In this post, i'll show you which stratagem was used by Alphas's writers to indicate to the audience that something was wrong in the apartment scenes with Skylar and Zoe in Alphas 2.12 'Need to Know'; i will also highlight the similarities between two Summer Glau scenes in The Cape and in Alphas.
There is many ways a director can alternate between moments of reality and fiction or indicate that a scene is the fruit of a dream, an alternate reality of hallucinations.
The most obvious trick is to use a blurry filter with or without flashy colors and heavy cutting; Smallville did this a lot.
Another way is to use a mirror (or a mirrored armoire) in order to evoke the transition to another reality; think about 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' by Lewis Carrol and (almost) every sci-fi movie/serie ever since.
This trick was used in the s01ep8 of The Cape 'The Lich, part2'; at the very begining of this episode, Orwell, played by Summer Glau, is looking at herself in a mirror, wearing a wedding dress (see screencap). We'll learn later in the episode these wedding scenes with Vincent ('Vince') Faraday were drug-induced.
On the other hand, Alphas's writers decided to use unusual camera angles (from the above or from outside the window) and tilted camera, as seen in the screencaps below :
Besides the play with the camera, what for me was an indication that something was wrong was the atmosphere of serenity at first sight and Skylar's flower dress; it didn't fit the overall dark tone of the series.
As a bonus, i'll show you how Alphas writers may have borrowed several elements present in the aforementioned scene from The Cape.
First similarity : If there was no mirror in Alphas's scene, the camera lingered on two devices that could remind of a mirror: the 100% useless large screen on Skylar's right and secondly the magnifying glass in front of her.
Second similarity : Summer Glau's character Orwell (The Cape) and Skylar (Alphas) used similar sentences to hint at the audience that something's wrong : Orwell suddenly turned away from the mirror during the drugg-induced dream and said "Is that my phone ringing" while Skylar said "Dij, you hear that buzzing? Maybe it's the phone?".
Third similarity : both Orwell and Skylar finally realised they were experiencing some kind of dream when they hurt their hand and realised they felt no pain.
Last but not least, both male characters in those scene are named 'Vince'. I can hear from here naysayers claiming that Vince is a common name and that it proves nothing. lol It's not as if Alphas writers already noded at one of Summer Glau's past works before (sarcasm).
I hope you enjoyed watching a few images from The Cape and don't miss Alphas second season finale tonight at 8/7c on Syfy. As a bonus, Summer Glau will be live tweeting from @AlphasSyfy.