Saturday, November 17, 2012

50 Shades Darker recap Chapter 19, or "50's Greatest Hits Vol. II"

It is I, your monster pal, lovable furry old Jen. Since I'm so excited about Christian Grey possibly being dead (spoiler alert: he isn't), and since the next chapter is unusually short, I thought I'd give you a bonus recap this week.

I forgot to post this link last time, but a British domestic violence charity is recycling 50 Shades as turlet paper for wiping your butt on. Doing this as an objection to a kinky lifestyle is plain stupid, because consensual BDSM is not abuse. But I support their endeavor, because there is actual abuse in the book, even if they completely missed the part that was abuse.

Okay, so, we last left Ana gasping in horror about how her boyfriend's helicopter is missing. Oh, and her boyfriend is also missing. But the helicopter! Oh, the humanity!
I stare at the flames, mesmerized. They dance and weave bright blazing orange with tips of cobalt blue in the fireplace in Christian's apartment.
I bet Christian is doing the same thing right now, Ana. But you know, in the smoking wreckage of his deathcopter.
And despite the heat pumping out of the fire and the blanket draped around my shoulders, I'm cold. Bone-chillingly cold.
Is it because you're too skinny? Because skinny people get really cold, or so I've heard. This might be a good opportunity to bring up how skinny you are.

Ana hears people talking, but she's not listening, because she's trapped in her beautiful, beautiful pain:
I'd like to make love with Christian in front of a real fire.
I'd like you to make love with Christian while you're both on fire. Call me, let's make this happen.
Anastasia, you've bewitched me.
He said that the first time he slept with me in my bed. Oh no...
I wrap my arms around myself, and the world falls away from me and reality bleeds into my consciousness. The creeping emptiness inside expands some more. Charlie Tango is missing.
I love how the reader can't quite figure out if it's the helicopter or the boyfriend she's more concerned about.

Mrs. Jones brings Ana some tea, and she manages a pitiable thank you, but when it comes to Christian's actual relatives...
Mia sits across from me on the larger-than-large U-shaped couch, holding hands with Grace. They gaze at me, pain and anxiety etched on their lovely faces. Grace looks older - a mother worried for her son. I blink dispassionately at them. I can't offer a reassuring smile, a tear even - there's nothing, just blankness and the growing emptiness.
BITCH THAT IS HER SON.


Well, I wasn't rooting for her, Tyra, but still. WHAT THE FUCK! This woman thinks her SON is FUCKING DEAD and you "blink dispassionately" at her? DO YOU FUCKING KNOW WHAT DISPASSIONATE MEANS?

: not influenced by strong feeling; especially : not affected by personal or emotional involvement dispassionate
critic> dispassionate approach to an issue>
— dis·pas·sion·ate·ly adverb
— dis·pas·sion·ate·ness noun
Anastasia Rose "sun shines right out my asshole" Steele is looking at a mother who thinks her child is dead and she's feeling NO PERSONAL OR EMOTIONAL INVOLVEMENT.

Becauser HER pain is so great.

THIS IS NOT A HEROINE WOMEN SHOULD IDENTIFY WITH IF THEY ARE NOT HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY DEAD INSIDE.

Elliot, Jose, Ethan, Kate, and Mrs. Jones are all there - the latter, I assume, is looking through the wanted ads already - but they're not a threat to Ana being the most painfully affected in the room, so they get a pass, I guess. News of Christian's disappearance is all over television, and one can only assume the entire nation has ground to a halt to form candlelight vigils all over the country.
The fact is, he's missing. He's been missing for eight hours. No sign, no word from him. The search has been called off - this much I do know. It's just too dark.
That is not at all how things work when a rich white person goes missing in America. I don't doubt that they started searching for him immediately, as soon as his helicopter lost radio contact, but seriously, when a rich person goes missing, the authorities work around the clock to find them. Poor people might not get that kind of treatment, but believe me, if Bill Gates wandered off into the woods and wasn't seen again for eight hours, they'd still be looking for him seventeen days later, even if they knew they were just looking for a body. Too many millions of dollars are tied up in keeping these people alive or proving they're really dead. And also, we have flashlights.

During these long, interminable eight hours of separation, Bella hears Edward's voice in her mind. No, wait. Sorry, Ana hears Christian's voice in her mind. I just thought I was reading New Moon there for a second. That's the best of all the Twilight books, by the way. If you were thinking of actually reading 50 Shades Darker, I highly suggest you go and read New Moon instead. Anyway, Bella is hearing Edward's voice in this scene:
"You're my lifeline."
Christian's words come back to haunt me. Yes, there is always hope. I must not despair. His words echo through my mind.
"I am now a firm advocate of instant gratification. Carpe diem, Ana." 
Do you get why he's "missing" now? Just like that creepy, creepy Russian guy who faked his own death a few weeks ago, he's showing Ana just how very much she needs to accept his proposal, for crying out loud.

It absolutely enrages me, by the way, that the first time Ana thinks of something Christian had said to her, it's just plain italics, but now it's suddenly italics with quotation marks around it. Make up your damned mind, pick a style and stick to it.
I close my eyes in silent prayer, rocking gently. Please let the rest of his life not be this short. Please, please.
Whaaaat? I can't believe a copy editor didn't ding that for wonktacularosity. Shouldn't it read, "Please don't let the rest of his life be this short?" What the fuck is going on in that sentence?

Ana keeps thinking of stuff they've done together in their long, long, impossibly long and super romantic relationship, and then arrives at this entirely healthy conclusion:
Oh, I love him so. I will be nothing without him, nothing but a shadow - all the light eclipsed.
I'll just leave this here.

So, much like Bella Swan, Anastasia Rose Steele has decided that if she can't be with her very first boyfriend for the rest of her life, she'll just become Miss Havisham or something. Which really works out well for Ana, because Miss Havisham is super skinny.
I open my eyes and gaze unseeing into the fire once more, memories of our time together flitting through my mind: his boyish joy when we were sailing and gliding; his sauve, sophisticated, hot-as-hell look at the masked ball; dancing, oh yes, dancing here in the apartment to Sinatra, whirling around the room; his quiet, anxious hope yesterday at the house - that stunning view.
When recounting everything she has apparently lost, she does not forget to list the obvious material concerns, like the fact that she won't get the house and the view.
Oh, please, let him be okay. He cannot be gone. He is the center of my universe.
He is my paycheck.

Really, though, the center of her universe? How is it considered, not just romantic, but even remotely okay to consider someone you've known a month to be the center of your universe? I can think of just two instances where that applies: infants and rescued shelter dogs.

Jose asks Ana if she wants to call her mom or dad, but she's too emotionally fractured to do so. Grace leaves the living room - probably because she doesn't want more dispassionate blinks - and Mia comes over to reassure Ana. After all, it's just Mia's brother, whom she's known her entire life, grew up with, loves deeply, etc. She really should be making Ana feel better about losing the guy she's known a whole month:
"He will come back," she says, her voice initially determined, but cracking on the last word. Her eyes are wide and red-rimmed, her face pale and pinched from lack of sleep.
I can't help but feel that Ana is describing the other women and their appearances, not to show us the enormity of the situation, but to let us know she's still the prettiest.
I gaze up at Ethan, who is watching Mia and Elliot, who has his arms around Grace.
Is that a story problem? As in, "The Brown family made three cakes and three pies. The youngest members did not make cakes, but the oldest member did not make a pie," etc? Because I can't figure  out who has their arms around who.

Ana keeps thinking about Christian and how she'll never love again. No, really, she says that:
I will always love him. There will never be anyone else. Ever.
He's only been missing eight hours. Maybe wait until the funeral pyre is lit before you throw yourself on it, Khaleesi.
I remember sitting in Starbucks weighing up my Christian pros and cons. All those cons, even those photographs I found this morning, melt into insignificance now. There's just him and whether he'll come back. Oh please, Lord, bring him back, please, let him be okay. I'll go to church... I'll do anything. Oh, if I get him back, I shall seize the day. His voice echoes around in my head once more: "Carpe diem, Ana."
If I were faking my death by helicopter accident, this would be the effect I was going for. I'm just saying.
I gaze deeper into the fire, the flames still licking and curling around each other, blazing brightly. Then Grace shrieks, and everything goes into slow motion.
"Christian!"

Well, shit. I was really hoping that guy was dead.

But he's not, so let's sally forth.

Grace runs to Christian and hugs him, and she steals Ana's line:
"I died a thousand deaths today," she whispers, her voice barely audible, echoing my thoughts.
Except I'm sure Ana's thoughts were more like, "I have died everyday/waiting for you/darling don't be afraid/I have loved you/for a thousand years/I'll love you for a thousand more," or whichever new Christina Perri song they slap on the Breaking Dawn pt. II trailer.

Carrick gets there, and Mia hugs Christian, and everyone is hugging him except for Ana, who is probably just waiting to find out how badly damaged the helicopter is. Christian has no idea why everyone is standing around waiting for him to get back, but their obvious relief at his safety isn't going to get in the way of his totally inexplicable jealousy:
He blinks and glances briefly at Jose, who lets go of my hand. Christian's mouth tightens. I drink in the sight of him and relief courses through me, leaving me spent, exhausted, and completely elated. Yet my tears don't stop. Christian turns his attention back to his mother.
"I see you're visibly shaken by my disappearance, but how very dare you turn to a MALE friend for comfort? I will punish you by ignoring your pain."

Grace asks Christian why he didn't call, and he says his cell phone was dead. She asks why he didn't stop to call collect, because she doesn't realize pay phones are practically an endangered species these days. Elliot manfully welcomes his brother back to the land of the living, and Ana has a revelation:
As the tears stream down my face, I can see it all. The great room is bathed in it - unconditional love. He has it in spades; he's just never accepted it before, and even now he's at a total loss.
I have a different theory as to why he's thrown by all the attention. We'll get to that in a moment.

After the Christian Grey episode of It's Your Life! winds down a bit, he gets to Ana:
He moves toward me, gray eyes bright though weary and still bemused. From somewhere deep inside, I find the strength to stagger to my feet and bolt into his open arms.
He was just missing for eight hours, he's clearly tired and totally thrown, but she finds the strength, guys.

They cry and reunite, etc, the whole cheesy, "I thought you were dead" bullshit we've seen in a thousand movies/tv shows/Twilight novels, etc. Then Christian and Jose shake hands and stuff, because Christian being nearly dead is enough for them to bury the hatchet.

There's a neat description of Mrs. Jones, too:
Her hair is loose, and she's in soft gray leggings and a large gray sweatshirt with WSU Cougars emblazoned on the front that dwarfs her.
Leaving aside the fact that it's the WSU Cougars logo that is dwarfing her in this sentence and not the shirt,  cougars, guys. Yeah she is.

And apparently, something happened to Taylor's daughter:
He spies Taylor hovering at the entrance and nods. Taylor nods back.
"Your daughter?"
"She's fine now. False alarm, sir."
Daughter? What happened to Taylor's daughter?
She was dating a vampire, but now she's into werewolves. Or something. Probably.

Christian gets down to business to defeat the Huns explaining the extremely unlikely scenario that ended with him going missing for eight hours.
Christian launches into his story. He was flying in Charlie Tango with Ros, his number two, to deal with a funding issue at WSU in Vancouver. I can barely keep up, I'm so dazed.
Well, try, Ana. You're our narrator, you have kind of a responsibility to keep up, for our sakes.
"Ros had never seen Mount Saint Helens, so on the way back as a celebration, we took a quick detour. I heard the temporary flight restriction was lifted a while back, and I wanted to take a look. Well, it's fortunate that we did. We were flying low, about two hundred feet above ground level, when the instrument panel lit up. We had a fire in the tail - I had no choice but to cut all the electronics and land." He shakes his head. "I set her down by Silver Lake, got Ros out, and managed to put the fire out."
What was he celebrating? They were going to deal with a funding issue... are they celebrating getting more funds? Or are they celebrating the fact that they got it all cleared up? Either way, this guy celebrates more than any person I've ever heard of. "Let's go celebrate your promotion, Ana! Let's go celebrate that you signed my sex contract, Ana! Let's go celebrate you celebrating me celebrating the celebration we had yesterday! BALLOONS AND CAKE FOR ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!"

I find it interesting (and this is that theory that I said we'd be getting back to) that the reason he's been missing all started out with him taking a woman who is not Ana to look at a beautiful vista in his helicopter. I had gotten the impression from the story so far that going to look at romantic things women have never seen before is kind of his modus operandi in trying to get into their pants. And he took his assistant. And he was missing for eight hours. And he came home to find everyone he knows waiting for him, and he doesn't know how to react to that.

Is it just me, or does this read like Christian Grey got caught cheating?
"How did you put the fire out?" asks Kate, her Carla Bernstein instincts kicking in. Jeez, she sounds terse sometimes.
First of all, I can only assume E.L. is trying to reference Carl "All The President's Men" Bernstein. Maybe she feminized the name to be "clever." But way to work in a reference that I can guarantee only about .5% of the people reading Twilight fanfic are going to get. Also, we're right back to hating Kate again, so I feel like we've reached level ground.
His words from long ago circle my mind. I thank Divine Providence every day that it was you who came to interview me and not Katherine Kavanagh.
Remember, just in case you forgot, we all hate Kate. We have to, because she's just unbearable, the way she cares about people and shows interest in stuff they have to say. Thank god Ana landed Christian, and not Kate. Really, the way they keep referring to this makes me think Christian already had his mind made up to fuck whoever came to interview him, and Ana won the prize just by showing up. They keep repeating this point over and over again, like he never would have met Ana any other way. But he does business with Kate's family, so they're still somewhat connected to each other, and Ana ended up getting a job at a company Chedward swears he would have bought whether she worked there or not. You and I both know that a load of horse shit, reader, but they can't have it both ways. It can't be destiny and fate and also they know a bunch of people in common.

Grace asks Christian why he couldn't radio. Because the helicopter was on fire, moron, is not the answer Christian gives his mom. He tells her he didn't want to chance starting the fire up again by turning on the electronics in the helicopter. They had no cell coverage, and he ran his battery out using GPS to get them out of the forrest, which took four hours.

So, how did they get back to Seattle?
"We hitched and pooled our resources. Between us, Ros and I had six hundred dollars, and we though we'd have to bribe someone to drive us back, but a truck driver stopped and agreed to bring us home. He refused money and shared his lunch with us." Christian shakes his head in dismay at the memory. "Took forever. He didn't have a cell - weird but true. I didn't realize." He stops, gazing at his family.
Bullshit. Long haul truck drivers in the US have cell phones. I consulted a former trucker for the very purpose of being able to call bullshit on this one, and he told m that it would be "extremely unlikely" for a truck driver to not have a phone. Another trucker I consulted said that his company sends him messages, etc. via cell instead of by radio, and that they have phones paid for by the company. This one doesn't wash. They have satellite tv in those trucks, for fuck's sake. Even if they didn't, he couldn't say, "Hey, we were just in a helicopter crash, could you radio the authorities?" Ros didn't think of that?

Ana, listen to me. I'm sorry to tell you this, but the details of your boyfriend's story are just way too specific. It took four hours to walk out of the forrest because Ros had heels on? He had six hundred dollars and he couldn't buy a phone call at a gas station? He thought you were hanging out with Jose, and revenge cheated on you. He showed Ros the mountain, and then he set Charlie Tango down, all right. He set it down in her VAGINA. He didn't realize anyone would notice he was gone. Maybe he forgot to file the change in his flight plan, and he had to come up with the story about backpacking across America and friendly truckers who don't have phones.

Elliot points out that Christian made the news, and Christian says:
Christian rolls his eyes. "Yeah. I figured that much when I arrived to this reception and the handful of photographers outside. I'm sorry, Mom - I should have asked the driver to stop so I could phone. But I was anxious to be back." He glances at Jose.
Oh, that's why, because Jose is staying here. I frown at the thought. Jeez - all that worry.
What a family-sized bag of dicks this guy is. "Sorry you thought I was dead, mom, I just couldn't stop my forward momentum for a single instant because I don't trust my girlfriend." Oh, shit, sorry, he trusts her, he just doesn't trust her to not fuck literally every man alive.

There's more, "Oh, we're so glad you're alive." I wonder if anyone in the room has actually met this guy. Then, everyone starts to leave:
"Cary, my son is safe. You can take me home now."
Cary? Grace looks adoringly at her husband.
Oh my god. Cary. Grace. The only reason I didn't get it was that Carrick's name isn't Archibald. Cary Grant, Grace Kelly. How many other names in this book come from the cast of To Catch A Thief? Just think, if Mogambo had aired on cable that day, Chedwards parents would be just plain old Clark and Ava.

Meanwhile, it looks like there's trouble in Wonderland (because she's Alice, get it?):
Behind me, I'm aware that Mia and Ethan are having a heated whispered conversation, but I can't hear it.
Mia is smiling shyly at Ethan, and he's gaping at her and shaking his head. Suddenly she crosses her arms and turns on her heel. He rubs his forehead with one hand, obviously frustrated.
"Mom, Dad - wait for me," Mia calls sullenly. Perhaps she's as mercurial as her brother.
Kate says goodbye to Ana, and it's probably my favorite line of the whole book:
"I can tell some serious shit's been going down while I've been blissfully ignorant in Barbados. [...]"
That's it, just that line. The rest of what she says is just the same "you guys were meant for each other/you're so perfect" bullshit tossed at the reader to try and force you to think, "Wow, these people are really in love," and it's so clumsy and obvious it doesn't bear repeating here. But the line about how stuff has been going down while she was "blissfully ignorant" makes me almost weep with laughter. I just imagine her saying this and meaning, "I wish I was still on vacation and not about to have to listen to all the shit you did while I was gone."

They talk about how it's so funny they fell in love at the same time, because OMG TWINSIES! and then everyone is gone. Everyone, that is, except Jose, who was awkwardly supposed to be staying the night. Try to ignore the sounds of cracking whips and pirate aaaaarrrrghs! while they have "I'm so glad you're not dead sex," Jose!

Ana askes Jose if knows where he's staying:
"Yeah, Mrs. Jones, she showed me earlier. Quite a place you have here, Christian."
"Thank you," Christian says politely as he comes to stand beside me, placing his arm around my shoulders. Leaning over, he kisses my hair.
And then he pees on my leg, because he is marking his territory.

Christian goes to get something to eat, and Ana and Jose say goodnight. Ana apologizes for the night being a disaster, because it's apparently her fault that her manipulative asshole boyfriend goes missing on the one night in a month that she's been allowed to go out with her friends. I'm just saying. There's no need to apologize, anyway. It probably was an awesome night for Jose. He got to fantasize about Christian being dead, just like we were all doing.

Christian and Ana rehash the whole, "I'm so glad you're not dead, I love you so much," thing, and Ana decides she's going to give Christian his birthday present. And in a scene the reminds me so much of Twilight, without ever actually representing anything from Twilight at all, the chapter hook we were all dreading happens:
With deft fingers, he unwraps and opens the box. His brow creases as he fishes out a small, rectangular, plastic key chain featuring a picture made up of tiny pixels that flash on and off like an LED screen. It depicts the Seattle skyline with the word SEATTLE written boldly across the landscape.
He stares at it for a minute and then gazes at me, bemused, a frown marring his lovely brow.
Turn it over," I whisper, holding my breath.
He does, and his eyes shoot to mine, wide and gray, alive with wonder and joy. His lips part in disbelief.
The word YES flashes on and off on the key ring.
"Happy birthday," I whisper.
In the immortal words of Brian Williams reading Donald Trump's election night tweets, "So... that happened."

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