Tuesday, August 28, 2012

50 Shades Darker chapter 8 recap, or "I won't participate in the plot, and you can't make me!"

Welp, it's official. Life fucking sucks and we're all doomed: 50 Shades fanfic is being published as a novel. As J Bridger suggested in the comments section of the last recap, perhaps E.L. James will sue for copyright infringement. Also, maybe this is the year I quit writing and start working in a cigarette factory because that industry has some integrity compared to my industry right now.

Oh. There's also a magazine now. So, the seas should be turning to blood at any minute.

We last left Ana standing outside of Chedward's apartment, as Chedward, Taylor, Ryan Reynolds and that guy from Lost combed over it in search of a mysterious intruder.  No, wait, Sawyer had to stay in the hall with Ana, that's right, because this happens to him:
"Taylor, Mr. Grey has entered the apartment." He flinches and grabs the earpiece, pulling it out of his ear, presumably receiving some powerful invective from Taylor.
This is how I imagine Taylor's sweep of the apartment, by the way:


But of course we don't get to see any of that. No, we have to stay in the foyer with Ana, while Taylor has amazing adventures without us.
"Sorry, Miss Steele. This won't take long." Sawyer holds up both hands in a defensive gesture. "Taylor and the guys are just coming into the apartment now."
Wait, Christian went into the apartment ahead of his security team? So, why is he bothering to pay them to protect him, if he won't wait for them to do their job? Talk about control freak, he's willing to bet his life on it.
Oh. I feel so impotent. Standing stock still, I listen avidly for the slightest sound, but all I hear is my aggravated breathing.
I don't know, Ana, your posture seems kind of stiff to me. (Click here, you know what's coming)
I have no idea how much time passes, and still we hear nothing. Surely no sound is good - there are no gunshots.
What about in the beginning of The Professional, where Leon slips a garrote around the dude's neck and kills him silently? I can think of a bunch of ways to kill Christian Grey that wouldn't be loud. Poison, smothering, slit his throat before he can yell, break his neck, chloroform him and drag him to a secondary location where I've got a Dexter-esque plastic wrap set-up waiting for him...

Look, it's not like I've been thinking of this a lot, or anything.

Full disclosure: when I wrote the part about the garrote, I thought to myself, "You know, it's been a long time since I've seen that movie... it's possible that Leon doesn't use a garrote at all. I should check that out. To the DVDs!"

Self shame is often the most effective type of shame.

He totally does, though. On a guy wearing a bolo tie.

Because waiting in tense silence for someone to possibly kill your boyfriend is a super bummer, Ana decides to walk around the foyer and look at the pictures on the wall.
I've never really looked at them before: all figurative paintings, all religious - the Madonna and child, all sixteen of them. How odd.
You haven't really looked at them before because E.L. James suddenly needed a device to "foreshadow" information about Christian's mother. Ana noticed so many little details about the art, the lighting, the layout, etc. on the first time she was in the apartment, I'm no longer buying that she just "hasn't noticed" different rooms or, you know, huge art collections in the first fucking room off the elevator. Because I will not humor bad writing. If he had a mansion or a castle, I get not noticing something. If she didn't constantly comment on the art everywhere she goes, I would buy, "Oh hey, I just never looked at them." But in the real world, people tend to notice little shit like, "Oh hey, the guy I'm dating has sixteen paintings of the Virgin Mary in his foyer." You notice, because that really is kind of strange.
Christian isn't religious, is he? All of the paintings in the great room are abstracts - these are so different.
If they're so different, a girl as astoundingly bright as Ana should have noticed them.
Abruptly, the doorknob moves. Sawyer spins like a top and draws a gun from his shoulder holster.
He spun like a top, did he? So, he's whirling around in circles, gun drawn? I wish I could see it, because just imagining it is hilarious.

Christian comes out the door and gives the all clear, because he's apparently a security guy now. Why not?
"Taylor is overreacting," Christian grumbles as he holds out his hand to me.
Dude, you're the one who hired him. It must be awesome to work for Christian. "You must protect me, I am in grave danger. You have no idea how very grave the dangerous danger I am in is, but I assure you: it is quite grave. The graviest. You must protect me, big, strong Taylor." And then, the second some shit goes down and Taylor just does his job, it's all, "Taylor, you big silly fraidy cat, there's no danger! And now your overreaction has delayed my fucking!"

What a tool. I hope Christian fires Taylor, and then Taylor can get a better job. One fighting the Predator in South America.

Ana is so relieved that Christian isn't dead, she has to spend a paragraph rhapsodizing about how hot he is. Then she bitches a little about how difficult his exes are, then they go into the apartment. Then Christian says:
"Taylor and his crew are checking all the closets and cupboards. I don't think she's here."
So, the apartment hasn't even been checked out yet, and you still brought Ana inside? While Leila, the totally off-the-rails ex-sub who may or may not have a gun could still be hiding inside? That's totally sensible of you.
"Why would she be here?" It makes no sense.
"Exactly."
Ana and Christian should never try to open any kind of detective agency. Here's why:

IF SHE IS TRYING TO KILL CHRISTIAN, THE FIRST PLACE SHE WOULD GO IS TO HIS APARTMENT. WE KNOW THAT THIS IS WHAT SHE WOULD DO BECAUSE SHE HAS DONE SO BEFORE.

Ana asks Christian if Leila could get in, and Christian shoots that down, calling Taylor "overcautious." Well, funny how it works, Christian, when you hire someone to be cautious on your behalf in matters of life and death, they tend to do exactly that. Because if you die, not only do they lose their job, it also looks terrible on their CV. "Last guy I guarded died." Well, not hiring him, then, am I?

And here's another, even more confusing aspect to this sudden, "Taylor sucks at his job and he's way too careful" angle that Christian is trying to work. As an author, it's E.L. James's job to make the reader feel the tension of the situation. We're supposed to really feel that Ana is in danger here, aren't we? Otherwise, what is the point of the entire Leila plot? But if you've got the main characters saying, "Well, there's really nothing dangerous happening here," then you're destroying that tension. Or, making them look really, really stupid. In this case? She's managing to achieve both.

Ana asks Christian if he searched his playroom:
Christian glances quickly at me, his brow creasing. "Yes, it's locked - but Taylor and I checked."
I bet the reason Taylor knows about the playroom is that Chedward bottoms for Taylor all the time. You just know that Taylor is a Dom.

For the second time on this page, Christian suggests that Ana go to bed. "There might be someone hiding in your closed, but sweet dreams!" Amiright? He takes Ana to his bedroom and she gives him the note from Mrs. Robinson. Because now, when your car has been vandalized and a killer might be in your boyfriend's apartment, now is the time to discuss this?
"Are you going to call the police about the car?" I ask as I turn around.
He sweeps my hair out of the way, his fingers softly grazing my naked back, and tugs down my zipper.
"No. I don't want the police involved. Leila needs help, not police intervention, and I don't want them here. We just have to double our efforts to find her." he leans down and plants a gentle kiss on my shoulder.
This should be a big clue to Ana that the bodies of the other subs, the ones who didn't escape after faking a suicide attempt in front of the housekeeper, are buried in the walls of the apartment. Otherwise, why on earth wouldn't you call the police over a vandalized automobile and a possible stalker/intruder?

You know why? Because the plot is half-baked, so the only option in order to keep the book going is to have the characters actively resist participating in said plot in any meaningful way. It's clear at this point that the Leila subplot is, like all the other subplots in this book, just there to fill out time between lackluster sex scenes. The outcome is rigged, and the main characters clearly know it, because they won't take even a half-hearted stab at self-preservation. There is no reason for the reader to invest in their peril, because we already know that it's not going to be perilous. It would get in the way of the fucking.

Later, back at the ranch:
I wake with a jolt, disoriented. Have I been asleep? Blinking in the dim glow the hallway casts through the slightly open bedroom door, I notice that Christian is not with me. Where is he? I glance up. Standing at the end of the bed is a shadow. A woman, maybe? Dressed in black? It's difficult to tell.
Ana screams for help, and the security team comes running. Just kidding!
In my befuddled state, I reach across and switch on the bedside light, then turn back to look but there's no one there. I shake my head. Did I imagine it? Dream it?
No, it was probably this guy:

Who could be Christian, for all we know, given the BDSM context of the story.

Ana sits up, looks around the room, decides she's alone and goes out to look for Christian. Not to tell him that there was a person standing at the foot of his bed on the same night there was a possible B&E at his house, oh no. She just wants to know where he is, and blames the figure at the end of the bed on her overactive imagination.

Ana finds Christian in his study, on the phone:
"I don't know why you're calling at this hour. I have nothing to say to you... well, you can tell me now. You don't have to leave a message."
I stand motionless by the door, eavesdropping guiltily. Who is he talking to?
"No, you listen. I asked you, and now I am telling you. Leave her alone. She has nothing to do with you. Do you understand?" 
He sounds belligerent and angry. I hesitate to knock.
"I know you do. But I mean it, Elena. Leave her the fuck alone. Do I need to put it in triplicate for you? Are you hearing me?... Good. Good night." He slams the phone down on the desk.
Raise your hand if you actually believe Elena called Christian in the middle of the night. I know that's how it's written, but holy hell, can I see that going down in reverse and making way more sense based on what we know of the characters.

What is the obsession with Christian repeating everything twice? He told Ana to go to bed twice, he's telling Elena to leave Ana alone twice... this book could be a lot shorter if Christian wasn't so into repeating himself.

This chapter really made something jump out at me. See where she says Christian sounds "belligerent and angry?" Okay, those are pretty much the same thing. Belligerent means hostile, and anger is "a strong feeling of displeasure and usually antagonism." So, why both? Because someone bought E.L. James a Word-A-Day calendar, and now we all have to suffer for it. There are ten dollar words awkwardly shoehorned into this entire book, but it's never so evident as in this specific chapter.

Ana gets up the courage to knock on the door, and Chedward is so angry it frightens her. But then he tells her she looks beautiful in his t-shirt, so everything is magically okay. And Ana still doesn't mention that, hey, there was a fucking intruder in your bedroom. Even if you think you imagined that, wouldn't you mention it? Just in case?

NO! Because it would get in the way of the fucking!
He rises slowly out of the chair, still in his white shirt and black dress pants. But now his eyes are shining and full of promise... but there's a trace of sadness, too.
How is wearing a white shirt and black pants in any way contradictory to the look in his eyes?
"Do you know what you mean to me?" he murmurs. "If something happened to you, because of me..." His voice trails off, his brow creasing, and the pain that flashes across his face is almost palpable.
Only if you're touching his face. But if he's seriously that worried about it, he could call the police.
I reach up and stroke his face, running my fingers through the stubble on his cheek. It's unexpectedly soft. "Your beard grows quickly," I whisper, unable to hide the wonder in my voice at this beautiful, fucked-up man who stands before me.
This kind of makes it sound like she thinks it's fucked up that his beard grows quickly.
I trace the line of his bottom lip then trail my fingers down his throat, to the faint smudge of lipstick at the base of his neck. He gazes down at me, still not touching me, his lips parted. I run my index finger along the line and he closes his eyes.
Hold up a second. Was this the lipstick line she traced over his body like two chapters ago? So that he was wearing a skin-colored vest? What the hell, how is it still there? They've had sex twice, then went to a party at his parent's house where there was dancing and more fucking, so that's three times having sex, wearing clothing that's rubbing all over while you're dancing, then all the way home and into the house, I'm sorry, NO. The lipstick would not still be there. Also, he never took a fucking shower before he went to the party at his parent's house? The big, fancy, raise-a-million-dollars black tie party, and he couldn't be bothered to wash? He'd had sex with Ana twice before they got to that party. Not only would the lipstick line not be there, you know what would be there? Stink lines, the kind that come off smelly cartoon people. That's what would be there. And the smell would probably be fantastic, like honeysuckle and lollipops, because that's what Ana's perfect hooch smells like.

Seriously, I know that long wear lipstick exists. My son walked around our seven day Disney vacation with a kiss on his forehead that he got from Snow White on day one. Every picture we have of that vacation looks like it happened on the same day, because that lipstick was staying put. But you know what else? It was on his forehead, and he wouldn't let us wash it, like, at all. It would have come off, if he hadn't treated his forehead like a fucking shrine to Snow White's eternal promise to marry him (which, by the way, it totally was). What I'm saying is, unless Christian Grey had the same steadfast determination as a four-year-old autistic to avoid sweating, rubbing, or general touching of that lipstick on his skin, it's not going to be there.

Ana slowly takes Christian's shirt off, and then she orders him into the bedroom where, gosh, it's a little chilly. I wonder why... oh, THE BALCONY DOORS ARE OPEN.
I don't remember doing that. I recall scanning the room when I woke. The door was definitely closed.
I don't remember you looking at the door, and I'm literally in your head. But whatever you need to build suspense, Ana.

Ana FINALLY gets around to telling Christian that, oh, hey, there was a person standing at the foot of your bed and I didn't mention it until now. Christian makes Ana get dressed in his sweatpants because it's far too dangerous for her to go upstairs to where the wardrobe he bought her is. It wasn't too dangerous for her to come into the apartment before it was checked out by security, though. He gets on the phone:
"She's still fucking here," he hisses down the phone.
Well, wait. If the balcony doors were closed when Ana woke up, and now they're open, doesn't that mean that she left? But be super careful now, Christian, it will make up for you not giving a shit earlier, when you almost got your girlfriend killed.
Approximately three seconds later, Taylor and one of the other security guys burst into Christian's bedroom. Christian gives them a precis of what has happened.
"How long ago?" Taylor demands, staring at me all business-like. He's still wearing his jacket. Does this man ever sleep?
Does this man ever stop being interesting?


But it makes sense that Taylor would have stayed on the night of a home invasion. At least someone was taking it seriously. I'm looking at you here, Christian Grey.
"She knows the apartment like the back of her hand," says Christian. "I am taking Anastasia away now. She's hiding here somewhere. Find her. When is Gail back?"
"Tomorrow evening, sir."
"She's not to return until this place is secure. Understand?" Christian snaps.
Wait, wait, wait. It was totally okay for your girlfriend to enter the apartment before it was secure, but not your housekeeper? And what happened to this all being an overreaction, she would never come to the apartment, she couldn't get in, anyway, and Taylor was being too careful by checking to see if she was hiding? None of this makes any sense.

Taylor asks if Christian is going to go to his parents' house, and Christian doesn't want to bring trouble to them, so he asks Taylor to book him a hotel. And then it's Ana's turn to be stupid, because she hasn't had a chance in oh, so very, very long:
"Aren't we all overreacting slightly?" I ask.
Christian glowers at me. "She may have a gun," he growls.
She may have a sword. Or a potted plant.
"Christian, she was standing at the end of the bed. She could have shot me then if that's what she wanted to do."
Shooting someone in a dark room isn't as easy as you might think, Ana. Also, it doesn't matter why she's there, it's pretty freaking hostile to break into someone's house and watch them sleeping.

 Oh dear, how did this get here?
Christian disappears into his closet while the security guy watches me. I can't remember his name, Ryan maybe. He looks alternately down the hall and to the balcony windows. Christian emerges a couple of minutes later with a leather messenger bag, wearing jeans and a pinstriped blazer. He drapes a denim jacket around my shoulders.
"Oh, hey, there wasn't enough time for you to not be wearing my sweatpants and the t-shirt you slept in, but plenty of time for me to put on a blazer and pack." Unless that's a bug out bag. That would be hilarious, if he had such a history of mentally unstable girlfriends that he actually had a bug out bag in his closet at all times.
"I can't believe she could hide somewhere in here," I mutter, staring out the balcony doors.
"It's a big place. You haven't seen it all yet."
What the fuck? Is it the TARDIS? The only reason she "hasn't seen it all yet" is because E.L. James wants to leave her options open, in case she wants to add some new place for them to fuck later. How on earth are people not seeing this?

Yesterday, I tweeted that I was so furious at this book, I couldn't finish the recap. I'm sure that a lot of you who read that tweet thought that I was angry about the abusive relationship or the forced birth control, or some fresh hell I'd yet to share with you. Nope. I was mad because the writing is so pathetically bad, and people are arguing that it isn't. There are really people out there who think this book is super well-written, and that plunges me to such depths of crushing despair that I could not continue writing the recap.

But now I'm fresh and invigorated, so let's keep going:
"Why don't you just call her... tell her you want to talk to her?"
"Anastasia, she's unstable, and she may be armed," he says irritably.
And with the crushing despair, again. Cheward already told Ana earlier in the chapter that he didn't want to involve the police, because Leila is mentally not all there and doesn't need "police intervention." Christian wanted to find her and deal with it himself. Now, Ana is saying, "Why don't you just deal with it yourself," and he's saying, "No, because that's too dangerous." But rather than call the police, he's going to go on the run with Ana. This is not a viable option, Christian. You can't just keep running away until she gets tired of chasing you. You either have to call the police or deal with it yourself. Those are the options, and you're rejecting both. Why?

Drumroll please...

There isn't enough plot in this book to sustain it over the five hundred (yes, five fucking hundred) pages it's sprawled across. If Christian had called the police when she tried to kill herself in his house, or filed a PPO when she showed up outside of Ana's workplace (the suicide attempt, approaching Ana, and getting a concealed carry license would have been enough for them to grant a restraining order), then most of this would already be handled. But this is a Twilight fanfic, first and foremost. When the vampire James is stalking Bella, the Cullens can't involve the police, so as Leila the ex-sub is stalking Ana, so must the police also not be involved. The problem is, E.L. James (and apparently her editors as well) didn't understand that when the characters aren't vampires, this plot doesn't work. The characters just bumble around in a trap of their own making, while the reader keeps wondering, "Hey... why not call the cops?"
"Supposing she tries to shoot Taylor?"
"Taylor knows and understands guns," he says with distaste. "He'll be quicker with a gun than she is."
"Ray was in the army. He taught me to shoot."
Christian raises his eyebrows and for a moment looks utterly bemused. "You, with a gun?" he says incredulously.
"Yes." I am affronted. "I can shoot, Mr. Grey, so you'd better beware. It's not just crazy ex-subs you need to worry about."
You know what's funny about shooting, Ana? You need a gun to do it. Since Leila has one (I guess?) and you don't, your ability to shoot carries about as much weight as a hummingbird's fart in a stiff breeze. But look at how quick Christian is to express "distaste" over the idea of his bodyguard knowing how to use a gun. What the fuck was he supposed to be protecting Christian with all these years? Long range karate? Is this The Pink Panther?

Because Taylor is a better boyfriend than Christian, he's packed Ana a suitcase of her own clothes. Yup, that's right. Christian went and packed for himself, but he was going to leave Ana twisting in the wind. It's our dream man Taylor who did the polite thing and thought of Ana. And because of this, this exchange happens:
Before I can stop myself I hug him, hard. He's taken by surprise, and when I release him, he's pink in both cheeks.
"Be careful," I murmur.
"Yes, Miss Steele," he mutters, embarrassed.
Christian frowns at me and then looks questioningly at Taylor, who smiles very slightly and adjusts his tie.
I don't know if I'm more annoyed that Taylor appears to genuinely like Ana (Taylor, how could you?!), or that Christian is irritated by his girlfriend being concerned about another human being's life.

Taylor gives Christian a credit card, and then agent Ryan takes Christian and Ana down to the garage, where Ana surveys the damage to her Audi. Then this happens:
"How could she have known it was my car?"
He glances anxiously at me and sighs. "She had an Audi A3. I buy one for all my submissives - it's one of the safest cars in its class."
Ana points out that it wasn't a graduation present, if he gives them to all of his submissives, and he argues that since she never actually submitted, it was a graduation present. Ana asks Christian if he still wants her to be his submissive, and, um, not really the time, Ana. You're sort of on the run from a crazy vampire from a crazy ex.
I gaze out of the window, trying to rationalize my exhausted, overactive mind. If she'd wanted to hurt me, she had ample opportunity in the bedroom.
Leila can't hurt you in the bedroom, she's a sub. (Click here)

Christian tells Ana that he no longer hopes that she'll be a sub for him, and Ana is worried that she's not enough for him.
"You're more than enough. For the love of God, Anastasia, what do I have to do?"
Tell me about yourself. Tell me you love me.
Or you could ask him about himself, or tell him that you love him, instead of just waiting for him to volunteer this shit.

She does ask him something, and that was why he thought she would leave him if Dr. Flynn had told her "everything":
He sighs heavily, closing his eyes for a moment, and for the longest time he doesn't answer. "You cannot begin to understand the depths of my depravity, Anastasia. And it's not something I want to share with you."
You wanted to before, remember? Like when you were wailing on her with a fucking belt? Have we forgotten that?
"And you really think I'd leave if I knew?" My voice is high, incredulous. Doesn't he understand that I love him? "Do you think so little of me?"
This is a nifty trap an abuser sets up. What happens is, the abuser thinks so little of himself (or pretends to think so little of himself) that the victim immediately rushes to the position of, "I don't care how fucked up you think you are, I am not like the other girls, I will stay with you." Once the abuser has the victim in that position, the victim can't leave. If she leaves, it's giving up. It's throwing in the towel. It's quitting. And those are all things that strong, independent women of the world don't do, right? Also, by leaving, the victim is letting the abuser down, and confirming all of those negative things the abuser thinks (or pretends to think) about himself. And since the victim loves the abuser, she doesn't want to hurt him. At this point, Ana is trapped. She has to be with him forever, or break out of the victim mindset.

I bet I know how it ends:
"I know you'll leave," he says sadly.
"Christian... I think that's veyr unlikely. I can't imagine being without you." Ever...
Probably best not to mention that last "ever..." while you're both actively fleeing his psychotic stalker ex. Might make him a leeeetle bit jumpy.
"You left me once - I don't want to go there again."
Okay, is it really "leaving" someone if you didn't live together and you had only been dating for like, two weeks? I think of "leaving" as being in a committed relationship and separating your belongings and shit like that. Not breaking up after two weeks of dating. And they weren't even really dating, they were just fucking due to sex contract.

Ana asks Christian if he saw Elena after the breakup, which Christian denies:
"I didn't go anywhere last weekend. I sat and made the glider you gave me. Took me forever," he adds quietly.
Wasn't that a kid's model?
My heart clenches again. Mrs. Robinson said she saw him.
Did she or didn't she? She's lying. Why?
"Contrary to what Elena thinks, I don't rush to her with all my problems, Anastasia. I don't rush to anybody. You may have noticed - I'm not much of a talker." He tightens his hold on the steering wheel.
Maybe you should have gone to her for help with the glider, if it took you that long. His comment about not being a talker leads to Ana asking him about what Carrick told her re: Christian not talking after his mom died, which he doesn't confirm. He does talk about Mia and how much he loves her, to which Ana makes some comment about Mia trying to keep them apart at the banquet.

Oh, and all this time they're driving on the highway, just in case they've been followed. Now I'm starting to think they're being a little overcautious, myself.

Ana asks Christian about his relationship with Elena, and he reasserts that it was all consensual and good for him. Then he complains that Ana is able to "inveigle" information out of people. Except, "inveigle" means getting information out of people with deceit or flattery... Ana is actually pretty straightforward when she's talking to people. She's certainly being straightforward in the scene.

They get to the hotel, where Ana is pretty sure that the valet looks surprised at their arrival because they're so late. If it's so unthinkable that people would arrive late, why does the hotel have a third shift valet? They go inside to check in as Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, where the requisite stunned female waits to ogle Christian hungrily:
Of course, she's overawed by Christian. I roll my eyes as she flushes crimson and stutters. Even her hands are shaking.
"Do... you need a hand... with your bags, Mr. Taylor?" she asks, going scarlet again.
So, here we have Ana criticizing another woman for acting exactly the same way she acts all the freaking time. How dare this slutty, slutty slattern FLUSH CRIMSON in the presence of Christian Grey! It's unconscionable!

When Christian refers to Ana as his wife, Ana actually hides her hands because there's no ring on her finger. I love how Ana naturally assumes that the girl at the desk is going to a) check out her finger to see if it's true and b) call her on it.

By the way, I have never once checked into a hotel where I didn't have to show photo identification to get a room. So, I don't know how this whole "I'm Mr. Taylor" thing is working.

Ana refers to the receptionist as "Miss Flushing Crimson," which actively makes me want to reach into the book and slap the shit out of her. Are you kidding me with this? You're going to give her a derogatory name for something you do all the time? That would be like me calling someone a pothead in a negative way. It would be pothead/kettle.

In the room, Christian pours them some drinks and they stand by the fireplace, making infuriating conversation:
"You never cease to amaze me, Anastasia. After a day like today - or yesterday, rather - you're not whining or running off into the hills screaming. I am in awe of you. You're very strong."
NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Just repeatedly having a character say the same thing over and over about Ana does not alter her characterization. It doesn't pull the wool over my eyes. It shouldn't pull the wool over anyone's eyes. Ana isn't strong. She wasn't able to successfully stay broken up for more than five days. She hasn't picked up the phone and called the police to protect herself, because she's waiting for Christian to protect her. And how fucking often are we going to have to read Christian saying, "I am in awe of you." What is there to be in awe of? Her mind-boggling stupidity at every turn of the page? Her inability to think for herself? Her towering misogyny? Tell me, please, Chedward, tell me what is so awe fucking inspiring about your  too stupid to live girlfriend, because I am DYING to know.
Oh, Christian, what do I have to do to make you realize how I feel?
Let him beat you, my subconscious sneers.
Oh hey... maybe I'm Ana's subconscious.

To lighten the mood, Ana brings up Jose. Actually, she asks where Christian is going to hang Jose's pictures, and then it's time for the sexy:
Very bravely - emboldened by the brandy, no doubt - I take Christian's hand and pull him toward the bedroom.
So, just be aware, ladies, the bar for bravery has been lowered for us. It used to be "rescue a toddler from a burning building," now it's "fuck you boyfriend." In other news, words don't mean anything anymore.

They start to get down, and the lipstick is still on him (bullshit), and then there is another astounding feat of bravery for us to be "in awe" at:
Taking a deep breath and beyond courageous, I reach for the hem of my t-shirt and lift it over my head so I am naked before him.
Courageous. Used to apply to pulling unconscious drivers from burning, wrecked automobiles, now means getting naked in front of your boyfriend (who has seen you naked plenty of times). Also, words continue to not mean a goddamned thing anymore.

They have sex, the word "avaricious" is used, and then it turns into a Kathleen Woodiwiss novel:
"You're going to unman me, Ana," he whispers suddenly, breaking away from me and kneeling up.
Unman? I literally have not seen that used in romantic fiction since the very, very early '90's. In historical romances.

This is how I am imagining Christian now.
No, I lied. Fabio seems like a really nice guy. He doesn't deserve that.

Christian tells Ana that she's "the best therapy," which sounds really healthy to me. Using other people to forget your problems is probably the best path toward mental health, right? Then they have orgasms and there's a paragraph break. When we return:
His head rests on my belly, his arms wrapped around me. My fingers forage in his unruly hair, and we lie like this for I don't know how long.
Pictured: Ana, "foraging" through Christian's hair.

Ana reflects on her relationship with Christian:
He's come a long way, as have I, in such a short time. It's almost too much to absorb. With all the fucked-up stuff, I am losing sight of his simple, honest journey with me.
Words continue to not mean things, and also I cry tears of blood. He hasn't come a long way. He hasn't really come anywhere. No matter what Ana says, Christian still is getting everything he wants. He's still manipulating her. And she hasn't come a long way, she's exactly the same person as she was when we first met her on page one of Fifty Shades of Grey. Just now, she's had sex. Big whoop.

When they wake up in the morning, Christian informs Ana that Dr. Greene will be there shortly. Because even in an apparently life threatening stalker emergency, Christian Grey will see that the needs of his penis are met.

Ana thinks about how she doesn't want another Audi, but that she doesn't have a choice. If I were her, I would ask for a better car. But if I were her, I wouldn't be dating Chedward, either. She goes to the dining room of the suite and finds Christian eating breakfast. He tells her she's going to need her strength today. I'm thinking he doesn't understand what a gynecologist visit entails, if he thinks you need to bolster your strength for it. Then he tells Ana he just plans to go out and get some fresh air. Since Ana is a frail and wilting Victorian, she clearly is going to need to eat so that she doesn't faint dead away from such physical exertion. Or something. Then Dr. Greene arrives.
We're in the bedroom, and Dr. Greene is staring at me openmouthed. She's dressed more casually than last time, in a pale pink cashmere twin set and black pants, and her fine blonde hair is loose.
"And you just stopped taking it? Just like that?"
I flush, feeling beyond foolish.
"Yes." Could my voice be any smaller?
"You could be pregnant," she says matter-of-factly.
Wait, what? That's not how the pill works. You don't take it to avoid spontaneous pregnancy, and if you stop taking it you get pregnant. She would have had to have unprotected sex, which they did, but I believe she was on her period at that time. Now, I realize that it's technically possible to have unprotected sex on your period and still get pregnant, but the pill wouldn't have been effective then, either, because she'd just started taking it. And after she and Christian got back together, they were having protected sex. So, yes, I suppose she could be pregnant, but it seems pretty fucking unlikely.

Still, we have to go through the agony of Ana taking a pregnancy test and worrying about what "Fifty" will do when he finds out that she's preggers. Only after the pregnancy test does Dr. Greene ask when Ana's last period was, and then she shames Ana for her irresponsibility before giving her the results of the test:
"You're in the clear. You've not ovulated yet, so provided you've been taking proper precautions, you shouldn't be pregnant. Now, let me counsel you about this shot. We discounted it last time because of the side effects, but quite frankly, the side effects of a child are far-reaching and go on for years." She smiles, pleased with herself and her little joke, but I can't begin to respond - I'm too stunned.
Okay, the part about "You've not ovulated" and "you shouldn't be pregnant," those could have happened before telling Ana she could be pregnant and taking a pregnancy test. OB/GYNs know this shit. It would have been the first thing she asked. Plus, how is she telling whether or not Ana has ovulated based on a pregnancy test? And wait a second... any good doctor would have asked Ana if she wants the shot, rather than take her boyfriend's word for it, right? So, I'm guessing Dr. Greene isn't a very good doctor.
Dr. Green launches into full disclosure mode about side effects, and I sit paralyzed with relief, not listening to a word. I think I'd tolerate any number of strange women standing at the end of my bed rather than confess to Christian that I might be pregnant.
Then you need to not be having sex. Or grown up relationships. No, wait, not having sex, because as you're sitting there thinking, "Gosh, it would be super icky to have to tell Christian I'm pregnant," you're ignoring what the doctor is telling you about the medicine you are relying on to not get pregnant.

There's another page of needless and overwrought drama about how Ana could have been pregnant, but isn't:
He furrows his brow at me, puzzled. "My reaction? Well, naturally I'm relieved... it would be the height of carelessness and bad manners to knock you up."
"Then maybe we should abstain," I hiss.
Yes, you should, because you're not emotionally ready for the responsibility of sex.
He gazes at me for a moment, bewildered, as if I'm some kind of science experiment. "You are in a bad temper this morning."
Force birth control does that to a person.
"Ana, I'm not used to this," he murmurs. "My natural inclination is to be it out of you, but I seriously doubt you want that."
Your "natural inclination" is to beat her? WHY ARE SO MANY WOMEN SO IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK?

They go and take a long and stupidly drama-filled shower, in which they argue over whether or not Christian is worthy of love:
"I can't hear this. I'm nothing, Anastasia. I'm a husk of a man. I don't have a heart."
Okay, this is where I separate the nerd men from the nerd boys (even though I suspect the readership of this blog is mostly female...). When Christian says he's a "husk," the first thing I thought of was:

"It was like breaking up with the Joker."

If you don't get it, that means you're cooler than I am, so good for you.
"Yes, you do. And I want it, all of it. You're a good man, Christian, a really good man. Don't ever doubt that. Look at what you've done... what you've achieved," I sob. "Look at what you've done for me... what you've turned your back on, for me," I whisper. "I know. I know how you feel about me."
Okay, yeah, Christian Grey has achieved a lot. But so did like, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Franco, Peron, they all achieved stuff and I don't see people lining up to love them into wellness. And what has he done for Ana, really? He's beaten her, he's made her cry hysterically at the drop of a hat, he's earned her a stalker, he's controlled her career, he bought her a bunch of shiny toys that serve as leashes, he's isolated her from her friends and family... and what else? Nothing of value. Oh, he gave her orgasms. I forgot about those. Orgasms trump everything. And what did he supposedly give up? His fetish. That's what he gave up. She gave up her family, her friends, her emotional well-being, her independence, but he doesn't get to cane anyone, so it all evens out.

By the way, the way he feels about her? He loves her. She says he loves her and he agrees, and the chapter is over.

In the past, I have tried to put up a recap twice a week. Unfortunately, I have a looming deadline. It's actually not looming. It's sort of... passed. So, I'm late with a book. I need to get it finished, so count on one recap per week for the next couple of weeks, until I get my work done.

5 comments:

  1. When I read "husk" I think of the Mass Effect enemies everytime. Like when she compared his HUSKY voice to chocolate, because chocolate is husky.

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    1. Yup, that was what I thought of, too. (And now I'm picturing FemShep beating the crap out of Christian Grey, which is oh so gratifying.)

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  2. This bit:

    This is a nifty trap an abuser sets up. What happens is, the abuser thinks so little of himself (or pretends to think so little of himself) that the victim immediately rushes to the position of, "I don't care how fucked up you think you are, I am not like the other girls, I will stay with you." Once the abuser has the victim in that position, the victim can't leave. If she leaves, it's giving up. It's throwing in the towel. It's quitting. And those are all things that strong, independent women of the world don't do, right? Also, by leaving, the victim is letting the abuser down, and confirming all of those negative things the abuser thinks (or pretends to think) about himself. And since the victim loves the abuser, she doesn't want to hurt him. At this point, Ana is trapped. She has to be with him forever, or break out of the victim mindset.

    Made me instantly think of the song "As Long As He Needs Me" from Oliver...

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  3. I don't like how this author equates stuttering with nervousness. It is just perpetuating a myth that stutterers are all neurotic wreaks. I stutter, and beliefs like that make some people think less of me.

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  4. I was going to comment, and then I realized that there are so many things I want to bitch about concerning not only this chapter but the entire book that I can't feasibly put them all in the same comment box. I rest my case.
    Oh yeah, and I totally think Ana should leave Christian for Taylor. That'd be FSOG fanfic I'd actually read.

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