Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sex, Lies, and Inventions!

Because it’s a holiday tomorrow, I’ve released my short story, Sex, Lies, and Inventions, today. That way, if the links or downloads don’t work, I’ll be around to field those problems. You can find the links to download .mobi, .epub, and .pdf files on my website, in the Pay What You Want library, but  no donation is expected!!!! I just didn’t want to make a separate page for free stuff. This is just a taste to introduce you to Feebee and the Professor, who will see their own novel, Raptors of The Great Plains, in December, 2013.

Have a super holiday if you’re celebrating, and if you’re not, have a good Sunday!

EDIT: If you are on a mobile phone or iPad or Kindle or whatever dagblasted new-fangled technology these crazy kids have today, that link up there won’t work. So use these:

Hopefully that will work for you. Ya crazy kids ya.

Drunk of Thrones!

Our final chapter of Drunk of Thrones! is here, just in time for the series premiere tomorrow night. D-Rock and I continued to drink mini bottles of wine, one per episode, as we waded into the murky and confusion plot waters of season two of Game of Thrones. We also filmed a post-game wrap up, where we discussed the misogyny and racism of the series.

Some mild spoilers for A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons, but nothing major. We don’t like, ruin season three or anything.




50 Shades Freed chapter 11 recap, or “That chapter where there was nothing funny to say, because it’s too fucking sad.”

In case you missed it, this weekend is the The Boss read-a-long at That’s What I’m Talking About. After this incredibly depressing recap, maybe stopping by there might lift your spirits a little.

I was in such a good mood when I started recapping this chapter. I was in the middle of a really bad day, pain-wise, so I was good and medicated (I know I have some new followers to the blog, so quick explanation: I’m disabled due to chronic illness and permitted by the state of Michigan to use marijuana as a pain relief method). I was pretty laid back, feeling chill, listening to the new Bowie album, thinking, “Right, I remember this chapter. This is the one where they went back into the Red Room of Pain.” Because it’s been a while since I’ve read this chapter, (and honestly, by the time I was finished reading all these books, it was like everything had blended together into this stew of horrible and sad and angry), I was thinking, “This isn’t a very bad one, if I remember correctly.”

I did not remember correctly.

So, Ana has just gotten home, and Christian is wearing “those” jeans, the all ripped up ones he only wears in the Red Room of Pain, and told Ana he’d been waiting for her. At the beginning of this chapter, Ana is all like, what’s up with this, but mostly she’s all, OMG HE’S SO HOT:

He looks hot – his jeans hanging that way from his hips. Oh no, I’m not going to be distracted by Mr. Sex-on-Legs.

Place your bets now as to whether or not she’s going to be distracted from her conviction to talk about their earlier fight.

Ana realizes that Christian is still mad. If you’ve forgotten, allow me to rehash for you why Christian is mad: He made a spur-of-the-moment, cross-country flight to try and stop his wife from spending time with anyone but him, and she dared to call him on it. That’s why he’s mad.

“I understand you have issues, Mrs. Grey,” he says silkily, and he pulls something from the back pocket of his jeans.

“Let’s fuck about them,” is not his next line, but it might as well have been. He’s got her email, and his eyes “blaze bright with anger.”

Remember, his eyes “blaze bright with anger,” because his wife went out with a friend without his permission.

“Yes, I have issues,” I whisper, feeling breathless. I need distance if we’re going to discuss this. But before I can step back, he leans down and runs his nose along mine. My eyes flutter to a close as I welcome his unexpected, gentle touch.

Emphasis mine. “I need,” followed by “but.” She needs this, but he won’t give it to her. And note how his “gentle touch” is “unexpected.” Was she expecting an ungentle touch? Sounds a lot like she is.

We already know E.L. James does not consider this relationship abusive. So marvel at how fucking creepy it is that she managed to write such a incredibly realistic portrayal of abuse. By accident.

Christian says he has issues, too, and Ana says she’s knows. Then:

Are we going to fight? I take a precautionary step back. I must physically distance myself from him – from his smell, his look, his distracting body in those hot jeans.

 E.L. writes that Ana has to step back because she’s just so turned on by Christian. Even if we were to take this totally at face value – that her “precautionary step back” is out of a need to clear her head of desire, not fear that he’s going to physically harm her – he’s still being abusive. He’s trying to distract her from their very real problems by coercing her to have sex and forget all about it. He’s not respecting her needs at all, and he’s being very forceful about denying her needs.

“Why did you fly back from New York?” I whisper. Let’s get this over and done with.

“You know why.” His tone carries a warning.

“Because I went out with Kate?”

“Because you went back on your word, and you defied me, putting yourself at unnecessary risk.”

The unnecessary risk of going out with a friend, with an armed security detail.  Keep in mind, Michelle Obama, our president’s wife, can shop at fucking Target if she wants to, but Ana is taking unnecessary risk by having drinks with a friend.

But Ana doesn’t appeal to Christian’s rational sense here:

“Christian, I changed my mind,” I explain slowly, patiently, as if he’s a child. “I’m a woman. We’re renowned for it. That’s what we do.”

No, Ana. No, no, no. The situation is wrong because of his actions, not because he misunderstands a stereotype about female fickleness. And herein lies the problem: millions of women have read that line and thought, “Right on, girlfriend!” and believed this to be an example of feminism. It is not. Relying on misogynistic stereotypes to excuse female behavior isn’t empowering. It’s a cop out, a way to appeal to the misogynist while passively asking to be forgiven for our feminine natures. The problem isn’t that Ana is just too weak and flighty by virtue of her gender to do as Christian expects. The problem is that Christian has unrealistic and abusive expectations.

“And you didn’t think to call me?” He glares at me, incredulous, before continuing. “What’s more, you left the security detail short here and put Ryan at risk.”

If she had called him, he would have just come back, anyway. Probably not in time to stop her from going out, but in time to punish her when she got home. And since when is it Ana’s responsibility to keep the security team safe? Aren’t they there to keep their employers safe?

“I should have called, but I didn’t want to worry you. If I had, I’m sure you would ahve forbidden me to go, and I’ve missed Kate. I wanted to see her. Besides, it kept me out of the way when Jack was here. Ryan shouldn’t have let him in.”

Sometimes when I read a book, I’ll hit a line that reads like an editor’s note. I can almost see this in a comment in the margin: “But if she had called him, wouldn’t he have forbidden her from going out anyway? And shouldn’t he be happy that she was out, when Jack was there? Wouldn’t he be mad that Ryan let Jack in?” And then I imagine E.L. looking at that note, not wanting to do the work to fix the problem, and then just throwing in Ana’s dialogue there, followed up by:

Christian’s eyes gleam wildly, then shut, his face tightening as if in pain. Oh no.

Because the reader, as in love with the character as the author is, will obviously shift their focus from the logical inconsistencies in the plot to worry about Christian’s hurt feelings. This is a common mistake for inexperienced writers. Almost all of us do it at some point in our writing. But here, it’s just the worst, because we’re looking at Ana putting aside her very real and legitimate concerns because the situation that Christian has made is hurting him so much more than it is hurting her. This is a manipulation abusers often rely on, the “yes, I hurt you, but you hurt me, too, and you hurt me worse,” gambit that Christian has deployed more than once in this series.

“But it could have. I’ve died a thousand deaths today thinking about what might have happened.[...]“

Emphasis mine. Right there we see the bare bones of his manipulation. “What might have happened” is worse than “what I did.” Imagining that she might have been hurt by Jack Hyde is supposed to appear, to Ana and to the reader, much, much worse than being imprisoned by your husband and kept away from your friends.

“I don’t know how to deal with this anger. I don’t think I want to hurt you,” he says, his eyes wide and wary. “This morning, I wanted to punish you, badly, and – ” He stops, lost for words I think, or too afraid to say them.

“You were worried you’d hurt me?” I finish his sentence for him, not believing  that he’d hurt me for a minute, but relieved, too. A small part of me feared it was because he didn’t want me anymore.

Ana is relieved that he didn’t reject her out of lack of sexual interest. It’s better, in Ana’s mind, that he’s afraid of losing control out of anger and seriously hurting her.

Consider that.

The heroine of the best-selling “romance” of all time would prefer an abusive “hero” over one who wasn’t “in the mood.”

Women are buying this. Women are gleefully buying this and envying Ana.

We’re doomed. The entire fucking human race is doomed. And we probably deserve to be.

“Christian, I know you’d never hurt me. Not physically, anyway.”

No, you don’t know that. There are numerous examples in this book alone, never mind the first two books, where you are afraid of him, of what he’ll do, where you ask him if he’s going to hurt you or if he wants to hurt you. I know my husband would never physically hurt me. He’s never threatened to “beat the shit out of me.” I’ve never had to ask him if he wanted to hurt me. You only have to ask the question if you don’t know the answer, Ana.

“Yes. I knew what you said was an empty, idle threat. I know you’re not going to beat the shit out of me.”

“I wanted to.”

“No, you didn’t. You just thought you did.”

Here, abuser. Have permission to express how much you want to cause me physical harm. I don’t mind, and no sane woman ever would. Because you are the perfect hero, and I know in my heart of hearts that I love you so much you will change through the power of my denial.

“Think about it,” I urge, wrapping my arms around him once more and nuzzling his chest through the black T-shirt. “About how you felt when I left. You’ve told me often enough what that did to you. How it altered your view of the world, of me. I know what you’ve given up for me. Think about how you felt about the cuff marks on our honeymoon.”

Think about all the times you’ve abused me before, and how really, really bad you felt about them later. Even though I’ve just cited them as being recurring episodes, I fully believe you won’t ever do it again. Even though I believed that after the first time, too. I’m sure this time, everything will be different.

Why do I have more faith in him than he has in himself?

Ana, have a sit-down with Tough Love Jen. The reason you have more faith in him than he has in himself is because you’re willing to believe anything, so long as you don’t have to confront the fact that you’ve married your abusive boyfriend and the wedding didn’t fix anything, he’s continuing to abuse. You thought that by giving in to his temper tantrum over wanting to marry you, he’d magically change into someone else. But he’s never going to be satisfied, Ana. He’s going to make more and more demands on you, and you’ll keep capitulating, because you believe he’s going to change. Every single time you give in to something he wants, he’s just going to want more, until there’s nothing left. You aren’t changing him, he’s changing you.

Sorry to be so brutal, guys. This chapter just has me incredibly down.

Then they laugh over the fact that they don’t have a sex contract, so he can’t hit her. Christian wants to go to bed, Ana wants to talk about the fact that he’s been keeping her ignorant of -

crap.

I spilled a potsticker in the book.

And I really don’t want to touch this thing with my mouth.

Ana wants to talk about the fact that Christian has been keeping her ignorant of the stuff going on with Jack Hyde. One might make the case that had she known the severity of the stuff happening, she might have chosen to stay home. But then she would have been present for the big fight, and in these books, all action must happen off screen, because it is more interesting that way. He tells Ana that the added security is necessary because Jack had all this stuff on his computer about every member of the Grey family, especially Carrick.

“I didn’t know he was going to attempt to burn down my building, or – ” He stops.

When Ana asks him about that “or” later on down the page, Christian responds by changing the subject to whether or not she’s eaten:

“Did you eat today?” His voice is sterner and his eyes frost.

I’m betrayed by my flush.

I don’t know how, because she is constantly flushed.

“As I thought.” His voice is clipped. “You know how I feel about you not eating. Come,” he says. He stands and holds out his hand. “Let me feed you.” And he shifts again… this time his voice full of sensual promise.

Rather than answer her question – and rather than admit he was in the wrong for hiding details that concern her personal safety – Christian turns the conversation to something he’s perceived as Ana doing wrong.

I open one eye and see him take a plum-colored silk scarf out of the back pocket of his jeans. It matches my dress. Holy cow. I look quizzically at him. When did he get that?

He probably stole it from Kate, just like the dress.

“Christian – ” He places a finger upon my lips, silencing me. I want to talk.

“We’ll talk later. I want you to eat now. You said you were hungry.” He lightly kisses my lips. The silk scarf is soft against my eyelids as he ties it securely at the back of my head.

You’re doing marriage wrong. You cannot fuck your relationship problems away, Christian. No matter how elaborately you tie her up, no matter what music you play, you are still using D/s power games to avoid confronting the real issues in your marriage.

“Can you see?” he asks.

“No,” I mutter, figuratively rolling my eyes. He chuckles softly.

“I can tell when you’re rolling your eyes… and you know how that makes me feel.”

First of all, how does one figuratively roll ones eyes? And how can Christian tell she’s done something figuratively? You can roll your eyes behind a blindfold, E.L. That doesn’t make it “figurative.” I’m at the point where I don’t think the author knows what literally half of the words in her manuscript mean.

Then Ana points out she wants to talk, and Christian teases her about it:

“Such impatience, Mrs. Grey. So eager to talk.” His tone is playful.

“Yes!”

“I must feed you first,” he says and brushes his lips over my temple, calming me instantly.

Okay, maybe there was one funny thing that happened in this chapter. When I read him saying, “I must feed you first,” I immediately heard it in the voice of Antonio Banderas as the Nasonex Bee.

I must feed you… some delicious Nasonex.

The next paragraphs describe the sounds of Christian microwaving something and putting stuff in the toaster, while Christian tells Ana to stay still and behave. So, in other words, don’t talk, even if we’re in the middle of a fight, because I’m hoping to avoid working on any of our problems together.
Here, I will diverge from the abusive relationship to bitch about something else:

A loud twang of a guitar begins a song I don’t know. Christian turns the volume down to background level. A man starts to sing, his voice deep, low and sexy.

Ana never knows the names or artists of the songs, unless she’s holding the iPod in her hand (like when they were in the car on the way to go gliding in Georgia, and… wait, there’s some more of Christian Grey’s god complex, she can’t go drinking with her friends because it’s too dangerous, but an engineless light aircraft is fine because she’s with him). Remember this, I’m going to bring it up again in a few pages.

Cool crisp wine flows into my mouth. I swallow reflexively. Oh my. Memories flood back of not so long ago – me trussed up on my bed in Vancouver before I graduated with a hot, angry Christian not appreciating my e-mail. Hmm… have times changed? Not much. Except now I recognize the wine, Christian’s favorite – a Sancerre.

That’s really the important thing here, isn’t it? That she now can recognize wine while blindfolded? Not the fact that times have literally not changed, because they haven’t been together long enough for Daylight Savings Time to affect the clocks. Their entire dating and married life has taken place in a span of months, despite the fact that he’s emotionally fucked up and Ana is continually unhappy in the relationship. He pushed her to go really fast, and now he’s pushing her to get drunk so they won’t talk about their problems. But as long as it’s written real sexy-like, that makes it okay and something to aspire to.

His wedding ring clinks against the glass as he takes another sip of wine. Now that is a sexy sound.

Yes, your disempowerment is sure getting  me wet, Ana.

The troubadour on the iPod is singing about wicked games.

First of all, troubadour? Second, how does she not recognize “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaac? It’s been in how many movies, tv shows, commercials? It’s a fairly famous song and she doesn’t recognize it? Again, keep this in mind, because I’m going to bring it up later.

Christian burns himself getting something out of the microwave, then asks Ana to “suck it better,” and she does, because they don’t know shit about first aid. “Another person’s mouth full of foreign bacteria is the perfect place for my vulnerable wound! Very sexy!” Good thing Christian isn’t a doctor, or every one of his patients would have staph infections.

After the anxiety and tension of today, and the nightmare of last night with Jack, this is a welcome diversion.

But it’s not. We know that it’s not because for the past two pages you’ve been telling Christian that you want to talk, not play sex games. I guess a person’s perception shifts when she knows she doesn’t have any choice in the matter, anyway. If you can’t beat them, join them?

“How mercurial you are.”

He stills beside me. “Fifty Shades, baby,” he says eventually and plants a tender kiss at the corner of my mouth.

“My Fifty Shades,” I whisper.

NO ONE TALKS LIKE THIS IN REAL LIFE AND IF THEY DO THEY SHOULD STOP IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE EVERYONE THEY KNOW SECRETLY HATES THEM.

Christian feeds her, threatens to spank her if she’s not good, blah blah blah:

This time it’s pita bread and hummus. I realize Mrs. Jones – or maybe even Christian – has been shopping at the delicatessen I discovered about five weeks ago only two blocks from Escala.

I highly doubt that Mrs. Jones, the housekeeper who does all the grocery shopping, did not notice a deli two blocks away.

“Open wide, then bite,” he murmurs. I follow his command. Hmm – one of my favorites, stuffed vine leaves. Even cold they are delicious, though I prefer them heated up, but I don’t want to risk Christian burning himself again.

She doesn’t trust him to use the microwave without burning himself, but she trusts him to tie her up and beat her. Smart!

After she’s full, Christian picks her up and carries her off, still blindfolded:

“Playroom,” he murmurs.

Oh – I don’t know if that’s a good idea.

“You up for the challenge?” he asks. And because he’s used the word challenge, I can’t say no.

Bullshit. I call bullshit on this one. Ana has backed down from numerous challenges in this series. In the rare event that the plot doesn’t just twist so she can avoid oncoming conflict, she backs down. For example, in this chapter, when she wants to talk to Christian, but he wants to play sex games, she just blindly goes along with what he wants. She doesn’t even think about it, she just does it. Now, she’s going to be all Marty McFly and act like being called a chicken is her fucking kryptonite? That is utter bullshit. It hasn’t been a part of her characterization up until this point.

Because he’s carrying her, Christian comments on her weight:

“I think you’ve lost weight,” he mutters disapprovingly. I have? Good. I remember his comment when we arrived back from our honeymoon, and how much it smarted. Jeez – was that just a week ago? 

I know. It feels like a fucking lifetime.

I hate the weight thing. He disapproved when she had gained a little weight, he disapproves now that she’s lost some. And it’s only been a week, so it was probably just water weight. Ana isn’t even allowed to bloat without shattering Christian’s fragile expectations.

They go into the playroom, and Ana thinks:

I want this – whatever he has planned. I want to connect the way we know how.

But you’re not connecting, Ana. You’re avoiding.

He strips her naked and shackles her to the wooden St. Andrew’s cross. There’s talk about the citrus and polish smell of the room, and how he’s going to drive her wild. But he never explicitly tells her what is going to happen. He tells her they’re going to use “some music and some toys,” but he doesn’t tell her what he has planned. Sometimes, surprise is good, and I’m not saying you have to sit down and plan every scene out to every last detail – “Then I will put my hand on your hip, and then I will pick up the flogger,” – but when it’s something like what he’s about to do to her, yes, the Dom needs to let the sub know what to expect.

The speakers spring to life, and after a moment the strains of a single piano playing a soft, lilting melody fill the room. It’s familiar – Bach, I think – but I don’t know what piece it is.

This is something that just infuriates me to no end. Ana couldn’t recognize a super famous, often heard pop song. Not the singer, nor the title of the song even when the title was part of the lyrics that she specifically referenced. But from a few notes, she recognizes that a piano piece is Bach. I hate the perpetuation of the stereotype that smart people are smart because they don’t know anything about pop culture. Not knowing something doesn’t make you intelligent. That’s the opposite of intelligence. But so many people who shape our entertainment media seem to think that if you don’t know who Britney Spears is, but you do know who Beethoven is, it’s a mark of great intelligence. It’s not. It’s a mark of ignorance, and no one should pride themselves on their lack of knowledge. That’s asinine.

Also, it makes liking the character very difficult, because it makes them seem not terribly real.

Christian gets Ana all hot and bothered, until she’s right on the brink of orgasm, then he takes out a vibrating wand, and then this happens:

He plants soft wet kisses on my shoulder as he withdraws his fingers from me, and moves the wand down. It oscillates over my stomach, my belly, onto my sex, against my clitoris. Fuck, it’s intense.

“Ah!” I cry out, pulling hard on the restraints.

My body is so sensitized I feel I am going to explode, and just as I am, Christian stops again.

Okay, so at this point, he’s made her almost come, then stopped, three times. The vibrator in question is described as feeling like “a large ball-like object.” So we’re talking about a Hitachi magic wand.

BULL FUCKING SHIT HE’S GOING TO PULL OFF ORGASM DENIAL USING A HITACHI MAGIC WAND ON SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER USED A VIBRATOR.

Seriously? She would come like THAT. She has never used a vibrator before, this is the fucking Cadillac of vibrators, and she’s so close to popping off that she feels like she’s on the very edge. Bullshit, she just came.

He keeps doing the near-orgasm back off thing (referred to by many orgasm denial aficionados as “edging”), telling Ana that this is how frustrated she makes him:

The buzzing stops and Christian kisses me. He runs his nose down mine. “You are the most frustrating woman I have ever met.”

No, No, No.

“Christian, I never promised to obey you. Please, please – “

She isn’t enjoying this. At all. And not in a “I’m not enjoying this in the moment but in a few here, I’ll be so fucking hot,” way:

I can’t help but feel I’m being punished. I’m helpless and he’s ruthless. Tears spring to my eyes. I don’t know how far he’s going to take this.

She doesn’t trust him. How hot does that get you, reader? She’s shackled up and being tortured in a way she couldn’t have consented to, because he never asked her if she was open to orgasm denial as a form of play. He has initiated a sexual act without her consent. Basically, this is a rape scene.

He’s just going to continue. For how long? Can I play this game? No. No. No – I can’t do this. I know he’s not going to stop. He’s going to continue to torture me. His hand travels down my body once more. No… And the dam bursts – all the apprehension, the anxiety, and the fear from the last couple of days overwhelming me anew as tears spring to my eyes. I turn away from him. This is not love. It’s revenge.

Sexy, right? You totally want to be with this guy, don’t you, reader?

Ana safewords, and Christian stops immediately, unshackling her and taking her to the bed while she sobs uncontrollably. He tells her he’s sorry and asks her to forgive him… before asking if she’s okay. Because he is his first and foremost concern in this situation.

Christian Grey should not be a Dom. To anyone. Ever.

Because the author is so in love with the “romantic hero” she has created, she has to shift the blame off his shitty actions an onto something else, so the reader can still love him as much as she does:

So much has happened over the last few days – fires in computer rooms, car chases, careers planned out for me, slutty architects, armed lunatics in the apartment, arguments, his anger – and Christian has been away. I hate Christian going away… 

HE NEVER GOES AWAY. He was away for one night, and you two are never fucking apart. Leaving aside the blatant misogyny of “slutty architect,” Ana doesn’t blame Christian at all for his role in her breakdown. She never does. Thinking back, how many times have we seen Ana use the “so much has happened” line as an excuse to blame everything but Christian’s actions for making her cry or get angry or frustrated? And if she does blame Christian, “So much has happened” is used to lump his bad actions in with other, seemingly more serious stuff. Because E.L. can’t make this relationship work the way she wants it to work if Ana has too many negative thoughts about Christian. So, rather than alter the hero she’s created so that he can become a better man for Ana, she clumsily tries to show the reader that it’s everything else in Ana’s world that’s the problem. Christian is the only good and perfect thing she has, even if it’s his behavior and Ana’s involvement with him that’s causing her so much misery. The whole series is like one long descent down a shit-covered water slide of Ana’s sorrow and pain as she loses her entire identity in this man who really deserves to be force-fed into a wood chipper.

Ana asks Christian to turn off the music, and his response is:

“Not a fan of Bach’s Goldberg Variations?”

Yes, Christian. That’s the problem. Not the fact that she used the safeword on page 248, it is now the second half of page 249 and you have yet to ask her if she is okay. He’s not even talking to her at all, except to ask forgiveness for himself, because his emotions are the most important.

“Why did you do that?” My voice is barely audible as I try to process my scrambled thoughts and feelings.

He shakes his head sadly and closes his eyes. “I got lost in the moment,” he says unconvincingly.

So… he’s lying? That’s what that means. He just lied about why he did it.

I frown at him, and he sighs. “Ana, orgasm denial is a standard tool in – You never – ” He stops.

Orgasm denial is totally normal and widely used in D/s play. He’s absolutely correct. But guess what? A responsible Dom lets his sub know what to expect. He doesn’t just spring it on the sub during a moment of heightened emotional turmoil, ie, IMMEDIATELY AFTER FIGHTING ALL GODDAMNED DAY LONG.

Page 250, and Christian still hasn’t asked Ana if she’s okay. He’s still only concerned with making excuses for his bad behavior and asking her not to cry. Because again, the most important person in this relationship is Christian Grey, and Christian Grey will not be held accountable for his actions. I’m sure that if Ana keeps crying, he’ll just fire her, like he fires everyone for situations he gets himself into.

What am I going to do with this controlling man? Learn to be controlled? I don’t think so…

I do. Because you already are. But again, I’m 100% certain someone is out there thinking about what a great feminist character Ana is, since she thinks internally that she’s not going to be controlled while outwardly surrendering all control over herself and completely changing every facet of her life and personality to please a man.

“I never what?” I ask.

“Do as you’re told. You changed your mind; you didn’t tell me where you were. Ana, I was in New York, powerless and livid. If I’d been in Seattle I’d have brought you home.”

I can’t. I literally cannot even.

“You have to stop doing this,” I murmur.

His brow furrows.

“For a start, you only end up feeling shittier about yourself.”

He snorts. “That’s true,” he mutters. “I don’t like to see you like this.”

This is Ana’s rationale? That he should stop abusing her because it makes him feel bad?

“And I don’t like feeling like this. You said on the Fair Lady that you hadn’t married a submissive.”

“I know. I know.” His voice is soft and raw.

“Well stop treating me like one. I’m sorry I didn’t call you. I won’t be so selfish again. I know you worry about me.”

First of all, he’s not treating you like a sub, Ana. Submissives generally get treated better by their Dom/Dommes than you do. And you just rewarded him for sexually abusing you. You gave in.

Page 251, and Christian has still not inquired as to how Ana feels or if there’s anything he can do to make her feel better. But he does say:

“Your lips are always so soft when you’ve been crying,” he murmurs.

At this point, I feel like this book is victimizing me. I’m sure there are a lot of readers who have had bad situations in their past who feel the same way.

“Deal with it, please. For both our sakes. And I will try to be more considerate of your… controlling tendencies.”

So, there we have Ana telling him to not control her, but if he does, she’ll just roll with it.

He looks lost and vulnerable, completely at sea.

I feel real fucking bad for him, let me tell you.

This is what this is really about – his fear… his irrational fear for my safety. An image of Jack Hyde slumped on the floor in the apartment with a Glock comes to mind… well, maybe not so irrational, which reminds me…

In which our heroine explains why it’s okay for our hero to abuse the fuck out of her, both physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually. Christian Grey has basically EGOTed every abuse category. Well, except religious. I assume that will happen in a later series, when he finds Jesus. Or appoints himself Jesus in the cult he creates and forces Ana to join.

Ana asks Christian about his earlier “or” with regards to Jack Hyde’s attempts at malicious property destruction, but first she has to point out that she’s talked to his mother about Mrs. Robinson. Christian isn’t down with that, but Ana tells him that Grace blames herself for his involvement with Elena. Which is weird, because I distinctly remember Grace blaming Christian for his molestation in the last book. But here I am, looking for consistency in a book that has never once displayed any at all. Ana tells Christian that she didn’t talk about it with his dad, and thinks about how she doesn’t have “that kind of relationship with Carrick,” because of the prenup conversation. So, Ana doesn’t like Christian’s dad because he tried to suggest a prenup to protect his son? That’s mature.

Ana is incapable of forgiving anyone for imagined slights against her (Kate asking too many questions, Mia being overly friendly, strangers looking at her husband, a father giving his son good practical advice) but she can totally forgive Christian for all the shit he’s done to her. That’s a symptom of abuse, in case you’re keeping score at home.

Christian tells Ana about the “or”:

“The cops found… things in the van.” He stops again and tightens his hold around me.

“What things?”

He’s quiet for several moments, and I open my mouth to prompt him, but he speaks. “A mattress, enough horse tranquilizers to take down a dozen horses, and a note.” His voice has softened to barely a whisper while horror and revulsion roll off him.

So, basically, Jack Hyde’s plan was to drug Ana and rape her. It never says it explicitly, but I’m reading the incredibly unsubtle space between the lines. This is unacceptable to the reader, because only Christian is allowed to rape Ana.

Christian tells Ana that the connection between him and Jack Hyde is that they’re both from Detroit. Christian is from Detroit, so is Jack Hyde.

Why, E.L.? Why did you have to bring Detroit into this? Hasn’t Detroit suffered enough? With the economic downturn, Kwame Kilpatrick, and the 2003 Detroit Tigers? Why are you dragging your shitty fucking book into the mix? Jerk.

Drunk of Thrones!

No, it’s not Roadhouse. Roadhouse is on break, and season 2 will premiere on April 19th, with an episode about awesome tv shows that got cancelled way too soon.

However! In the meantime, D-Rock and I made a non-Roadhouse project that we like to call Drunk of Thrones. Or, Game of Drunk, depending on how drunk we got as we filmed. Since season three of one of our favorite shows, Game of Thrones, will premiere on March 31st, and there are probably some people who haven’t watched the first two seasons, we thought, “Who better than us to help these poor, Game of Thrones-deprived souls fill the gaps in their knowledge. While we drink a mini-bottle of dollar store wine per episode?”

Drunk of Thrones is the result of that selfless experiment.

In glorious new lighting (I changed a lightbulb in my office), featuring a cast of literally two of us, Drunk of Thrones is all the action of Game of Thrones, without any of the masterful storytelling or cognitive coherence you’d get from just watching the dvds.



Drunk of Thrones: Drunk Throneser will be out next week. But they’ll be, you know. On the internet forever.

Because this is our legacy.

Two things I yelled in my sleep, and some dreams.

Two things I yelled in my sleep last night:

  1. “The headphones are winning!”
  2. “This isn’t Seaquest, bitch!”
Some dreams I had last night:
  • A nightmare caused by I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, in which Mr. Jen refused to let me name our surprise baby Tina Fey Armintrout. Neither would he allow me to name it Tina Poehler Armintrout.
  • I was somehow involved in a Les Miserables style political uprising.
  • The new season of Game of Thrones had an uncomfortably heavy emphasis on vaginal secretions.
  • I got to meet Tom Hanks in person.

Hiatus and Story Re-release Announcement! Now with bonus rag doll creep out!

Hey there Troutnation (citizenship optional, a tweep just suggested that and I thought it was hilarious), I just wanted to clue you in on what’s happening next week! After I post the next 50 Shades Freed recap on Saturday, March 23rd, I’ll be taking a short break from blogging to catch up on projects (such as finishing the last two chapters of The Boss and putting in some serious word count on my upcoming YA from Entangled Teen, Such Sweet Sorrow), as well as working on cleaning up some of the broken links and consolidating the Buffy recaps onto their own page.

On April 1st, I’ll be re-releasing my short story, Sex, Lies, and Inventions here on the blog in a few different ebook formats. This one will be a freebie, as it will later be spun into a longer project. And no, that’s not an April Fool’s day joke, I’m not smart enough to pull those off.

Then, April 2nd, things will be back to operations as normal, and I’ll go back through and break all the links I fixed, just so nobody thinks I’m trying to get too classy for my own britches.

In the meanwhile, let me introduce you to someone very special to me.

You’re going to want this musical accompaniment while I introduce you:


Okay. Let me introduce you to my first love, John Denver.

Why are you screaming like that? Is it because the dye from her embroidery thread mouth and heart have run over the years and it looks like she’s drooling blood? Don’t worry. That bothers a lot of people at first. But once you get to know her, you’ll see that it’s all a part of her charm.
John Denver was sewn for me by a friend of the family when I was about three years old. Because I was three, I named her John Denver. I thought that was the most beautiful name in the whole wide world, for the most beautiful doll in the whole wide world. When I got her, she was about my approximate height. She also had a calico dress, apron, and puffy cap. These items have been lost because I borrowed them for dress up. They were my size, and we shared clothes often when we first met.
Over the years, John Denver has been through a lot, including a three year imprisonment in a garbage bag in my mom’s basement when we didn’t know where she was. But now she’s living with me, much to my husband’s chagrin.
Why chagrin? Because my husband, Mr. Jen, is terrified beyond all comprehension of John Denver. He doesn’t like her “weird face” or her “weird name.” He hates that she is roughly child-sized and always seems to be “accidentally” posed right behind him when he’s on the computer or playing a video game. He looks up, sees her from the corner of his eye, and is immediately creeped out.
I don’t know who keeps doing that to him.
Maybe it’s because she never blinks. Her innocent blue eyes are wide and all seeing. Perhaps he’s afraid she’ll look into his soul. Or perhaps he’s creeped out by the way I will sometimes use her as a puppet, miming the doll slowly drawing its hand across its throat, then pointing ominously at him. Maybe he’s just afraid a spider will crawl out of her orange yarn hair, as happened to me once upon a time.
I have still never quite forgiven her.
These days, John Denver spends her days on a chair in my office. Sometimes, she wears a Star Wars shirt. Somedays, she goes au naturel. Sometimes, she holds an instrument like a ukulele or a baritone. Hats get involved.
This year, John Denver and I will be celebrating our thirtieth anniversary of everlasting friendship.

ME AND JOHN DENVER BFF’S FOREVER!

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch s01e05 “Never Kill A Boy On The First Date”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will misnumber the episodes because what is she, some kind of math whiz? Fuck that. She will also 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.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.


“Never Kill A Boy On The First Date” opens with Buffy fighting a vampire in one of Sunnydale’s numerous cemeteries (later in the series we learn that there are twelve such cemeteries in the town). She takes out the vampire, delivers a well-timed quip, and then Giles pops up from behind a tombstone to criticize her for not being fast enough at killing. While he’s verbally grading her performance, he finds something the vampire dropped. It’s a ring. Giles doesn’t know what the ring is about, but he’s worried it could be connected to something bigger than just a vampire looking for someone to eat. He says he’s going to consult his books.

Hey, you know who else has a book? The Master! Remember that guy? The one who isn’t from Doctor Who? He has a book and he’s holding some kind of vampire church.


Or a Depeche Mode video, I’m not sure.
The verses The Master is reading out of the vampire bible talk about an Anointed One who will come during a time of crisis. The Anointed One will lead the Slayer into hell, after five people die. Then The Master tells his vampire disciples that if they run around getting themselves killed, he’s going to be really pissed off. I don’t know how effective a threat he can make, considering he’s talking about punishing them for dying, but whatever. The point is, he doesn’t want them to fail him, because he needs The Anointed One to stop the Slayer and get out of his underground church prison.
Back in the school library, Buffy and Giles discover that the ring’s sun and three stars emblem stands for the Order of Aurelius. Then a cute boy comes in, and Buffy immediately turns to mush. Let me just point out that Buffy’s line just before Owen comes in was, “Ooh, two points for the Slayer, while the Watcher has yet to score.” As Sterling Archer might say, “Phrasing!”
The adorable kid is Owen, and he’s looking for Emily Dickinson poems, because they’re his security blanket. So, we know right away that Owen is sensitive. Buffy is clearly into this guy, and she tries way too hard:

Buffy: “So, Emily Dickens, huh? She’s great.”

Owen: “Dickinson.”

Buffy: “She’s good also.” 

That exchange painfully reminds me of this time I went out on a few dates with a really cool guitar player guy, and he said something about liking “The Dead,” and I was like, “Me too, ‘Casey Jones’ is totally my jam,” and he was talking about a hipster local band and I was talking about The Grateful Dead and he thought that was massively uncool of me, then we never went out again. Which turned out for the best because who the hell doesn’t like The Grateful Dead?

Giles directs Owen to the poetry section, and Buffy follows Owen so they can have this adorable conversation:

Owen: “I didn’t think I’d find you here.”

Buffy: “Why not?”

Owen: “I didn’t mean – I mean… I think you can read.”

Buffy: “Thanks.” 

Wait, does that book say DEATH BEAR?

Owen does NOT check out Death Bear, which is undoubtedly the most thrilling book of all time, so we know right away that Owen sucks.

Giles checks out Owen’s book for him, grudgingly admitting that Emily Dickinson is a good poet for an American. He doesn’t make any eye contact with poor Owen, and rolls his eyes when the kid walks away. File this scene under #2, because once we get through this series together, you’re totally going to come back, look at this little fiddly shit, and go, “OMG YOU WERE RIGHT!”

As soon as Owen leaves, Giles changes the subject right back to the Order of Aurelius. He tells Buffy that if the order is in town, it’s for a good reason. He’s even more stern than usual, and clears his throat a lot.

Buffy: “That was Owen.”

Giles: “Yes, I remember.”

Buffy: “Do you have any more copies of Emily Dickinson? I need one.”

 Giles: “Buffy, while the mere fact of you wanting to check out a book would be grounds for a national holiday, I think we should focus on the problem at hand.”

Now, some of you will probably argue that Giles is just upset that his Slayer is focused on dating when they have serious end-of-the-world shit to deal with. But throughout the entire series, Giles reacts super badly whenever Buffy is dating anyone, even if they’re not trying to prevent a catastrophe from happening. We’ll see this especially in the season 4 episode “A New Man,” but it happens no matter who Buffy is romantically interested in. He takes an intense and immediate dislike to any guy she’s into. I suppose this could be chalked up to the father/daughter nature some people see in their relationship, but… you know what? We’ll cover the father/daughter thing and why it isn’t a thing in season six. Moving on.

Buffy apologizes and assures him that he’s right, they need to contrate on vampires. But she wants to know if her dress makes her look fat.

At least Willow understands the importance of Owen talking to Buffy. He apparently never talks to anyone, and broods for forty minutes at a time, and Willow knows because apparently she times other people doing weird things. They have a seat at a table with Xander, Buffy fills her friends in a little on the new vampire threat, and then Xander snarkily points out Owen sitting alone. Buffy sees this as her opening, and heads over, but Cordelia is making her way to Owen’s table, as well, and the two girls collide. Buffy spills her lunch, and as Owen helps her pick it up, she quips:

“Boy, Cordelia’s hips are wider than I thought.”

Oh, Buffy. I am disappoint. You’re supposed to be a strong female character. Sure, everyone has their moments of weakness, but we just saw your insecurity in the last scene, when you asked Giles if he thought you looked fat. I really wish we could have seen Giles’s response to that question, because someone needs to be telling these girls that their physical appearance isn’t going to make up for their shitty attitudes towards other women. But we, the audience, are supposed to see Buffy’s dig as a coup d’etat, an overthrowing of Cordelia, the very symbol of popularity at Sunnydale, in favor of the more gentle and deserving Buffy regime. And the battle ground this mighty war is fought upon is poor Owen. Two girls, fighting over a boy. Get used to this, because Cordelia and Buffy will continually try to c-block each other well into the second season. (#6)

Cordelia tells Owen he should come to The Bronze, because she’s going to be there, and Owen asks who else will be there, then specifically asks Buffy if she’s going to go. They agree to meet there at eight, and the scene cuts to Buffy and Willow walking through the hall. Buffy doesn’t think it’s that big a deal that she’s going to hang out with Owen, and Willow heartily disagrees, even appealing to Giles, whom they meet outside the library, to tell Buffy how important this is. Giles agrees that things are serious, but he’s clearly talking about something else. He asks the girls what they’re talking about, and they answer, “Boys!” in indignant unison. Giles informs them that the Order of Aurelius means serious business. They’re going to be picking up the Anointed One, and by Giles’s calculations it’s going to happen that very night.

Willow: “Buffy has a really important date.”

Buffy: “Owen!

Giles: “Alright, I’ll just jump in my time machine, go back to the twelfth century and ask the vampires to postpone their ancient prophecy for a few days while you take in dinner and show.”

Buffy argues further, but Giles stands firm, insisting that they have a chance to subvert dark forces, and, “Tonight, we go into battle.”

Then the scene cuts to this:

I assume what he meant was, “Tonight, we go into a battle of wills wherein I attempt to keep you from dating anyone, ever. Round one starts now.”

Giles admits that okay, maybe he got the night wrong. Buffy points out that there are no fresh graves, so no one is going to rise tonight, anyway, and Giles tells her:

“Very well then. Follow your hormones if you want. But I assume I don’t have to warn you about the hazards of becoming personally involved with someone who’s unaware of your unique condition.”

So, in Giles’s expert opinion, she shouldn’t date guys who don’t know she’s the Slayer. This is another one that could go either way. He could be arguing this from the point of view that she’s the Slayer and can’t have personal entanglements… but he seems pretty okay with Willow and Xander not only knowing that she’s the Slayer, but also helping her fight the forces of darkness. Or, he could be doing the “fatherly feelings” thing, not wanting to see her make a stupid choice out of youth and inexperience. But the very bottom line is, he’s telling her she should really only date people who already know she’s the Slayer. The only other guys who know she’s the Slayer are Xander and Angel. We already know how Giles feels about Angel (“I think you have too many guys in your life,” from the last episode) and how Buffy feels about Xander (she dismisses the idea of him as a romantic partner in episode three) and we’ve already seen that Giles can only tolerate about two seconds of Owen, and just barely. He doesn’t like dudes being around Buffy. So… just put this on the list under #2.

Buffy leaves, and Giles repeats the prophecy about five dying and the Anointed One rising from the ashes. He comments to himself that he was sure the prophecy would be fulfilled that night. Cut to an airport shuttle with five people on it, including a crazy sounding dude talking about pale horses and riders and people being judged. Then, it’s on to The Bronze! Buffy sees Owen and Cordelia on the dance floor, and they look like this:

And then Buffy is all:

In high school dancing is just socially acceptable public sex. If you dance with someone, it’s probably because they gave you naughty in the pants feelings. Or, you went to the homecoming dance with another couple, but then your date and the girl in the other couple hooked up, and even though you really, really disliked the kid who was the abandoned half of the other couple, you dance with him anyway and immediately fall hard for him and wind up dating him for nine months, and when you break up you go to your BFF Jill’s house and cry while digging a big hole in the road for no reason.

Wait, what was I doing here today?

Anyway, dancing is either a product of tingly in the pants feelings, or a precursor to tingly in the pants feelings, so from Buffy’s perspective, it looks like Owen and Cordelia are pretty much a thing, and she missed her chance.

Back on the airport shuttle to nowhere, the pale horse guy is walking up and down the aisle, bothering people with his crazy ravings. A mother is holding her small child close, and everyone is very nervous. The driver is so distracted telling the guy to sit down that he hits a dude standing in the road. When he gets out to check on him, the dude is predictably a vampire, and he’s brought his vampire pals along, who proceed to slaughter all FIVE people on the bus.

At school the next morning, Buffy is complaining to Xander about her ill-luck with Owen the night before:

Xander: “So you just went home?”

Buffy: “What was I supposed to do? Say to Owen sorry I was late I was sitting in a cemetery with the librarian waiting for a vampire to rise so I could prevent an evil prophecy from coming to pass?”

Xander: “Or… flat tire?”

Here, I will give credit where credit is due. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy most of the time, but he’s actually listening to and giving Buffy advice about guy problems in a sincere, non-agenda-ed way. Good for him. Buffy is totally freaking though, saying she feels like everybody is staring at her because she’s so hideously undateable. I hate to point it out, Buffy, but you are wearing a shirt with a target on it, and that tends to draw the eye.

And I’m not saying this because it’s on her chest. I just defy anyone not to look at concentric rings. There’s a reason they use that shit for hypnosis.

Xander tells Buffy she’s overreacting, because she could have any guy in school. She doesn’t want any guy, though, she wants Owen. But when Owen shows up she offers him a lame excuse about her watch breaking as an explanation for not meeting him at The Bronze. It’s kind of shitty that Buffy knew she wasn’t going to be able to make it and she didn’t call him or otherwise contact him to say, “Hey, I might not make it tonight, it’s nothing personal.” Good thing for her, Owen wants to try again, and to Xander’s horror, even loans Buffy his super cool pocket watch:

And Xander checks out his watch:

Let’s examine Xander’s watch for a minute. Xander’s character arc in the series is one of a young man trying to navigate from the teen years into adulthood, and struggling with the transition from childhood to being a mature, responsible person. This arc starts the moment he sees Buffy’s reaction to Owen’s watch. It’s this episode where Xander’s character arc activates, because he’s seeing what Buffy wants – someone mature and deep like Owen. So in season seven, when we get responsible suit and tie Xander, we can look back to this episode and see exactly where he came from. Pretty neat, huh?! WRITING!

Meanwhile, in an Advil commercial:

Maybe your head wouldn’t hurt so much if you didn’t get knocked unconscious at least once per episode, buddy.

Buffy busts in and subjects Giles to a conversation in which she plays both Slayer and Watcher, excitedly reasoning that she doesn’t have to patrol tonight and she will see him tomorrow. After she leaves, Giles uses the line that nearly every single male character who becomes romantically invested in Buffy uses throughout the series. That’s right. He calls her a strange girl. Because the writers just have to give me more ammo, don’t they?

Back at the Evil Ponderosa, The Master is talking to his minions about how he’s imprisoned, he’s been imprisoned for so long he can’t remember what the surface is like, yadda yadda. Now, I understand that when you’re telling a story in serial form, you have to reinforce some important details for the audience, especially when that audience may be joining your story already in progress. This is only the fifth episode, after all, and new viewers are tuning in every week as the show gains popularity. But it’s starting to feel a little heavy handed, when every single episode featuring The Master has him brooding out loud about how he’s trapped, he can’t get out, he needs this prophecy fulfilled, kill the Slayer, so on and so forth. Especially when Giles and Buffy have described the situation in this episode already. So, yeah, clue in new viewers, but we don’t need The Master’s entire backstory every single time he’s on screen or mentioned in an episode.

Anyway, The Master tells his minions that they’re to lay down their own lives if necessary to bring him the Anointed One.

In Buffy’s bedroom, Xander and Willow are helping Buffy pick an outfit for her date with Owen. Buffy asks:

“Do I want to appear shy, coy, and naive, or unrestrained, insatiable, and agressive?”

Do I want to look like a virgin or a whore, because those are the only two options? Thanks for making #6 easy to prove, I guess.

Furthering our theme of #6, Xander recommends Buffy wear a parka and ski cap on her date, because Owen is probably put off by assertive women. So, not only should Buffy not show too much skin for a man, she shouldn’t dress in a way that makes her feel confident and comfortable because her male friend and the object of her affection won’t like it. This is played for humor, because of course a jealous man trying to control a woman’s clothing choices is super funny.

 I’m making the same face Buffy is right now.

For some reason, Buffy still trusts Xander’s judgement. She asks him which lipstick to wear, red or peach, and he says:

Oh, you mean for kissing you and then telling all his friends how easy you are, so the whole school loses respect for you and then talks behind your back. The red’s fine.”

Way to slut-shame, Xander. First of all, if Owen did that, it would be Owen’s fault, not Buffy’s fault for going on a date with him. Second, you just called the girl you’re interested in dating “easy” to her face, so that’ll probably score you a lot of points. #5.

Buffy decides on the peach, and then she’s going to get changed. Xander tells her it won’t bother him if she changes in front of him, and when he’s banished to go stand on the other side of the room with his back turned, he does this:

Yes. He is adjusting the mirror on Buffy’s jewelry box so he can watch her get dressed. Fuck you, Xander. I just gave you credit for being a good friend, and you have to blow it in this scene by being a Nice Guy creepy douchebag. #5. Of course this also played for laughs.

The doorbell rings and Buffy dashes downstairs, only to find it’s not Owen waiting for her, but Giles, and he’s all, “Good news, everyone!”:

Giles tells Buffy that she has to go to the funeral home tonight, because that’s where they’ll find the Anointed One, who died in the van accident in the paper. I think it’s weird that Sunnydale has twelve cemeteries and funerals at night because they have such a high death rate, but they only have one funeral home. Especially considering most of these people are dying in vampire attacks and rising again. The turnover rate for morticians must be unbelievably high.

Owen shows up, and he’s super confused as to why the school librarian is at Buffy’s house. Xander and Willow take Owen aside while Giles scolds Buffy for dating too much, and Buffy points out that she hasn’t been on a date yet because slaying. In the living room, Xander tries to sabotage Buffy’s date with Owen by telling him that Buffy doesn’t like dancing, kissing, touching, or being looked at. #5 Buffy is still fighting with Giles over why she should be allowed to date, while he tells her that slayers can’t really have normal social lives. Ultimately, though, he concedes that his hunch about the five people dying in the airport shuttle might not be significant at all, and Buffy goes on her date, telling her friends they can beep her in case of apocalypse. After she’s left, Giles tells Willow and Xander that he’s going to go to the funeral home, just to keep an eye on the situation. Willow knows this is a bad idea, and tells Xander they should follow along, but Xander wants to follow Buffy and Owen on their date because he’s a Nice Guy and can’t leave well enough alone. #5.

At The Bronze, Buffy and Owen are looking super couple-y. They’re having a convo about Emily Dickinson, and how awesome Owen finds death and loss and other stuff. So basically, he’s goth on the inside. He also complains about how “most” girls are frivolous and only care about dating, when there is more important stuff in life. Hard to take that criticism from a dude who’s ON A DATE, Owen. They dance, and Owen tells Buffy she’s “weird,” because every guy who is romantically interested in Buffy has to mention that she’s strange or different in some way. Then Cordelia comes up and makes a play for Owen, which he rebuffs, and cut to Giles’s sad little car with the bad transmission pulling up outside the funeral home.

He is immediately attacked by vampires, because what the fuck did he think was going to happen?

After the commercial break, Giles runs into the funeral home/mausoleum that is also in the cemetery. Basically, this business has the monopoly on death in Sunnydale. Inside, he tries a door labelled “flower room” only to find it locked, then finds the embalming room, which is unlocked. That seems like shitty security, locking up the flowers but not the bodies, but hey, I didn’t finish mortuary school so what do I know?

Back at The Bronze, Buffy and Owen are still dancing and having a good time, while Giles barricades himself in at the funeral home. Remember when I mentioned before that sometimes, Giles will do something and it’ll suddenly seem odd that he can do it? Like when he used a fucking keg to smash in a door at The Bronze? Here, he blocks the door to the embalming room with a full-sized filing cabinet, presumably filled with files. Have you ever tried to lift a filing cabinet? Did you try again after the doctors finished threading your herniated colon back into your body? Giles is super strong, yo. This is the second time we’ve seen evidence of this. In season 3 we’ll see another Watcher demonstrate some super strength of her own, so I guess weight training is a part of Watcher school.

Willow and Xander appear at the window and tell Giles they’ll go get Buffy. Time is kind of a factor, because the vampires are trying to get in.

At The Bronze, Buffy and Owen are still enjoying their date, while Cordelia seethes and basically calls Buffy a whore, and then Angel walks in and Cordelia makes what sounds like a reference to semen (“Hello, salty goodness,” I mean, really, is that appropriate for prime time television?!) and tells her friend that Angel will need “serious oxygen” when she’s done with him. But then he walks over to Buffy and Cordelia freaks out, because it’s more male attention going to Buffy instead of her. Ugh, can we just be done with the “girl vs. girl, two bitches enter, one bitch leaves with the guy” trope abuse in this episode? Please? Isn’t there already enough conflict? We’ve got Buffy trying to maintain a normal life, Buffy trying to stop The Master from rising, Buffy needing to rescue her Watcher… at what point did we need yet another thread of conflict? Because this show was considered a “teen” show, and “teens” apparently live for girl-on-girl hate. That doesn’t mean they need to get it, though. #6.

Angel tells Buffy she needs to be out patrolling. He’d intended to give her the information about the Order of Aurelius, and he’s a little put out that she already knows. Then he’s mad because she’s on a date, and gives one-word answers in conversation with Owen. Even though his relationship with Buffy has, until this point, been “show up, antagonize, disappear, rinse, repeat,” Angel is offended that she’s on a date. Because #9.

Willow and Xander crash the date, too, and after some awkward lying, Xander proposes that they all go to the funeral home for fun. Owen wants to tag along, because he’s so into death and stuff, and he can’t understand why Buffy wants to abandon their date. Caught between her Slayer duties and her desire for a normal life, Buffy tells Owen that part of her has to leave, but part of her is having a great time and doesn’t want to go. Then she kisses him, and when she leaves, Owen says, “She’s the strangest girl.”

Ahem. *Giles already said that earlier* cough cough throat clearing.

Buffy, Xander and Willow arrive at the funeral home, only to find that Owen has followed them. He’s super psyched to see a dead body, which is, you know, something I always look forward to on a first date. This kid might be a future serial killer.

Buffy finds the embalming room all wrecked up and the bars over the window peeled like a banana, and she’s thinking something horrible has happened to Giles. And I guess horrible is relative, because I would find it pretty horrible to be in a morgue cooler drawer on top of a dead body, but when Giles comes out, he’s pretty cheerful about the whole thing:

Getting intimate with corpses is probably just par for the course as a Watcher.

Giles finds out that Buffy brought Owen along and he flips out. Buffy figures she’ll just tell Owen to get lost, but Giles points out that there were just vampires hanging out in the vicinity, so it’s probably not the best idea to send a delicious human out there for them. They are not a Slayer version of Jimmy John’s, after all. Buffy tells Giles to stay put so that Owen won’t have more questions than he already does. Xander, Willow and Owen hide in the “observation room.” Which I would have called the “viewing room” but whatever. Go observe some corpses, Sunnydale. While Xander and Willow stack furniture in front of the door, Owen, oblivious to danger, opens a curtain to reveal something we can’t see, but all three characters react to.
Buffy and Giles search the embalming room for the Anointed One, but he’s not in any of the coolers. Which, you know, is where they keep ALL of the dead bodies, right?
Not right. Because the thing Owen and Willow and Xander reacted to? Was a corpse behind a picture window. Owen is waxing all poetic about how awesome death is when the body sits up, and it’s the crazy guy from the airport shuttle. He is super psyched to be a vampire, and he breaks the window and goes after the kids. So, he’s the Anointed One, right?
Buffy and Giles hear the glass breaking, and Buffy runs to save the others. They tell her where the vampire is, and she orders them to get out. But they can’t get out, because the other vampires are waiting at the funeral home doors. Ain’t that always the way?
Unaware that her friends are still in danger, Buffy heads back to the embalming room where she gets a stake from Giles’s Mary Poppins bag o’ vampire killing supplies. She tells him to go help the others to safety, but her back is to the door, so she doesn’t see the crazy vampire, who grabs her and flings her like a rag doll into a shelving unit. Giles puts himself between the crazy vampire and Buffy, and manages to hold off CV for minute, but then he gets thrown, as well, right into the controls for the cremation oven.
Good work, Giles.

Having decided that Buffy needs rescuing, Owen charges in and hits CV with an instrument pan and an urn full of someone’s loved one (that is going to be hellacious paperwork and a difficult phone call for the mortician in the morning), which promptly gets him killed by the vampire. At least, that’s what the vampire says. He smacks Owen’s head with the door to one of the morgue drawers and says, “Dead. He was found wanting.” So Buffy is super pissed because her date just got murdered by a vampire, and she does the single most unnecessary backflip in all of recorded history before kicking the vampire’s ass and throwing him into the cremation oven. Giles recovers from being knocked out (a dubious recovery, considering this is the fifth episode and he’s been knocked out how many times already?) and slams the door on the burning vampire, and Buffy sees that Owen isn’t dead after all.
Even though he’s not dead, Buffy’s chances with Owen seem to be. He doesn’t even want her to walk him home, but since he’s all concussed (and not as practiced at it as Giles apparently is), Willow and Xander take him. Giles tries to offer Buffy some words of comfort, but she tells him “Don’t,” and wisely he shuts up.
The next day at school, Buffy asks Willow and Xander if Owen said anything about her on the walk home. The answer is no, Buffy’s chances are pretty shot. Xander suggests she should date someone who already knows she’s the Slayer, but still likes her anyway. I have this crazy feeling he’s suggesting himself, because while his friend is in a time of emotional fragility, that’s the best time to lay down his game on her. #5

Owen approaches Buffy while a sad song plays intrusively in the background. It takes a while for this series to find its feet with the whole “background music” thing. Owen tells Buffy that he loved all the danger, and he wants to be with her so they can do it again. He wants to pick fights in bars, etc. and Buffy realizes that he doesn’t really want to be with her, he wants an adrenaline rush. Buffy suggests they should just be friends, and Owen is not thrilled. Which is cool, because they don’t stay friends, anyway. We never see Owen again.
After Owen walks off, Buffy notices that Giles has overheard the entire conversation. He tells her about being ten years old and finding out that his destiny was being a Watcher, not a fighter pilot or a grocer as previously planned. He says his dad gave him a “tiresome speech,” so we get the feeling he’s not going to do the same thing to Buffy and kick her while she’s down. Buffy is wounded by letting Owen go, but she knows she has to:

“You, Xander, Willow, you know the score. You’re careful. Two days in my world and Owen really would get himself killed. Or I’d get him killed. Or someone else.”

Giles tells Buffy that he went to the funeral home on his own, and she argues that she should have been there. She tells him she dropped the ball, and he reassures her that she’s doing fine as the Slayer. This is an important moment for us to see, because it’s the first time we’re seeing the Slayer and her Watcher working together as a team, rather than antagonists to each other. It’s also the first time she’s not just grudgingly accepting her destiny, she’s making a real effort to accept it. There is so much character development and growth for Buffy in this episode that it’s mind blowing. She’s not just a funny teen girl with silly super strength and isn’t that funny because she’s so little and helpless looking, etc. She’s a real person now, with inner strength, and she’s citing a need to rely on her friends, as well as a responsibility to keep them safe.

There’s a big character development moment here for Giles, too, who is starting to see his Slayer as not just an automaton soldier in the fight against evil, but a person he can relate to. And yes, I’ll give the “father/daughter” dynamic a nod here, because when Giles tells Buffy that they don’t have a manual to navigate their relationship (wait, why isn’t there a manual? It seems like that would be the very first thing the Watcher council should have come up with), he’s reciting a line I think many, many people have heard from their own parents. And it draws a nice parallel to Joyce’s comment about reading parenting books in the first episode. Joyce is willing to read a manual, but not actually pay attention to what’s going on in her daughter’s life. Giles is willing to listen to Buffy and empathize with her, in a way that Joyce has already admitted to being incapable of doing (episode 3, “Witch).

Giles and Buffy have a little happy moment over the fact that she took out the Anointed One, and then cut to The Master, who is still spouting prophecy about how the Slayer won’t recognize the Anointed One when he comes. And OH SNAP, it’s the little boy from the airport shuttle.

So, now Buffy has an evil little Omen kid to deal with. So it’s good she has her friends.

Several people commented that this episode is worse than “Teacher’s Pet” on the problematic feminism/misogyny scale, but I’m not sure it is. The girl vs. girl for a boy stuff is pretty terrible, as is Xander’s slut shaming and creepy jewelry box voyeurism, and the episode is filled with scene after scene of the men in Buffy’s life trying to steer her course. But at the end, I think it really redeems itself with Buffy accepting her destiny and choosing to be the Slayer, especially when it’s clear that she could continue her relationship with Owen if she wanted to. She does what she wants to, makes her own choices, and generally ignores what the men in the episode are telling her to do in favor of those choices.

Oh, and where was Angel when all that stuff at the funeral home was going down? He didn’t come help. Because #9.