Monday, July 30, 2012

50 Shades Darker Chapter 4 recap, or "Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson"

And lo, Jen said it was link times, and it was, and she looked upon it and saw that it was good. Aaaaallll good:

Product Review: Masturbation to 50 Shades of Grey: "WANKING TO THIS BOOK IS EVIDENCE OF A DISEASE."

Kate (from the comments section, not the book) brings us this link: 51 Tints of Granite

Kate's recommendation spurred Meredith to leave this comment:
OMG! That 51 Tints of Granite thing is hilarious! More to read. I love it! I have never been into fanfic before, but suddenly I'm seeking it out all over the place. Jenn, you have introduced me to a world I never knew existed. I think I love you.
This got me thinking. A lot of the criticism coming at the entire 50 Shades phenomenon has been that it's fanfic. And I think along the way a lot of people, myself included, have used "It's fanfic" to make fun of the horrible writing. But there are some really good fanfics out there, with absolutely stellar writing, and I think I would be remiss if I didn't point them out to y'all. So, expect an upcoming post with fanfic recs. Because fanfic is magic and the more people who participate, the better!

But for now, let's bust right through this chapter like it's Ana's problematic hymen.
As sanity returns,
You realize you're in an abusive relationship and leave him?
I open my eyes and gaze up into the face of the man I love.

Christian tells Ana how much he's missed her (in the five days they were broken up) and how much he missed having sex with her, and he tells her not to leave him again. Then she's all, "Thanks for the iPad," and then he says:
"Come cook me some food, wench. I'm famished."
Because this is Westeros or something. Or...

Oh my gosh. Does anyone else remember Covington Cross, that show that was on (and got immediately canceled) in 1992? I have been obsessed with that show for so long, I'm almost embarrassed that this is the first time I'm thinking of this in this context... the family name of the main characters was "Grey." I could write a 50 Shades of Grey fanfic... and it could be about one of the Greys from that show. My mind is spinning. What deadline?

Wait, what was I doing? Right, reading this book. Bummer.
As I scramble out of bed, I dislodge my pillow, revealing the deflated helicopter balloon underneath.
How does someone sleep with a deflated mylar balloon under their pillow? Isn't that all kinds of crinkly? Why didn't he notice the strange crunchy noise when they were fucking? They have a little conversation about the balloon, and then they get something to eat:
Christian and I sit on Kate's Persian rug, eating stir-fry chicken and noodles from white china bowls with chopsticks and sipping chilled white Pinot Grigio.
Try to read that sentence out loud without taking a breath. I hope that's not a real Persian rug, because who does that? "My roommate isn't here, so let's sit on what is possibly the most expensive thing in the apartment and eat with chopsticks." Also, thanks for the heads up, Ana, I would have never known Pinot Grigio was white unless you'd told me, because where I come from Pinot Grigio is bright green.
He's wearing his jeans and his shirt, and that's all.
That sounds... fully dressed.

Christian says the food is good, and Ana actually eats without them arguing about it, and she also says:
"I usually do all the cooking. Kate isn't a great cook."
Poor Kate, she probably never gets to eat, then, if she waits for Ana to make dinner.

They talk about Ana's upbringing a little, namely how her mother's third husband didn't like her, so she had to go back to live in Forks with Ray. Christian observes:
"Sounds like you looked after him,"
Sounds like you read Twilight, Christian.

Christian doesn't like the fact that Ana has taken care of people her whole life. I'm amazed that Ana has actually taken care of anything, because she's so utterly inept at taking care of herself. This woman can't remember to eat for four days. I would assume even houseplants wouldn't be safe with her. Christian tells Ana that he wants to take care of her, and she says that's nice, but he does it in weird ways, and he says it's the only way he knows how. So, that makes it okay that he bought your job, I guess.
"I'm still mad at you for buying SIP."
He smiles. "I know, but you being mad, baby, wouldn't stop me."
He might as well just pat her on the head and tell her that her feelings don't matter. Because they don't.

Take a deep breath. In and out. Because it's just going to get worse.

Christian tells Ana that her boss, "'that fucker,'" better watch out, and suggests that she not tell anyone at SIP that her boyfriend bought the company. Because I'm sure they'll never find out. Little stuff like "who owns the company" never concerns anyone who actually works there. Christian also says there's an embargo on the news of the company changing hands for four weeks... so, does he expect Ana won't be working there in four weeks? Because eventually, it's going to come out that Christian Grey Holdings Incorporated LTD. INC. & Company bought SIP. And you know who'll break that news? Book bloggers.
I scowl. "If I leave and find another job, will you buy that company, too?"
"You're not thinking of leaving, are you?" His expression alters, wary once more.
"Possibly. I'm not sure you've given me a great deal of choice."
"Yes, I will buy that company, too." He is adamant.
You know how you solve this one, Ana? Go get a job at McDonald's. I'd love to see Christian try to buy THAT company. Go work for Disney, or Time Warner. Good luck, Stalky McFuckhead, trying to buy THOSE.

Because Ana doesn't want to fight (yeah, if you fight over little, unimportant things like your boyfriend buying every company you ever work for in an attempt to exert total control over your life, what kind of a relationship do you have?), they decide to have dessert instead:
"Would you like dessert?"
"Now you're talking!" he says, giving me a lascivious grin.
"Not me." Why not me? My inner goddess wakes from her doze and sits upright, all ears. "We have ice cream. Vanilla." I snicker.
Because she's into vanilla relationships and vanilla sex, get it? By the way, we're only on page 74 and I've already lost count of the number of times Chedward and Anabella joke about being hungry, but not for food. It's one thing to use a cliche... it's another to overuse a cliche.

Christian asks Ana where the ice cream is, and she tells him it's in the oven, to which he responds:
"Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Miss Steele."
Oh yeah, I'm soooo sure it is. Seriously, though, despite Ana telling the reader that Christian has a great sense of humor and he's so witty and funny, I've yet to see evidence that he actually is. Most of the time he's just stomping around, yelling, "I must protect you, helpless Ana!" I think he cracked a couple jokes in the last book. But pardon me if I'm not taking lessons in comedy from a dude whose go-to line is to act like he's confusing an offer of food for an offer of sex.

I will give Christian credit for the pun that comes next, after he exhibits sarcasm himself and Ana calls him out on it:
"Well, Anastasia, my new motto is, 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.'"
It's funny, because he beat the shit out of her with a belt while she cried and screamed, get it?

Christian decides that vanilla ice cream is perfect for the sexy times, so he ties Ana up to the bed and drizzles ice cream on her:
Oh... it's cold. Each nipple peaks and hardens beneath the cool of the vanilla.
No shit, it's cold? Is it? Is ice cream cold? I'm glad Ana shared that detail. I'm also glad she pauses to tell us how hot everything is once the sex scene gets going. Then he drips ice cream onto her pubes and clit, and starts fingering her while he licks it up. I hope there are whole chapters devoted to the yeast infection she gets from someone pushing ice cream up her cooch.
"Hush now," Christian says softly as his magical tongue sets to work lapping up the vanilla, and now I'm keening quietly.
How does one keen quietly? Keening means wailing or screaming. If you're screaming quietly, you're doing it wrong. Or Chedward is doing it wrong. OH SNAP!

Oh yes I did, squirrelfriend.

"Oh... please... Christian."
"I know, baby, I know," he breathes as his tongue works its magic.

They have p-in-v intercourse (when is he going to "claim" her ass? He wanted to do that in the first book. When does the anal happen?) and it's all sticky with ice cream and passion.
I groan as he picks up speed.
"You are mine, Anastasia."
"Yes, yours," I pant.
"I take care of what's mine," he hisses and bites my ear.

How did this get here?

So, basically, Christian fucks Ana into accepting that he's going to buy every company she ever works for, in order to "protect" her, and all it takes is one magical orgasm on command for her to blithely accept this:
"Come on, baby," he growls through gritted teeth and on cue, like the sorcerer's apprentice I am, I let go, and we find our release together.
It's a good thing he tells her to orgasm, otherwise she might not at this point. And still with the "Come on," to get her to orgasm and "come," to get her to go somewhere. The fact that the confusion is so consistent is only more maddening, because it means he's saying the same thing in every single sex scene.
"What I feel for you frightens me," I whisper.
He stills. "Me too, baby," he says quietly.
Me three.

Christian tells Ana that he doesn't think he'll ever leave her, because he can't imagine getting tired of her. How romantic.
"I've never felt the way I felt when you left, Anastasia. I would move heaven and earth to avoid feeling like that again." He sounds so sad, dazed even.
Um. Didn't your mom kill herself in front of you when you were four, and you spent a bunch of days with her dead body? And you've never felt so bad as when your girlfriend dumped you? Okay.

Ana has a nightmare about the girl who confronted her outside of SIP, and I suppose the whole thing is supposed to be moody and cryptic, but it's terribly obvious and very short. Why is it that E.L. James can reserve ten pages every chapter for fucking, but glimpses into Ana's actual subconscious only get five paragraphs? Christian shakes her awake from her nightmare, and she finally thinks, "Gee, maybe I should bring up the weird girl I saw outside of work today and instantly forgot until it was more convenient for the author to address the subject."

Turns out the girl is Leila, the ex-sub who put "Toxic" by Britney Spears on Christian's iPod. This is an important detail that Ana remarks on, because as a reader, I care deeply about who does what with Christian's iPod.
My scalp prickles as adrenaline spikes through my body. What if she means a lot to him? Perhaps he misses her? I know so little about his past... um, relationships. She must have had a contract, and she would have done what he wanted, given him what he needed gladly.
Oh no - when I can't. The thought makes me nauseous.
The thought makes you "nauseated," Ana. What makes you "nauseous" is the fact that a girl who looks like the ghost from The Ring came up to you after an obvious suicide attempt and you're jealous of her. This woman clearly tried to kill herself at some recent point in time, she still had the bandage on her wrist. She was haggard and thin, and obviously not having a great time of things, and you're worried that she's going to steal your boyfriend.

Christian gets on the phone and, in a long, ellipses filled block of dialogue, implores someone named Welch to find Samara Leila. He's obviously stressed out, so Ana offers him tea:
"Do you want some tea?" I ask. Tea, Ray's answer to every crisis and the only thing he does well in the kitchen.
Isn't Ray supposed to be Charlie? Look, I read Twilight, and I guarantee you that Charlie hasn't so much as purchased a single tea bag in the entire time he's been alive. I know some of you have complained about people pointing out so-called Britishisms that aren't really Britishisms, but come on. The obsession with tea in these books? I'm not saying there's no tea in America, or that no one in America has a fondness for the stuff, or that everyone in the UK is always drinking tea all the time, because that would be patently false, but in America we usually associate tea with England. Because of that whole taxation without representation thing that happened a little while ago in the 18th century that turned us all into coffee drinkers. And because years of cultural conditioning starting with that whole "Fuck your tea, we'll throw it in the harbor and drink coffee instead," thing, a manly man's man like Charlie Swan would not be an old hand at making tea in times when consolation is needed, ergo, Ray would not, either. I think Ray and Charlie would both say that beer is the answer to everything.
I put the kettle on the stove and busy myself with teacups and the teapot. My anxiety level has shot to DEFCON 1. Is he going to tell me the problem? Or am I going to have to dig?
What do you think, Ana? Do you think he's going to tell you all about it, since he's so open and forthcoming?

She asks him if he's going to tell her what's going on, and of course he's not:
"Because it shouldn't concern you. I don't want you tangled up in this."
I'm surprised he doesn't just pat her on the head here, too. This fucking guy.

Ana gets him to tell her the truth, with surprisingly little pressure, actually. He admits that Leila is messed up, and that while he was busy stalking Ana in Georgia, Leila got into his apartment and tried to kill herself in front of the housekeeper. So, that was the "situation" that made him leave Georgia.

I know it didn't say it in the text, but fuck it, every recap could benefit from a picture of The Situation.

By the time Chedward got back to Seattle, Leila had taken off, although Mrs. Jones "got her to hospital." PS. Americans don't drop the definite article when we say that. We would say, "got her to the hospital."

Christian tells Ana that Leila is married now, but that she left her husband four months prior to her Christian Grey relapse. And this is where it gets eerily like something that happened to me:
"Let me get this straight. She hasn't been your submissive for three years?"
"About two and a half years."
"And she wanted more."
Okay, it's story time, dear readers. I once hooked up with a guy friend I'd been hanging out with for the summer. It was totally hot. However, what followed was not hot. See, he had an ex-girlfriend who was craaaaaaaaazy. They had been broken up for three years, and he hadn't been with anyone since her, so he broke a long, long streak by hooking up with me. Two days after the hook up, which was never intended to be anything more than just a little fun, the ex came into my place of business, grabbed me by the front of my uniform polo shirt and said, "If you ever sleep with [poor guy] again,  I will fucking kill you. He's mine." It was so utterly bizarre. Reading this part of the book, I actually got creeped out. Like, looking around to see if the freak was lurking around a corner somewhere. So let me tell you, I do not doubt that someone could go that nuts after a breakup that they would stalk the next girlfriend or boyfriend or casual hook up after several years. This is one place where this horrible book is rooted in fact.
I stare at Fifty, magnificently naked from the waist up. I have him; he's mine. That's what I have, and yet she looked like me: same dark hair and pale skin. I frown at the thought. Yes... what do I have that she doesn't?
This is a great excerpt to display how shallow Ana truly is. While a normal person would go, "Wow, that chick is messed up, I bet she wasn't able to hide that level of crazy and that's why they broke up," Ana can't figure out why it's her with Christian and not Leila, because they look the same. To Ana's thinking, two human beings with distinct personalities and quirks and thoughts are completely interchangeable, so long as they look exactly alike. Her self-obsession also keeps her from accepting the truth of the situation, that it has nothing at all to do with her. Christian could have started fucking Taylor, and Leila would still have shown up. It's not an Ana problem, and it's not even a Christian problem, it's a Leila problem.

Christian asks Ana why she didn't mention Leila yesterday, and Ana's excuse was that she just forgot. How do you just forget something that bizarre? Especially when she made reference to it in her internal monologue a couple times after the fact? That's not forgetting. That's the author wanting to have more sex scenes before the plot happens. Speaking of which:
"Forget about her. Come." He holds out his hand.
My inner goddess does three back flips over the gym floor as I grasp his hand.
Ana, you're being stalked by two people now! Let's fuck to celebrate!

Luckily, it's a section break instead of a ten page long sex scene full of "It's so freaking hot," and "jeez!" Ana wakes up beside Christian and tries to touch him, and he's all, "LOL, no," and then asks her if she wants sex or breakfast. Get it, they're HUNGRY, but not for FOOD. For SEX instead. Tee hee.

There's another section break, and Ana tries to fix her horrible, no good, very bad hair while watching Christian get dressed. She asks him how often he works out, and he says he does every week day. He runs, lifts weights, and kickboxes, which leads me to my biggest nit pick of the chapter:
"Yes, I have a personal trainer, an ex-Olympic contender who teaches me. His name is Claude. He's very good. You'd like him."
Kickboxing isn't an Olympic sport! It never has been! Claude is either a fraud, or Christian is talking a big game about his kickboxing trainer because he needs to sound FANCY.

Despite the fact that they allegedly threw the contract out and are having a vanilla relationship, Christian tells Ana she needs a personal trainer:
"But I want you fit, baby, for what I have in mind. I'll need you to keep up."
So, in other words, "We're not doing that whole contract thing, but you still need to follow the rules in it."
I flush as memories of the playroom flood my mind. Yes... the Red Room of Pain is exhausting. Is he going to let me back in there? Do I want to go back in?
Now, in the three times they've actually been in the Red Room, Ana has stood up, shackled to the ceiling, fucked against a bed post, been blindfolded while Christian fucks her, and then the last time, beaten with a belt. I'm not going to deny that these things would be somewhat physically taxing, but I can't think of a single exercise you could do with a personal trainer that would make you more physically capable of the psychological exhaustion involved in heavy BDSM. Ana hasn't been tired from the complicated acrobatics of sex with Christian Grey (because the sex being described just isn't that physically demanding), but from the emotional aspect of submission.
I flush, and the undesirable thought that Leila could probably keep up slithers invidious and unwelcome into my mind.
For real, Ana? Yes, fine. Leila is perfect, way more perfect than you. That's why Christian is still with her, and not with you, right? Get over yourself and your little pity party.

Ana tells Christian she needs to get a haircut and put a check in the bank so she can buy a car, because she's still without wheels. Christian responds by giving her the key to the Audi he bought her as a graduation present.
He's giving me back the car. Double crap. Why didn't I foresee this?
Because you have no short term memory? Because you're just too dumb and trusting? I don't know, Ana, help me out, why didn't you see this coming? Because we all did.

Ana tries to give Christian his check back, that way he's not giving her the car and the money for the car he sold for her. I'm not quite understanding this, because the original plan was that she would keep the Audi and he would reimburse her for her Beetle. However, that doesn't justify Christian's reaction to the suggestion that she would like to return the money. He gets super angry - the word "fury" is used twice - and they argue, ending with:
"End of discussion, Anastasia. Don't push me."
Why? Because you'll hit her? We already know that you won't leave her, because it was just too hard to not be attached to her for five days.

Ana rips up the check.
Christian gazes at me impassively, but I know I've just lit the fuse and should stand well back.
Christian leaves the room, and Ana messes with her hair a little before going to see what he's up to. He's been on the phone, and he's just hanging up when she finds him.
"Deposited in your bank account, Monday. Don't play games with me." He's boiling mad, but I don't care.
"Twenty-four thousand dollars!" I'm almost screaming. "And how do you know my account number?"
My ire takes Christian by surprise.
"I know everything about you, Anastasia," he says quietly.
Ana does not interpret this as the creepy, creepy red flag that it is, and instead argues that her car wasn't worth twenty-four thousand dollars. Christian says a collector bought it, and she can ask Taylor if she doesn't believe him. Because the dude Christian pays would be a totally impartial source.

So, how about him knowing your bank account number? Aren't you concerned with that, Ana?
And I feel it, the pull - the electricity between us - tangible, drawing us together. Suddenly he grabs me and pushes me up against the door, his mouth on mine, claiming me hungrily, one hand on my behind pressing me to his groin and the other in the nape of my hair, tugging my head back.
So, that would be a "no," I take it?
"Why do you defy me?" he mumbles between his heated kisses.
All this line made me think of was Jareth.

I am not ashamed to admit that I had this .gif in a folder named "Cool Labyrinth Stuff" on my desktop.

Christian wants to have sex with her, but oh darn, they're out of condoms. So he'll take her out for breakfast and a haircut, instead.
"Okay," I acquiesce and just like that, our fight is over.
Just like that, she forgets that he's somehow dug up her bank account number and dumped a huge amount of money into it, despite her wishes to the contrary. BECAUSE ROMANCE, DUH!

They go out for breakfast, and Christian gets grumpy because Ana pays the bill. Nothing is sexier than a man who clings to outdated gender stereotypes, let me tell you. He reminds Ana about a black tie benefit thing they're going to at his parents' house. It's a fundraiser for a drug rehab program for parents and their children, called "Coping Together." I did a search to see if this charity exists, and it does. Only, the real life "Coping Together" organization is for parents grieving miscarriage. Since these stupid books are inducing people to buy sex toys and trips to Seattle, I hope this organization gets some of the blow-back in the form of monetary donations.

Ana and Christian explore her neighborhood for the first time, and Christian takes her to a salon a couple blocks from her apartment:
Christian stops outside a large, slick-looking beauty salon and opens the door for me. It's called Esclava.
The door is called Esclava? That is one FANCY door.
The interior is all white and leather. At the stark white reception desk sits a young blonde woman in a crisp white uniform.
Always with the blondes. I bet she flirts evilly with Christian.
"Good morning, Mr. Grey," she says brightly, color rising in her cheeks as she bats her eyelashes at him. It's the Grey effect, but she knows him! How?
Yeah, how does she know him? The nerve of this bitch, being blonde and knowing Ana's boyfriend! But hold up, I thought the Grey Effect caused women to attempt suicide in front of housekeepers?

This evil!blonde is "Greta" (well, that's European if I've ever heard-). All you need to know about how Ana feels about her is right here:
"The usual, sir?" she asks politely. She's wearing very pink lipstick.
It's like Ana cannot meet a woman without critiquing her hair and lipstick color. Ana think it's weird that Christian has a "usual," until she has a stunning lightbulb moment that you guys have probably all figured out already:
Holy fuck! It's Rule Number Six, the damned beauty salon. All the waxing nonsense... shit!
For someone who is supposedly so super intelligent that everyone around her instantly notices how stunningly bright she is, Ana can be super dumb a lot of the time.
I glare at him. He's introducing the Rules by stealth. I've agreed to the personal trainer - now this?
Okay, it's not "stealth." He's not being particularly artful about this. It's open manipulation. He brought Ana to the same salon all the other subs went to because he knows she's insecure and will just do whatever he asks her to once she's started comparing herself to his past conquests.

Ana asks why he brought her to this particular salon, and Christian tells her it's no big, he owns this one and three more. Because he owns everything, I guess. Christian tells her all the things this salon does, and she says she just wants a haircut. Then, there's more anti-blonde, anti-European sentiment:
Greta is all pink lipstick and bustling Germanic efficiency as she checks her computer screen.
I bet she and European pigtails from the last book double up on Christian all. the. time.

But before Ana can get her haircut, enter another evil!blonde:
I peek up at him, and suddenly he blanches - something, or someone, has caught his eye. I turn to see where he's looking, and right at the back of the salon a sleek platinum blonde has appeared, closing a door behind her and speaking to one of the hair stylists.
Do you know who this evil!blonde is yet?
Platinum Blonde is tall, tanned, lovely, and in her late thirties or early forties - it's difficult to tell. She's wearing the same uniform as Greta, but in black. She looks stunning. Her hair shines like a halo, cut in a sharp bob. As she turns, she catches sight of Christian and smiles at him, a dazzling smile of warm recognition.
Seriously, are you getting a sense of build up here?
Christian looks upset about something. He's reasoning with her, and she's acquiescing, holding her hands up and smiling at him. He's smiling at her - clearly they know each other well. Perhaps they've worked together for a long time? Maybe she runs the place; after all, she has a certain look of authority.
Then it hits me like a wrecking ball, and I know, deep down in my gut on a visceral level, I know who she is. It's her. Stunning, older, beautiful.
Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline.
It's Mrs. Robinson.
That is the end of the chapter, and the first effective chapter hook E.L. has managed to execute in the series so far.


  1. okay, okay, maybe i'm stating the obvious here, but "Esclava" is spanish for "female slave". okay. that was it.

  2. Every time the words "I flush" appear in the excerpts, I picture Ana flushing the loo after an extra large dump. That is, whatever has gone on in the chapter up to that point.

  3. I feel like Ana probably WOULD cook for Kate, but then never eat any of it herself... she'd watch her eat it and ask her how it is, but keep insisting she wasn't hungry. It's a pretty damn common thing for people with EDs to do (i know i did it enough, back in those days.)
    I'm really thinking the ana/mia names were no coincidence, and it's kinda skeeving me out.

  4. "I know, but you being mad,baby, wouldn't stop me."
    Sigh, we know. Psycho rapist.


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