Derek’s Review – 4.06 “Spin the Bottle”
This is one of the few episodes of season 4 that I have strong and positives memories of on first viewing, On rewatch, the luster has lost a little sheen but that’s due more to see many jokes and references to it on the internet. The fact is that “Spin the Bottle” is just a lot of fun and that stands in stark contrast to the rest of season 4. This isn’t an inherently good or bad thing but it is nice to have a change of pace.
Cordelia and Wesley obviously benefit the most from the teenage spell because we know them back then, or close enough to that time. It just further underlines what a great job Angel has done with both characters and how they have grown and changed. You can see the seed of who they will become there but they are so radically different.
This is also the most time we’ve ever spent with Liam. This is in itself exciting but there is information sprinkled throughout that adds to the discussion of who Angel is now. We knew Liam was a womanizer and drunk but “Spin the Bottle” tells us that Liam was kind of a dork too. Angel’s dorkiness and pettiness is one of the great discoveries of Angel but there we’ve never really seen the origins of the moment. Some of it is Angel’s general comfortability around people. However there is a whole different type of Angel’s dorkiness that has grown has he has become closer and closer to his friends. It’s a nice way of demonstrating that the more the series goes on the more Angel becomes like Liam, or an improved and more mature version of Liam.
Gunn has a really nice episode snatched away from him in “Spin the Bottle”. The opening scenes with Gunn are glorious and heartbreaking. Even if the twist was quick “Supersymmetry” with him snapping Seidel’s neck, “Spin the Bottle” handles the fallout wonderfully. The confrontation between Wesley and Gunn in Angel’s office is one of Gunn’s best scenes ever. Then the memory curse happens and that story obviously disappears. It is not a problem if “Apocalypse, Nowish” picks up on it but the way Gunn’s story is sacrificed for this entertaining episode is one of the faults of “Spin the Bottle”.
It’s still really hard to pinpoint Connor in the story. In season 4, they seem to be going with a standard teenage narrative for Connor. Life is unfair, his father hates him and he can’t find a place in the world so he hates the world. This is just seem like the Connor that we met at the end of season 3. Connor was consumed by revenge for Angel, so much that he attempted to “murder” him. Then in the beginning of season 4, Connor got caught and seemed to understand he was in the wrong or was on that path.
Since then though Connor has double-downed on Angel being the worst and Angel hasn’t given a lot of reasons to care about those motivations. There is a nice moment in “Spin the Bottle” when Connor talks to Liam and maybe starts to realize that he’s not alone in his teenage angst. Everyone goes through this phase and maybe this is a start of a new, new leaf in Connor’s story book but who knows. Connor is a huge question mark in season 4.
As mentioned I though Gunn confronting Wesley in the office was one of the character’s best scenes. I’m still not all invested in Gunn, Wesley and Fred as a love triangle but if there were more scenes like this perhaps I could be interested. Gunn’s anger is not directed as Wesley (or Fred) in that scene but it is directed at himself. He’s angry about his own insecurities and weaknesses. On the podcast, we’ve always talked about what Gunn’s place in the group really is and I love that Angel is embracing that idea by having Gunn question what he offers to the group and Fred.
In terms of an entertaining and funny episode I love this one. Its right up with “Sense and Sensitivity” as genuinely funny episode of Angel. It just doesn’t quite have that emotional edge to it like the best episodes of Angel. Cordelia not being able to process her feelings about Angel at the end is heartbreaking but I’m so disconnected from Cordelia’s story this season so far that I can’t really care that much.