it appears they have lost the arthropleurid, Connor is the one who remembers they were supposed to be burrowers, and tells everyone what to look for. He then manages to find the burrow himself, and has a quick silent celebration before shouting for Cutter.
Despite his assertions in the previous episode about not being an action type, Connor volunteers himself to come with Cutter and Ryan down the burrow. It’s not entirely clear what he hopes to contribute, perhaps more information, but Cutter agrees and Ryan doesn’t object. As is becoming a regular theme, however, Connor then rather spoils the moment by wittering on to Abby about his Star Trek top trumps cards, before joining the others in the search for the creature.
As they crawl through the tunnel, Connor is muttering to himself, “I won’t have a panic attack. I will not have a panic attack.” This is followed by him saying, “Claustrophobia and vertigo in the same day. This is, um, fabulous.” This, on top of his mention of allergies in the previous episode, is no doubt meant to remind us that he is not an action hero type character, and is presumably also supposed to be a moment of light let’s-poke-fun-at-the-geek comedy in what is otherwise a serious situation. Nevertheless, the fact that he continues to follow Cutter and Ryan, despite this being way out of his comfort zone, says a lot about Connor and his desire to prove himself.
When they find the arthropleurid, Connor attacks it with a chair before Ryan can even open fire, but he backs off when Ryan tells him to. Then, somehow, the creature seems to rip Ryan’s gun out of his hands after he has shot it quite a lot, and Connor again goes in with the chair, jams it into the creatures mouth, and then stands back to watch in shock as the creature writhes and manages to electrocute itself. He looks to the others, stunned, while they just look relieved.
This is Connor’s first close encounter with a creature, and it rather sets the tone for most of his future encounters – he acts on the spur of the moment and improvises when he has to, and generally seems to be making it up as he goes along. Despite all his protests about not being an action guy, however, he rises to the occasion when it becomes necessary.
Connor later goes to the hospital to see Stephen, and talks to Abby who is already there. He asks Abby, “You really like him, don’t you?” and then tries to cheer Abby up by apparently poking fun at himself and his crush on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He succeeds in making her laugh, but then Stephen wakes up and Connor goes to call for the doctor.
This is interesting, because earlier in the episode Connor seemed absolutely serious when he referred to his signed Star Wars poster when he was talking to Tom and Duncan, but here he appears to be openly acknowledging that his obsession with Buffy was a bit silly. The intention seems to be to make Abby laugh, but this is the first time he has used a pop-culture reference in a knowingly jokey way. Perhaps he is finally catching on that while such things are fine when he is with his ‘geek’ friends, he needs to modify his behaviour when he is with his new friends and associates.
Connor later finds Cutter at the anomaly site, sitting and watching the anomaly.
Connor: Hi. (He ambles over and sits beside Cutter) Hey, um... Does this mean I’m back in?
Cutter: Any way we can keep you out?
Connor: I just want to help.
Cutter: You did a good job.
(Connor grins and has another silent fist-pump celebration)
Connor: Oh, god, you know what? All my life I’ve wanted to be in a crime busting gang. And now I am. Sort of. I don’t suppose you’d consider giving me a cool nickname, would you?
Connor: Oh, well. I thought not.
Connor grins at Cutter, and gets up and wanders off again. Cutter watches him go with a slightly bemused smile.
After spectacularly messing up, Connor has proven himself to Cutter, and earned his place back on the team. Cutter acknowledges he was useful, and Connor is utterly delighted that he has finally achieved what he wanted all along – to impress Cutter by contributing something useful to the team.
This is also the first of many occasions that Cutter and Connor will have these sitting-side-by-side conversations, as their professional and personal relationship develops over time.
Link to part 1, episode 1.1