Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Alias' Alice in Wonderland

We all know the story of Alice in Wonderland. Alice falls asleep and wakes up in world of incredible imagination, where she makes friends, enemies and ultimately learns to survive on her own. We have seen several Alice in Wonderland references over the course of Alias’ five seasons, each one forcing us to recognize that Sydney is, in fact, Alice, struggling to stay afloat in a world that is sometimes beyond her own comprehension.

There are 3 common themes expressed in both Alice in Wonderland and Alias. The first is the tragic and inevitable loss of childhood innocence. Alice goes through several physical changes while exploring Wonderland. She is traumatized by the changing of her body, its size and shape, a metaphor for puberty and womanhood. Much of Sydney’s childhood was ripped from her, as her father subjected her to testing and drills to prepare her for her life in the CIA. She is traumatized by the fact that she wasn’t allowed to make her own choices, to pick her own path. And Sydney too, goes through many physical changes, alias to alias, which is required in her line of work.

The second theme is death as a constant and underlying menace. Alice continuously finds herself in situations in which she risks death. Dodging death is what Sydney Bristow does everyday. Each mission, each enemy has it in for her, it lurks behind every corner and forces her to use her brains and brawn to survive.

The third theme is life as a meaningless puzzle. Alice encounters a series of puzzles that seem to have no clear solution. Alice expects that the situations she encounters will make a certain kind of sense, but they repeatedly frustrate her. Sydney’s life has been a puzzle from the start. Learning of SD-6’s true objective and Arvin Sloane’s true nature throws Sydney into a world of puzzles. She is determined to find meaning and solution for each, but as she comes head to head with obstacles she grows frustrated. Sydney constantly speaks about logic, about rational and irrational thought. She is challenged to think outside the box, to find alternative ways to solving the puzzles.

There are several other themes that pertain to both Alice in Wonderland and Alias; such as dreams and subversion, but I thought the themes above were more predominate. Listed below are several instances in which Alice in Wonderland is made reference to in Alias. Please post any that I’ve missed.

Season One: Sydney adorns an Alice costume when she and Francie throw a Halloween party. Sydney uses the call sign “White Rabbit” while on a mission with Noah Hicks in the episode “Snowman.”
Season Two: Sloane makes a reference to Sydney not being a pawn in the game. Irina tells Sydney she’s one of two major players in Rambaldi’s end game. In Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Alice is made a pawn in a game of chess. Evil Francie backs Sydney into a mirror (a looking glass) in the season finale.
Season Three: Sydney uses “looking glass” as a code word when she contacts Kendall from Hong Kong. Weiss gives Sydney a 3rd Edition copy of Alice in Wonderland, as her 1st Edition was burned in the fire. Vaughn deciphers a security code from a group of numbers; the code is “Top Hat” which could be making reference to the Mad Hatter.
Season Four: While investigating his father, Vaughn is asked to meet an informant in the UCLA library. He is directed to a children’s copy of Through the Looking Glass and finds a syringe labeled “Inject me.”

The Alice in Wonderland references could also be a nod to ABC, which is owned by Disney. Aside, I love that the writers have injected classic literature into a mainstream, action packed genre. Top hats off to you!

Thanks to and


birdietwoshoes said...

Hey Alias addicts! :) I found this website name through the message boards on I totally agree with you about having a site where people can talk about things other than Ben and Jen and whether MVs name is in the opening credits and blah blah blah. But I have a question that maybe someone out there can help me with. A couple weeks ago, before the premiere of Alias, I went to and watched a preview of the Alias premiere. It started off with a scene from the car crash that ended S4. Then it went on to Jack (or maybe Sloane) saying something about Vaughn being under suspicion as a double agent. Then it went into Vaughn on the phone with Syd to the two of them dressed in black and running from Dixon. They went into a building or something and Dixon shoots at them. Vaughn then turns around and shoots Dixon! Now... I know I'm fairly sure I'm not crazy. I watched it a couple times and even showed it to my husband. My question is, did any of you see this preview? Can anyone tell me if maybe I am just totally confused or if that was maybe from Season 4? I'm almost positive the clip was a preview for this season. When I went back to to try and find the clip, it wasn't there anymore. I did not see most of S4 because I am fairly new to Alias and my friend let me borrow her S1-S3 DVDs and when S4 started on regular TV, I was only on S3 and didn't want to confuse myself. So unfortunately, I am in the dark with a lot of what happened on S4. In any case, sorry this comment is so long, just hoping someone can help me out. Enjoying the posts girlscout, and the thought provoking and "smart" comments from everyone.

Kiki said...

It was a clip from season 4 in which Vaughn goes rogue to get his hands on info about his father. I watched it several times too. It's old stuff. Disheartening, huh?

jenn256 said...

Girlscout- I was thinking about your Alice in Wonderland theory (love it by the way!!) And then I was trying to think of other clues that tie to the story and all I could think of was how big of a part Vaughn's dad's watch plays into everything and the rabbit had a watch and told Alice she was late. Another link or coincidence? Unfortunatley it's been YEARS since I've seen the movie or I would try to remember more links.

Kiki said...

That is an interesting link and I love how the watch plays into this season. It almost made me sad though because the watch has so much meaning for Syd and Vaughn (good ole October 1st) but it's obviously still very important to Vaughn. I wonder if it will still be around, if Sydney wears it now.

srg-alias said...

actually, wasn't that watch what Vaughn gave to his contact?

jenn256 said...

yeah, was the watch in the briefcase with the book Vaughn was giving to Lehman? Did Syd ever find out that Lauren fixed the watch not knowing the sentimental significance to it?

Kiki said...

I think Vaughn still had the watch, I don't think he truly gave it to Lehman, I think it was to prove that he was to prove he is Bill's kid. I hope Vaughn broke the watch again after Lauren fixed it. And I don't think Syd knew that Lauren fixed it. Thank goodness.

GuestAgain said...

Wasn't Vaughn's old girlfriend named "alice"?

jenn256 said...

wow that's right, I forgot about that. Just another point supporting "girlscouts" theory regarding the Alice in Wonderland thing. Im sure there are other links to that movie that we aren't even looking at.

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