We're saved! Just as I was working on this post, I got an email from Thea K asking for me to share these links to her rip-it-to-shreds blog fest: link the first, Link the second.
At least I coming out of the haze of allergy, pain, and seizure medications I've been struggling with. Sorry for the long gap between recaps, I meant to just skip one week, do a Buffy recap during the first week and a 50 Shades recap in the second one, but then I got confused and did two Buffy recaps in a row. Hoping to correct that and get back to a recap each a week. But further patience would be awesome.
Another thing I want to address is the length of the recaps. I've had a few comments about the recaps of 50 Shades Freed being shorter than the recaps of previous books. There's a really simple explanation of that, and maybe I should have mentioned it before: the chapters in the book are shorter. Which, by the way, is hilarious; remember when I was recapping 50 Shades Darker and I was like, NO ONE NEEDS TO WRITE A THIRTY PAGE CHAPTER THAT IS MADNESS? Okay, so, full disclosure time? There's a twenty-nine page chapter in The Boss.
Okay, so get into the recap Jenny, Jesus.
Once again, Ana begins a chapter waking up. And once again, Christian is winding around her like goddamned kudzu:
I am too warm. Christian warm. His head is on my shoulder, and he's breathing softly on my neck while he sleeps, his legs threaded through mine, his arm around my waist. I linger on the edge of consciousness, aware that if I wake fully I'll wake him, too, and he doesn't sleep enough.This paragraph opens the chapter and somehow manages to sum up everything that is wrong with their relationship. One partner is willing to lie, hot and uncomfortable, so as to not wake the other partner. One partner is unwilling to let the other partner make a single decision for herself because it makes him emotionally uncomfortable.
I drank too much- boy, did I drink too much. I'm amazed Christian let me."I am amazed another human being allowed me to chose what substance and what quantity of that substance I would put into my own digestive system." Gosh, everyone who told me he gets so much better was completely right, I guess.
Let me tell it like it fucking is: there is a difference between a character learning and growing on an arc, and a character who doesn't change at all while all the other the characters insist he has changed. The latter is what's happening here. Just because some characters are learning to tolerate or ignore Chedward's dickish behavior doesn't mean he's getting better or changing at all. Here's a fun exercise, guys. Go back and read some of Ana's parts in the first book. Compared to the character she is at this point in 50 Shades Freed, 50 Shades of Grey Ana is practically Xena, Warrior Princess.
Sorry, Xena. I know.
That's because at this point, Ana has bent her hopes, her expectations, her own personality quirks (eye rolling, for example), everything about herself, into a pretzel to be what Christian wants. That isn't character growth for Christian. That's not how you do character growth.
My palm is still red from last night.It's nice that for once, she's waking up with an injury given to her by someone other than her husband. It's a refreshing change. But what was the creeper guy's face made out of? Granite?
I smile as I remember him putting me to bed. That was sweet, real sweet, and unexpected.So, you expected him to leave you in the car? Or at the nightclub? Or was it just that you didn't have sex, and we're once again heaping praise on him for behaving like a fucking human being and not a wind-up rape machine?
Christian wakes up, tells Ana that he cherishes her and he wants to take care of her, and then he flips out:
He clasps my hand and I wince. He releases me immediately, alarmed. "The punch?" he asks. His eyes frost as he scrutinizes mine, and his voice is laced with sudden anger.
"I slapped him. I didn't punch him."
I thought we'd dealt with this last night.
"I can't bear that he touched you."
"He didn't hurt me, he was just inappropriate. Christian, I'm okay. My hand's a little red, that's all. Surely you know what that's like?" I smirk, and his expression changes to one of amused surprise.
"Why, Mrs. Grey, I am very familiar with that." His lips twist in amusement. "I could reacquaint myself with that feeling this minute, should you so wish."So, remember how Christian always wants to punish Ana right after she's done something "bad" and has caused him some worry or another? Is he saying he would spank her because some guy groped her against her will at the bar? That's healthy. This is a healthy relationship.
"I'd fight you any day, Mrs. Grey. In fact, subduing you in bed is a fantasy of mine."Because he's tired of jacking off to the many ways he's subdued her in the rest of her life?
Ana considers the idea of fight-fucking from all angles:
What's this about? Brawling? Fantasy? Will he hurt me? My inner goddess shakes her head- Never.Check in with your subconscious, she usually makes more sense.
Remember how David Walliams in drag is Ana's subconscious now? No, it's not just an excuse for me to lust over David Walliams and I resent your totally on the mark accusation. Good day, sir!
It's kind of sad that one of the first things Ana thinks when considering a new sexual kink to explore is will my husband, the man who is supposed to love me and be a caring lover, harm me. HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP!
They do this whole "let's play rough" thing that's basically just Christian holding Ana down so she can't move. Well, actually, first Ana asks him if he wants to play rough, and her idea of playing rough is to get a drink of water, and... urgh:
Taking a leaf from his impressive repertoire, I lean forward and kiss him, pouring clear cool water into his mouth.So, they're apparently back to the spitting in someone's mouth thing? You know how much me and my OCD love that old chestnut.
Anyway, then they do this whole thing I described before, where Christian tells her to fight him, but he can't let her win even a little bit on anything, so it's just a scene of her struggling while he holds her still, and then:
I seize the front of his pajamas and yank them down, freeing his erection. I grab and squeeze him. He's hard.No shit, dicks are hard when they're erect? I don't have a secret filthy Tumblr, so I had no idea.
They have sex, and I skip it, because I'm tired of reading the same shit over and over. They have amazing sex, and Ana is just relaxing and chilling out and enjoying the afterglow when, nope, can't have that:
"You're quiet," I whisper and kiss his shoulder. He turns and looks at me, his expression giving nothing away. "That was fun."
Shit, something is wrong.
"You confound me, Ana."
He shifts so that we're face to face. "Yes. You. Calling the shots. It's... different."So, after he tells her to fight him in bed because it's a fantasy of his, and she does fight him in bed, he now has to make a big, dramatic deal about it. He is CONFOUNDED that Ana, the woman he has groomed from day one of their relationship to be unquestioningly obedient, has done something he asked. And of course, since he's expressed how CONFOUNDED he is, she scrambles to try and fix it, because she wants nothing but his happiness.
"You've never indulged this little fantasy before?" I blush as I say it. Do I really want to know any more about my husband's colorful... um, kaleidoscopic sex life before me? My subconscious eyes me warily over her tortoiseshell half-moon specs. Do you really want to go there?Of course not. Because there are definitely things husbands and wives should hide from each other. Emotional intimacy is waaaaaay overrated.
"No, Anastasia. You can touch me." It's a simple explanation that speaks volumes. Of course, the fifteen couldn't.This naturally leads into a discussion of Mrs. Robinson, the ghost that haunts their sex life due to Ana's distaste at discussing Christian's sexual past. She asks him if he liked it when Mrs. Robinson touched him, and he tells her that he did at the time, but not anymore. Which leads Ana to think:
My lost boy.I'm starting to get this really uncomfortable feeling that if Christian ever did get mentally healthy and he wasn't Ana's lost boy anymore, Ana wouldn't really be into him. Every time they're together in any way, she's like, "Tell me about your tortured past (so that I can feel bad for you)." I wonder if Christian would be as appealing to her if he wasn't a wrecked up project. After all, this is the girl who apparently thinks Thomas Hardy was writing romance.
After they make slow, tender love one more time- off the page, so I don't have to skim over it- Ana goes down to breakfast, where there is ACTUALLY A SCENE IN THIS GODDAMNED BOOK THAT I APPRECIATED AND ENJOYED:
As the two men amble across the lawn toward the house, lost in their conversation, Christian casually bends to pick up what looks like a bamboo cane that must have been blown over or discarded in the flower bed. Pausing, Christian absentmindedly holds out the cane at arm's length as if weighing it carefully and swipes it through the air, just once.
Oh...This scene would be more funny and enjoyable if didn't lead to a heart-to-heart two pages later, but I'll take whatever meager crumb of enjoyment I can get, like a Dickensian urchin peering through a frosted window at a glowing feast of roast goose and treacle tart.
Pictured: Jenny writing a recap.
Kate sees Ana looking out the window, and then this happens:
"What are you doing?" asks Kate.
"Just watching Christian."
"You have got it bad." She snorts.I think it's weird that other characters have to blatantly tell the readers how Ana feels about her husband. It's almost as if the main characters aren't developed enough to prove their love to the reader on their own...
"And you don't, oh soon-to-be-sister-in-law?" I reply, grinning and trying to bury the disquieting visual of Christian wielding a cane. I am startled when Kate leaps up and hugs me.
"Sister!" she exclaims, and it's hard not to be swept up in her joy.This is the most effusive we've seen Kate about the marriage so far, and of course, it's because she's gaining an Ana, not marrying the love of her life or anything. I'd personally rather chew my own arm off to escape a bear trap than be legally related to Anastasia Rose Steel Grey (most unwieldy stripper name EVER).
After a break, Christian is once again waking Ana up to start a new scene, to tell her to buckle her seatbelt because they're about to land. So, they're on the plane. Mia is sad and reading a book, Ana peeks up at Christian "through my lashes" (I had started to miss the one, actually) and Elliot is sleeping.
I have yet to corner Elliot and quiz him about Gia, but it's been impossible to pry him away from Kate. Christian isn't interested enough to ask, which is irritating, but I haven't pressed him. We've been enjoying ourselves too much.We haven't done a list in a while, so...
- It's none of your business, Ana.
- It's none of Christian's business and at least he knows that.
- It's more irritating to meddle in other people's relationships.
- You obviously don't care that fucking much if your good time can't be compromised for something you apparently think of as super important to your friend's happiness.
- You are terrible person.
Elliot rests his hand possessively on Kate's knee. She looks radiant, and to think that only yesterday afternoon she was so unsure of him.You know when you like a show or something, and you introduce someone to it, and then they start acting like they know more about it than you do? That's how Ana is with Kate's entire relationship with Elliot. It's like Ana thinks she knows what's best for Kate or what Kate is feeling just because Ana is married. Yet, Kate has the most experience with relationships, because she's, you know, had them before. Ana's love life is only months old, and she's trying to speak to Kate's uncertainty like she's an authority or something.
At this point, the chapter begins doing its best to avoid plot and starts just filling up pages for no reason. There is a section break, then a brief scene of Ana and Christian in the car, where they talk about how fun the weekend was and how Christian was relaxed because Ana was safe. Basically, rehashing a scene we've already read a thousand times, in settings that are more striking than the backseat of an Audi. Then, Christian asks Ana if she's ready to "face Gia":
"I might want to keep you out of the way, keep you safe." I smirk.
"Protecting me?" Christian is laughing at me.
"As ever, Mr. Grey. From all sexual predators," I whisper.Oh for fuck's sake.
Then there's a section break, and they're going to bed. We don't even get to see this supposedly exciting, nerve-wracking meeting between Ana and Gia. Now that they're back home, Ana is thinking about the Jack Hyde thing again:
Tomorrow we go back to reality- back to work, the paparazzi, and to Jack in custody but with the possibility that he has an accomplice. Hmm... Christian was vague about that. Does he know? And if he did know, would he tell me? I sigh. Getting information out of Christian is like pulling teeth, and we've had such a lovely weekend. Do I want to ruin the feel-good moment by trying to drag the information out of him?She brought up the woman who took advantage of him in his youth on the trip, but does she want to ruin the afterglow by asking questions about the dangerous man who was clearly plotting to kidnap and rape her and who may have an accomplice still gunning for her? Nah, that's not important, because it has to do with Ana, and Ana's entire life revolves around Christian.
It's been a revelation to see him out of his normal environment, outside this apartment, relaxed and happy with his family. I wonder vaguely if it's because we're here in this apartment with all its memories and associations that he gets wound up. Maybe we should move.You are moving, Ana. That's why he bought a house.
I snort. We are moving- we're having a huge house refurbished on the coast.Oh, I see, that wasn't a rhetorical statement you were making, it was an excuse to talk about Gia and the scene E.L. couldn't be arsed to write:
I chuckle as I recall Gia's shocked expression when I told her that I'd seen her in Aspen. Turns out it was nothing but coincidence. She'd camped out at her holiday place to work solely on our plans. For one awful moment I'd thought she'd had a hand in choosing the ring, but apparently not. But I still didn't trust Gia. I want to hear the same story from Elliot. At least she kept her distance from Christian this time.Wouldn't it have been cool to see the scene where Ana, with her newfound backbone, confronted Gia and asked point blank if she'd picked Kate's ring or was still involved with Elliot? Well, too bad, because E.L. isn't interested in that scene. She's more interested in hanging out in Ana's head while Ana thinks about foreshadowing:
Yet with his family around him, he is less controlling, less anxious- freer, happier. I wonder what Flynn would make of all that. Holy crap! Maybe that's the answer. Maybe he needs his own family. I shake my head in denial- we're too young, too new to all this.You should definitely have a baby to fix your abusive marriage, Ana. That's a great idea. Men never get more possessive or weird or crazy when their wives or girlfriends get pregnant. And he definitely won't be able to hold the baby as a hostage against you leaving him.
Christian comes to bed, and Ana has to turn the only part of this book that I've enjoyed into something shitty because she's awful:
"Do you miss it?"
"Miss what?" he asks, perplexed.
"You know, the caning... and stuff," I whisper, embarrassed.
He stares at me, his gaze impassive. Then doubt crosses his face, his where-is-she-going-with-this look.By the way, that's the second time that description has been used in five pages, and I still don't have any idea what the expression looks like.
"No Anastasia, I don't." His voice is steady and quiet. He caresses my cheek. "Dr. Flynn said something to me when you left, something that's stayed with me. He said I couldn't be that way if you weren't so inclined. It was a revelation." He stops and frowns. "I didn't know any other way, Ana. Now I do. It's been educational."It's a revelation to Christian that he can't force a woman to participate in sex acts she doesn't want to engage in.
No, really. That's what that says.
Someone else had to tell Christian Grey that it's not okay to force women into BDSM if they don't find it appealing. He is an adult and he's managed to live his life thus far without figuring that out. He had to pay someone to tell him.
This passage just furthers the anti-BDSM message in the book, the message that E.L. James denies is there. While the author runs around every media outlet clamoring to interview her, boasting about how she's been such a boon to the BDSM lifestyle and she's introduced women to their deepest, most secret desires, she's written a character whose involvement in BDSM is a mental illness that had to be cured. Christian has only been involved in BDSM because he doesn't know better. How is this in any way complimentary to the BDSM lifestyle, or people involved in it?
50 Shades fans are even worse about this. I saw a woman tweet a couple weeks ago that people can't judge those involved in BDSM, even though she doesn't "agree" with it. And her tone, as she argued with multiple twitter accounts, seemed to be the tone of a born again Christian trying to defend their stance on gay marriage. It was very hate the sin, love the sinner, like she was secretly rooting for all the BDSM perverts out there to find their true loves and see the light or something. That is what E.L. James has done for BDSM with these books. She's destroyed public perception of it.
She is the reason my face looks like this all of the time.
Then, as if this misunderstanding of BDSM isn't enough, we have to continue:
"I don't want you to hurt me, but I like to play, Christian. You know that. If you wanted to do something..." I shrug, gazing at him.
"You know, with a flogger or your crop-" I stop, blushing.Uh... excuse me. But floggers and crops HURT. They're supposed to hurt. That's the draw. That's why some of us like them. I suppose there are ways you could use both of these implements without causing pain. You could use a rubber flogger to tickle someone, or a crop to... train climbing vines? But the point of being flogged or snapped with a riding crop is to hurt. I just... I can't get my head around this. Maybe because I like pain during sex. I just can't see the point of using those tools in a non-painful way.
There's a section break, and some emails that begin on August 29th, wherein Ana and Christian tell each other they love each other, and he reminds her about the Shipbuilding Association dinner. Apparently, Christian builds ships now. I don't fucking know, and it's not really covered. Ana's assistant comes in and tells her she's had to move some appointments around for her (spoiler alert, one of those appointments is for her birth control shot, but Ana interrupts her before she can mention that), Roach calls and asks Ana to come to his office, and we have another section break, followed by more emails on August 30th, in which Ana and Christian vaguely hint at the fantastic sex they had following the boring boat dinner. Then Ana's assistant comes in again and tells her she's had to move some appointments again, and then Roach calls again pulling Ana away to a meeting. Then there is another section break and HOLY SHIT AM I IN THE MATRIX?
Seriously, the deja vu is strong with this shitty, shitty, go nowhere chapter.
Pictured: A 50 Shades fan's contortions to suspend disbelief.
After the section break, there are MORE EMAILS, dated September 1st. Christian tells Ana that Hyde has been refused bail and he's been charged with attempted kidnapping and arson. Ana asks:
Does this mean you'll lighten up on security?
I really don't see eye to eye with Prescott.No, Ana, you don't see eye to eye with your husband. Prescott is just following his orders. We've never seen any evidence of a personal beef between the two women, just Ana's exasperation at being shadowed. She gives the white men on the security team leeway in this, reminding the readers over and over that they're just doing their job. But when Prescott, a black woman, does her job, Ana takes it personally.
What's wrong with Prescott? If you don't like her, we'll replace her.Note that when Ana has complained about being followed the white men, Christian has never offered to fire them. Which is pretty funny, considering how threatening Christian considers white men who are in Ana's presence.
I scowl at his high-handed email. Prescott isn't that bad.WHAT? Ana, you have done nothing but bitch about Prescott since she's arrived in the storyline, seemingly only to be bitched at. Prescott has, until this line, just been a vehicle for Ana's pointless exasperation. What the hell, now she's "not that bad?" Ana responds to Christian's email:
I was just asking (rolls eyes). And I'll think about Prescott.
Stow that twitchy palm.Ah, the repetition of fanfic/fanservice writing. Also, nice to see Ana talking casually about affecting someone else's livelihood and career in the negative. She's certainly adapted well to being a part of the 1%.
Then there is ANOTHER SECTION BREAK FOLLOWED BY MORE FUCKING EMAILS.
These emails are dated September 5th, and the subject line of the first one is "Sailing & Soaring & Spanking," so basically there was this amazing scene where they did interesting things and we get to hear about it like this:
You sure know how to show a girl a good time.
I shall of course be expecting this kind of treatment every weekend.And then there is an exchange about how much they love each other and how their life is beautiful and perfect and romantic. Then there is a section break and:
The following day, I gaze at the calendar on my desk. Only five days until September 10- my birthday.The emails are dated the 5th, and Ana is looking at them the next day, which means it's only four days until the 10th. I guess it's a good thing she's an editor and not a mathematician.
Hannah taps on my door.
Prescott is hovering outside. Odd...How is that odd? All we've been hearing about Prescott is about how closely she follows you and how much you hate it.
"Hi, Ana," says Hannah.LOL, that rhymes.
"There's a Leila Williams here to see you? She says it's personal."
"Leila Williams? I don't know a... " My mouth goes dry, and Hannah's eyes widen at my expression.
Leila? Fuck. What does she want?OH MY GOD! IS THIS A CLIFFHANGER THAT IS ACTUALLY GRIPPING AND INTERESTING?
I can only hope that the next chapter doesn't begin with a five page series of emails hinting at what happened when she met with Leila.
Wait, no, I hope it does. Because I don't give a shit about this book, the characters, or what happens to them. And no one else should, either, because the author doesn't seem interested in writing the rest of this damn book, anyway.