Why Is JJ Abrams Obsessed With Alice in Wonderland?

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JJ Abrams and Alice in Wonderland: What's the connection? Lost is rife with Carroll-isms, and now Fringe is falling down the same rabbit hole. We investigate the Abrams/Alice relationship just in time for Fringe to pick up January 11th.

Abrams has been mining the Alice mythos for years -Alias, Lost, and yes, even Felicity are all filled to the brim with Into the Looking Glass subtext and, as is the case with Fringe, actual context. For the sake of brevity, topicality and to spare you the pain of many, many white rabbit-related metaphors we'll keep the focus on Fringe with a bit of Abrams' back catalog to support the theory.


Alice in Abramsland

"Oh how brave they'll all think me back home!"

We know Abrams has a penchant for pretty female characters cast adrift in dangerous waters. Sydney Bristow, Kate Austen (who was originally slated to lead the Losties, not Jack) and Abrams' current muse Agent Olivia Dunham all embody the Alice character: fearless young women with unhappy home lives and an insatiable amount of curiosity.


Think about it - Olivia has no qualms about stepping into Walter's LSD box time and time again, essentially mimicking the "Drink Me" scene in Alice's Adventures and eventually finds herself at the end of Season one on the other side of the looking glass talking to William Bell in a parallel reality. William Bell may even be her white rabbit, as evidenced by the Fringe Season Two poster revealing a bunny in the shrubbery wearing a tiny bell around his neck. And, of course, they are all surrounding a gigantic hole in the ground (referencing episode 2 Night of Desirable Objects). This has actually been discussed here because the internet is a vast and wondrous thing.

The Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit and the Pocket Watch

Alice: What a funny watch! It tells the day and the month, but not the time!
Mad Hatter: Why should it? Does your watch tell you what year it is?
Alice: No, because it stays a year for so long.
Mad Hatter: Well, then, I rest my case! (via)


Time travel - and the concept of time in general - is a constant (heh) in Abrams' world and Fringe is no different. The Observer, who resembles the white rabbit in more ways than one, carries the ubiquitous pocket watch everywhere he (or they, I guess) goes, constantly checking it for a yet to be determined purpose. What we do know is The Observers have been around since time began at every "important" historical event. Also they really love spicy food which has absolutely nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland but is a bit of whimsy much in keeping with Carroll's brand of literary nonsense. Or it helps metabolize the time travel. Who knows?

Walter Bishop is quite obviously the Mad Hatter, solving and creating new riddles and completely off his rocker supposedly due to his love of hallucinogenics (although by now we know his crazy stems from his missing brain grapes).


Peter Bishop, the Queen of Hearts, and the Cheshire Cat

I think the theory goes that Peter Bishop is actually Another Dimension Peter, able to pop in and out rakishly without any damage done to his mind. Is he the Cheshire Cat? My gut says maybe. This isn't an exact science people; it's Fringe science. (Nina Sharp, however, she of the red bob and God complex, is most definitely the Queen of Hearts.)


So, where are we at with this whole Alice thing? We've got an entire Lostpedia wiki written about the Alice connection, even IMDB notes the Wonderland theme throughout Alias and now we've got a curious lady with long blonde hair taking hallucinogens, following a white rabbit (or several) down a hole or through a glass or across time or what have you and thwarting the Queen of Hearts while courting the Mad Hatter's son who may or may not be the Cheshire Cat. I think I've made my point. Or spouted a bunch of literary nonsense. What do you think?