Angel
Spin The Bottle

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Strega: C+ | 1 USERS: A+
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Unchained Memory

Previously on Angel, Cordy forgot herself, Fred tried to teach her professor a lesson, Wesley wouldn't shut up, Gunn killed a guy, and I was quoted in the Washington Post. That last thing wasn't on the show, but I think it's cool, so I'm mentioning it. And the previouslys were full of lies! Lies! Because there's a "clip" of Cordy asking, "Were we in love?" just the way she did last week. Except that Angel is missing the bruises and cut cheek he had in that scene. I know he heals fast -- well, sometimes he does, and sometimes he doesn't, but that's a separate issue. The point is that even at their best, his healing powers don't extend backward in time. Continuity error! Scandal! Okay, it's not that big a deal. Although I am amused they inserted a shot from this week (as we shall see) into the previouslys.

Music swells as Cary starts singing "The Way We Were." He's on a dramatically lit stage, and we hear scattered applause from the unseen audience. Cary starts chatting about how magical youth is, and I'm already distracted by the smoldering ashtray on a table next to him. Cary's smoking! Does this mean he's evil? My first question is, why is this framing device happening? I was going to call it a frame-story, but there's no actual story taking place during these interludes, so that can't be the right term. Granted, there's not much story taking place during the other parts of the episode, either. Cary says he's gonna tell the audience a story: "It starts with a kid."

Testosterone-laden guitar cue as we watch Connor walking down a street, angrily shoving people out his way. Blipvert of Connor's encounters with Cordy. Freeze frame, as Cary changes his mind: "No, actually, it really starts here." Second question: Why on earth would Cary even think about starting the story with Connor? Wait, I know this one: because telling the story is less important than getting to show us some directoral fanciness. That may be the answer to my previous question, too. I might as well get it all out now: I think Whedon is talented, and he often writes some great, quotable dialogue. He sometimes writes great, memorable scenes. Great enthralling stories, not so much. Which, I suspect, is is why he likes doing high-concept episodes that are almost entirely plot-free. So there.

Cut to Cordy asking the mysteriously undamaged Angel if they were in love. Angel hms. Cordy repeats, "Were we?" Angel says, "What?" Cordy: "In love!" Angel: "With each other?" I'm not sure if he's playing dumb to stall for time, or if he really is that dumb. Both ideas are equally funny. After Cordy gets irate, Angel finally admits that he doesn't know; he "had feelings" for her, but he wasn't sure if they were reciprocated. He mentions their ill-fated date at Point Dume, and Cordy replies, "Maybe I was gonna tell you to back off, buddy. Maybe you were coming on too strong. Harassing me in the workplace." Uh oh, she's confusing Angel with Doyle. Angel stammers that he never harassed her in the workplace, then admits, "There was that one time, with the ballet and the stripping and the roundness, but that was a spell!" "Roundness"? Ha! And possibly eek. He defensively points out that Point Dume sounds like the place for a romance, not lawsuits, and Cordy tells him to stop yelling at her. Angel says he isn't, adding, "This is why I don't want to answer questions I don't have the answers for." That's honest. I can respect that. Angel says, "All I know is that you were my dearest friend. I hope that, I just -- I want that back. That much, at least." Aw. Cordy angsts about her amnesia, saying, "I know my ABCs. I know who's president, and that I sorta wish I didn't." That would be funnier if I wasn't so startled by the idea of Cordelia having any awareness of politics. Anyway, Cordy is near tears as she admits, "I don't even recognize the sound of my own name!" Angel reassures her, "We'll get you back," and then Cary strolls into the courtyard asking, "Who's 'we,' paleface?" Cary holds up a bottle and says that one of his clients provided him with a spell that will "bring our Cordy back to the way she was." Angel is dubious, but Cary insists, "There's no way this can fail!"

Cut to frame-non-story Cary, who says, "So I'm an idiot. What are you, perfect?" Credits.

When we return, Cary is screaming "Foreshadowing! Implications of wackiness with a hint of tragedy! Be eager to please!" Or words to that effect. As he explains that he had good reason to think the spell would work, we pan around and go from frame-non-story Cary talking to the unseen audience to normal Cary talking to Cordy and Angel. Fancy.

Yeah, so Cary had a client and she deals with memory spells, so we have officially legitimized the plot device. Angel worries, "Spells -- I don't trust them." Cordy's all over it, though. Cary leads Cordy inside, explaining, "As soon as I gather the six, we'll be good to go." Angel stands in the courtyard, wondering, "The six what?"

Shut up, Wesley. We pan up from a box of mysterious weaponry to see Wesley trying out some...well, mysterious weaponry. It's a wrist-mounted Swiss Army knife, basically. Wesley practices with it, destroying a vase and making exciting swish-swish noises with a long blade, as another guy watches in the background. The blade retracts into the "holster," and Wesley pays the background guy as the phone rings. As the background guy exits, Wesley answers the phone and, after listening, says, "I'll be there right away. If it works, it's worth doing." We learn that it's Cary calling, and Wesley hesitantly asks if "everything's all right with Fred."

Fred and Gunn are lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. Gunn's shirtless again! Woo. There's a knock at the door, and Fred goes to answer it. My goodness, look at her teeny tiny waist. Angel's at the door, and Fred quietly, yet crabbily, asks what he wants.

In the lobby, Cary is painting a design on the floor. Gunn and Fred descend the staircase as Gunn grumps, "Oh good. Symbols on the floor; that always goes well." Cary explains that it's for Cordy, and Gunn whines about portals opening again and sulks off. Cary tells Fred that he found a spell to restore Cordy's memory, in case we didn't hear him the first time he explained it. He also says, "Lo-lath ch-owrng ne bruun." ("Who was that lady I saw you with?" tm Shack) Fred replies, "Kaya-no-m'tek." ("To get to the other side!" tm Shack.) Wesley asks, "Did I miss the spell? Did English go away?" as he enters. Cary explains that they were speaking Pylean. Wesley doesn't ask how there could be a whole Pylean language when, during their visit, everyone spoke English. Instead, he just asks Fred if she's okay, adding, "Did you...?" Fred hems, "It's done." Gunn stares at them both from the background.

Cary blathers to the audience for a minute on stage, and then gets to take part in a Tim-Roth-in-Reservoir Dogs-expositon-juxtaposition. Say that three times fast. Cary stands in the background of the Hyperion and explains, "I didn't know that, a couple of hours ago, Fred had tried to kill her evil professor by opening a portal. Gunn didn't know that Wesley had helped her. Wesley didn't know that Gunn had killed the guy himself to save Fred from becoming a killer. And Fred didn't know that Gunn was right then figuring out that Wesley had helped her try." How would these facts have made a difference to what Cary was doing? Also, how exactly did Gunn "right then" figure out that Wesley had helped Fred? Oh, I see: there is a purpose to having Cary as a pseudo-narrator for this episode. Because he can just tell us things that Whedon's too lazy to write scenes explain

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