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Spin the Bottle

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Angel
Season 4, Episode 6
SpinBottle
Air date November 10, 2002
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Episode Guide
previous
"Supersymmetry"
next
"Apocalypse, Nowish"
Cast
Starring
David Boreanaz Angel
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
J. August Richards Gunn
Amy Acker Fred
Vincent Kartheiser Connor
Alexis Denisof Wesley
Special Guest Starring
Andy Hallett Lorne
Guest Starring
Vladimir Kulich The Beast
Co Starring
Sven Holmberg Delivery Guy
Kam Heskin Lola

"Spin the Bottle" is the sixth episode of the fourth season of Angel and the seventy-second episode overall. Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, it was originally broadcast on November 10, 2002 on the WB network.

Lorne performs a magic spell on Cordelia Chase to help her regain her memory, but instead the spell causes all the Angel Investigations members to lose all of their memories after their first 16 years, and they all think they are teenagers.

Synopsis

After his rendition of "The Way We Were", Lorne addresses an unseen lounge audience, narrating the conversation that Angel and Cordelia had begun just as the previous episode ended. Cordelia questions whether she and Angel were in love, and Angel is uncertain. Cordelia just wants to remember who she is. Lorne arrives with the answer: a bottle containing a memory-restoration spell, which Cordelia is eager to try. Wesley arrives, having been asked by Lorne to help with the spell while testing a stake weapon on his right arm, and has an awkward meeting with Fred. She vaguely informs him that her mission was completed, as Gunn realizes that Wesley helped Fred try to kill her professor. When he confronts Wesley, he also threatens Wesley to not pursue Fred, but Wesley tries to dismiss the issue, even triggering the stake on his collapsible sword. Gunn asks what happened to him. Wesley reminds Gunn that "I had my throat cut and all my friends abandoned me." The gang hold hands in a circle around the bottle as it starts to spin. The spell disorients everyone; Lorn passes out and the others stumble about the lobby as if very high on mushrooms. Cordelia suddenly panics and smashes the bottle with her boot. She starts on a tirade about kidnapping and sophomore pranks, as she has mentally regressed to when she was the most popular girl at Sunnydale High; Wesley believes he is still a student at the Watchers Academy, Gunn is once again a rebellious street kid, Fred is transformed into a younger and insecure pothead, and Angel has reverted to his pre-vampire self - a frightened Irish teenager from 1753 named Liam. While Liam wonders what happened to his Irish accent, saying its the devil, the rest of the gang question what brought them together and what they should do to solve the mystery of their current situation. Gunn and Wesley butt heads on plans and when Wesley tries to demonstrate his toughness with a karate demonstration, he unintentionally activates the stake weapon up his sleeve. When Gunn and Fred find Lorne passed out behind the counter, they are shocked to see a demon. Liam restates its the Devil. Meanwhile, Connor saves a young woman from two vampires. The woman offers her body in repayment, but only if he pays $50.

Back at the hotel, Wesley duct tapes Lorne to the seat in the lobby while arguing with Gunn over whether to cut Lorne's head off or torture him for information. When Cordelia asks why they're not freaking out about wooded stakes or the sight of a green man with horns, Wesley and Gunn both reveal that vampires and demons are real and they both have experience with them. Fred examines an unconscious Lorne while Wesley shares his theory that they're being kept in the hotel with a vampire as a test. They all start to wonder why they don't look 17 like they feel, and collectively decide to hunt for the vampire that will supposedly set them free once they kill it. Cordelia and Liam team up and go one way while the other three head in the other direction. Liam struggles to adjust to this strange world that is hundreds of years beyond his life, Cordy tries to comfort him. But while she turns away, Liam vamps out and much to his own surprise, realizes that he's a vampire and he will be killed if the gang finds out.

Liam tries to leave the hotel, but freaks out when he spots the cars on the street and rushes back inside to escape the shiny "demons." As the group regathers in the lobby, Wesley introduces a new theory: the vampire may be one of them. He passes a cross around the group, but when it finally reaches Liam, he manages to hide his smoking hand until a distraction develops. Lorne wakes up, his memory unaffected, and identifies Liam as a vampire. Liam punches Lorne and is knocked out again. A fight breaks out between Liam, Wesley and Gunn, and the girls run in separate directions. Liam catches Cordelia, who screams loudly, drawing a lurking Connor out of the shadows. Liam rants to Connor about fathers as the two fight, while in the lobby, Lorne convinces Fred to release him, and he mixes together a concoction to restore their memories.

After treating the others, Lorne puts a touch of the mixture on Cordy's tongue. She pauses for a second before running off. Lorne tells the audience that, although they didn't know it at the time, when he restored Cordelia's memory at the same time something powerful and evil woke up...

Cordelia reveals to Angel that she remembers everything. He asks her the same question she asked him earlier that evening: Were they in love? She tells him they were and walks off, leaving Angel behind. Lorne then walks off the stage, and the camera reveals an empty Lounge.

Continuity

  • This episode takes place immediately after the previous episode, "Supersymmetry".
  • When Cordelia, under the spell, first sees Angel she says "Hello, salty goodness", the same thing she says upon first seeing him in the Buffy episode "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date".
  • This episode marks the first appearance of the being later known as Jasmine, while possessing Cordelia. Jasmine is released from the safeguard, set in place by The Powers That Be to hold her at bay, which is broken by the spell the group performs. As such, this is Cordelia's last proper appearance in Angel's fourth season.
  • The age the characters regress to is unclear; Fred states "not one of y'all look 17", implying that would be the age they think they are—although she may have simply been "rounding up"—but Cordelia has no recollection of Slayers or vampires nor does she recognize Angel, despite meeting him when she was 16. Cordelia initially believes herself to be the victim of a "sophomore hazing" prank, indicating she's regressed to sophomore year. She didn't meet Angel until towards the end of her sophomore year, and wasn't aware of the supernatural world until the very end of her sophomore year.
  • When Wesley says "there are stories at the Watcher's Academy of a test. A secret gauntlet which only the most cunning can survive. You're locked in a house with a vicious, deadly vampire, and you have to kill him before he kills you. It's been done in the past with Slayers.", he is speaking of the Cruciamentum, a test that Buffy had to undertake in "Helpless". Notably, Wesley remarks that the Watcher's Academy is in southern Hampshire, meaning that it may survive Caleb's attack on the organization's London headquarters in "Never Leave Me".
  • Fred confuses a Slayer with the thrash band of the same name. This is the second time in the Buffyverse that Slayer has been mentioned in association with Buffy's title. The first was by Forrest in the Buffy episode "Doomed".
  • Fred asks if anyone else took a personality test recently, with questions "about politics and your bowel movements and if you want to be a florist..." This would seem to be the same florist question test that was mentioned in "Doppelgangland".
  • Cordelia says Connor is 18 years old, the first time he is given a concrete age after returning from Quor'toth in the third season.
  • This episode follows a similar plot to the Buffy episode "Tabula Rasa" (erased memories) as well as "Band Candy" (reversion to teenage personalities). Like Buffy in "Halloween," Angel mistakes cars for demons. Oddly in "Tabula Rasa", soulless Spike continues on a path of righteousness after discovering he is a vampire, while Angel reverts to being evil, despite having a soul (Although the fact that everyone was trying to attack 'Liam' may account for his decision to resort to violence out of a lack of anything else to do).
  • It has been suggested that Lorne's narration takes place after the end of the fourth season, as he makes references to future events that had yet to happen (such as the release of Jasmine).
  • This episode establishes what happened to the Irish accent both Angelus and Angel shared during the late 1700s and 1800s. He did not adopt his typical American accent in order to go unnoticed in the country, but rather it was a natural progression from living among Americans for roughly a hundred years. This is referenced humorously when Liam, Angel's teenage self, is unable to resume his proper Irish accent, as Angel had been speaking with an American one for so long.

Body Count

  • one vampire, dusted by Connor

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • This episode took much longer to film due to the cast finding it difficult to stop laughing. Amy Acker and Andy Hallett ruined dozens of takes by giggling, and Alexis Denisof and David Boreanaz prolonged shooting for an hour and a half when they couldn't stop laughing. To get the scene, Denisof explains he and Boreanaz resolved not to look at each other; on the DVD commentary Whedon points out background shots where Boreanaz is still failing to keep a straight face.[1]
  • Writer/director Joss Whedon says this episode grew out of his desire to see Wesley return to the "bumbling moron" of the past. "We were reminiscing about the days when he was a complete idiot, and so we thought we wanted to see old-school Wesley but also cool, new-school Wesley," Whedon explains.[2] Although the regression to a comedic figure contrasts his new, darker persona, Wesley still exhibits heroism during this episode, which is in line with the growth his character experienced over the last four years.[3] Peggy Davis argues that "Wesley can embody masculine heroism or feminine comic figure, but not both";[4] however in this episode he demonstrates that his heroic masculinity allows for a comedic element as well.[3] In addition to bringing back "classic Wesley", this episode also gave the opportunity to refresh viewers' memories of "teenage bitch queen" Cordelia, whose character changed dramatically during her time on Angel.[1]
  • Whedon gave Lorne's spell the side-effect of making the gang "high" to differentiate this memory spell from a similar one used in the Buffy episode "Tabula Rasa", readily admitting the spell itself is "lazy writing," meant only to set the plot in motion.[1] The frame narrative established by Lorne in the night club was done to highlight the postmodern aspects of the episode, explains Whedon. The artificiality of the night club, and Lorne's breaking of the fourth wall when he comments on the commercials that played during the act break, provides a foreground for the alternate reality caused by the spell.[1] Whedon notes that while writing this episode, he already knew that Connor and Cordelia were going to have sex, but the story had to move faster than he had originally planned because Carpenter became pregnant.[1]

Broadcast

  • This is the 200th episode of Buffy/Angel aired.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • In the scene where Connor and Angel are fighting near the end, there is a portion of the sequence where it is clear the figures are David Boreanaz and Vincent Kartheiser's stunt doubles.
  • When Connor appeared as a teenager in season 3, it is mentioned that he is sixteen years old, but in "Spin the Bottle," Cordelia says he is 18. It's impossible for him to have aged two years in a span of roughly three months without making another travel between dimensions.

Pop Culture References

  • Gone with the Wind: Cordelia: "We've heard from Scarlett 'Oh, please shut me up.'"
  • Motel Hell: Fred says, "Well... maybe it's Motel Hell?"
  • Under the Influence (1986): Both this episode and the movie have someone telling the tale in a bar and then at the end it's an empty audience.

International titles

  • German: Flaschendrehen (Spin the Bottle)

Music

Other

  • The DVD commentary for this episode, featuring writer/director Joss Whedon and actor Alexis Denisof, ranks 86th on the list of top 100 commentary tracks for DVD boxsets and movies on RateThatCommentary.com,[5] and 3rd on Slayage.com.[6]
  • This episode is one of the more well regarded of the season, with UGO Networks commenting that it is "a bit of a high point" of the season and "great fun all around." Pointing out that Whedon had previously explored amnesia on Buffy, here he "goes back to the well here with a twist."[7]
  • Sci-fi.com calls it the best of the "light" episodes this season, due to the writing and directing credits of Joss Whedon.[8]
  • Despite being amnesiac, when it came time to gear up, Gunn still picked his own axe from among the other weapons.
  • Fred makes two references to wanting weed, hinting that she may have been a bit less tightly wound when she was younger.
  • This episode is reminiscent of Joss Whedon's future project The Cabin in the Woods, Fred recalling stories of young people kidnapped by the government, trapped in a specific location and experimented on. The AI crew even resemble the stereotypes required (Wesley the scholar, Gunn the athlete, etc.).

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bobbitt, SPIN THE BOTTLE. DVD Commentary by Joss Whedon & Alexis Denisof [1]
  2. Bratton, ANGEL Season Four DVD Collection REVIEW
  3. 3.0 3.1 Abbott, Reading Angel: The TV Spin-off With a Soul
  4. Davis, "I'm a Rogue Demon-Hunter": Wesley's Transformation from Fop to Hero on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel [2]
  5. Current top 100 commentary tracks
  6. Erenberg, Daniel. Listmania: The Revenge [3] Retrieved August 29, 2005.
  7. Sullivan, Angel Season Four DVD Review
  8. Huddleston, On Screen: Angel Season-Four DVD

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