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J.J. Abrams Experiments: Project Christmas and the Cortexiphan Trials

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A couple of weeks back, I insisted that Sydney Bristow of “Alias” and Olivia Dunham of “Fringe” must be one and the same. I won’t say that Friday night’s episode of “Fringe” provided hardcore proof (come on, now), but I caught a serious case of déjà vu about halfway through the episode.

The most recent episode, “Subject 13,” takes place in 1985, in the midst of Walter’s Cortexiphan experiments. He’s singled out Olivia as the one subject who can take Peter safely back to the other universe and he’s trying to figure out how to trigger her ability to do so. (Let’s not get into the fact that one of his ideas involved allowing the poor girl to be terrorized by her abusive stepfather, okay?) Walter’s search for a trigger includes everything from physical exhaustion to spontaneously combustible origami, but I suspect that a legion of “Alias” fans sat straight up in their chairs at the 17-minute mark, as Olivia started tried — and failed — to solve a three-dimensional puzzle as Walter yelled “wrong!” over and over again.

During the second season of “Alias,” Sydney tracked down a mysterious weapon — only to discover that the weapons were in fact children trained to become sleeper agents. In the clip below (fast forward to around the 7-minute mark) she finds an enigmatic puzzle in a suspect’s home and solves it with ease. Hmm ….

There’s a similar, but much more significant moment later in the episode that really hammers home a major parallel between these two characters: Sydney discovers that her father had been training her practically since birth to become a spy, just like those sleepers she tracked down — and just as Walter had experimented on Olivia to gauge her ability to cross over. That’s gotta mess with your psyche somehow. I know that hardened spies and cops on television are a dime a dozen, but really — how sunny would you be if you found out that your only protector in life has been grooming you for something that could very well kill you? Just saying …

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