Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Boss chapter 4

Today I was feeling super unfocused, fatigued, and unproductive (because I have health problems, yo), and I decided the best way for me to feel productive would be to complete a simple task from my work to-do list today. Lucky for people who read The Boss, the only easy thing on the list was posting chapter four. So, chapter four is available now, here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Big Dam Buffy Rewatch s01e02 "The Harvest"

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Well, okay. Not really "alone" because a lot of people do it. Shut up, you don't know her life. Anyway, in every generation there is a chosen one. She will recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:
  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow's magic is utterly useless (this one won't be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn't as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
When we last left Buffy, she was in a sarcophagus with a vampire on top of her. So, you know. Not an ideal situation for most people to be in.

Who am I kidding? This is probably the ideal situation for over half of you guys. Sinners.

Buffy kicks her way free and runs, because she consistently, throughout the entire series, knows when she's been beaten. Or might get beaten, which in slayer world means death. But I appreciate a heroine who knows when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, so to speak. She busts ass out to the cemetery, where she finds Willow being attacked by a vampire. She rescues Willow, and then Xander, but Jessie has been kidnapped by the vampires. Then it's opening credits times.

After the credits, Giles does an impression of the end of The Rocky Horror Picture Show:

Lost in time, and lost in space.

Giles tells Buffy, Xander, and Willow that the earth is way older than they think, and it began as a demon realm. Which is like, the exact opposite of what conservative Christianity teaches. So, demons and vampires roamed the earth, until they lost it, and now Giles and Buffy have to convince these poor kids that all this shit is real.

I find it difficult to believe that these kids have lived in Sunnydale their entire lives, but they've never seen a vampire. In seven seasons of this show, we've seen the town mobilize against witches, adults revert to their teenage selves, people's dreams become reality, so and on so forth. If that shit just started happening when Buffy showed up? Everyone would have left town. So we have to assume this has been going on for some time. But if people were paying attention to what was going on around them, they would be teaching their kids, "Hey, there are vampires, and they will eat the fuck out of you so, you know, don't go into dark alleys with strangers." No one has ever told Willow and Xander there might be vampires, but it seems highly unlikely that no one in Sunnydale has ever noticed the paranormal side effects of living above a Hellmouth. See #8. They're willfully ignoring the fact that they're surrounded by monsters, and in doing so they're keeping their children ignorant when what they really should have been doing is moving away or arming them with stakes.

So, remember Jessie, Willow and Xander's friend from the first episode? Don't worry, this is the last episode you'll have to remember him for. No one else does after this one, either. Anyway, Darla and Luke, the Master's minions, bring Jessie to the Hellmouth to feed the Master. Here's something I don't understand about Darla: in the rest of the series, she seems pretty smart. Granted, we only really get to know her through flashbacks, and later on Angel, but she clearly has cunning in those appearances. Here, she brings Jessie to the Master and blurts out about how good he tastes.

Imagine your friend called you, and she was like, "Hey, I'm swinging by McDonald's, do you want anything?" and you're like, "I want a Shamrock shake." Then they get there, and they're like, "Hey, that Shamrock shake is soooo good this year, I think they changed the formula," and you realize that they don't have their own shake. They tasted your shake. This is the face you will make:

Bitch, I know you did not sample my Shamrock shake.

The Master calls Darla out on her shady-as-fuck taste testing:
"You've tasted it. I'm your faithful dog. You bring me scraps."
The Master says he's waited for "three score years" stuck in the Hellmouth (I don't know how long that is) and when he ascends everybody better hope he's in a better mood. Holy shit, I'm pretty sure I've had that argument with my husband before.

One thing that does perk The Master up a little is the knowledge that there could be a slayer close by. Then we cut back to the library, where Giles explains what a slayer is:
"Alright. The Slayer hunts vampires. Buffy is a slayer. Don't tell anyone. Well, I think that's all the vampire information you need."
Buffy says that since she let Jessie get kidnapped, he's her responsibility, even though Xander wants to go in all guns a-blazin' and Willow wants to go to the police. Then we're back in the Hellmouth, where Jessie is standing around listening to Luke and The Master talk. The good news for Jessie is, they're not going to murder him right away. They're going to use him as bait, to try and lure the slayer to them.

Back in ye olde school library that no students beside Buffy, Xander, and Willow go to, Willow finds some plans for the underground utilities in Sunnydale. The utility tunnels and sewers are basically an underground city for the vamps, who can move about freely without ever having to go into the blazing hot sunlight that would kill them. You know, like people who live in Houston scurry about underground to avoid the weather. Call me crazy, but the last thing I would vote for, were I on Sunnydale's city council, is any improvement of modern civilization that would make it easier for vampires to get me. Of course, this is assuming that anyone in Sunnydale has ever actually noticed the vampires in their midst.


By the by, Willow more or less hacks into the city's files to get this information. That's right. Willow is a goddamned computer genius. Remember that when we get to season four and she hardly ever touches a computer again.

Buffy remembers that Luke didn't come into the crypt through the front door, and he didn't follow her out, so the entrance to the Master's lair will be in that crypt. Which is cool and all, but I thought The Master was in the Hellmouth? Where the fuck is this guy? They made it look like he was directly under the school in the first episode.

Whatever, I'm still going to assume he's in the Hellmouth.

Buffy tells Xander again that he's not going to go with her to rescue Jessie, and of course this is an affront to Xander's manhood:
Xander: "So what's the plan? We saddle up, right?"
Buffy: "There's no 'we,' okay? I'm the slayer, and you're not."
Xander: "I knew you'd throw that back in my face."
Buffy: "Xander, this is deeply dangerous."
Xander: "I'm inadequate. That's fine. I'm less than a man."
No, Xander, you fucking prick. You're not less than a man. You're less than a slayer. And the slayer is always female, so you'll always be less than a particular female. You can't handle the idea that Buffy might be stronger than you because #5. If you're not stronger than Buffy, you can't save Buffy, thus making her beholden to repay you in sexual attention.

Even Willow and Giles look like they want Xander to get his dick slammed in a car door right now.

Willow is not a disgusting teen misogynist, so she tries a different approach, admitting that she's pretty freaked out by all the stuff that's going on, but she needs to help her friend. Apparently, Giles feels that the best way for Willow to help is to engage in further inappropriate student/teacher physical proximity:


Seriously, did no one at Watcher school ever pull him aside and say, "Look, Rupert, you're kind of an intense guy, and you're a close talker. Since your job is solely focused on being around teenage girl all the time, you might want to work on that so you don't end up on that show."
You rang?

What Giles actually wants Willow to do is become a research assistant, to help him look for information about this whole Harvest thing the Master is up to. In this one scene, it kind of cements Willow's role in the group for the entire season. She's like a little Watcher-in-training, and she never really breaks out of this role too much, even when she gets into magic. We'll see more of that as we discuss #4 in season 2 and onward.

Buffy promises that if Jessie is alive, she'll find him, and Giles asks if he should remind her to be careful. And then they look at each other like this:



And I'm not saying this is "proof" of #2, just remember it when we're in the middle of season four and I remind you of it. Write this shit down, because I am just not good at tagging these posts.

As Buffy tries to leave campus, she is stopped by Principal Flutie. Poor, poor Principal Flutie:


Look at that man. This is not a man who can maintain on a Hellmouth. He sort of apologetically guilts Buffy into not leaving campus during school hours, saying that the Buffy Summers he wants at his school is the one who has her "feet on the ground." So, of course the moment his back is turned, Buffy just jumps over the gate and takes off. Get it? Feet on the ground? And she jumps? Get it?

Xander and Willow are trying to think up events they might find in local news sources and on the internet that would have some underlying paranormal cause. They get to "rain of toads" and Xander snaps. He's totally freaked that all he can do is wait around, helpless, while knowing that there is all this paranormal shit going on.
"This is just too much. Yesterday my life's like, 'uh-oh, pop quiz." Today it's 'rain of toads.'"
I like this motivation a lot more than his previous, "I'm a man, therefore I should have my maleness constantly validated," argument. I totally get and can sympathize with "I know something is wrong but there's nothing I can do to fix it." That should have been the angle the writers worked all along, instead of, "My maleness is diminished by letting a woman take charge."

At the crypt, Buffy finds the secret entrance, and Angel finds Buffy. She asks him if he has a key, and he makes it clear that he's not a part of The Master's gang. Which is all well and good, but if he didn't use the secret entrance, how did he get into the crypt in the middle of daylight in the first place? At this point Buffy doesn't know that Angel is a vampire, the audience doesn't know that Angel is a vampire, but still... when we do eventually find out halfway through the first season, it's hard not to think back to this time when Angel was out wandering around in broad fucking daylight, since he couldn't get through that locked door:

LOL, Angel got photobombed by an angel.

Okay, fine. As much as I dislike Angel as a person, this does set up something fairly important for the universe. See all that diffuse sunlight around him? That doesn't affect Buffy vamps. Only direct rays of sunlight touching them does.

You know what vamps aren't allergic to? Trying to tell the slayer how to do her goddamned job. Angel stands there with a smug asshole expression and warns Buffy not to go down into the Hellmouth or the sewer or wherever the fuck this Master guy is, but he doesn't offer to help her. He gives her directions on how to get to the Master, but only after he gloats about how he thought she would find the secret clubhouse entrance sooner than she did. Well, why didn't you tell her before? Dick.

Wait, I have a #9 now! Angel is a dick!

After creeping around in the dark for a bit, Buffy gets scared by the sudden presence of Xander. He's there because his friend is in danger, and he can't sit idly by and not help. Which would go over a lot better if he hadn't just pulled all that, "I'm not a man because this girl is going to handle it," thing back at the library. Proving he's a totally useful member of this mission, he hasn't brought anything with him to defend himself if necessary. Now, Buffy is liable not only for her safety and the safety of Jessie, but for Xander as well. Xander has brought a flashlight to a vampire fight.

Back at school, Giles has finally found the information about the Harvest, and Willow is still trying to look up information about earthquakes on the computer. In this scene, we meet the absolute sunshine of my life, and one of the strongest female characters on Buffy:


We won't be able to get into that until later in the series, but for now, let's make this one #10 on the list, and revisit it when the time comes. #10: Harmony is the strongest female character on Buffy. Anyway, Harmony and Cordelia are talking about going to the Bronze and how nerdy computer class is. Then Cordelia starts talking smack about Buffy. To Willow's credit, she does try to confront her directly to stick up for Buffy, only to be brutally rebuffed, but the next thing that happens irks me. Cordelia and Harmony have finished their projects, and Willow tricks them into deleting them. Granted, Cordelia is super dumb for believing that the "Del" delete key is the "deliver" key, but come on. As the audience, we're supposed to delight in seeing girl-on-girl hatred conquered by... girl-on-girl hatred? The point of the scene is that we're going to enjoy seeing the school bitch put in her place by the frumpy nerd, but that's not empowering. Destroying someone's homework is just petty.

In the utility tunnels, Buffy and Xander find Jessie. Or Jessie finds them. And there is a really neat piece of writing, in which Buffy tells Xander that she knows they're close to the vampire's lair because they haven't seen any rats in a while. Aspiring writers, that is the kind of attention to detail that makes your work have depth. It's not enough to show a rat in a tunnel, you have to also show the absence of rats. You know, if it applies.

Jessie tells Buffy and Xander that he was intended for bait, and the trap springs. Jessie remembers how to get out, though, and he leads Buffy and Xander into a dead end, and whoops, he's a vampire now, too:


So, Jessie is a vampire, and Xander has to use a cross to fend him off. Jessie's personality has taken a total 180 as well. This is important, and will be covered in another writing tip in just a minute here.

Remember back in the first episode where Buffy broke a door just by jiggling the handle? And how she's super strong and stuff? Meet the door that Buffy couldn't close without a man's help:


Buffy is super strong, until Xander is there. Xander who, we must remember, was just complaining about not being manly enough when Buffy rejected his help. Now, rather than showing us Buffy saving his life and being all, "told you so," we need to see her unable to complete a task without the male help she rejected. Because it is unacceptable for a male to be rejected. This isn't unique to Buffy, we see it in literally every story line out there, on every show, in almost every book. But it still falls under #6

Oh, and remember Xander's flashlight? I wasn't being cryptic there. He literally brought a flashlight, and while they are trapped in this dead end tunnel with vampires clawing at the door, he uses the very same flashlight that Buffy mocked in the earlier scene to find the way out. Buffy mocked the tool he felt was appropriate for the job, but since audiences can't handle men being rejected, that must be the tool that saves them. Xander spots a vent with his magic flashlight (stand in for his penis, if we want to go all Freud here) and they climb to safety Aliens-style.

Buuuut not before Xander has to save Buffy one last time, when a vampire grabs her leg and he must physically pull her to safety:


Because Buffy, the vampire slayer, protagonist on a show called Buffy The Vampire Slayer, is too weak to fight a vampire when a man there is rescue her.

Juuuuuuuust sayin'.

The Master is not pleased that Buffy escaped, but he's a really well-written villain in that his main objective hasn't changed. Have you ever noticed how sometimes in fantasy or action stories, there will be this horrible villain with a dastardly plan, but once they meet the hero of the piece their focus shifts from "Carry out my evil plan," to "Do everything in my power to kill the hero, even if it endangers my main goal?" I hate when that happens. Here, the Master is really pissed that she escaped. But he doesn't say, "Bring her to me!" or "Find her!" and send all of his very best minions out after her. He basically just says oh well, the Harvest is coming up, so I'll look forward to killing the slayer after we get that taken care of. He doesn't shift his focus. This is awesome, because it makes him a far more dangerous villain. The stakes are higher. If he's not engaging Buffy, it's because he's maintaining forward momentum on something she has to stop. That's a good bad guy, guys.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Giles is still reading, when the "squeaky door opening sound effect" makes him look up and utter the most plaintively hopeful "Buffy?" in the entire series. Until season 6, when he says it again. We'll get there. But for now, check out his face:


OMG #2 I will go down with this ship! EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO "EVIDENCE" AT THIS POINT IN THE SERIES!

Ahem.

It's not Buffy, though, it's just Willow, and she did some research on creepy 1930's murders that point to vampires in the area. Oh, so there haven't been vampire attacks since then. Okay, people of Sunnydale, MAYBE I can give you a pass on kids not knowing about vampires right now, but you never seem to get your act together, so #8 stands.

Back in the Hellmouth, the Master does some weird blood wedding ceremony thing with Luke that will make them "as one" during the Harvest. HOT. The way it will work is, Luke, who can leave the Hellmouth area (if it is the Hellmouth, I'm still not clear on this), will eat people, and every life he take will feed The Master's power, which will enable him to finally escape the Hellmouth or wherever. 

Buffy and Xander get back to the library, where they break the bad news, that Jessie is a vampire. And Willow says that at least Buffy and Xander are okay. Um, yeah, I guess that's neat and all, but wasn't Jessie your friend? And he's a demon now?

Giles explains that The Master is stuck in the mystical portal that is Sunnydale - is that the Hellmouth? - and he needs to consume a certain amount of power to open the portal and get out. One big credit I will give to this series? After these two episodes, I am never again confused about where a villain is or which portal he's opening. It's just these first two where I'm super confused.

Before Buffy can take on the Master and stop the Harvest, she has to stop at home for supplies. Then her mom comes in and she's all, "I got a call from the new principal," and she's super worried that Buffy is fucking up again. She tells Buffy she can't go out, because some self-help parenting tapes say she has to get used to saying no. Which means she hasn't been saying no for... sixteen years? #3
And you wonder why she burned her old school down, Joyce?

After giving Buffy a speech about how everything in life isn't "the end of the world," Joyce goes downstairs to make dinner and congratulate herself on her great parenting.

So, let's check out the supplies Buffy stopped at home for:


So, this is Buffy's weapons chest in the second episode of the first season. Don't worry, it gets a lot better. For one, I don't think we ever see her use garlic, ever, to kill a vampire, and that seems to be a vampire rule only in these two episodes. I don't think it's ever mentioned again. If you're writing something? Don't do that. Don't start using a convention you later abandon. A lot of story telling does this, especially serialized story telling, like a tv show. Remember how in the first episode of Futurama, the dollar was so devalued as currency that everything cost millions and billions of dollars? And then they dropped it when it was too difficult to keep up? It happens to very best of us, but we should probably strive to stay away from it.

Anyway, look at those communion wafers. If this were a video game, that would her range attack. But she never uses communion wafers to kill a vampire! The taste and texture alone should put them way, way off.

Buffy packs her bag and heads out through her open bedroom window, because Joyce was never a teenager and didn't think, "Hey, maybe she's going to leave through that open bedroom window." #3

At the Bronze, Cordelia takes a moment to let us all appreciate how shallow and narcissistic she is, before hitting the dance floor. Then she spots Jessie. Moments ago, she had complained about Jessie following her around like a puppy dog. Now, though, something is different about him. Something that makes him desirable.


Oh, wait, it's because he stares at her all creepy, then forcibly takes her hand and tells her to shut up as he leads her onto the dance floor. Because that's what Cordelia, a woman, really wants. To be stalked and controlled. #6

The Master's minions show up at the Bronze and take over with a fairly dramatic floorshow presentation:
Still better than the Lestat musical.

Luke explains to them that they're all going to die, so just stay put while I eat you one by one. Okay, sounds legit, I'll definitely hang around for that, Luke.

Buffy and the gang roll up to the Bronze to find the doors locked and the vampires already inside. As they formulate their plan, Giles reminds Xander that Jessie is already dead, and the vampire he became is the thing that killed him. This is so masterful, guys, and I'm going to tell you why. You know how they always say that in writing you should show, not tell? Well, bollocks to that, I say. Telling is fine. But you have to show, as well. And this is a great example of that. We've already been shown that Jessie is not himself anymore. Twice. Once with Xander and Buffy in the tunnel, once with Cordelia at the Bronze. And now Giles is telling Xander, cluing in both the other characters and the audience that yes, this is how it works with vampires on this show, this is one of the rules of our world, and it feels authentic and believable because we were all shown first. So, go ahead, tell. Tell all sorts of things. As long as you show them first.

As Luke drains the unlucky victims at the Bronze, The Master is starting to get powerful. But Buffy runs in and, and after a series of totally unnecessary flips that are the hallmark of season one combat, she starts fighting with Luke.

While Buffy is fighting, the rest of the gang find their way inside. And by "find their way inside," I mean Giles beats down a fire door with what appears to be a fucking beer keg. I'm going to file that under a little feature I'm going to call Why does no one question why Giles can do that? See, throughout the series, Giles will just randomly do stuff that it seems kind of odd, and no one questions it. No one thinks it's strange that he can not only lift a keg, but repeatedly bash it into a door with enough force to break it open? Where does one acquire this skill?

Then a whole bunch of shit starts happening at once. Xander starts rescuing people out the back door of the Bronze, and Jessie attacks Cordelia. Xander decides to intervene. Darla attacks Giles. Luke almost eats Buffy. Jessie taunts Xander for not being able to get a girlfriend. Because you were doing so well with Cordelia there, Jessie. That's really a mark of a girl being into you, when she's laying on the ground screaming for help. Willow throws a jar of holy water into Darla's face, and she runs away, steaming and screaming, while Xander puts a stake in Jessie's heart:

That dust is the vampire formerly known as Jessie.

Okay, so technically, Xander didn't stake anybody. He was trying to get the courage to do it when some chick bumps Jessie from behind and drives him onto Xander's stake. But Xander still looks pretty torn up about it.

Buffy tricks Luke by making him think he's getting blasted in the face with sun rays, then sneaks up behind him and reminds him it's still night for "nine hours, moron," as she stakes the fuck out of him.
Simple tricks to make your vampiring more effective: buy a fucking watch.

Because Luke was the vessel for The Master's new power, once he goes poof, that power goes poof. Which means all those people died in vein. (Do you see what I did there?) This makes The Master not happy, because he's once again imprisoned in... wherever he's imprisoned. The Hellmouth or a subterranean church or something. Whichever. I don't even care anymore.

This was my exact reaction last night when Hugh Jackman was brutally robbed of his Oscar.

The remaining vampires flee once their leader has been felled. They flee right out the door past Angel, who has been... wait, he's been here this whole time? #9 Angel is a dick. You couldn't come in and, I don't know, fucking help? When you heard all the screaming? Yes, I realize that if you're watching the series for the first time, you might be thinking, "what is this guy about, whose side is he on," but I've seen the series, I know he's on Buffy's side, so why did he just hang around outside, waiting to be surprised when she didn't die? He even expresses surprise that she didn't die. So what was the plan, wait until she died, then step in? Get your shit together, Angel.

The next day at school, Cordelia is telling everyone that Buffy was involved in a gang fight, while Xander and Willow cope with the fact that they're kind of in the slayer club now, whether they want to be, or not. Giles warns them that the next threat they face could be something other than vampires. There's another good set up, guys. The next episode, the danger they face is a witch. Right here, at the conclusion of the first story (because episodes 1 & 2 were halves of a two-parter), they're saying blatantly, "Don't be expecting just vampires." It's not an empty promise, because they'll deliver in the next episode. Giles also tells them that it's probably going to be just the four of them preventing the end of the world, and the three kids walk off together, planning how they can try to get kicked out of school for blowing stuff up. Giles observes to himself that the earth is "doomed," and the guitar-heavy 90's music plays our friends off.


And no one ever mentioned Jessie, ever again. The End.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What? You people want to pay me for this?

So, after getting some stern twitter words from some of you, and some emails, and some comments, and basically nonstop, Phillip J. Fry shouts of "Shut up and take my money," I am ready to quite uncomfortably approach the subject of donate buttons and other forms of remuneration for my time.

In the past, when people have asked me, "How can I pay you for this," I've said, "Go buy one of my books." It's only recently that people have started saying, "No. I mean I want to give you money." And god love you for knowing how publishing works. But I'm quite uncomfortable with the idea of getting paid, even in donations, for blogging. When I started this blog, it was as a way to raise awareness of and further my own writing career. That's why authors blog. For publicity. But when I started recapping 50 Shades of Grey, I was at a point where I was seriously considering that my career might be over. I hadn't contracted a book with a New York publisher since 2009, reviews and sales for my fantasy series had been overwhelmingly disappointing (time will tell on that one, Melville style), and while Abigail Barnette was doing quite well for herself, she wasn't doing quite as well as Jennifer Armintrout had done. I figured my writing days were somewhat over, so I could do whatever I wanted on my blog (which no one was reading, anyway). If you doubt the veracity of this claim, I urge you to check out the entries pre-50 Shades recaps, where I posted cupcake recipes and pictures of smiley fries that resembled James Carville. So, when the blog exploded and there was this renewed interest in what I was doing, my biggest hope was that I would end up getting a little more work thrown my way.

Holy cow, was more work thrown my way. In addition to my involvement in the 50 Writers on 50 Shades of Grey anthology, I've done interviews, launched The Boss, and embarked on an entirely new phase of my career writing YA. And on top of it all, I found this amazing tribe of weirdos. All of this should be thanks enough, right? But there are still some people totally like:



So, tl;dr, I've been resistant to the notion of putting up a donate button or anything like that. But enough of you have asked that I decided I would put this up for debate via poll, here on the blog. I'll go with whatever you guys decide. If you could take a second and answer some brief questions, I'd be grateful. I guess I'll give it a week and see what happens?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Roadhouse episode 19: "This Culture Needs To Eat A Sandwich." also, episodes 17 and 17.5!

Here's Roadhouse, episode 19, where we're going to talk about Klango Fett and body image:

And, because they were missing for a while, we've reposted episodes 17 and 17.5! Sorry for the delay!



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

50 Shades Freed chapter 7 recap, or "Are you fucking kidding me?" Starring Kristen Wiig

A lot of you have left comments or tweeted or emailed me to let me know about the broken links on the main recap page. Thank you so much, everyone, because while I knew one or two posts were missing, I had no idea there were soooo many of them with broken links. I will be working to get these fixed, I promised. Right now, I have to figure out if they're broken because I messed up, or because the posts didn't export to this blog, or something like that. Please know that I am working on it.

Now, I want to introduce you to someone very special.


This is Kristen Wiig in the movie Bridesmaids, and this is a much prettier, Hollywood version of what I did about a bajillion times while reading chapter seven. Kristen is the princess of my heart. She is slightly above my children on the "what I'm living for" scale. And I heard her delivery of this line in my head over and over as I read this chapter. So, I'm going to just let her handle most of the heavy lifting in this recap. And in case you haven't seen the movie, here's the scene where the quote comes from. You can skip to 1:12 if you just want the intonation without the context:



You may recall that at the end of chapter six, Ana recognized the server room arsonist as Jack Hyde, her former boss who was basically going to rape her before Taylor beat the ever living fuck out of him in 50 Shades Darker.

Ana tells Christian she recognizes it's Jack from his earrings and the shape of his shoulders and build. She thinks he's wearing a wig, or he's cut and dyed his hair. Which throws me for a bit of a loop, because I had been visualizing Jack Hyde as Rufus from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.


Carlin's a genius, but there's not a lot to cut and dye here.

I find it super interesting that Ana can tell that Jack has dyed his hair from a "grainy black-and-white CCTV image." But I might have to stop pointing out all these logical errors, because otherwise we'll never be finished with this fucking book.

Now, instead of being all, "Thank you, Ana, your sharp observation skills have given us the break we needed in this case," Christian says:
"you seem to have studied your ex-boss in some detail, Mrs. Grey," he murmurs, sounding none too pleased.

This guy was her boss, so she saw him every day. Okay, everyday for like a week. And then he tried to rape her in the break room. So, what is Christian insinuating here? That Ana was secretly into the dude who tried to sexually assault her? That she encouraged it? What are you trying to say with this comment?

Over the phone, Barney uses the word "asshole" and apologizes for it by saying, "Sorry, ma'am." Because, you know, our fragile lady vaginas will seal right the fuck up if we hear the barest utterance of profanity. Christian tells Ana he's sorry she ever worked with Jack Hyde... so I guess this is laying the groundwork for Ana to quit her job for her own protection. Can't wait.

Barney is going to scan the CCTV and see if he can figure out which car is Jack's, etc, and Christian tells Ana that Jack had a bunch of stuff on his hard drive:
"Was it about you, or me?"
"Me." He sighs.
"What sort of things? About your lifestyle?"
I love that this is still being portrayed as something that would ruin Christian Grey, both personally and professionally. He likes to spank women in his sex dungeon. As far as I'm aware, that's probably the first and mildest vice anyone is going to suspect a billionaire of getting up to. I mean, off the top of my head, I imagine Donald Trump jacks off while personally slaughtering the urban foxes that are later fashioned into his stupid wigs (and he can't sue me for saying that because THIS POST IS INTENDED AS SATIRE). So, "He's into some kink," isn't going to shock the plebs, we all think rich people are up to deviant shit nonstop. It isn't as though Christian Grey is making snuff films or feeding unruly servants to eels or anything.

Apparently, the car Jack Hyde drives is a 2006 Camaro. You guys, I'm so glad this came up, because CAR PORN TIMES:

Oh yeah, baby. You know what momma likes. What you got under that hood? Lemme find out.


 Mmm, yeah, back that ass up.

Baby, I could treat you so right. Grip your steering wheel, stroke that gear shift... Mmmm...

As fun as this all was, I have to admit I got to the 2006 Camaro line and I was like:


There is no such thing as a 2006 Chevy Camaro, except for that concept car I just showed you. Chevy ceased production on fourth generation Camaros in 2002, and fifth generation Camaros weren't available to consumers until 2010. I guess Jack Hyde bought his car from the same store that Christian bought Ana's MacBook Pro with the terabyte harddrive.

And I hope to fucking god that the Camaro isn't the same car she's referring to as the Dodge that chased them, or a bitch is gonna get a drink thrown in her face.

Christian and Barney make some important sounding plans to track down Jack Hyde, but I won't bore you with those details because we all know they're not going to be important, and these idiots will be saved from the plot by deus ex machina. Because this is a Twilight fanfic, and that's how Breaking Dawn wrapped up the conflict, so E.L. will obviously remain true to the source material. Christian hangs up with Barney and pays Ana the single most misogynistic compliment in all of literature:
"Well, Mrs. Grey, it seems that you are not only decorative, but useful, too." Christian's eyes light up with wicked amusement. I know he's teasing.

Oh, so he doesn't really think you're useful? I assume that's the part he's teasing you about. What the shit is that? He's saying, quite clearly, that the only value he thought Ana had was her looks. Did he go to the Dowager Countess Grantham School For Backhanded Compliments?

Even she thinks it's pretty harsh, guys.

Then this happens:
"Hungry?" he asks.
"No."
"I am."
"What for?"
"Well - food actually."
OMG, they flipped it! This time it wasn't about sex! E.L. James is truly a treasure of human wit! They have the longest conversation ever about what he wants to eat, and they repeatedly call each other Mr. and Mrs. Grey because it wasn't tiresome at all when they were calling each other Mr. Grey and Miss Steele, and I certainly can't get enough of it and I hope it just keeps going on and on and on until one or both of them is dead by my hand.

Ana goes to the kitchen to make the MOST NEEDLESSLY DRAMATIC SANDWICH OF ALL TIME:
"Um - so what does Christian like in a, um... sub?" I frown, struck by what I've just said. Does Mrs. Jones understand the inference?
Ana seems to actually believe that everyone in the universe is obsessed with Christian Grey's sex life. What's spooky is, since this book has come out, that's kind of become true.
"Barefoot and in the kitchen," he murmurs.
"Shouldn't that be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?" I smirk.
He stills, his whole body tensing against me. "Not yet," he declares, apprehension clear in his voice.
Too late, dummies!

They continue to make the MOST NEEDLESSLY DRAMATIC SANDWICH OF ALL TIME until a section break, after which Christian and Ana look over the plans for the remodel of their new house, and it turns into what I'm sure was an unintentional metaphor for their entire relationship:
"[...] I fell in love with the house as it was... warts and all."
Christian's brow furrows as if this is anathema to him.
BOOM. The reason I know this is totally unintentional on E.L. James's part is because it's clear from her repeated statements in the media that she doesn't find their relationship unhealthy at all. But right here, we have Ana, the girl Christian picked to mold and shape and change through all his bullshit contract requirements about what to eat and how she's supposed to work out and what clothing she's allowed to wear, saying she likes something as it is, even if it's not her idea of perfection, and he can't possibly understand the concept. Now, I'm 100% fucking certain that E.L. put this in to show us that Christian doesn't understand how Ana can love him as he is, without changing, or to prove to the reader that Ana really can love him despite all his flaws. But it actually says more about Christian's inability to have a relationship with anyone he isn't controlling and smashing into the mold he wants them to fit into.

After they're done looking at the plans for the house, which includes more talk about how they don't want to start a family yet, because when E.L. James looked up "foreshadowing" in the dictionary, this picture was next to the definition:


 Ana and Christian go into the TV room:
We have sat here three, maybe four times total, and Christian usually reads a book. He's not interested in television at all. I curl up beside him on the couch, tucking my legs beneath me and resting my head against his shoulder. He switches on the flat-screen television with the remote and flicks mindlessly through the channels.
"Any specific drivel you want to see?"
Try not to be too condescending there, Chedward.

I'm going to get on my soapbox here and say:


This is the 21st Century. I'm pretty sure that at this point, television has proved that it isn't just a passing fad, but that it can be an important tool of mass communication as well as an art form. Yes, there are poor examples in the medium, but you can find poor examples in any medium. While television does have its share of disappointing programming like Teen Mom 2, literature has, for example, oh, gosh, this one is a toughy, I don't know, 50 Shades of Grey. You can't judge all television based on one or two shows, just like you can't say that all literature is going down the tubes just because this POS got published.

I'm sick of the attitude that television is just mindless entertainment, subpar in comparison to books, movies, art, music, etc, and that in order to be smart, you have to stop watching TV. Or that just not watching television makes you somehow more erudite than all the brain-dead savages drooling in front of the idiot box. I will never understand how choosing to be willfully ignorant of a massive part of our culture (speaking from a Western standpoint here, I don't know about other parts of the world) is somehow smart. If anything, I would say defining yourself by what you choose to exclude from your life is fucking ignorant. 

ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE A ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE DEVOTED TO THAT ACTIVITY THAT YOU THINK IS A WASTE OF TIME AND YOU NEVER DO IT. WHO IS AN IDIOT NOW, MR. GREY?

/soapbox.

The good news is, Ana doesn't want to watch TV, really. She just wants the tv to be on while they make out. Christian is completely bowled over by this suggestion, and he admits he's never actually made out with anyone. He's confused as to how Ana has any experience with making out, too, because she hasn't done it with him, so she's clearly never done it before. He broke the factory seal, right? He asks her if she's ever made out with anyone:
I flush. "Of course." Well, kind of...
"What! Who with?"
Oh no. I do not want to have this discussion.
"Tell me," he persists.
I gaze down at my knotted fingers. He gently covers my hands with one of his. When I glance up at him, he's smiking at me.
"I want to know. So I can beat whoever it was to a pulp."
I giggle. "Well, the first time..."
"The first time! There's more than one fucker?" He growls.

He's legit jealous of the boys Ana made out with in high school? It's not enough that she had never masturbated, never had an orgasm before she met him. She'd kissed someone else, and that's unacceptable? And she apparently thinks it's cute that he's threatening violence over it. Even if he's just joking, she knows he has an extremely violent past, because his sister told her so in the second book. This isn't cute, and it isn't funny. It doesn't show that Chedward values Ana as a person, it shows us once again that she's only an object to him, a toy that someone else has played with, so it's lost some of its value.

Because Christian has to prove that he's way, way more important than those guys in high school, they have sex. Despite Ana saying no. No, really. Check this out:
"We're supposed to be making out." I groan.
Christian stills. "I thought we were."
"No. No sex."
And then they have sex. Okay, so I get the whole, "let's not have sex/let's have sex now" thing is often used in romantic scenes, but this concerns me because remember, when they're doing BDSM stuff nowadays, they're not using safe words anymore, he's just going to stop when she asks to stop. But right here, she has initiated sexual activity, she's saying, "No sex," and the first thing he does is set off on a quest to get her to have intercourse. He won't play by the rules of her game, probably because they're her rules. This isn't inspiring a lot of confidence for that whole, "We don't need safe words," thing.

After boring and repetitive sex, Christian turns the sound on the tv to watch X-Files. He says he liked the show when he was a kid, but Ana says it was before her time. Wait, what? This book was published in 2011, right? So Ana was twenty-two in 2011, meaning she was thirteen when The X-Files was cancelled. Now, I can see why maybe a kid who's ten or eleven wouldn't be into the show, and there's no law that everyone has to watch The X-Files.

Although there should be.

But it's certainly not before Ana's time. The age gap between these two characters is five years, but E.L. makes it sound like it's insurmountable. Or notable at all. Christian even responds to Ana's assertion that The X-Files are before her time by saying, "'You're so young.'" Again, he's only five years older than her, so why is their "age difference" constantly coming up?

It's almost as if this mirrors a piece of popular fiction involving vampires...

Christian tells Ana that security will be tight when she returns to work in the morning.
Which reminds me... I shift, propping myself up on my elbows to see him better. "Why were you shouting at Sawyer?"
He stiffens immediately. Oh shit.
"Because we were followed."
"That wasn't Sawyer's fault."
He gazes at me levelly. "They should never have let you get so far in front. They know that."
"Look, I realize that it was my choice to drive separately from our security, but they're the ones who had the audacity to not be in the car with us when we were being followed. Also, they should have kept up with us, even though I encouraged you to drive like ninety miles an hour in an R8 when they were in an SUV. They should have swapped out for a sports car at the drop of a hat."
"Enough!" Christian is suddenly curt. "This is not up for discussion, Anastasia. It's a fact, and they won't let it happen again."
 Anastasia! I am Anastasia when I am in trouble, just like at home with my mother.
Because your husband infantilizes you. He's also clearly an American Conservative, because he's insisting his opinion is a fact and refusing to entertain common sense.

Ana asks Christian if they ever caught up to the woman in the Dodge:
"Sawyer saw someone with their hair tied back, but it was a brief look. He assumed it was a woman. Now, given that you've identified that fucker, maybe it was him. He wore his hair like that." The disgust in Christian's voice is palpable.
But I thought Jack Hyde drove a Camaro. Oh, please. Don't do this to me, E.L. Please tell me you know the difference between Chevy and Dodge?

The next morning, Christian rides with Ana to work, but this time, security is in the car with them. They have the longest good-bye in the history of long good-byes. Why can't these nimrods ever just say, "See you at five, have a good day?" Oh, because romance, I forgot.

Since Ana left on her honeymoon, shit has changed at SIP. For example:
Hannah is my assistant. She is tall, slim, and ruthlessly efficient to the point that sometimes I find her a little intimidating. But she's sweet to me, in spite of the fact that she's a couple of years older.

Naturally, any woman older than Ana wouldn't be sweet to her, right? Because we're all embittered crones who can't stand the sight of youth.

Ana has a meeting at ten with Roach, and Elizabeth stops by to remind her of this, then Ana gets an email from Christian:
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Errant Wives
Date: August 22 2011 09:56
To: Anastasia Steele
Wife
I sent the e-mail below and it bounced.
And it's because you haven't changed your name.
Something you want to tell me?

First of all, Christian, your email didn't bounce because she hasn't changed her name. It bounced because she hasn't changed her email address. An hour after arriving at work, just back from her honeymoon, she hasn't changed her email address to reflect her name change, and this is assumed to be a clear signal by her new husband? What a fucking psycho.

Ana emails him back saying she's not planning to change her name at work, and asks to discuss it that evening, as she has a meeting to go to:
As the meeting progresses, I grow more and more uncomfortable. There's a subtle change in how my colleagues are treating me - a distance and deference that wasn't there before I left for my honeymoon. And from Courtney, who heads up the nonfiction division, there's downright hostility. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it goes some way to explaining Elizabeth's odd greeting this morning.
My mind drifts back to the yacht, then to the playroom, then to the R8 speeding away from the mystery Dodge on I-5. Perhaps Christian's right... perhaps I can't do this anymore.

You're right, Ana. Work is too hard. You should probably quit. After all, there's no reason for these people to treat you differently, considering you just married the guy who bought your company right before your boss got fired and you got his job. That doesn't look bad on you at all, and your husband was totally cool for pulling this bullshit. You got a keeper, now go home and wait for him like he wants you to.

After the meeting, Ana is ambushed at work by Christian:
"If you'll excuse me, Roach, I'd like a word with Ms. Steele." Christian hisses the S sibilantly... sarcastically.
How do you not say "s" sibilantly? Either way, imagine Robert Pattinson saying this line, stressing every S. It will be the best laugh you've had in days. It certainly was for me.

After making a comment about how small her office is - expect a new office in an hour, Ana - Christian says:
"I'm just looking over my assets."
"Your assets? All of them?"
"All of them. Some of them need rebranding." 

"Christian, I'm working."
"Looked like you were gossiping with your assistant to me."

 Two women speaking to each other is always "gossiping" isn't it? But when two men talk, even if they're gossiping, it's "networking" or "discussing." Fuck this bullshit. I hope Christian Grey's dick falls off.
There's a knock on the door. "Come in!" I shout, too loudly.
Hannah opens the door and brings in a small tray. Milk jug, sugar bowl, coffee in a French press - she's gone all out. She places the tray on my desk.
"Thank you, Hannah," I mutter, embarrassed that I have just shouted so loudly.
"Do you need anything else, Mr. Grey?" she asks, all breathless. I want to roll my eyes at her.

"I like to make the odd impromptu visit. It keeps management on their toes, wives in their place. You know."

 "Are you ashamed of me?" he asks, his voice deceptively soft.
"No! Christian, of course not!" I scowl. "This is about me - not you." Jeez, he's exasperating sometimes. Silly overbearing megalomaniac.
"How is this not about me?" He cocks his head to one side, genuinely perplexed, some of his detachment slipping as he stares at me with wide eyes, and I realize that he's hurt.
That's called a narcissistic injury. Seriously, he can't understand why someone would not want to advertise that they got their job by sleeping with the dude who owns the company? All he's focusing on is that the object he acquired to have sex with doesn't want to do as it's told.
"Christian, when I took this job, I'd only just met you," I say patiently, struggling to find the right words. "I didn't know you were going to buy the company."
What can I say about that event in our brief history? His deranged reasons for doing so - his control freakery, his stalker tendencies gone mad, given completely free reign because he is so wealthy. I know he wants to keep me safe, but it's his ownership of SIP that is the fundamental problem here. If he'd never interfered, I could continue as normal and not have to face the disgruntled and whispered recrimination of my colleagues.
See, this concept is so simple, even Ana gets it. ANA GETS IT. I feel like I can't stress how simple this is if Ana is able to grasp the fundamental truth of it.

Ana asks Christian why it's so important that she change her name:
"I want everyone to know that you're mine."
"I am yours - look." I hold up my left hand, showing my wedding and engagement rings.

That is NOT what a wedding ring symbolizes. It isn't a shackle. Marriage isn't ownership, it's partnership, and neither of these doofuses should have gotten married without knowing this. In fact, I'm going to petition the fucking White House to make people take a one-question test before they can get married. "Choose the answer which best completes the following sentence: 'Marriage is ____.' A) A declaration of ownership. B) A partnership. C) A penguin."

Christian tells her that it's not enough that she married him:
"I want your world to begin and end with me," he says, his expression raw. HIs comment completely derails me. It's like he's punched me hard in the stomach, winding and wounding me.
Ana says:
"It does," I say without guile, because it's the truth. "I'm just trying to establish a career, and I don't want to trade on your name. I have to do something, Christian. I can't stay imprisoned at Escala or the new house with nothing to do. I'll go crazy. I'll suffocate. I've always worked, and I enjoy this. This is my dream job; it's all I've ever wanted. But doing this doesn't mean I love you less. You are the world to me." My throat swells and tears prick the backs of my eyes. I must not cry, not here. I repeat it over and over in my head.  I must not cry. I must not cry.
Keeping in mind, this entire time, she's at work. Have you ever worked with someone whose partner would show up at work and upset them? I have. It happens often in ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS.

And then, this bullshit happens:
"Look, we were talking about my name. I want to keep my name here because I want to put some distance between you and me... but only here, that's all. You know everyone thinks I got the job because of you, when the reality is - " I stop when his eyes widen. Oh no... it is because of him?
"Do you want to know why you got the job, Anastasia?"
Anastasia? Shit. "What? What do you mean?"
He shifts in his chair as if steeling himself. Do I want to know?
"The management here gave you Hyde's job to babysit. They didn't want the expense of hiring a senior executive when the company was mid-sale. They had no idea what the new owner would do with it once it passed into his ownership, and wisely, they didn't want an expensive redundancy. So they gave you Hyde's job to caretake until the new owner" - he pauses, and his lips twitch in an ironic smile - "namely me, took over."
Holy crap! "What are you saying?" So it was because of him. Fuck! I'm horrified.

Of course Christian is the reason Ana got the job. We all knew this. We all knew that his promise to stop fucking with her career was just a random string of empty words he didn't believe, but he said them because he wanted to have sex with her some more. NO ONE SHOULD BE SURPRISED BY THIS PLOT TWIST.

And the hits just keep on coming:
"So one of the reasons I'm here - apart from dealing with my errant wife," he says, narrowing his eyes, "is to discuss what I am going to do with this company."
Errant wife! I am not errant, and I'm not an asset! I scowl at Christian again and the threat of tears subsides.
"So what are your plans?" I incline my head to one side, mirroring him, and I can't help my sarcastic tone. His lips twitch with the hint of a smile. Whoa - change of mood, again! How can I ever keep up with Mr. Mercurial?
"I'm changing the name of the company - to Grey Publishing."
Holy shit.
"And in a year's time, it will be yours."
My mouth drops open once more - wider this time.
"This is my wedding present to you."
I shut my mouth then open it, trying to articulate something - but there's nothing there. My mind is blank.
"So, do I need to change the name to Steele Publishing?"

A gift is not a gift if it comes with conditions. It's an obligation. You cannot "gift" someone a company under the condition that they run it and change their last name to do so. It's clear that Christian feels Ana will never be able to achieve her dreams on her own, so he has to give them to her. His sarcastic query about whether or not to call it "Steele Publishing," proves that. The idea that she might ever have a business named after herself without his hand in it is clearly laughable to him.

Oh, do you know why Christian feels she's qualified for the job?
"You're also the most well-read person I know," he counters earnestly. "You love a good book. You couldn't leave your job while we were on our honeymoon. You read how many manuscripts? Four?"
"Five," I whisper.
Seriously? She read five manuscripts in three weeks, and he thinks that's impressive? For an editor? I know an editor who read four manuscripts in a day last week.

Then, this other bullshit happens:
His eyes darken... in that way.  Oh no - I know that look. Sultry, seductive, salacious... No, no, no! Not here.
Yup. Christian thinks that after disrupting Ana's day, causing a scene at her job, telling her she only got her position because he bought it for her, he thinks she's going to fuck him:
"We're in a small, reasonably sound-proofed office with a lockable door," he whispers.

Ana is putting her foot down on this one:
"Christian, no. I mean it. You can fuck me seven shades of Sunday this evening. But not now. Not here!"
Before I read Fifty Shades of Grey, I had no idea that people used "x shades of n" as a legit expression. I mean, it's used so often in here, I assume it must actually be an expression, right? I don't know at this point, and trying to google it just leads to shit about these stupid fucking books. Whatever, at least we know what the inevitable sequels will be called.

Also, they'll be about body-snatching aliens who are in no way plagiarized from The Host.
"Seven shades of Sunday?" He arches an eyebrow, intrigued. "I may hold you to that, Ms. Steele."
"Oh, stop with the Ms. Steele!" I snap and thump the desk, startling us both. "For heaven's sake, Christian. If it means so much to you, I'll change my name!"
His mouth pops open as he inhales sharply. And then he grins, a radiant, all-teeth-showing, joyous grin. Wow...
"Good." He claps his hands, and all of a sudden he stands.
What now?
"Mission accomplished. Now, I have work to do. If you'll excuse me, Mrs. Grey."

He can't just win the argument. He has to fucking gloat about it.

So, of course, Ana thinks about how much she loves him, even though he drives her crazy, but ultimately she justs rolls over and accepts his utter control, because that's what we're supposed to do when we're in love, right, ladies? Even though she's still mad, he thinks everything is fine because he got his way, and then he leaves and emails her to joke about the fact that he just busted into her work to treat her the way he just did.
Christian is quiet when I climb into the car that evening.
"Hi," I murmur.
How the fuck do you murmur that?

Ana gives Christian the somewhat silent treatment all the way back to Escala, where they have an argument I swear to Christ we've read before:
"What exactly are you mad about? I need an indication," he asks cautiously.
I turn and gape at him.
It's so much funnier if you assume she does this with her vagina.
"Do you really have no idea? Surely, for someone so bright, you must have an inkling? I can't believe you're that obtuse."
I can't believe we haven't read this exact line of dialogue before, because I'm having wicked bad deja vu here.

They go into the apartment, where they continue to fight. I'm not going to recap the whole argument because we've seen it a thousand times before, and also, you and I both know this is never going to get resolved. She's just going to accept what he wants and go blindly on with her life. But there is some awesome foreshadowing:
"Don't be mad. You're so precious to me. Like a priceless asset, like a child," he whispers, a somber reverent expression on his face. His words distract me. Like a child. Precious like a child... a child would be precious to him!
Look, if anyone was shocked when they got to her finding out she's pregnant, then... I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. But in the condescending way the eleventh Doctor would be sorry, not the genuine way Ten would have.

Christian reminds Ana that the architect is going to be coming over, so Ana does a little more internal back and forth about how infuriating Christian is and how horrible these things are that he's doing, but how much she loves him and she's going to put up with this bullshit forever, and then she gets all prettied up to face the perceived competition:
I'm wearing my gray pencil skirt and sleeveless blouse. Right! My inner goddess gets out her harlot-red nail polish. I undo two buttons, exposing a little cleavage. I wash my face, then carefully redo my makeup, applying more mascara than usual and putting extra gloss on my lips. Bending down, I brush my hair vigorously from root to tip. When I stand, my hair is a chestnut haze around me that tumbles to my breasts. I tuck it artfully behind my ears and go in search of my pumps, rather than my flats.
It sounds to me like she's trying to fuck the architect, rather than stop her from fucking Christian, but whatever. Ana joins Christian in the great room, where they dance to a requiem - creeeeepy- and then Taylor announces Gia is there and the chapter is over.