Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fifty Shades Darker chapter 12 recap, or "Piano for Dummies"

Okay, I'm going to be straight with you, before we dive into the recap like you're not supposed to dive into your ass. I am about to abuse my readership with a sinister ulterior motive. My kid is doing this fundraiser thing. The whole point is to raise money to go to Mackinac Island for a few days and learn about Michigan history. If you support educational trips, or Michigan, or me getting rid of my kid for a few days, or you're a Somewhere In Time fan who just spazzes out about anything to do with Mackinac Island, then check out this (fundraiser over) and see if there's anything you could use that would help some lucky writer get three whole kidless days while her son is stranded on an island that doesn't allow automobiles.

Now, here is the thing, I don't want you to think, "Jesus, she just did that really manipulative thing where she promised us more recaps if we raised a thousand bucks for her stranded friend, now she's trying to bilk us for more cash?" No. Not at all. I have nothing to emotionally blackmail you with this time. It's not like I'm going to withhold recaps from you or anything. I'm just thinking of this as more like United States of Tara, where her daughter dresses up like a mythological Norse princess and sits in cake for perverts to masturbate to, and then they buy things off her Amazon.com wishlist. I realize that I just made myself a sexy teen and you guys a bunch of perverts, but overlook that for a second, will you?

Wait a minute, did anyone else see that show? Didn't she meet a weird kinky billionaire doing the webcam stuff? Like, he was looking to jack off to her, but then he wanted an emotional connection? Oh my god, is 50 Shades plagiarized off United States of Tara too? I completely forgot what we were talking about before.

Oh, right. Anyway, I'm not emotionally blackmailing you. I'm just suggesting that if you're in the mood for catalogue candy or emotionally distant Christmas gifts for the people in your office or family members you don't like, that link might be handy. I think it's US shipping only, though.

Anyway, the link I really want to concentrate on today is this HILARIOUS news, courtesy of The Guardian, in which E.L. states:
"I've actually written myself into the book; I play a very tiny cameo role and I might try and do that if I'm asked to ... we'll see," she said, adding: "It'd be interesting to know if people can find me in the books." 
I have a theory of my own. E.L. wrote herself into the book as Ana's subconscious. I've solved the mystery, folks. She has glasses and a sour expression. That's who it is. But I would love to know your theories in the comments.

The article linked above also holds this nugget in a biscuit:
"I have three people who could play Christian and I think four who could play Ana, and I'm not going to tell you any of them."
"I have three people who could play Christian, and they're all Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis, and I think four who could play Ana, but I can't tell you their names because they don't exist because Ana is ME, DAMN YOU! ME!"

Okay, so where we last left Ana and Christian, they were in Christian's apartment and Mrs. Lincoln, AKA Mrs. Robinson, has just shown up totally unannounced and they're waiting for her to get out of the elevator. Ana asks Christian if he talked to her, and he says that he did, and he told her he didn't like her going behind his back. Ana asks why Mrs. Robinson is there, and Christian says he has "no idea," but I'm pretty sure I know why. It's because no one in this book has any sense of boundaries.

Taylor comes in and actually announces Mrs. Robinson like he's the Major Domo of the living room or some shit. Ana immediately feels insecure:
Why is she so damned attractive? She's dressed entirely in black: tight jeans, a shirt that emphasizes her perfect figure, and a halo of bright, glossy hair.
Being blonde isn't an item of clothing, Ana, you can't be dressed in it. Also, bright glossy hair isn't black. I always wonder how long it will take me to find the first badly constructed sentence in each chapter, and I think this one set a record by being on the first page.

Mrs. Robinson has no freaking clue why Ana would be there:
She gapes at me in shock, frozen to the spot. She blinks before finding her soft voice. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you had company, Christian. It's Monday," she says as if this explains why she's here.
Chedward is basically like "Duh, girlfriend," and Ana shows her up, I guess:
"Of course. Hello, Anastasia. I didn't know you'd be here. I know you don't want to talk to me. I accept that."
"Do you?" I assert quietly, gazing at her and taking all of us by surprise.
Now, I understand what this is saying, that Ana matches Mrs. Robinson in a game of wits or power or something here, but I don't see why it says that. After all, you can't assert something quietly, can you? It would be like when Liz Lemon thought she was being bullied, and she muttered all her comebacks at the bullies. It's not assertive at all.

 But I'm sure Ana could rock that perm. Oh, hey, look, blonde on brunette violence.

Now, Ana is plainly uncomfortable, and Elena has already been asked once not to butt in, so of course, Christian tells her to get gone.
"Do you want a drink?"
Oh. Well, he can do that, too.

Christian gets everyone wine while Ana tries to decide if she should stay for their conversation or leave.  She decides to stay, even though the entire room just dropped about twenty degrees in the space between her and Mrs. Robinson. Elena is hesitant to discuss her problem in front of Ana, but Christian makes it clear that there are no secrets between them. Turns out, Mrs. Robinson is being blackmailed, probably because there aren't enough subplots in this fucking book already.

Let's count them, shall we?

SUBPLOTS SO FAR IN 50 SHADES DARKER

  1. Leila the sub trying to murder Ana and/or Christian.
  2. Ana's boss trying to get into her pants.
  3. SIP's takeover by Grey Holdings Inc. Transworld LLC
  4. Elena being blackmailed
  5. Mrs. Jones and Taylor carrying on a hot affair. Okay, maybe not this last one.
Now, multiple subplots aren't a bad thing. You know, in genres like... EPIC FANTASY. It didn't work for Twilight, it's not working here. In both series, the subplots like a murderous ex sub or a murderous vampire are thrown in after we already know that the end game has been accomplished. We know that despite their lack of chemistry on the page, Ana and Christian are going to end up together. We know by the end of the second book that Bella and Edward are going to be together forever, but in order to spin the story out into needless sequels that don't really add anything but misogyny and gender stereotyping, there needs to be some element of easily resolved danger. And don't give me that shit about the Volturi being so scary and shit. All he had to do was make Bella into a vampire. It's how the second book should have ended, and it would have had more emotional punch than watching a werewolf go through puberty and a vampire baby being eaten out of Bella's stomach.

I've gone off track again, but my point is this: if your subplots are highlighting the extremely weak or nonexistent tension in your main plot, then you have a real problem with your book. If your readers are more interested in what side characters are doing, then you need to figure out what is making your main characters so not interesting, and you need to have them do the opposite of that. That's your writing lesson for the day.

Anyway, Elena says she's being blackmailed:
Holy shit. Not what I expected out of her mouth. Christian stiffens. Has someone found out about her penchant for beating and fucking underage boys? I suppress my revulsion, and a fleeting thought about chickens coming home to roost crosses my mind.
Why are you suppressing your revulsion, Ana? On the list of things it's okay to have revulsion about, having sex with kids is pretty high up. Above ten, certainly. Above five, let's say. Okay. Having sex with kids is the worst thing a person can do. So, feel as disgusted and utterly repulsed as you want, Ana. I'm on your side.

Mrs. Robinson gets out a letter, and Christian won't touch it because he doesn't want to get his fingerprints on it. Ana is still wondering if this has something to do with underaged boys. Ana wants to go, but Christian ain't having it:
I try to retrieve my hand from Christian's grasp, but he just tightens his hold and turns to gaze at me.
Creeeeeepy. Why does Ana need to stand there and hear Mrs. Robinson's personal business? Ana tells Christian she's tired and she wants to go to bed, but what she really does is stand in the hallway and eavesdrop. The good news is, even though Elena came over with a pretty fucking dire problem, the second Ana is ready to eavesdrop, the conversation turns to her:
"She knows me better than anyone."
"Ouch! That hurts."
"It's the truth, Elena. I don't have to play games with her. And I mean it, leave her alone."
"What is her problem?"
"You... what we were. What we did. She doesn't understand."
"Make her understand."
Whoa, what the fuck. Here the rapist (and notice, I have consistently referred to Mrs. Robinson as a rapist, commenter on the last post who tried to assert that I have some kind of blinders on to the rampant evil that is "female privilege") is trying to make the victim apologize for his own rape to his new girlfriend. Because this book wasn't fucked up enough.

They talk about his bad self-image for a few lines, then Mrs. Robinson says:
"Have a little faith in yourself. You really are quite a catch. I've told you often enough. And she seems lovely, too. Strong. Someone to stand up to you."
I can't hear Christian's response. So I'm strong, am I?
Yeah, you didn't hear literally every side character praise you for that already? Because it's happened about sixty or seventy times, and the interesting thing is, you've yet to display one example of this supposed strength. It's certainly not emotional or intellectual. I'm guessing she can lift a car over her head?

Mrs. Robinson asks Christian if he misses going into the playroom, and he kicks her out. Well, they have a boring argument in which he reasserts how much Ana means to him, and then he kicks Mrs. Robinson out. So, the entire blackmail subplot seems to have been a stupid way to try and either add tension to the plot, which didn't work, or to give us exposition on how Christian feels about Ana, which was unnecessary. One might go so far as to put forth that for the author of a Mary Sue, it is unthinkable to go a few pages without reasserting the wonderfulness of her idealized self, but that's only if one is slightly into snarking fanfic. Ahem.

Before Elena leaves, Christian asks if Welch should check out this whole blackmail thing. But isn't Welch tirelessly searching for Leila the danger sub? Ana isn't worried about that, she's trying to make sure Elena isn't moving in for the kill:
I listen to them bickering, trying to figure this out. They do sound like old friends, as Christian says. Just friends. And she cares about him - maybe too much. Well, would anybody who knew him not care?
Who has two thumbs and doesn't care about Christian Grey?

When Elena leaves, Ana has to hurry to Chedward's bedroom so she doesn't get caught eavesdropping. But I bet Taylor totally caught her on the Taylorvision wired up throughout the apartment. Ana tries to get Christian to tell her a little more about his relationship with Elena, and it goes... not great:
I gaze up at him, trying to frame my question. "Will you tell me alla bout her? I am trying to understand why you think she helped you." I pause, thinking carefully about my next sentence. "I loathe her, Christian. It hink she did you untold damage. You have no friends. Did she keep them away from you?"
He sighs and runs his hand through his hair.
"Why the fuck do you want to know about her? We had a very long-standing affair, she beat the shit out of me often, and I fucked her in all sorts of ways you can't even imagine, end of story."
Ladies, this is the romantic hero of your dreams. Who hasn't wanted their boyfriend to say the exact same thing to them about his ex and all the hot sex they had back in the day?

After his blowup, Christian calms down a little and asks her what she wants to know. So, of course she can't ask him now, and insists she's not jealous:
"I'm not jealous." I'm wounded that he would think that - or am I? Shit. Maybe that's what this is.
That's what this is. Mystery solved, everybody. No need to thank me.

Christian tells Ana he's been in love with her since her trip to Georgia:
"I loved you then, Anastasia," he whispers. "You're the only person I'd fly three thousand miles to see."
Whether you want me to or not.
"Ironically, it was Elena who pointed it out to me. She encouraged me to go to Georgia."
That's not what irony means. Also, I wonder if she did that to try and sabotage the relationship. "Yeah, I'll send him to Georgia, see? And then she'll get freaked out by how stalkery he is, see? And then she'll dump him, because no dame in her right mind would keep going out with a fella who dogs her all the way to her mother's house. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket!"

I think in the movie of 50 Shades, Ana should be played by Bugs Bunny in a dress.

Ana starts to think that maybe Mrs. Robinson isn't so bad, that all she wants to do is protect Christian, and then she's like, oh wait, she's a child rapist. Christian tells her again that the relationship was consensual, that he subbed for Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson subbed for him, and that she has a new, totally of-legal-age sub, but he's pretty much done discussing the subject:
"Look, Anastasia, as I said to her, she's part of my past. You are my future. Don't let her come between us, please. And quite frankly, I'm really bored of this subject. I'm going to do some work." He stands and gazes down at me. "Let it go. Please."
Yeah, Ana, let it go, because he's bored of this particular relationship problem, even if it's unresolved for you.

Christian tells Ana that, oh, by the way, her new car came a day early, but she can't drive it because Leila might be hiding in the glove box or something. It's just safer for Sawyer to follow her everywhere. Christian also puts another restriction on her work day: if she's going to leave the building, she has to call him. He makes a jab about not being able to trust her, which is hilarious coming from a guy who keeps files on everyone he fucked.
Can we ever have a normal conversation without it disintegrating into an argument? It's exhausting.
No shit, you should try blogging about it some time.

Ana has the fucking staggering realization that maybe moving in with someone you've only been dating for a little over a week might be a really stupid idea, but I'm not going to bore you with that because we all know that they're going to end up moving in together, anyway, and it's going to be the most perfect love ever recorded in prose.

Ana goes out onto the balcony to dramatically think about her relationship:
With a heavy sigh and a last glance at Seattle spread like cloths of gold at my feet, I decide to call Ray.
Because everyone knows that when you're looking at a romantic vista, the first thing you think is, "I should call my dad."

Ana calls her dad, and they chat very briefly, and it ends like this:
"Love you, Dad."
"Love you, too, Annie."
I hang up and check my watch. It's only ten. Because of our discussion, I am feeling strangely innervated and restless.
She's obviously talking about the discussion she had with Christian, but it's phrased like she's talking about the discussion with her father, in which he told her about a soccer match (because beer drinking, hard-fishin', all-American sumbitches like Ray are really into soccer) and she says things are going good with Christian, and that is like, all. Which is funny. Pronoun confusion is funny.

It's outselling Harry Potter. It's not funny.

Ana takes a shower and puts on a fancy nightie:
In the mirror, I look like a 1930's movie star. It's long, elegant - and very un-me.
You can't do that. You can't be like, "I look like a movie star," in one sentence, and then be all sad trombone noise of ugliness and despair in the next one. No one is buying it, Ana. Downplaying your attractiveness doesn't make you more sympathetic to the reader, especially when you're always doing it on the heels of telling us how amazing you look.

The library is where the pool table is, so when Ana goes looking for a book, she ends up getting all flushy at the memory of having sex in there. She also finds the ruler, which she picks up and thwacks on her palm, while lamenting:
Why can't I take a little more pain for my man?
I'm sorry, I just rage blacked out for a second. Did I miss anything?

Ana picks Rebecca to read, and while she's reading she falls asleep, because that is a very boring book. Well, that's not what it says in the text, it's just more my commentary on that book. Inaccessible and dry, and this is coming from a Melville fan, okay? But it's kind of funny, since Rebecca is basically an AU fanfic of Jane Eyre.

Anyway, Christian has to come in and find Ana and carry her to bed, where hours later she wakes from "a disturbing dream" and hears the piano playing. Yes, again. And she goes out and watches Christian play as he sits in his "bubble of light." Yes, again. Although Ana says:
The whole scene looks different somehow, and I realize that the piano lid is down, giving me an unhindered view.
Oh, well, if the piano lid is down this time, that changes everything, and I can totally pretend I didn't already read this scene twice already. When he's done playing, he looks up and says:
"Do you have any idea how desirable you look at this moment?" he says, his voice soft.
Do you mean, does she have any idea how desirable she looks in the nightgown you bought her, Christian? Thanks for propping up my theory about the "Do you have any idea"s.
"Why do we fight?" he whispers, as his teeth graze my earlobe.
Because you're both emotionally stunted people who have no clue what a healthy relationship looks like because the only examples you've had are a mother who is a serial monogamist and an older women who molested you, and you're both trying to skip over any internal growth or healing in the interest of speeding to what you view as the finish line of the relationship? This is just off the top of my head.

Of course, the author can't acknowledge this, because it doesn't fit in with her Mary Sue NANOWRIMO, so instead, they get hit with insta-lust and forget what they were fighting about.
"You feel so fine under this material, and I can see everything - even this." He tugs gently on my pubic hair through the fabric, making me gasp, while his other hand fists in my hair at my nape.
Hey, no fisting. It's in the sex contract. The pube pulling is fine, though. If that's what you're into.
Suddenly he rises, startling me, and he lifts me onto the piano. My feet rest on the keys, sounding discordant, disjointed notes, and his hands skim up my legs and part my knees.
Well, someone has been watching Pretty Woman while they write, haven't they?

Is nothing sacred?

The lid is hard and uncompromising against my back. He lets go and pushes my legs open wider, my feet dancing over the keys, over the lower and higher notes.
Then he goes down on her on the piano, which so didn't happen in Pretty Woman, so this scene isn't like that scene at all. Except for the tortured young billionaire who wants to take over a company and build something positive, rather than destroy it. And the whole sex as a business transaction thing. And the emotional distance that seems impossible to overcome, due to the hero's control freak nature.

Juuuuuuuust saying.

Christian gets up on top of the piano, and they fuck up there. Which is not a great idea, piano owners. Just a heads up, while those lids are strong, they're not made to bear the weight of two idiots vigorously humping.

After the aforementioned humping, Ana tells Christian that she would have brought him coffee or tea when he was working, but she didn't know what he liked.
"Oh, I see. Water or wine in the evening, Ana. Though maybe I should try tea."
He only has water or wine because he's Christ. This entire thing is an allegory for how religion beats up on women. I see it so clearly now.
The alarm goes off with the six a.m. traffic news, and I am rudely awakened form my disturbing dream of overly blonde and dark-haired women. I can't grasp what it's about, and I'm immediately distracted because Christian Grey is wrapped around me like silk, his unruly-haired head on my chest, his hand on my breast, his leg over me, holding me down.
I like how Christian has become the literal interpretation of an anchor, because it makes my job here a lot easier. Why does Ana consider being awakened from a bad dream being rude? Did she want to linger in her strange hell dream where other women dare to exist? But at least she's only extending her subconscious hatred toward overly blonde and dark-haired women. If your hair is red, or light brown, or ashy blonde, you're probably okay. But ROFLMAO to the fact that she just can't figure out what that dream could possibly mean. It's not like she doesn't spend every moment of every day obsessing over all the women who might steal her boyfriend away.

When Christian wakes, Ana asks him if he still has nightmares, and if so,
"What are your nightmares about?"
Well, gee, Ana, I sure don't know. As a toddler he was once left alone for days with the decomposing corpse that used to be his mommy. I just don't know what his nightmares could possibly be about.

Christian tells Ana that he's never cried before, and then Ana thinks the subject is too dark for that early in the morning, which makes me wonder why she asked in the first place. After all, it's not like she doesn't know Christian's history, or that terrible shit happened to him. What did she honestly think a question like, "What are your nightmares about?" would result in?

She asks him if he has any good memories, and he spins her this heartwarming tale:
"I recall the crack whore baking. I remember the smell. A birthday cake, I think. For me. And then there's Mia's arrival with my mom and dad. My mom was worried about my reaction, but I adored baby Mia immediately. My first word was Mia. I remember my first piano lesson. Miss Kathie, my tutor, was awesome. She kept horses, too." He smiles wistfully.
"You said your mom saved you. How?"
His reverie is broken, and he gazes at me as if I don't understand the elementary math of two plus two.
Dude, you clearly don't. You finally get him talking about happier times, and then you immediately bring it right back to, "Hey, remember when you got adopted because your real mom o.d.ed and you ended up stuck in an apartment with her dead body for days? Let's talk about that some more."

Christian tells her a little about his adopted mom, but says that it's too early in the morning for this bullshit to be so deep, and he changes the subject with sex. A merciful cutaway saves us from simultaneous orgasms on command (but not from "Oh, what I'd like to do to you," and repeated uses of "Miss Steele"), and then it's time for breakfast with Mrs. Jones.

Ana asks Christian when she's going to see the personal trainer (remember, that was a part of the contract, that she had to train with Christian's "Olympic champion" kickboxing trainer, and BTW, still no kickboxing at the Olympics), and Christian says he'll check with Andrea:
"Andrea?"
"My PA."
Oh yes. "One of your many blondes," I tease him.
SHE IS JUST TEASING, SEE SHE IS NOT INSECURE IN THE FACE OF BLONDE WOMEN!
"She's not mine. She works for me. You're mine."
"I work for you," I mutter sourly.
Well, then he's obviously cheating on you with her. You two should break up before this book gets any longer.

Christian and Ana talk about the piano sex in front of Mrs. Jones, but they do it in an almost Navajo Windtalkers code that no one could possibly crack:
I glance behind me at the piano, savoring the memory of last night. "You put the lid of the piano back up."
"I closed it last night so as not to disturb you. Guess it didn't work, but I'm glad it didn't." Christian's lips twitch into a lascivious smile as he takes a bite of omelet. I go crimson and smirk back at him.
Yeah, Mrs. Jones probably didn't pick any of that up.

By the way, is anyone else imagining Mrs. Jones as Shirley Jones in Grandma's Boy?

Just me, huh?

Mrs. Jones gives Ana her brown bag lunch, because this is the first day of kindergarten and her billionaire boyfriend can't spare the environment and buy her a damned lunch box:
I give her a shy smile, which she reciprocates warmly before leaving the great room. I suspect it's to give us some privacy.
Or she just wants to get the hell out of there before she has to listen to more of your barely disguised sex talk.

IT'S CAN BE CONVERSATIONS TIMES:
"Can I ask you something?" I turn back to Christian.
His amused expression slips. "Of course."
"And you won't be angry?"
"Is it about Elena?"
"No."
"Then I won't be angry."
"But now I have a supplementary question."
"Oh?"
"Which is about her."
He rolls his eyes. "What?" he says, and now he's exasperated.
"Why do you get so mad when I ask you about her?"
Is that the supplementary question, or a question wholly unrelated to what she's going to ask and then follow up with the supplementary question? Also, why should Christian be mad at Ana for bringing up Mrs. Robinson? It's not Ana's fault that Mrs. Robinson keeps trying to shoe horn herself into Christian and Ana's relationship. She's trying to squeeze into them like a pair of jeans from her high school days she's bound and determined to wear to the class reunion, and it just ain't happening, but no one wants to tell her that while she's wrenching on the zipper with forceps.
"Honestly?"
I scowl at him. "I thought you were always honest with me."
 "I endeavor to be."
I narrow my eyes at him. "That sounds like a very evasive answer."
"I am always honest with you, Ana. I don't want to play games. Well, not those sorts of games," he qualifies, as his eyes heat. 
Let's just take a look at Christian's track record with honesty, shall we? And we're going to do it with a little meme known as Scumbag Steve. Scumbag Steve, take it away!




I would keep going, but that kid's face just makes me angry.

The entire stupid point of the entire stupid conversation is that Ana wants to be clear that he only had sex with his subs on the weekends, so he's not used to having sex during the week. Really? We had to sit through all that, just so we could know... what, exactly? That Ana is better than all the other subs? We knew that already, by virtue of her Mary Sueness. Thanks for wasting my life, E.L..

On the drive to work - Ana can't drive her new car because danger - Christian reminds Ana that Kate's brother, Ethan, will be returning from the now seemingly eternal Barbados trip. Ana tells Christian that she'll have to go back to her apartment, and he's not real hip to that idea because danger. Ana suggests it might be easier if she had that brand new Saab Christian bought her, and he shoots that down, saying that Sawyer will pick her up and take her and Ethan to the apartment. Now, you and I both know that it's not for Ana's "protection" but for Christian's peace of mind. He's sending Sawyer along as a chaperone, so Ana doesn't have sex with Ethan. Because he trusts her.

Christian also warns Ana that she's not allowed to go anywhere one her own, and should call him if that need arises during the day. She's also supposed to email him on her Blackberry, because the idiots finally figured out that, hey, you can send emails from accounts other than the monitored ones at your place of business. You know, Christian, she has a Blackberry... you could just text back and forth, too.

Then Christian gets a call from Mrs. Robinson, telling him that the blackmail letter was from her sub and part of a sex game. Well, correction, we're never told that at all. What we get is:
"You're kidding... For a scene... When did he tell you this?" Christian chuckles, almost reluctantly. "No, don't worry. You don't have to apologize. I'm glad there's a logical explanation. It did seem a ridiculously low amount of money... I have no doubt you've something evil and creative planned for your revenge. Poor Isaac."
And so on, until Ana asks who it was and Christian says she doesn't want to know. I've tried to make it very clear that I'm not a professional detective, but let me just state again, in case you mistakenly attribute my keen instincts to some kind of specialized training in the field of criminal science, that even though I figured this mystery out, I am not, in fact, employed by any law enforcement agency, nor do I solve crimes for money. Shocking, I know. Here's another mind blower: the entire blackmail subplot really was just a device to further explore how great Ana is and how Christian's love for her is super strong. That's it. A huge chunk of this chapter, a new subplot, and for nothing. Handily wrapped up once Ana and Christian have an opportunity to fight about it and fuck some more. You should definitely feel mind violated right now.

Ana gets in to work and chats with Claire the receptionist, who is black and therefore not a threat in the way every other woman in the story is. You think I'm kidding?
"Your boyfriend is so dreamy, Ana," she says, her eyes glazing over.
I am tempted to roll my eyes at her.
"He's not bad-looking." I smile and we both start laughing.
Now, compare that reaction to the reaction Ana has had any time a white girl has thought Christian is attractive. Ana isn't giving Claire a bitchy nickname. She isn't criticizing her at all. In fact, she has a laugh with her about how sexy Christian is. If Claire were a white girl with blonde hair, this scenario would be a lot different, and what that tells me is that Ana doesn't find women of color to be in her league in terms of attractiveness and man-catching abilities. Or maybe Ana doesn't think Christian will stray across race lines, or maybe she doesn't think women of color are worthy of her boyfriend? There really is a lot of weird racial stuff in these books, isn't there?

Jack Hyde is super crabby, and he tells Ana to be alert for any clue as to what is going on with upper management, because he senses change on the wind. But he manages to do it in the most misogynistic way possible:
"There's something going on at senior management level, and I don't know what it is. Keep your ear to the ground, okay? If you hear anything - I know how you girls talk." He grins at me, and I feel slightly sick. He has no idea how we "girls" talk. Besides, I know what's happening.
Of course, knowing what's happening brings up this other important point:
Oh, it's hard being in the know. What will he do when he finds out? My blood runs cold. Something tells me Jack will be annoyed.
Something tells me your boyfriend just got you fired, and here's why. You come to the company just before it's purchased by Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Water & Supply Wholesale LLC. & Co., and then it does get bought out, and you're just working as this lowly assistant who, oh hey, happens to be dating the guy who bought the company, guess what, you look like a spy. And even though Christian owns the company, there's really not a lot he can do to keep one specific low-level employee on the payroll, unless he's going to obsessively monitor the hirings and firings at SIP and require his approval on each one. Okay, so that's pretty likely. But still, once the news of this gets out, you're still going to look like a spy and none of the people you work with are going to trust you. Congratulations, your boyfriend fucked you in the ass, this time without a sex contract.

There is a pointless exchange of emails with Christian, and then a paragraph break until lunchtime, when Jack asks Ana to go and get him lunch. Like a good brainwashed slave, Ana calls Christian to let him know that she's leaving the building. Which he would probably have known anyway, because remember, he's having her followed.
"Christian, Jack has asked me to get his lunch."
"Lazy bastard," Christian gripes.
Um, excuse me, Mr. Billionaire, who gets your fucking lunch?


They have a little conversation while Christian works:
"Are you on your own?"
"No, there are six people staring at me right now, wondering who the hell I'm talking to." 
Shit... "Really?" I gasp, panicked.
"Yes. Really. My girlfriend," he announces away from the phone.
Holy cow! They probably all thought you were gay, you know."
Oh, good, I'd missed the whole "It's a tragedy if someone thinks your gay" thing that we had going for a good clip in the first book. Also, why is she panicking? It doesn't seem like a panic-type situation.

Christian says "Laters, baby," and six people in the room with him hear it. So, you know, he's not embarrassed to say that in front of people. If three of them were women, I guarantee they locked their office doors and masturbated to that.
When I exit seconds later, Sawyer is waiting on the doorstep of the building.
Really? Is he a ghost?

Ghost Sawyer accompanies Ana to the deli, while she thinks about Kate, the roommate who never returned:
I miss Kate. It's only been two weeks since she left for her vacation, but it feels like the longest two weeks of my life. So much has happened - she'll never believe me when I tell her. Well, tell her the edit, NDA-compliant version.
Please note, the NDA is not discussed in this book at all. So, if you picked up this book before the first one, you'd have no idea what she's talking about. Or if you let a long time go by between books. Or if you slipped and hit your head in the shower and lost the part of your brain that remembers the first book. Please tell me, by the way, if you're a neurosurgeon and you believe such an injury could be possible. Because I'd like to get one.

Ana asks Sawyer where he is when he's watching her all day, and as it turns out, he's just sitting in the coffee shop across the street, creepily watching Ana's building. Ana asks him if he knows what Leila looks like, and if he has a picture, but he says he just remembers what Leila looks like. Since Leila and Ana look so similar, I'm kind of hoping Sawyer accidentally stun guns Ana on her way out at the end of the day.
I'd really like to examine a photograph of Leila to see what she looked like before she became Ghost Girl. I wonder if Christian would let me have a copy? Yes, he probably would - for my safety. I hatch a plan, and my subconscious gloats and nods approvingly.
This is just fuel for my theory that E.L.'s "cameo" is Ana's subconscious. Only the author of this book would think Ana is really smart for "planning" to ask to see a photograph. Seriously, how much planning does that require? "Hey, Christian, do you have a picture of the girl who's stalking me, so I can keep an eye out for her?" Done. No planning. But her subconscious finds this so impossibly clever, the only explanation is that the subconscious is the character E.L. admits to having been based off of herself. She spends most of the book making other characters marvel at how smart Ana is, and tells the reader over and over how smart she is, so to self-insert in order to praise Ana for her intelligence isn't that big of a leap.

Ana takes Jack his lunch and he practically molests her with his eyes, then Ethan calls and arranges to pick up the keys to the apartment from Ana. He says, "Laters," when they get off the phone, because it's a fucking epidemic. If anyone you know or love starts saying "Laters," you must isolate them immediately. If they attack, they can be subdued by removing the head or destroying the brain.

Yes, I did make a Shaun of The Dead reference, you're welcome.

Ana emails Christian and they plan that he will pick her up from work to go meet Ethan at the apartment, and then they'll all go out for drinks and a good time together.
I daydream briefly about what he might do to me but find myself shifting in my chair. My subconscious gazes at me disapprovingly over her half-moon specs - get on with your work.
Yeah, you see it now, don't you.

Claire the receptionist calls Ana to tell her that a hot guy is waiting to see her. It's Ethan, by the way.
Holy shit - sun-bleached blond hair, a tan to die for, and glowing hazel eyes gaze up at me from the green leather couch.
That's a hell of a good-looking couch.
 As soon as he sees me, his mouth drops open and he's on his feet coming toward me.
Are you still imagining the couch? Because I am. I'm just imagining this green couch with a tan and glowing eyes running toward her on little tiny couch legs.

Ethan gets the keys from Ana and says "Laters" twice during the entire process. There's a paragraph break, and Ana gets a call from Christian to say he's waiting downstairs. Then she says goodbye to Jack, who is in a better mood, and she wonders why "he" can't be that way all the time, but I can't tell if she's talking about Jack or Christian, because I can't trust context clues in a book with this much pronoun confusion.
The Audi is parked at the curb, and Christian climbs out as I approach. He's taken off his jacket, and he's wearing his gray pants, my favorite ones that hang from his hips - in that way.
I've missed those pants, as well. This entire chapter was like walk down memory lane, if memory lane was in Centralia, PA.

Sounds legit.

They pull up to Ana's apartment building, and Christian gets a phone call that keeps him from going up to Ana's apartment with her. This is because, in the grand tradition of this book and its predecessor, every chapter is thirty pages of pointless day-to-day bullshit, with an allegedly exciting event jammed onto the last paragraph. In this chapter, that allegedly exciting event (that everyone probably already saw coming) is that Leila is in Ana's apartment with a gun.

And that's the end of the chapter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fifty Shades Darker Chapter 11 recap or "Right makes might."

I have to share this with you guys. Because I'm still undoubtedly suffering the effects of both malaria and Dengue fever, with a side of black death, the auge, and consumption. So, when I die from this disease that is causing epic amounts of snot to clog my head (in a tragically romantic fashion like unto the third act of La Boheme), at least it will be with a smile on my face:


Furthermore, I must note that the man who is basically a folk hero in my mind, Alex Day, has commented on the 50 Shades phenomenon. Just to give you a rundown as to why I think this guy is so blisteringly cool, he sings in an all vlogger trock band. Not a typo. Trock. Time Lord Rock. And he ripped apart Twilight chapter-by-chapter on youtube in a segment called "Alex Reads Twilight." Which inspired my "Jen Reads Blood Ties" videos, which I kind of wandered off from when looking at something shiny, which in turn inspired the "Jen Reads 50 Shades" video that I never posted because it was waaaay too mean, and instead went on to write these blog posts instead. So, I guess what I'm saying is, E.L. James is to Stephenie Meyer as I am to Alex Day, and I don't even mind the comparison, because Alex. Motherfucking. Day. Anyway, here is him, and you really owe it to yourself and everyone around you to watch his video:



Because seriously, without his brilliant idea to scream at a copy of Twilight for numerous videos, I would not have had the idea to do these recaps.

There's a 50 Shades cooking class now. And a picture of a cupcake with Ben Wa balls on it.

Reader [put the reader's name here, dummy] left me this link to her hometown newspaper's interview of E.L. James. She manages to work the word "bemused" into her first answer. But my favorite is this quote, in reply to how she came up with the euphemism "happy trail":
"I can't remember. I probably heard it somewhere, who knows. It occurs to you while you're writing."
I give her points for not trying to pass "happy trail" off as her own original creation, and I love the acknowledgement that she throws in stuff she probably just heard somewhere, you know? Like, plot points and characters lifted wholesale from another author's book, that kind of stuff. Song lyrics and shit. Who has time to come up with anything creative these days, am I right?

But it severely pisses me off that they asked her about her sex life. Do people ask male authors about their sex lives when they write sexy books? Not likely, as those are real books, and anything written by a woman is probably about how my wife needs to spice things up for me in the bedroom right after she's done vacuuming in her pearls, amiright fellas? *Romney-like grin*

Okay, where else am I? Oh, yes, perhaps you should have waited and looked at all that other stuff first, before this link. But it's too late now, and I'm far too lazy to edit the damn thing. But here is a great link that will make you think and which points out one of the problems with our culture that enables us to live in a world where 50 Shades is an acceptable phenomenon. It's basically about the old "he only did that because he likes you" saying. Thanks to Bronwyn Green for the link.

And speaking of Bronwyn Green, if you've ever wondered what it's like to have a direct line into my head at all times, well, lucky you, she actually has one of those. It's called Yahoo messenger, and I frequently annoy her with stream of consciousness musings that pop right out of my melon and directly onto a keyboard I should be using for writing my books. And she gives you a glimpse into her hellish existence as my friend right here.

Okay, onto the recap:

We last left our intrepid band of merry morons playing pool. I actually mistyped that as "playing poop," but remember, there's no scat allowed in the sex contract. If Ana wins the game, she gets to go back into the playroom, and if Christian wins, he gets to spank her and fuck her over a billiard table. But, it's not really a billiard table at all. They're playing pool. Billiards tables are different. The rails are different, the nap of the baize is different, and it's substantially longer than a pool table. But I digress, because let's be honest, if E.L. can't be bovvered to put in correct details about a sexual lifestyle that is easily researchable on the internet and which makes up the bulk of the conflict in her novel, she's not going to give a shit about different types of games played with balls and sticks. I'm seriously surprised that she didn't suggest they could also play baseball on the damned thing.

Pictured: E.L. James's writer brain.

Even though Ana is really good at pool, and even though it would make the plot more interesting if they went into the playroom together on her initiative rather than his, this book is all about how perfect Christian Grey is, so naturally he wins.
He doesn't look like a CEO - he looks like a bad boy from the wrong side of town. Holy cow, he's so fucking sexy.
Eegods! Great honk! He's so fucking sexy.

Christian asks Ana if she's going to be a sore loser, and she responds:
"Depends on how hard you spank me," I whisper, holding onto my cue for support.
Okay, so here's the thing. That line? It could have been a pun. Sore loser, spanking, get it? But when she's whispering it and holding onto an object for support, it becomes more "battered woman" than "playful sex partner." And Christian does not help that impression with his next lines:
"Well, let's count your misdemeanors, Miss Steele." He counts on his long fingers. "One, making me jealous of my own staff. Two, arguing with me about working. and three, waving your delectable derriere at me for the last twenty minutes."
"Delectable derriere?" Who the fuck is writing this?

 This joke has layers. Internet layers.

And wait a second, how is it Ana's fault that you get jealous of your own staff? Maybe don't have a stone-cold killer who exudes sexual magnetism as your head of security, and this wouldn't be a problem. Also, women are supposed to argue with men who want them to quit their jobs to be 24/7 sex playthings. It's called women's lib, and I thought we had at least that basic cornerstone of this shit locked down a couple fucking decades ago.

Christian tells Ana to take her jeans and shirt off, and goes to lock the door. This strikes me as kind of funny. Who's going to just burst in? Shouldn't his household staff knock? But whatever.
I stand paralyzed like a complete zombie, my heart pounding, my blood pumping, not actually able to move a muscle.
So much here is wrong. Let's just do it in list format:

  1. Zombies can move. It's part of what makes them scary.
  2. Zombies probably don't have heart beats.
  3. If your heart is pounding, then you're moving at least one muscle, also known as your heart.
  4. Thanks for thinking we're all too stupid to understand what "paralyzed" means. It's a big word and I'm sure we all really needed the help.
 In my mind, all I can think is - this is for him - the thought repeating like a mantra over and over again.
So, here we see our heroine psyching herself up to endure the spanking she's about to get. The same heroine who just said that if she won, she would opt to engage in some heavier BDSM. So, either way, Christian was going to be the winner in this scenario, and Ana has given up all pretense of sexual agency because he needs it more.

Something that I've noticed happening a lot in this series is, when they're about to have sex, they take a really, really long time getting down to business. There has to be some witty banter here, a dash of dysfunction there, but they can't just be like, "Let's have sex!" "Okay!" about it. For example, here:
"Clothes, Anastasia. You appear to still be wearing them. Take them off - or I will do it for you."
"You do it." I finally find my voice, and it sounds low and heated. Christian grins.
"Oh, Miss Steele. It's a dirty job, but I think I can rise to the challenge."
"You normally rise to most challenges, Mr. Grey." I raise an eyebrow at him, and he smirks.
"Why, Miss Steele, whatever do you mean?"
Are they trying to avoid having sex? Going for a world record for "most cliches in a single pre-sex conversation?" What is the point here, besides an author patting herself on the back for making her characters so amazingly clever and coy? And if any man ever said that undressing me was a "dirty" job, I'd be giving him the side eye so fucking hard. Dirty? Excuse me? Besides, Ana showers more than any human being I've ever read about, and I once read a nonfiction book about clinically germ phobic people.

Chedward undresses her while she thinks about how much she luuuuurves him, and then there is some truly SCANDALOUS language, dear readers, so have some pearls nearby in the event that you need something to clutch:
Oh my. He kisses me... there.
FETCH MY SMELLING SALTS AND A FAINTING COUCH! I FEAR MY FRAGILE FEMALE VAGINA MIGHT TURN ITSELF FAIRLY INSIDE OUT AT SUCH EXPLICIT DETAIL!
"Safeword?" I murmur.
"No, no safeword, just tell me to stop, and I'll stop. Understand?" 
That sounds totally safe and reasonable. After all, when you've asked him to stop doing things in the past, he's totally respected your wishes, right? You were all, "Stop giving me expensive gifts," and he totally did, and then you were like, "Stop stalking me," and he definitely didn't fly all the way to Georgia and watch you while you spent the day with your mother, right? You even said, "I don't want to do this whole pain thing anymore," and he totally... I'm not sure I'm accurately conveying the depths of my sarcasm here. But I'm using a Mariana Trench worth of it, I assure you.

Christian makes her promise to tell him to stop, with this epic gem of shitworthiness stuffed into the conversation:
"We're lovers, Anastasia. Lovers don't need safewords."
Is this one of those, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," lines that people completely fall for, but if they took a goddamned minute to think about what they just heard, they'd be like, "Oh, no, that's total bull shit, isn't it?" Even Ana seems to know that it's total bullshit:
"I guess not,' I murmur. How do I know?
Chedward picks up a pool cue, and Ana thinks:
Oh fuck, what's he going to do with that?
Which is really only a feeling one should have when watching scenes from Game of Thrones which involve two prostitutes and King Joffrey.

Thanks, bestweekever.tv, for making this thing of beauty.

Lucky for us, he just wants to keep playing pool. Probably to avoid sex they way they have been bantering and avoiding sex for like, two pages now. Excluding him kissing her... there. Which I hesitate to bring up due to my frail constitution.
"You play well, Miss Steele. I must say I'm surprised. Why don't you sink the black?"
First of all, it's the eight ball. People in America call it the eight ball. And second, how is she supposed to sink it? You just won the game, meaning that the eight ball is already done sunk. Seriously, could she not even visit the wikipedia page for "pool"?
I position the white ball.
The cue ball. It's called a fucking cue ball. E.L. James has never played a game of pool in her life. And I went back through and tried to find the part where Christian took the eight or "black" ball back out of the pocket and dropped it on the table. He never does. Is E.L. James under the impression that there is more than one eight ball in a game of pool?

I don't know why this is bugging me more than the "love means never having to safeword" nonsense, but damnit, it does. They keep calling the eight ball, in dialogue and in Ana's narrative, "The black." I keep thinking they're talking about the fucking Night's Watch.

Christian has an ulterior motive for this whole, "sink the black," thing he's got going on:
"I don't care if you hit or miss, baby. I just wanted to see you like this - partially dressed, stretched out on my billiard table. Do you have any idea how hot you look at this moment?"
Do you have any idea, reader, how many times we've read some variation of "Do you have any idea how sexy/hot/perfect/beautiful/alluring/etc." in this book? Why does he keep asking her this?
 I flush, and my inner goddess grabs a rose between her teeth and starts to tango.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: that bitch can do anything.

So, Ana misses the shot. Which is actually described as "the white" hitting "the black" and I begin to wonder if there is some coded Aryan message in all of this. But that might be the influence of my new haircut. And if you don't get that because you come here and just read the recaps and not the rest of the stuff I post, then you don't deserve that amazing callback I just did because for shame. But back to the point, once again. Not "the white." Cue ball. Not "the black." Eight ball.

He strolls to the end of the table, sets up the black  ball again, then runs the white ball back down to me. He looks so carnal, dark-eyed with a lascivious smile. How could I ever resist him? I catch the ball and line it up, ready to strike.
That is how fingers get pinched, friends, by rolling pool balls back and forth on a pool table. Heads up.

She keeps trying to make the shot while he keeps spanking her every time she misses. And he spanks her with a ruler. Because he's a grown man and he left his ruler laying around in the rec room.
I marvel once more at how I have managed - and yes, enjoyed - what he's done to me up to this point. It's so dark but so him.
It's not that dark to get spanked and fucked on a pool table. That's actually the kind of funny sex more people probably wish they had. But let's concentrate on this whole "I'm trying to talk myself into liking my boyfriend's sexual fetish" thing you've got going on there, Ana.
I hear the telltale rip of foil, then he's standing behind me, between my legs, pushing them wider.
Has anyone else noticed that a "rip of foil" or "he produces a foil packet" etc. have become shorthand for "We are going to have intercourse now?" It's in every single scene. It never says, "he put on a condom," or "he sheathed himself," (my personal favorite, by the way, I think I tend to use it a lot), but it's always something about the foil, to clue us in that they're just about to go full P in V.
"Your cheek is pink from the baize," he murmurs, rubbing my face tenderly.
Let's do an experiment here, shall we?



 So, there. In my data sample of 1, that's the answer we're going with. Normal 25 - 35 year olds do not know that it's called "baize." "I would have to go out on a limb," says Joe, "that most people don't know that it's called baize."

Which also handily moves us on to my next point: Christian Grey is not people.
"You never fail, Ana. You are beautiful, bright, challenging, fun, sexy, and I thank Divine Providence every day that it was you who came to interview me and not Katherine Kavanagh."
OMG. LOL. Seriously? If you ran Ana headfirst through a combination Mary Sue-O-Meter/woodchipper, this is where the damn thing would get clogged. I refuse to believe this was written by an adult female. It reads like it was written by a mousy thirteen-year-old who is so going to show those popular girls someday. And I should fucking know because that's primarily what fueled my early writing. But you know what? I grew the fuck up and grew out of needing people to tell me that they hate every other girl who isn't me because my self-esteem is so damaged that it's the only way I can like myself. I can now coexist peacefully with all manner of vagina-bearing people without feeling like the only way I can be happy with the relationship I am in is if my boyfriend makes it good and clear that he thinks I'm prettier and worth more than my roommate.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh....

After their super dark, darkity dark dark dark sex, they go get in a bath together:
Christian is massaging my feet, one at a time.
How would he massage both at the same time? I suppose it's possible. But super awkward.

Ana asks if Sawyer can just drop her off at work, instead of coming in with her, and Christian is okay with that, provided she never, ever leaves the building. Which is probably going to be really easy to pull off since she's someone's assistant. Those jobs never require leaving the building to do some menial task the boss would rather not get out of his chair for.
I stretch out in bed, so tired. It's only ten thirty, but it feels like three in the morning. This has to be one of the most exhausting weekends of my life.
No shit. You've eaten out twice, had sex three times, went sailing, bought a car, played pool, bathed twice, got into a few conversations where your relationship hung in the balance... and that was just today. Yesterday, you went to a gala fundraiser and almost got murdered by your boyfriend's ex, resulting in a late-night flight to a hotel you had to drive obscenely out of the way to get to. No wonder you're exhausted.

The alarm goes off at 6:30 AM, and Ana thinks:
"It's set so early."
I'm sure you'll be weeping tears of blood for poor Ana, having to get up at the inhumane hour of 6:30 next time your alarms go off at 6:30 and earlier.

Christian and Ana grab some breakfast courtesy of Mrs. Jones. Like, real breakfast, bacon, pancakes, etc. So, of course Ana is super appreciative of it:
"Oh, thank you. Good morning," I mumble. Jeez - I could get used to this.
JUST SHUT UP AND BE HAPPY YOU'RE EATING PANCAKES, BITCH. I really want pancakes, and I don't have any. I've also got pork chops in the crock pot actively thwarting any chance of me getting pancakes tonight, too, so shut up and enjoy every damn bite.

Hey, wait a minute. Mrs. Robinson. Mrs. Jones. I sense a theme.

Oh, and before we go on, I want to let you know that at the start of the scene, Ana takes another shower. Even though she took a bath right before bed the night before. Her skin must be super dry, yo.

Mrs. Jones offers to pack a lunch for Ana, and she's able to muster up at least a little gratitude for the housekeeper's efforts this time:
"Please, Mrs. Jones, call me Ana."
"Ana." She smiles and turns to make me tea.
Wow... this is so cool.
I turn and cock my head at Christian, challenging him - go on accuse me of flirting with Mrs. Jones.
Right?! I rarely get a chance to say this (because this book is horrible), but point for Ana!
"I have to go, baby. Taylor will come back and drop you at work with Sawyer."
Are you sure she's not going to go sex crazy and fuck them on the drive over? Will they be wearing their chastity belts?

Ana makes it clear that the bodyguards are only to accompany her to the door of her building, and Christian agrees, but you and I both know he's lying about that and he's going to have her stalked like the stalkingest stalker to ever stalk somebody. Christian says "Laters, baby," and a bunch of suburban moms run to their cars to rub one out before their kids' dance recitals are over, because OMG LATERS BABY.

Once Christian is gone, Ana makes small talk with the housekeeper while Mrs. Jones packs her a lunch:
"You know, I can do that," I mutter, embarrassed that she should be doing this for me.
"You eat your breakfast, Ana. This is what I do. I enjoy it. It's nice to look after someone  other than Mr. Taylor and Mr. Grey." She smiles very sweetly at me.
Yeah, and in her head, she's thinking, "Oh, yeah. Sure, go ahead and make your own lunch. You could clean the apartment, too, and I'll just go sit outside and wait for the unemployment checks after you make my job entirely unnecessary. Maybe you could try to kill yourself in front of me, too, because that's another aspect of my job I really enjoy."

Ana takes her sack lunch and goes to the car, where Taylor is waiting:
"Taylor, I'm sorry about yesterday and my inappropriate remarks. I hope I didn't get you into trouble."
Taylor frowns in bemusement at me from the rearview mirror as he pulls out into the Seattle traffic.
"Miss Steele, I'm rarely in trouble," he says reassuringly.
And then she climbs over the seat and they just go to town on each other.

Obviously not, because then this book would be readable. No, instead they go to Ana's work, where she makes chitchat with her boss, then gets down to business.
I nod and sit down at my computer. It seems like years since I was at work.
Yeah, no shit. It's felt like years for me, too.
I switch on my computer and fire up my e-mail program - and of course there's an email from Christian.
Of course there is. If he can't keep you on a physical leash, he'll settle for an electronic one. Christian tells her via email that he had a great weekend and he hopes she'll never leave, and that the news about SIP being purchased by his company is embargoed, so she should delete his email immediately. Or, maybe he shouldn't have mentioned the embargo in an email at all, since it's monitored and he knows that. But all of this flies right over Ana's head, because when Christian tells her he hopes she'll never leave, this is how she interprets it:
Hope I never leave? Does he want me to move in?

Okay, okay, in fairness to Ana, she also thinks:
Holy Moses... I barely know the man. I press delete.
So, at least she acknowledges that it's stupid for him to want her to move in when they've only known each other for five weeks and have really only been officially dating for a few days.

Ana's boss comes out and tells her that she is going to have to go with him to a conference in New York. You know, that kind of shit actually does happen in the publishing world. People take their assistants all kinds of places. They also take friends who they claim are their assistants all kinds of places, because if you say "friend" companies balk at paying their fees, but if you say, "My personal assistant, Jill," they will usually shell out some dinero. Right, Jill?

Where was I? Oh, yeah. So, Ana is going to have to go to New York for her job:
"Yes. We'll need to go Wednesday and stay overnight. I think you'll find it a very educational experience." His eyes darken as he says this, but his smile is polite.
E.L. didn't write it into the story line, but I have it on good authority he also twiddled his oily handlebar mustache when he said this.
Crap. I wander back to my desk. This is not going to go down well with Fifty - but the fact is, I want to go. It sounds like a real opportunity, and I'm sure I can keep Jack at arm's length if that's his ulterior motive.
So, Ana wants to go to this thing, but she thinks Christian is going to be pissed. And then she gets an email response from Christian saying explicitly that he wants her to move in with him.
He does want me to move in. Oh, Christian - it's too soon. I put my head in my hands to try and recover my wits. This is all I need after my extraordinary weekend. I haven't had a moment to myself to think through and understand all that I have experienced and discovered these last two days.
That's the plan, Ana. If Christian can keep you constantly unhinged by simply speeding through the relationship, you'll never have a chance to hit pause and decide if you're doing what you want to do, or what he wants you to do.

Ana emails him back and mentions the conference. She doesn't ask if she can go, she says:
I've been asked to go to a conference in New York on Thursday.
It means an overnight stay on Wednesday.
Just thought you should know.
She also mentions that she wants to talk about this whole moving in thing. But right now, there are more important things, like the fact that Ana wants to go three steps away from Christian's side and he's just not having it. In an email with the subject line "WHAT?" he says:
Yes. Let's talk this evening.
Are you going on your own?
Ana writes an email with the subject line "No Bold Shouty Capitals on a Monday Morning!" which is the title of a musical I am writing and now I have no idea what to call it. She asks if they can talk about it later, and he replies, in an email with the subject, "You Haven't Seen Shouty Yet." which is the title of this other musical I am writing and boy, am I ever in a real pickle now:
Tell me.
If it's with the sleazeball you work with, then the answer is no, over my dead body.
Keeping in mind, she never asked for permission. He's telling her no, in answer to a question he's just presuming that she asked. Ana emails him back that yes, she's going with Jack, it's a good career opportunity, and Christian sends another email stating that his answer is an emphatic "NO." So, Ana sends him the following:
You need to get a grip.
I am NOT going to sleep with Jack - not for all the tea in China.
I LOVE you. That's what happens when people love each other.
That's kind of weird phrasing, isn't it? When people love each other, they don't sleep with Jack? That's a pretty fucking specific definition of love.
They TRUST each other.
Ohhh, I see. You flipped the cause and the effect around. Continue.
I don't think you are going to SLEEP WITH, SPANK, FUCK, or WHIP anyone else. I have FAITH and TRUST in you.
Please extend the same COURTESY to me.
Because Ana had a spine on rental for a few hours, she sends her email and immediately books her flight to New York. Then she gets another email. This time, it's from Mrs. Robinson, saying that she thinks they "got off on the wrong foot" and would like to try again. Unless she has a time machine and can go back and not molest Christian, I think she is severely over-estimating the power of her other foot.
Holy crap - not Mrs. Robinson! How the hell did she find out my e-mail address?
Yeah, it's not like you guys have anyone in common. Like, anyone who would have done something like share your emails with her while discussing you.

Then the phone rings, and it's Christian:
An achingly familiar voice snarls at me, "Will you please delete the last email you sent me and try to be a little more circumspect in the language you use in your work e-mail? I told you, the system is monitored. I will endeavor to do some damage limitation from here." He hangs up.
Isn't the system monitored on his end, though? Like, isn't it his company monitoring the emails? Not that it matters. Just deleting an item from your inbox isn't going to make it vanish into some netherworld where it can never be retrieved. If the email accounts are being monitored, they're probably already going to have a copy of the email. And by the by, if he's so paranoid about the emails being monitored, why did he call Ana's boss a sleazebag? Isn't that the sort of thing that might, you know, fuck up her job a little? OH SNAP. Could it be that Christian doesn't want Ana to work so that she will be dependent upon him and his wealth?
I open my emails and delete the one I sent him. It's not that bad. I just mention spanking and well, whipping. If he's so ashamed of it, he damn well shouldn't do it.
Bingo. And it's not like he's the only CEO in the history of American finance to use his money on some really weird sexual shit, right? I mean, if tomorrow the New York Times revealed that Bill Gates liked to be rectally stimulated with a cattle prod, it wouldn't be on the front page. No one would think, "Gosh, that's news, that rich people get up to some strange sexual stuff." Christian's fetish is actually quite tame. I recently watched a documentary where a rich businessman liked having cigarettes stubbed out on his tongue by a dominatrix. Whips and chains are just scratching the surface of sexual depravity in our deranged 1%. God love 'em.

Jack comes out of his office and tells Ana not to book her flight. Turns out, some strange and mystifying order from "the top" has just been issued putting a lock down on SIP's coffers, and all expenses must be pre-approved. He's going to check with "old Roach," which briefly makes me imagine all the characters in this book as Mrs. Brisby-type animal characters. Jack is a weasel, in my version.

Ana immediately knows what's up. She writes an email to Christian asking him not to interfere in her work. He responds:
I am just protecting what is mine. 
He tells her that all their emails have been wiped from the servers.
How does he do this? Who does he know that can stealthily delve into the depths of SIP's servers and remove emails?
And why was it a big deal, if he could do that, anyway? This guy is so fucking bad at business. "I own this company, but that knowledge is embargoed. I better email back and forth with my girlfriend on a monitored system and talk about the embargo. Oh my god, what have I done?"

Ana replies that she doesn't need protecting, and she can reject Jack all by herself when she's damned good and ready. But that's not good enough for Christian, not when he can use RAPE BLAME (tm), the patented victim shaming technique that holds women accountable for the actions of men! BEHOLD:
I have seen how "effective" you are at fighting off unwanted attention. I remember that's how I had the pleasure of spending my first night with you. At least the photographer has feelings for you. The sleazeball, on the other hand, does not. He is a serial philanderer, and he will try to seduce you. Ask him what happened to his previous PA and the one before that.
I hate to have to resort to the list format again, but really, it's so much easier when there is this much bullshit to keep track of:

  1. Ana is somehow responsible for the fact that a man physically overpowered her.
  2. Christian is somehow not responsible for the fact that he removed an unconscious woman from a bar and took her back to his hotel room.
  3. It would have been okay for Ana to get raped by Jose, because Jose has a crush on her.
  4. Ana is too stupid and too gosh darn rapeable to fight off her boss.
  5. Because his last two assistants slept with him, she will, too.
#5 really bugs me, because I once worked for a guy who really did sleep with all his secretaries. So much so that his old secretaries would call me while I was working and tell me how he was going to lie to me, how I was going to be helpless to resist, how I should guard my heart because he was going to use it up and throw it away. And no matter how many times I would say, "Um, this guy looks Eugene Levy and The Penguin from Batman Returns had a baby, you really don't need to worry about me," they would still insist that I was going to sleep with him. And guess what? Worked there for a while, never slept with him. Never even remotely tempted. The way Ana feels about her boss is pretty clear, and the idea that women are going to just helplessly sleep with their bosses is pretty fucking insulting.

Christian also tells Ana:
If you want to go to New York, I'll take you. We can go this weekend. I have an apartment there.
Oh, of course he does. But that's not really the point, is it, Ana?
Oh, Christian! That's not the point.
No, it's not. The point is, Ana was asked to fly to New York for her job, which she takes seriously. Christian should be proud to be dating someone who commits to her work and isn't just some vapid gold digger. I mean, she's plenty vapid, but she's not a gold digger.
Trust him to bring up Jose. Will I ever live that down? I was drunk, for heaven's sake.
Yeah, since when is it the victim's job to "live down" the assault? Why does Ana have something to be ashamed of?

Ana writes another email to Christian:
While you have been busy interfering in my career and saving your ass from my careless missives, I received the following email from Mrs. Lincoln. I really don't want to meet with her - even if I did, I'm not allowed to leave this building. How she got ahold of my e-mail address, I don't know.
Yes, you do. It's not really that big a leap. Christian says he'll deal with it, and Ana tells him to stop emailing her because she's trying to do her job. Jack comes back from visiting The Old Roach under the Hollow Tree and says that upper management won't approve her going to New York. Que sopresa. Then, Jack asks Ana to go out and get him lunch. Which, you know, she can't do, because she promised Christian she wouldn't leave the building, because she doesn't have the gift of foresight. She goes anyway, figuring he's not going to find out, because she hasn't read any other page in this book.
Claire from reception offers me her umbrella since it is still pouring with rain.
What a weird way of phrasing that.

Ana immediately gets freaky, I-am-being-watched feelings on her way to the deli, but chalks it up to garden variety paranoia:
It's just your imagination, my subconscious snaps. Who the hell would want to shoot you?
I would. I would want to shoot her.

When Ana gets back to the office, Jack tells her that she has to work late, because they need to get some briefs ready. Wait, I thought this was a publishing house. Is it a law office? She worries about what Christian is going to think of her working late, and eats the lunch Mrs. Jones made her.
Of course, if I moved in with Christian, she would make lunch for me every weekday. The idea is unsettling. I have never had dreams of obscene wealth and all the trappings - only love. To find someone who loves me and doesn't try to control my every move.
False. You wanted a literary hero. Not a lot of heroes from classic literature just loved their heroines without trying to control them. Aren't you an English major?

The phone rings, and when Ana answers it, she gets this:
"You assured me you wouldn't go out," Christian interrupts me, his voice cold.
My heart sinks for the millionth time this day. Shit. How the hell does he know?
"Jack sent me out for some lunch. I couldn't say no. Are you having me watched?" My scalp prickles at the notion. No wonder I felt so paranoid - someone was watching me.
Christian doesn't admit that he had someone follow her, and he is somewhat chastened when she tells him to stop suffocating her.
After our wonderful weekend, the reality is hitting home. I have never felt more like running. Running to some quiet retreat so I can think about this man, about how he is, and about how to deal with him. On one level, I know he's broken - I can see that clearly now - and it's both heartbreaking and exhausting.
Well, you better move in with him, Ana, because I'm certain it will only get better if you do that.
With a heavy heart, I drag one of the manuscripts Jack wants me to summarize into my lap and continue to read. I can think of no easy solution to Christian's fucked-up control issues.
Aspiring authors, beware. Your manuscript could end up in the hands of Ana, and she's not going to be reading it so much as thinking about her boyfriend while staring at your words. But really, that first sentence makes me imagine the poor assistant or copy editor who had to slog through these 50 Shades books.

Ana stays late, but figures she'll be out around seven-thirty. The office is all deserted except for her and Jack, who immediately turns on the slime:
He leans over me while I retrieve the document, rather close - uncomfortably close. His arm brushes mine. Accidentally? I flinch, but he pretends not to notice. His other arm rests on the back of my chair, touching my back. I sit up so I'm not leaning against the backrest.
"Pages sixteen and twenty-three, and that should be it," he murmurs, his mouth inches from my ear.
My skin crawls at his proximity, but I choose to ignore it. Opening the document, I shakily start on the changes. he's still leaning over me, and all my sense are hyperaware. It's distracting and awkward, and inside I am screaming, Back off!
At this point, I'm wondering if she's hyperaware because Christian has planted the seed of the idea in her head, or if he's really trying to get into Ana's pants. But then this happens:
"I think the least I could do is reward you with a quick drink. You deserve one." He tucks a strand of my hair that's come loose from my hair tie behind my ear and gently caresses the lobe.
EW! When you put it like that, like, "gently caresses the lobe," yeah, he sounds like an oily pervert. Ana begins to think she might be in a bad situation:
Alarm bells sound loudly in my head. I am on my own in the office. I cannot leave. I glance nervously at the clock. Another five minutes before Christian is due.
You know that I absolutely hate to say anything good about this book, but that excerpt there? That is what I'm going to show to my husband to try and explain male privilege. Because he's actually quite astounded when I bring up things like, "The reason I walk on the outside of the sidewalk is because someone can grab you and pull you into an alley or a doorway." Because that stuff doesn't enter into a man's mind, and it's not their fault, because for them, the world really is a safe place. A man would probably not feel unsafe being in an office with their male boss after the building is closed.

Jack tries to get Ana to go out for a drink, and she turns him down. Then he asks her if she had a good weekend, and questions her about her boyfriend:
"What does he do?"
Owns your ass... "He's in business."
"That's interesting. What kind of business?"
Okay, hold up. I thought Christian Grey was super well-known. In the third book (spoiler) he's worried about the paparazzi dogging him and Ana on their honeymoon. So, if he's famous enough to be followed around the world by paparazzi, why didn't Jack recognize him when he met him at the bar? In the city that Christian practically owns? You would think that working in Seattle, Jack would have at least seen him in the newspaper or something. Yet when Ana tells him Christian's name:
Jack's mouth drops open. "Seattles richest bachelor? That Christian Grey?"
"Yes. The same." Yes, that Christian Grey, your future boss who will have you for breakfast if you invade my personal space again.
"I thought he looked familiar," Jack says darkly, and his brow creases again. "Well, he's a lucky man."
I'm confused as to how Jack didn't put the pieces together when Ana introduced him to Christian. I guess there's a reason Jack is an editor and not a detective.

Jack backs off immediately when he finds out Ana is boning the richest man in the universe.
Well, that problem might be solved. Fifty works his magic again. Just his name is my talisman, and it has this man retreating with his tail between his legs. I allow myself a small victorious smile. You see, Christian? Even your name protects me - you didn't have to go to all that trouble of clamping down on expenses.
Why are you victorious, Ana? Because you've managed the impossible feat of having a man to hide behind? Good for you. And I mean that as sarcastically as possible.

Christian comes to pick her up from work, and when she gets into the car, he tries to get pinkeye:
He raises my hand and lightly grazes my knuckles with soft butterfly kisses.
For those not "in the know," what he's doing is putting her hand by his eye and fluttering his eyelashes. That's what a butterfly kiss is. Not only is it ridiculous, it seems like it would be about 100% more germy than a regular hand kiss, on the kisser's end.

They don't really talk in the car, which is a shame, because they usually almost end their relationship every fucking time they're in the car together, and one of these days it's going to stick, damnit. When they get to the building, Ana asks if Christian has found Leila yet, and I really wish he would just be like, "Leila who? Oh shit, was I supposed to be looking for someone?" because he's clearly not doing a damn thing to find her. He says someone named "Welch" is looking for Leila. One guy, out of his entire staff, is looking for this girl. Yeah, you're really trying hard, Christian.

Now, keeping in mind that Christian has exerted stupid levels of control over Ana today, fucked with her job, had her followed, etc., you'd think she'd be pretty pissed off at him, right? No, of course not! She's overcome with her lust for him when they get into the elevator:
Oh my - the longing, the lust, the electricity. If it were visible, it would be an intense blue aura around and between us; it's so strong.
Christian hits the emergency stop, because he's apparently the only important person in the building. During this entire "Love in an Elevator" sequence, I like to imagine there are two paramedics waiting in an upstairs hallway, trying desperately to keep a heart attack victim alive to get him or her to the hospital, but because Christian has stopped the elevator to fuck his girlfriend, the patient dies.

Just like every other time they have sex, Christian gives Ana instructions as to how she should undress. This time, he tells her to take down her hair and unbutton the top buttons of her blouse. Then he says:
"Do you have any idea how alluring you look right now?"
And I finally get the "Do you have any idea" thing. He's asking, because he wants her to appreciate how sexy he has made her look. Think about it. Every time they have sex, he tells her to undress in a certain way, to pose in a certain way, and then he says, "Do you have any idea," about the situation. When he says this, he is congratulating himself for making her look the most attractive to him that she can possibly be.

Oh no, that's not creepy at all.

We get all the usual trappings of a Chedward/Anabella sex scene, including the "foil packet" and he "starts to move, really move," and of course, simultaneous elevator orgasm. Then they go eat coq au vin (because even their food needs to drink heavily) and Christian tells Ana about his day:
Christian fetches a bottle of white wine from the fridge, and as we sit and eat, he tells me about how much nearer he's getting to perfecting a solar-powered mobile phone. He's animated and excited about the whole project, and I know then that he hasn't had an entirely shitty day.
Well, thank God for that. Because it would really suck if his day was unpleasant, after he spent so much time making yours unpleasant.

Ana tells Christian that he was right about Jack being a sleazeball, and Christian offers once again to have him fired. So Ana tells him:
"You really have to let me fight my own battles. You can't constantly second-guess me and try to protect me. It's stifling, Christian. I'll never flourish with your incessant interference. I need some freedom. I wouldn't dream of meddling in your affairs."
Except for when she, you know, asks your therapist to break patient confidentiality and tell her all about your problems. She'll totally meddle in your affairs then.

Christian reasserts that he's just protecting her, but Ana sticks to her guns:
"You can't interfere in my job. It's wrong. I don't need you charging in like a white knight to save the day. I know you want to control everything, and I understand why, but you can't. It's an impossible goal... you have to learn to let go." I reach up and stroke his face as he gazes at me, his eyes wide. "And if you can do that - give me that - I'll move in with you," I add softly.
Okay, she sticks to her guns for like a millisecond. And then she's all, "I'll move in with you," because as I pointed out before, that's not going to exacerbate his control freak problems or anything. Ana tells Christian that there's nothing he can tell her about himself that would make her run away, and I totally believe that. She can rationalize his behavior into anything she wants, and continues to, because as you can see in this next excerpt, he still really does not fucking get it:
"I'm trying, Anastasia. I couldn't just stand by and let you go to New York with that... sleazeball. He has an alarming reputation. None of his assistants have lasted more than three months, and they're never retained by the company. I don't want that for you, baby." He sighs. "I don't want anything to happen to you. You being hurt... the thought fills me with dread. I can't promise not to interfere, not if I think you'll come to harm." He pauses and takes a deep breath. "I love you, Anastasia. I will do everything in my power to protect you. I cannot imagine my life without you."
Now, notice that he doesn't say, "You're right, I'll respect your boundaries and not fuck with your work." On the contrary, he says pretty explicitly that he's going to keep interfering if he thinks it's in her best interest, and she doesn't get to decide what her best interests are. But Ana doesn't hear a damned word of this. What does she hear?
Three little words. My world stands still, tilts, then spins on a new axis; and I savor the moment, gazing into his sincere, beautiful gray eyes.
And then Taylor comes in and says that Mrs. Robinson is on her way up. CLIFFHANGA!