Monthly Archives: June 2013

50 Shades Freed recap Chapter 18 or “It wasn’t called Jack & Karen, but it should have been”

Here are some links! They were sent to me by people! I didn’t keep track of who! I’m a maverick!

So, a few weeks ago, some of you began expressing, either in comments or tweets or emails, however you guys get ahold of me, that you were afraid I wasn’t enjoying doing these recaps anymore. And to be frank, I’m really not. That is, I’m not enjoying writing them, but I do enjoy that you enjoy them, and it gives me joy to see you enjoying them.
The words “joy” and “enjoy” no longer mean anything to you, now that you’ve read that sentence.
But I thought, “People aren’t going to enjoy them anymore, if it’s obvious that I’m not enjoying them,” (oh god, it’s just going on and on, isn’t it?). I needed to find a way to write this recap and enjoy doing it.
I think this book is getting to me, guys.
Anyway, I decided one way I could jazz things up and make it fun for myself would be to imagine Jack and Karen from Will & Grace recapping this chapter with me. I thought good and hard about whether or not Jack and Karen would like 50 Shades of Grey or not. I decided that Jack was more likely to make some kind of 50 Shades of Gay joke, but revile the actual book because of his anti-straight marriage stance. And Karen doesn’t need to fantasize about banging rich men. If she wanted to, she’d just go out and do it. I felt a sudden kinship with the universe realizing that the only character on the show who would actually like the book would probably be Will, and I hated him.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, welcome to my mental breakdown in which I pretend to talk to characters from a television show that has been off the air for just a tick under a decade now in order to cope with the horror of this book.
Once again, Ana is waking up. And let me tell you, I want to thank E.L. James for starting and finishing so many chapters with characters waking up and falling asleep. Because I hit a major snag in something I was working on this week, and I realized I had several chapters/scenes in a row ending and beginning that way. And I was like, “Jesus, I don’t want to do that. That sucks to read.” If you take no practical writing knowledge away from these recaps, at least take away that one small wisdom. If your characters are waking up and going to sleep to make new scenes happen, over and over and over, something is wrong.
Unless your book is about a sleepwalker or something.
Ana wakes up warm and comfortable and yadda yadda, how she always wakes up, then she remembers she’s at the Heathman and:

“Shit! Daddy!” I gasp out loud, recalling with a gut-wrenching surge of apprehension that twists my heart and starts it pounding why I’m in Portland.

Man. I write some unwieldy sentences, but daaaaamn.

Christian wasn’t wrapped around Ana like vines or ivy or a steel wool hair shirt, so where could he possibly be? If you guessed “creepily watching her sleep,” you’d be tragically right:

“Hey.” Christian is sitting on the edge of the bed. He strokes my cheek with his knuckles, instantly calming me. “I called the ICU this morning. Ray had a good night. It’s all good,” he says reassuringly.

Hey, you know what I just had the weirdest thought about? HIPAA and patient confidentiality. While I understand that Ana is Ray’s next of kin, and Ana would be totally okay with Christian having access to his medical information, and Christian’s mom is apparently Ray’s doctor now or something, you know who hasn’t had a say in this? RAY. And it’s up to him who has access.

Just saying.

Then something happens that we haven’t seen for a few chapters, but we really weren’t missing. That’s right, the “we have to say hi to each other shyly in the morning” scene:

“Hi,” I mutter. He’s up and dressed in a black T-shirt and blue jeans.

“Hi,” he replies, his eyes soft and warm. “I want to wish you happy birthday. Is that okay?”

Oh, this he asks. “Can I have access to your bank account and college transcripts?” Not on the table. “May I make a secret list of people you aren’t allowed to speak to?” Apparently, that’s just a given. But he asks if he can wish her a happy birthday. Because manners.

You think it’s bad now, Karen? You just wait.

Christian gives Ana her birthday present, which comes with a card. It reads:
For all our firsts on your first birthday as my beloved wife.

From any other husband, I probably wouldn’t bat an eye, but from Christian Grey, I think, “Jesus Christ, it’s not all about you.”
See, Karen knows what’s up with Ana’s birthday.
Christian is celebrating Ana’s birthday as a kind of rebirth. She’s transitioning from Ana Steele to Christian Grey’s wife, and the gift reflects this:

Unwrapping the paper carefully so it doesn’t tear, I find a beautiful red leather box. Cartier. It’s familiar, thanks to my second-chance earrings and my watch. Cautiously, I open the box to discover a delicate charm bracelet of silver or platinum or white gold- I don’t know, but it’s absolutely enchanting. Attached to it are several charms: the Eiffel Tower; a London black cab; a helicopter- Charlie Tango; a glider- the soaring, a catamaran- The Grace; a bed; an ice cream cone? I look up at him, bemused. 

I just want to point out that she got “second chance earrings” before she got a birthday present.

Every charm on the bracelet is something that ties her to him. There isn’t a single charm that’s just like, “Hey, I remembered you like cats, so that’s what the kitty is for,” or some shit. This isn’t just Christian trying to mind-wipe Ana’s past and make her life all about him; it’s a really shocking reminder that without Christian Grey, Ana Steele is a character who has no discernable personality.

I’m sorry, Jack, I just don’t believe in love anymore. Not after these books.

The ice cream, by the way, is a reference to “vanilla.”

“Christian this is beautiful. Thank you. It’s yar.”

Your guess is as good as mine.

One of the charms is a locket so she can put Christian’s picture in it, a C (for Christian, obviously) and another is a key to Christian’s heart and soul, so that explains the key necklaces I’ve been seeing everywhere, I guess.

Oh, he smells so good- clean, of fresh linen, body wash, and Christian.

 Jesus Christ, E.L., WE KNOW WHAT HE SMELLS LIKE. BY THIS POINT AND THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU HAVE USED THAT EXACT DESCRIPTION, WE FUCKING KNOW THAT THIS BASTARD SMELLS LIKE BODY WASH.
Oh, by the way, Ana cries in this chapter more than the vampires cried in my entire first series. And that was a lot, because I was apparently going through some things. Ana starts crying on page 374, then there’s a section break and they have breakfast:

“Thank you for ordering my favorite breakfast.”

“It’s your birthday,” Christian says softly. “And you have to stop thanking me.” He rolls his eyes in exasperation, but fondly, I think.

“I just want you to know that I appreciate it.”

“Anastasia, it’s what I do.” His expression is serious- of course, Christian in command and in control. How could I forget… Would I want him any other way?

Probably not, but you wouldn’t have Stockholm Syndrome, either.
Ana says she’s going to go brush her teeth, and Christian smirks, and Ana can’t figure out why, until:

A memory springs unbidden to my mind. I used his toothbrush after I first spent the night with him. I smirk and grab his toothbrush in homage to that first time.

I KNOW, SO GROSS, RIGHT?!

The last time I was here I was single, and now I’m married at twenty-two! I’m getting old.

They leave for the hospital, but first, they have to take the “fuck the paperwork” elevator. You know, where he kissed her or whatever back in the first book that I don’t care about:

“Someday, I’ll rent this elevator for a whole afternoon.”

And then they’ll sanitize it for the entire evening, night, and morning.
Then they start making out in the elevator, blah blah. They go outside to where Taylor pulls up in a new car:

He’s bought me a fucking Audi R8! Holy shit! Just like I asked!

Just like she asked! In the last book! When he didn’t buy it for her because reasons! Reasons that had nothing to do with being a control freak!
Ana interprets the gift of the car as this tender, caring thing, but it’s really just a reward for being docile and doing what he wanted her to do. Let’s be real here. She’s submitted in enough other ways that he decided he would give her a treat.

“Anything for you, Mrs. Grey.” He grins down at me. Oh my. What a very public display of affection. He bends and kisses me. “Come. Let’s go see your dad.”

“Yes. And I get to drive?”

He grins down at me. “Of course. It’s yours.”

Um, so was the other car you bought her, and then refused to let her drive, because you’re a freak.
But of course, when Ana does drive, it’s way too fast for Christian, and he repeatedly warns her to slow down:

“I don’t want you in the ICU beside your father. Slow down,” he growls, not to be argued with. I ease off the accelerator and grin at him.

I can understand someone saying, “Hey, don’t drive like a jackass when I’m in the car with you, because I don’t want to die,” but let’s remember, Christian is okay with taking some pretty big risks when Ana is along for the ride. Gliders aren’t exactly the safest pastime. He zipped her around on a jet ski and dumped her off into the Mediterranean. He’s okay with being the guy in the driver’s seat doing something dangerous, but Ana can’t drive slightly over the speed limit for her own good.
At the hospital, we check in with Ray, who is more interesting than his daughter even when he’s in a coma:

Ray’s condition is the same. Seeing him grounds me after the heady road trip here. I really should drive more carefully. You can’t legislate for every drunk driver in this world.

But notice how Christian tells her she should drive more carefully, and suddenly she thinks it’s all her idea? She already knew her dad was in the hospital from a car accident, but it didn’t occur to her when she was driving before. Once Christian plants the seed in her head, though, it’s suddenly there and her own idea.
So, achievement unlocked, Grey. You’ve got your wife completely brainwashed.

I wander into the thankfully empty waiting room where Christian is talking on the phone, pacing. As he speaks, he gazes out the window at the panoramic view of Portland. He turns to me when I shut the door, and he looks angry.

“How far above the limit?… I see… All charges, everything. Ana’s father is in the ICU- I want you to throw the fucking book at him, Dad… Good. Keep me informed.” He hangs up.

Okay. Uh… Christian? You don’t decide how drunk drivers are charged. If you’re in a state that uses a grand jury in DUI cases, they’ll throw the book at the drunk driver, or if you’re in a state that doesn’t use the grand jury, the judge will throw the book at them.  While I’m sure Christian has power and influence due to his wealth, let’s not pretend he runs the court system or can somehow order this guy to get a harsher punishment because he just wants it to be so. This dude can only be charged within the laws that already exist to handle DUI.
Ana updates him on Charlie (Ray, actually, but I’m leaving Charlie because I legit typed that name first because in my head, this book is Twilight), and Christian says:

“This is not how I envisaged spending today,” Christian murmurs into my hair.

Who says that? “Envisaged?” Really? Not, “This isn’t how I envisioned?” Because that’s how most Americans would say it. I’m sure the phrase started out “envisaged” because that’s correct, but Americans, even self-made billionaire Americans, don’t usually speak correctly.

“I should call my mom. Tell her about Ray,” I murmur and Christian stiffens. “I’m surprised she hasn’t called me.” I frown in a moment of realization. In fact, I feel hurt. It’s my birthday after all, and she was there when I was born. Why hasn’t she called?

Maybe she’s been kidnapped by Jack!
No, no! Different Jack. Settle down.
Ana checks her phone and finds texts from all these other people, but nothing from her mom, and when she tries to call her, she’s not home. Ana figures her mother forgot her birthday. Then Christian gets a call from Andrea:

“Good… ETA is what time?… And the other, um… packages?” Christian glances at his watch. “Does the Heathman have all the details?… Good… Yes. It can hold until Monday morning, but e-mail it just in case- I’ll print, sign, and scan it back to you… They can wait. Go home, Andrea… No, we’re good, thank you.”

I’m torn about this next section, guys. Let me tell you why. Ana asks Christian if his call was about the “Taiwan thing,” and he says yes, but it’s a cover for the fact that he’s throwing Ana this big surprise birthday party later that night. So, when this conversation happens:

“It is. The shipyard here depends on it. There are lots of jobs at stake.”

Oh!

“We just have to sell it to the unions. That’s Sam and Ros’s job. But the way the economy’s heading, none of us have a lot of choice.”

it makes me wonder if he’s just throwing out jargon to try and confuse her, so she doesn’t suspect about the party, or if E.L. James just doesn’t understand on an authorial level what Christian Grey does. Because none of that stuff seems to follow with getting packages at the Heathman. And if there are lots of jobs at stake and this is a huge, tense time… why can his assistant go home? Why can he take time off right now?
I’m going to be generous and say he was just snowballing so she wouldn’t suspect that he’s throwing her a party, but it’s not entirely necessary, is it? Ana just stumbles around in this constant state of awestruck stupidity when it comes to Christian. He could be planning a second wedding to Mrs. Robinson and she wouldn’t notice, so long as he held Ana in his lap and snuggled her and told her she was amazing while he did it.
Speaking of which, how does Ana spend her birthday in the hospital with her comatose father? BY MAKING IT ALL ABOUT CHRISTIAN, OF COURSE!

“I love philanthropic Christian,” I murmur.

“Just him?”

“Oh, I love megalomaniac Christian, too, and control freak Christian, sexpertise Christian, kinky Christian, romantic Christian, shy Christian… the list is endless.”

“That’s a whole lot of Christians.”

“I’d say at least fifty.”

He laughs. “Fifty shades,” he murmurs into my hair.

“My fifty shades.”

He shifts, tipping my head back, and kisses me. “Well, Mrs. Shades, let’s see how your dad is doing.”

If they start calling each other Mr. and Mrs. Shades, I don’t care that I’ve got two-hundred pages left, I will jam this fucking book in a paper shredder.
There’s a totally unnecessary section where they go for a drive in Ana’s new car, and then later they go to lunch. Which is also an entirely unnecessary scene; they only go so that Christian can mention the fact he took her home from a Portland bar drunk, and he can get jealous about the waiter who served them at Le Picotin in the last book. The plot doesn’t further in any way. Just, “Hey! Remember when all this stuff happened before? And I’m like, “No. Because I was way too drunk to remember any of this shit, thankfully.”
Then there’s a scene where Ana goes to her father’s hospital room to sit with him. We learn that Ray still wears his wedding ring, even though he and Ana’s mother have been divorced for a long time, and then Christian is all, “‘I want to feed you,’” and takes Ana back to the Heathman, where he’s bought her a dress and shoes and sexy underthings:

Unzipping the bag, I find a navy satin dress and ease it out. It’s gorgeous- fitted, with thin straps. It looks small.

“It’s lovely. Thank you. I hope it fits.”

That’s a good question. I mean, we haven’t heard over and over in this book, at least, not as much as we heard about it in the last two books, that Ana is practically blowing away in a faint breeze due to her extremely frail and waifish physique. Oh my god, maybe the dress won’t fit!
Ana takes a bath, and then this happens:

“Come,” he says, regarding me intently. I know that expression, and I know better than to disobey.

He just wanted to dry her hair. But how fucking ominous is that? “I know better than to disobey?” Why am I still surprised when this creepy shit pops up in these books?
There’s a section break, and:

When we step into the elevator on our way to dinner, we are not alone. Christian looks delicious in his signature white linen shirt, black jeans and jacket. No tie. The two women inside shoot admiring glances at him and less generous ones at me. I hide my smile. Yes, ladies, he’s mine.

Good. Keep him.
 Preach, Karen.

How many more times are we going to have to read about random bitches and skanks trying to steal Ana’s man? They’re only getting more and more boring. These particular bitches and skanks weren’t even described. How do we know if they were blonde or not? Or is that just a given?

The dress hugs me, skimming over my curves and holding everything in place.

How does that work? It’s either tight or not, and skimming sounds like it’s not. How is it holding everything in place if it’s skimming? NONE OF THESE WORDS WORK TOGETHER.

I have to say, I feel… attractive wearing it. I know Christian approves.

That statement would be a lot less sad if we knew those were two independent ideas, not that Ana feels attractive because Christian approves. But here we are. 

At first, I think we’re heading for the private dining room where we first discussed the contract, but he leads me past that doorway and on to the far end, where he opens the door to another wood-panelled room.

Surprise!”

Oh my. Kate and Elliot, Mia and Ethan, Carrick and Grace, Mr. Rodriguez and José, and my mother and Bob are all there raising their glasses.

Is this an intervention to save Ana from her abusive relationship?!
Damnit, no. It’s just a surprise party. The reason her mom didn’t answer the phone or call her was because she was on the way to Portland in Christian’s plane. So, happy birthday, honey, I made you momentarily think your mother doesn’t love you while your other parent is on life support in the ICU! My timing is amazing! (Also, dear readers, remember that this shit is going down when Ana’s biological father DIED THE DAY AFTER HER BIRTHDAY… I know it’s easy to forget; the author obviously did.)
Christian’s brother has exactly the same kind of sensitivity to Ana’s situation:

“S’up babe? Your old man will be fine.” Elliot enfolds me in his arms. “Happy birthday.”

Seriously? HER FATHER IS IN THE ICU.

I gaze at Mom. She’s in her element, charming, witty, and warm. I love her so much. I must remember to tell her. Life is so precious, I realize that now.

But not when you were attacked by your boss, held at gunpoint by your husband’s ex, chased down a busy freeway by an unidentified assailant, stumbled upon a violent home invasion/foiled kidnapping attempt, and  your husband was in a helicopter crash? It takes a lot for Ana to get the fucking point, doesn’t it?
Ana and Kate discuss how sexy it is that Christian can fly a helicopter, and then:

Kate spits her wine rather unattractively down her chin, making us both laugh some more.

That’s the best present Ana could have gotten. Happy birthday, your friend did something that made her look unattractive.
They bring out Ana’s cake:

“Make a wish,” Christian whispers to me. In one breath I blow out all the candles, fervently willing my father better. Daddy, get well. Please get well. I love you so.

And it works! Because Ana is magic!
Okay, there are some scenes between the birthday wish the actual recovery, including one with Mr. Rodriguez where, apropos of nothing, he tells Ana that he thought José would have married her. Because there isn’t a single man in this series who doesn’t want to climb all over Ana. But I’m making it a point to skip scenes that are meaningless in the context of the narrative, so I’m skipping that one for sure.
After a section break, we’re back at the Heathman:

Christian closes the door to our suite.

“Alone at last,” he murmurs, leaning back against the door, watching me.

I step toward him and run my fingers over the lapels of his jacket. “Thank you for a wonderful birthday. You really are the most thoughtful, considerate, generous husband.”

In the morning, they all have breakfast together, give Ana presents- because this is apparently a fucking wedding or something- and then Ana goes to the hospital with her mother to visit Ray. It’s actually a pretty good scene, or would be, if it went anywhere important to the story or character development. Ana’s mom talks about how she still loves Ray, but they just changed as people, and it’s all very good, until we realize that the entire reason we’re reading this scene is for the conversation to turn back to Christian and how much he and Ana are in love:

“We are, I think. Getting there, anyway. I love him. He’s the center of my world. The sun rises and sets with him for me, too.”

“He obviously adores you, darling.”

“And I adore him.”

“Make sure you tell him. Men need to hear that stuff just like we do.”

Here’s why this doesn’t sit right with me. Ana is constantly telling Christian how much she loves him, how she cherishes him and he’s amazing. It’s not like this is something Christian is lacking in his life. And the scene is delivered as though there is some underlying trouble with Christian and Ana’s relationship. There is, don’t get me wrong, but it hasn’t been a major source of conflict in this book. Honestly, I would have preferred it if there had been some conflict, any conflict (that didn’t have to do with incredibly outlandish, mustache-twirling villains who drive cars that don’t even exist). So, putting this scene here is just a big, red flag that something is going to go wrong within the next two chapters, and obviously it’s going to be all Ana’s fault because she’s not loving enough or something.
Christian and Ana drive Bob and Renee (it’s Renee, right? In this book?) to the airport, and then they go back to the hospital, where Ray is off the ventilator in preparation for eventually waking up from his medicated coma. Ana reads Ray the sports page. I know I’ve complained before about the improbability of a hunting, fishing, good-ole boy Amurican like Ray loving soccer, but I’m sorry, I have to do it again. Especially considering it is now September 11, so the Mariners would still be playing. And in the previous scene, Renee or whoever the fuck Ana’s mom is specifically referenced the Mariners.

“And the final score, Sounders one, Real Salt Lake two.”

“Hey, Annie, we lost? No!” Ray rasps, and he squeezes my hand.

Daddy!

So, that happened.
I’ll be on vacation next week, so recaps will resume in July! 

ABB WARNING: Eve Thomas and #OneVoice

Hello, dear readers. Something has been going on for a little bit here that I have been ignoring, but I feel that since there are so many domestic violence survivors and so many writers who read this blog, I need to share a cautionary tale. It’s long so bear with me.

Back when I started doing my 50 Shades of Grey recaps, I was approached on Twitter by an author named Eve Thomas. She was intense and passionate about the subject of domestic violence, and I twitter-friended her, because we hit it off and that’s just what I do.

Eve was working on a book of survivor stories she was calling Fifty Shades of Abuse, for a charity called One Voice. The twitter hashtag is #OneVoice. Because we moved in the same twitter circles, she asked me if I could contribute a chapter for her book. I told her that I wasn’t a survivor, and she suggested I write something about the dangers of Fifty Shades of Grey. At the time, I was already contributing an essay to 50 Writers on 50 Shades of Grey, and to be frank, I didn’t want my entire career to become, “Hi, I’m that author who hates 50 Shades!” So, I told her I would consider it, but I didn’t know if I could fit it in to my schedule.

Suddenly, I had all these people DMing me to warn me not to get involved with Eve or her projects. They provided me links to where she had previously called reviewers who’d given her books one star reviews “bullies,” and expressed support for Stop The GoodReads Bullies, a website that uses abusive tactics to silence book reviewers. I was disappointed, but I liked Eve personally from the interactions I’d had with her. I didn’t end up contributing to the book- I couldn’t have if I wanted to, due to a conflicting deadline- but when it came out, I congratulated Eve and tweeted the link. I believed, at that point, that she truly cared about abuse victims and the book would reflect this.

After a few negative reviews on GoodReads, Eve admitted that the stories in the book had not been edited- a fact that these reviewers called out. Her reasoning was to present the survivors’ stories in their exact words, in their voice. Voices that, one review points out, are identical to Eve Thomas’s own voice in many of the chapters. Eve’s online supporters came out in force to argue with anyone who gave the book a bad review. Some of them conflated criticism of the book with complicity in domestic violence and child abuse. I was disappointed to see Eve thank and congratulate these people via Twitter, assuring them that their actions were helping survivors.

At this time, stuff gets kind of hazy, because it was a lot of weird and off-putting coming hard and fast from a lot of different sources. On her blog, Eve continued to interpret the bad reviews as “bullying” and an attempt by abuse apologists and woman haters to silence the victims of domestic violence. She drew a line in the stand against these “bullies” and allegedly called her local police to report them.

One of the “bullies” keeping tabs on all of this was a blogger I absolutely adore, Tez Miller. Tez is a reader, reviewer, and book blogger familiar to basically every genre fiction writer I’ve ever met. She blogged about her concerns related to the One Voice book and Eve Thomas’s handling of the situation. You can read that blog entry here.

I’ve known Tez for a very, very long time, so you can imagine my surprise when this showed up in my Twitter DMs:

I have known Tez online since 2006. I figured there must be some mistake.
Eve sent me a link to this blog post, which has since been edited to remove Tez Miller’s name.
If you read further through Eve’s blog, you begin to get a sense that something  is… not quite right. She refers to the people who object to her behavior or question the legitimacy of her unregistered charity (and the GoodReads staff who closed her account for spamming) as trolls, bullies, international gang members, cyberterrorists, and child abusers:

“Amazon/Goodreads this time this will not go away.  You are permitting the destruction of #OneVoice, you are permitting the destruction of my career, but most of all you are permitting the abuse and bullying of innocent people and turning a blind eye to the sexual role play that goes on with minors present, the threats, violence and attacks all with minors present and you do nothing about it!”

 At this point, I’m going “Okay, I really fucking dodged a bullet by not submitting to her anthology.” I was furious that she was trying to discredit people I trusted with such middle school tactics- and more furious that she thought I was dumb enough to fall for them- but she still had a ton of supporters, some of them people I had met through my 50 Shades of Grey blogging, and I didn’t want to hurt those relationships, so I kept my mouth shut. I told Eve that I felt she was out of line and blocked her on Twitter. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yesterday, I was made aware of two things that made me say, “Ah, fuck it, I can’t keep quiet about this anymore.”

Thing #1: Eve Thomas is bullying and abusing people in domestic violence situations. In this link, complete with screencaps, Eve contacts a survivor of a past domestic violence situation and aggressively demands to know all the legal details of the case. She tells the survivor that she shouldn’t be asking for donations to her legal fund because the “chains of the past” are “obviously holding you down.” She is trying to set herself up not just as legal counsel here, but as a therapist, as well. Eve then contacts the police, without any prompting or request on the survivor’s part. This is a hugely dangerous and irresponsible thing to do. Never contact any agency on behalf of someone in a DV situation unless they have expressly asked you to do so. Eve goes on to lecture this person about asking for money for help in her specific case. This coming from a woman running an unregistered charity?

Thing #2: Eve Thomas is stalking and bullying writers who contributed to the Fifty Shades of Abuse book. Remember those very nice people I met on line, who were involved in Eve’s book and who I didn’t want to break contact with? That’s really not an issue anymore.

One writer, frustrated with Eve’s behavior, asked to have her contribution removed from the book (these are copy/pasted from DM responses I received; I’m not going to correct them for typos or anything):

 I wanted it pulled because she is bullying DV survivors who have disagreed with her heavy handed tactics, she manipulates and guilts people into not pulling their chapters because “think of the charities!”, she says “that’s all I will say” and then keeps harping on things she tells people to stop “harassing” her and to not contact, but she continues to mention them while telling her side. Man this just keeps going….. She screencaps tweets out of context and posts them as “proof of conspiracy,” and she RTs things people say to her just so that her followers will jump up in defense of her, affirming to her that she is right and the other people are just mean Nasty women who want to silence her. She wants to speak for all women while ignoring and disempowering those of us who disagree with her. Oh, and now her supporters are accusing me of lying even though I truthfully stated that she has yet to pull the book even though we have reclaimed our personal copyrights and revoked permissions on our submissions. What’s flooring me is that she publicly posts these tweets, and when we call her on it, we are accused of abuse and lying, etc.. And her “team” as she calls them goes to bat for her even though there’s proof that she is the one doing the bullying. Blargh!! And if the word “gaslighting” hasn’t been emphasized enough yet, that might need to be in there. About a hundred times.

“Gas Lighting” is a form of mental abuse that involves the denial of valid memories and aggressive attempts to reframe reality in order to make the victim believe the abuse isn’t happening. For example, her repeated insistance that people had contacted her and asked for help, when it was Eve Thomas who initiated contact and offered help.

Another author who wanted her submission removed tried to set aside her differences with Eve in order to get her chapter out of the book. It did not, and continues to not, go well (again, c/ping from Twitter DMs, no corrections):

I’ve just had an email from her, accusing me of emotional abuse (exactly what I suffered through my ex, as she knows) and Warning me that every message I’ve sent to her could be sent to the police as part of a harassment suit against me (despite them all being Sent in response to messages she sent me first). She has warned me never to mention the term “” in public ever again or action will Be taken against me. I’m just sat here like… WTF JUST HAPPENED?! Thankfully I’ve screen capped everything, but just… Ugh. she’s still @ mentioning me, but threatening me with police if I mention her. She has also now admitted that she is “monitoring” my tweets, so I’ve had to go onto protected mode. I haven’t felt this violated since I was with my abusive ex. :-(

When I asked why this writer wanted her chapter pulled, she said:

I’d been unhappy with the way Eve was portraying herself for a while, but had put our personal disagreement to one side. But when I saw how she acted with [redacted], when she contacted the police without her consent and potentially put her in danger, I realised I really didn’t want be associated with Eve in any way. Her subsequent actions/comments made my mind up that I felt uneasy at being a part of a project I now believe is the brainchild of someone who really shouldn’t be putting herself forward as some kind of “saviour” of abuse victims.

By this morning, things had gotten worse:

Just for added info; I’ve blocked all Eve’s email accounts, so she appears to have set up a new one in order to continue contacting me. :-/  I feel tragic saying this, but she genuinely scares me. I told her I was ceasing contact and wouldn’t resond to further emails… …yet they just keep on coming. With more threats of “police action” if I don’t “cease” my “behaviour.” Honestly think she’s bonkers. :-/ 

Eve Thomas has set up a charity that is unregulated and unregistered. She is selling the Fifty Shades of Abuse book on the platform that all proceeds will be distributed to “charities around the world,” but has yet to offer any proof that the funds are going anywhere but to One Voice. She is misrepresenting and stalking survivors who contributed to that book when they’ve asked to have their submissions removed due to concerns over her clearly deteriorating credibility as a domestic violence awareness campaigner.

So, what can you do, if you’ve become involved with Eve Thomas or her supporters and now you want out?

If you have submitted any material to the Fifty Shades of Abuse book, request to have it pulled and returned. Eve Thomas says that “every penny” of profit from the book will go to charity. We have no proof that this is the case. Do not allow her to use “think of the charities” as a defense or a reason to pressure you into dropping your copyright claims if you did not sign a contract with her or had only a verbal agreement with her (this appears to be the case with a couple of authors). Here is an excellent link that explains how to take the first steps.

If Eve contacts you online about abuse you have experience or are currently experiencing, do not engage. Eve is very friendly and personable, and it’s easy to get drawn in by her “sweetie” and “honey” lingo. I believe she absolutely does care about survivors of domestic violence, but her perception of help is deeply flawed. She also has a habit of retweeting interactions to her supporters, so if you have engaged her on twitter, you may receive harassment from her followers. Do not engage with them, either.

Do not give Eve Thomas any information about yourself, your DV situation, or any pending legal issues. She has displayed a willingness to insinuate herself into these matters and could cause real damage. No matter how she pressures, do not reveal personal information.

If Eve threatens you with legal action, save everything. Save tweets, DMs, emails. If she makes a new account to contact you (as she has done with others), keep track of that identity, too. It might come in handy later if she ever does manage to make a case against someone for “cyberterrorism” or “bullying,” though I find it very difficult to believe that the “international investigation” she refers to her in blog is anything more than a delusion on Eve’s part.

I hesitated to say anything about this whole mess. My interaction with Eve was nowhere near as bad as some people are experiencing. But I know there are writers, readers, and DV survivors at this blog who may have come into contact with Eve through me, either here or on Twitter. That makes me feel horribly responsible. I would not forward any of this information if I weren’t truly concerned about the implications of this woman’s actions. Contacting outside agencies on behalf of DV victims and survivors is DANGEROUS. Bullying, stalking, and harassing survivors is WRONG. And misusing police resources in order to report readers and reviewers as cyberterrorists because they didn’t like your book? That’s a level of self-importance and delusion that is FRIGHTENING.

I truly believe Eve Thomas thinks she is helping people. I also believe her when she says she feels abused, victimized, and bullied by these events. However, the fact remains that the only person doing anything abusive is Eve Thomas herself. I strongly urge anyone to gather as much information as possible before becoming involved with her charity, her publishing projects, or her, personally.

Live and learn, I guess.

That Time I Made Jessica Jarman Watch A Royal Affair

You may recall that last week I forced my dear friend Bronwyn Green to watch what is probably the saddest, most dramatic, most cheekbones-havingest costume porn of all time, A Royal Affair. As she watched it, she IMed me so that we could share the experience.

My friend and fellow romance novelist Jessica Jarman had not yet seen the film. Bronwyn and I felt we had an obligation to bully her into watching it. So that’s what we did. And then… this happened:

First, Jessica IMs me to tell me that she’s starting the movie:

Jessica: Just started A Royal Affair–didn’t have a chance last night.

But I wasn’t home.

This does not affect Jessica’s conversation with me at all:

Jessica: oh hello cheekbones…. 

Ah some major eye-fucking going on right now. 

omg the dance…the dance…. I think I need a smoke after that.

They thought they could have it all….but they’re wrong! WRONG!

I’m only halfway through this and I know it’s going to kill me.

The king needs to grow a pair… and there they are.

Well that didn’t turn out the way the Dowager predicted, did it?

Sitting in the dark thinking about the queen and king getting it on…he looks so…dejected.

Eventually, I did come home:

Jenny: OMG, LOL. I just came back from dinner, and I was like, “11 IMs?” 

OMG THE DANCING! Do you not want to lick his cheekbones?!

Jessica: YES!!!

Jenny: Are you still watching?

Jessica: Yes. He just yelled at the king when he wanted to have a holiday where women walk around naked.

Jenny: That’s one of his few good ideas. Besides taxis.

Jessica: Oh and the, “you don’t have to sign everything.” Oh god, this is the beginning of the end isn’t it? 

Now the dowager is threatening the maids with purgatory. *sigh*

 Jenny: And that gross sheets sniffing one is there. I’m sorry, if I were a housekeeper in the Age of Enlightenment, I’m not sniffing anybody’s laundry.

Even if I think I smell sex.

ESPECIALLY if I smell sex.

Jessica: They just said I love you to each other. Which means soon it will all go to hell.

Some time later:

Jessica: I want to punch the dowager and her funky looking son.

Oh god…….torches! Where are the pitchforks???

Oh, I see them now. 

They just slapped the cheekbones! How DARE they??!! 

Jenny: LAY OFF THE BEAUTIFUL CHEEKBONES!

Jessica: Damn you, Jen! I’m already crying.

Jenny: I’m spreading this movie like a poison of sadness.

Jessica: Okay, it’s over. I am a puddle of tears and feelings right now. 

Jenny: I hope you know, I’m going to blog this.

Jessica: LOL Will you at least correct my typos?

Jenny: Like Snape says about Lily Potter. ALWAYS. 

Since “I’m spreading this movie like a poison of sadness,” if you watch it, let me know what you think!

A bad case of the “I Don’t Wanna!”s and how to make rainbow cupcakes that are amazing.

Friends. Friends.

I have a really bad case of the “I Don’t Wanna!”s.

I think this has something to do with the fact that the last week of school for my children was really busy and hectic, and frankly, I’m a lazy person. I’ve been really enjoying sleeping and getting up and not cleaning my kitchen and writing all day long on projects I want to work on. But that means I’ve been loathe to meet my other obligations, as evidenced by the week of no recaps last week. While I realize that most of you are cool with stuff posting just whenever, I feel like I have a responsibility to myself to stay on track with the schedule I’ve set for myself.

OH! That reminds me: for all you Roadhouse watchers, the last episode we filmed? Was amazing. Unfortunately, something went terribly wrong with the video. All we have is the audio. I’m working on a way to make that work. So, right now we’re on a brief hiatus while I figure out a new way to film the show, fix the stuff we filmed, and plan on this NEVER HAPPENING AGAIN. This happened to us before, we filmed the perfect show and the file just VANISHED. We just have to stop filming good shows, I guess.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Schedules and the “I Don’t Wanna!”s. I’ve been writing like it’s a compulsion. All I do, all day long, until my husband begs me to stop, is write. Yes, this is what I’m usually like, but somehow it’s different over this past week. It’s been less, “I am writing because it is my job and I enjoy it,” more, “I am writing because IT CONSUMES ME UNTIL ALL THAT IS LEFT IS BONE AND ASH.” And the weird thing is… I Don’t Wanna. I don’t want to write. I want to do other stuff. In eight days, I’m going on a retreat to an isolated cabin on the Keeweenaw peninsula, for the soul purpose of finishing The Girlfriend- or, at least, getting it very close to being finished- and trying to spot Mishipeshu. I know I’ve got a busy summer ahead of me when I get back, with revisions for Such Sweet Sorrow and proposals for the next two books in that series (Wondrous Strange), publishing the POD and e-book versions of The Boss and The Girlfriend, finishing and shopping out a proposal for another vampire series, and writing Raptors of The Great Plains. Maybe that’s why I’m locked into the “I Don’t Wanna!”s right now, as well as the compulsive writing.

There’s no real point to telling you all of this, I just find it interesting/slightly worrying from a mental health standpoint. I’m going back and forth between wondering if this is a healthy thing going on, or the beginning of some mania.

But now, let me teach you how to make some amazing cupcakes.

I’ve written on this blog about making rainbow cupcakes and tie-dye cake before. But I’m not sure I told you how to make them extra-awesome with Air Heads, so here. This is how you make them.

You’re going to need some stuff:

You’re going to need boxed cake mix, probably some eggs, definitely a bowl, a lot of bowls, food coloring, a mixer… look, you know how to make cupcakes already probably, right?

For these particular cupcakes, you’re going to want white cake mix (it makes the colors pop better). So, you’re going to need egg whites. Do you have one of these?:

If not, get one. You hang it on the edge of the bowl, crack the egg into it, and it separates the white from the yolk. But you need this specific one, because it has a face on it, and it’s shaped like an egg, and you can pretend you’re committing some kind of sick, cannibalistic torture/murder while you’re doing it because look how goddamned horrified it looks!

Okay, so, now you’ve made your cake mix as per the directions on the box. Now you have to color it. This is where the “definitely a lot of bowls” part comes in:

I like to go with four colors. More than four, and your cupcakes will probably turn out too big. I recommend Wilton’s icing colors for this job, because they’re gels, they incorporate well, and they don’t make the batter runny or anything. But as you’ll note, I also used some non-Wilton’s because they’re lurking in the background.

First, you’re going to put down a single color in your baking cups or prepared baking pans (but use cups, nobody wants cupcakes you put your fingers all over). You’re not going to fill them; just use enough to cover the bottom.

You’re going to continue filling the cups and getting batter all over your stove top by carefully dolloping a little of each color batter into each cup- but you’re not going to overfill the cups, ya dig? You’re only going to fill these about 2/3rds of the way full. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but I have faith you’ll figure it out.
I love this part of the process, because it looks like the imaginary food from Hook.
After you bake your cupcakes according to the directions on the box, and they’re all cooled and ready to decorate, you’re going to need frosting. I don’t like canned frosting, but if you do, take it out of the can and whip it up with your mixer first, so it’s fluffy and not so dense and grainy and weird.
Before you color all your icing blue- because it’s the sky, get it?- you’re going to reserve about 1/6th  of some of the uncolored icing in a decorating bag. Or, if you’re like me and you can’t find any of the fucking couplers for your bags and ACE Hardware in Hastings is already closed and your husband won’t drive you all the way over there to buy a piece of baking hardware at this time of night anyway, you use a sandwich bag with a teensy bit of corner cut off.
You’re also going to need some Air Heads Xtremes in Rainboberry flavor. If they don’t have this where you’re from, really any rainbow candy will work, you just have to get creative. You could probably do a 2d version of the cupcakes I’m making with Skittles or M&Ms or some shit. If you are using Air Heads, though, you’ll want to cut them in half.
Frost the cupcakes (and do a better job than Mr. Jen did) with the blue icing, then bend the cut-in-half Air Heads in an arc and secure/support with a glob of white frosting for clouds. Then when your amazed friends and family bite into them…
They’ll be like, “OMG you are so talented and creative! Those are amazing, how did you do that?” and then they’ll want you to make them and bring them to the family reunion or whatever, so maybe best to not share them at all.

EDIT: I wanted to add that I think the idea for these came from Pinterest, but they very well may have been from a cupcake book that I got a few years ago as a gift, then stupidly lent to someone because I will NEVER LEARN.

That Time I Made Bronwyn Green Watch A Royal Affair

I’m not ashamed to say that when I find a movie or a TV show I love, I bully pretty much everyone I know into watching the same thing. Well, no. Scratch that. There are some things I know certain friends will never be into- I’m never going to marathon Adventure Time with my friend Cristin, for example, but D-Rock totally has me covered- so I make my recommendations/pleas/demands based on what I think people will like.

Hey, you know what my friend, erotic romance author Bronwyn Green, likes? SHIT THAT WILL MAKE HER CRY. So, when I watched A Royal Affair, a movie about Caroline Mathilda of Denmark and that time her boyfriend kind of took over the monarchy and stuff, I was like, “This is right up Bronwyn’s alley.

I was originally going to write a short review and tell all of you guys to watch this movie if you haven’t already, but what follows here is the transcript of our IMs as I forced Bronwyn to watch the movie and suffer as I suffered. I think it stands as a better testament of why you have to watch this thing.

It also gives you a pretty good example of why you never, ever, EVER, give me your IM name.

(I don’t know why I’m including a spoiler warning here, because the movie is sort of loosely based on events that took place in actual European history over two-hundred years ago, but, you know. SPOILERS or whatever.)


Jenny: AND OMG NETFLIX STREAM THE FUCK OUT OF A ROYAL AFFAIR. I’m not even fucking around, you have to watch this movie.

Bronwyn: I’m getting nothing else done today…

Jenny: Then it is a perfect day for Danish movies. TRAGIC DANISH ROMANCE. MADS MIKKELSEN. PONYTAIL.

Bronwyn: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I’m in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

A short time later…

Bronwyn: This is like costume porn!!!! MADS IS ON A HORSE!!!!!

Jenny: HE’S TOTALLY ON A HORSE! AND HE FENCES, TOO! AND THEY DANCE BRONWYN! THEY DANCE!

Bronwyn: This is going to make me cry, isn ‘t it?

Jenny: Yes. Big, snotty sobs. I took a break toward the end, because I was like, “Pump the brakes, Dr. Struensee!” and I was like, “Let me mentally prepare myself.” 

Bronwyn: DANCING!!!!!

Jenny: DANCING! That scene was suuuuuuuuper hot. I think the dancing scene in that movie has replaced the dancing scene in the 2005 pride and prejudice as my all time favorite sexual tension dancing scene.

Bronwyn:  It was AMAZING!!!! Seriously fucking hot and makes me want to write a historical.

Another short time later…

Bronwyn: Mads just told Chistian that he doesn’t need to sign every little thing.

Jenny: LOL, that scene, btw, the “You don’t have to sign everything” scene, was where I was like, “PUMP THE BRAKES BRO.” Okay. Okay, go and watch. I’ll be here for you. 

Bronwyn: You’d better be, ’cause you got me into this.

Jenny: OMG DID SHE HAVE THE BABY YET?!

Bronwyn: YES!!!

Jenny: WAS IT NOT HEARTBREAKING THAT HE COULDN’T EVEN SEE HIS CHILD?!

Bronwyn: I’m still weeping.

Jenny: I FELT SO BAD FOR THEM!

Bronwyn: It was AWFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s time for the ball now. THE ANGRY MOB

Jenny: THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL BRONWYN!

Bronwyn: Her little boy!!!!!!!!

Jenny: I feel like our relationship is deepening having shared this experience. I know I’m pretty high, but I’m sure that’s happening. 

Bronwyn: I’m pretty sure you’re right.

Jenny: This movie is romantic as fuck. We might get pregnant right now. 

Bronwyn: PULL OUT!!! PULL OUT!!!!

Jenny: No doubt. Dude, you’re a doctor. Think this shit through. Like, maybe inoculating for smallpox can wait a second while you invent some kind of reliable method of birth control. 

 Bronwyn: Exactly!!! They’re NOT GONNA GET PARDONED JEN!!!!!

Jenny: I was like, sobbing, out loud, “THEY ARE NOT GOING TO GET PARDONED!”

Bronwyn: BRANDT DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!! 

Jenny: MY HEART! 

After it was over…

Bronwyn: So now that my soul is crushed and I’m gutted…

Jenny: WAS THAT NOT THE MOST ROGODDAMNEDMANTIC THING YOU EVER SAW? I didn’t have any kleenex, because I was in bed and I left it downstairs. So my nose was all dripping snot and I wiped it on the sheet and I had to wash my sheets. BUT I AM NOT ASHAMED. 

I have to say, I had heard about this story because I spend a lot of time needlessly researching european history and also everything else on Wikipedia, but dry “this happened, then this happened” history doesn’t feel so tragic.
DON’T RIDE HORSES WITH HIM YOU ARE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE
(BTW, that was my inner monologue all last night)
DON’T [x] WITH HIM YOU ARE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE.

Just like, over and over as I watched it, like some kind of demented person who stands in front of trains. 

Bronwyn: THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT FELT LIKE! Like I was standing in front of a damn train the whole time!!!!!

Jenny: I am so blogging this tomorrow.

Bronwyn: DO IT!!! 

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S01E12: “Prophecy Girl”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will never be quite successful at her attempts to cook quinoa. 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.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.

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.



“Prophecy Girl” opens with a guitar riff that sounds suspiciously like Anna Ferris’s “Forgiveness” song from Just Friends. Xander is saying:

Xander: “You know how I feel about you. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? There’s never been anyone else for me, but you. And we’re good friends, and it’s time to take the next step. Would you, um… date me?”

And Willow looks like this:

You can do better, Will.
But Xander isn’t giving his heartfelt speech to Willow, he’s practicing it on her. He’s planning to ask Buffy to the dance- or to be his partner in tagging migratory species, he gets kind of off track somewhere along the line.
Let’s examine Xander’s Nice Guy-ness here. I know a lot of people who read these recaps love Xander, and feel I’m unfair when I call out his Nice Guy habits. I also realize that the character of Xander is a teenage boy, and sometimes teenage boys can be selfish, immature jerks. But he’s not a real teenage boy, and he didn’t have to be written like a selfish immature jerk. His little speech to Willow is a prime example of how a writer could have made Xander a realistic teen boy without resorting to glorifying the rape-culture role of the Nice Guy:
  1. You know how I feel about you. If Buffy knows how she feels about him (and she does, he’s right, it’s obvious. Especially after he gave her an inappropriately personal engraved bracelet), why is this speech necessary? If she knows and hasn’t acted on those feelings in kind, then it’s also obvious that Buffy doesn’t want to date Xander. But that’s not entering into his thinking at all.
  2. There’s never been anyone else for me but you. This puts a sense of obligation on Buffy; if she rejects Xander, he has no one to love, and he’ll die alone, so she better put him out of his misery, ignore the selfishness of this statement (which doesn’t consider whether or not there may be someone else for Buffy), and love him in return.
  3. It’s time to take the next step. He’s not asking, he’s telling. “I am done being friends with you, I’ve served my time, you now owe me sex.”
The entirety of Xander’s appeal to Buffy is a guilt trip. “You make me feel things. You are the only one who makes me feel things. Now you owe me.”
This is Nice Guy dating logic in a nutshell. #5.
Xander very wisely decides that his speech is not the way to go. He’s going to just ask Buffy to the Spring Fling dance. Good move, Xander. But he can’t ask her tonight, because she’s not at the Bronze. He asks Willow where Buffy is, and Willow tells him Buffy’s out, doing the usual.
This is the usual. Also: spot the stunt double is easier in screencaps.
Notice the steamed up car in the background? That’s where Cordelia is. She’s fulfilling the role of the girl from the urban legend who hears the scary noise outside the car. Buffy is there to stop it from becoming an urban legend, and the juxtaposition of the scene is that while other teenagers are having a normal teen life, Buffy’s life is consumed with keeping them all alive to enjoy themselves in steamed up cars. She dusts a vamp, then observes that it’s the third one she’s killed that night, and Giles would be proud.
Where is Giles? Isn’t he supposed to be “watching”? He’s reading through the book Angel brought him. He finds a passage that sounds particularly ominous:

Giles: “‘The Master shall rise, and the slayer…’ My god.”

 So, whatever he read in there, it was super bad. He doesn’t get much time to recover from his shock of bad news, though, because his tea cup goes all Jurassic Park, as an earthquake rattles Sunnydale.

You know who loves earthquakes? Villains. Villains love earthquakes:

Look how happy he is!

The Master believes this is a sign that his time is now, and we get a sense that he’s going to strike while the iron is hot. Good thing, too, because we were almost out of season.
The next morning, Giles is looking not so great. Like, stayed up all night and is still wearing the same clothes not so great. When Buffy comes in, he has a moment of disbelief when he sees her, and I’m sure his expression of relief totally bodes well for whatever it was he was reading in that book.

Buffy tells Giles about the weird number of vampires she saw on patrol. Actually, the word she used was “hunt.” This will cause a rare-for-this-series continuity error in later seasons, where Buffy is adamant about a distinction between slaying and killing, and the word “hunt” is not on her list of friendly terms. Though Buffy says that she had a close call with a vamp, Giles doesn’t seem to care. Maybe he’s distracted because the library is all fucked up after the earthquake. Maybe he doesn’t function well on lack of sleep. But for whatever reason, he doesn’t seem to care very much that Buffy could have died, and she notices. When she makes a remark about meeting her “terrible fate,” Giles reacts with sudden panic, until she clears up that she was talking about biology class. As she leaves, Giles looks like this:
I think he’s fearing looming unemployment here, if you get my drift.


If you’re a Slayer, and your Watcher looks at you like that… let’s just say it’s not a good look.
Buffy, Willow and Xander come out of their biology class, which apparently fell short in the entertainment department:

Willow: “Even I was bored, and I’m a science nerd.”

Buffy: “Don’t say that.”

Willow: “I’m not ashamed. It’s the computer age. Nerds are in.”

This aired in 1997. Willow is a psychic.

Xander gives Willow his secret “get the hell out of here so I can ask Buffy out” signal, and then Xander asks Buffy out. He doesn’t go with the Nice Guy speech he was practicing, and that’s good, but… it doesn’t go the way he probably wanted it to go. For example, Buffy’s face goes like this:

Remember when we were talking about Giles making bad faces? This is a Buffy bad face.
So, how does Xander cope with the rejection? Not well:

Buffy: “I don’t want to spoil the friendship that we have.”

Xander: “Well, I don’t want to spoil it, either. But that’s not the point, is it? You either feel a thing or you don’t.”

Buffy: “I don’t. Xander, I’m sorry. I just don’t think of you that way.”

 Xander: “Well try. I’ll wait.”

Buffy: “Xander-”

Xander: “No. Forget it. I’m not him. I mean, I guess a guy’s gotta be undead to make time with you.”

Buffy: “That’s really harsh.”

Xander: “Look, I’m sorry. I don’t handle rejection well. Funny, considering all the practice I’ve had, huh?”

Buffy: “Xander, I’m sorry. I don’t wanna- “

Xander: “You know what? Let’s just not.”

He’s a vampire, so this works on several levels.

Dear Men In General: If this is how you handle rejection… don’t. Xander’s behavior here isn’t an inability to process rejection, it’s an inability to not be an entitled asshole. He wants to date Buffy, so he assumes it’s somehow owed to him. I think the audience is supposed to feel like both parties are hurting here. But what we’re seeing is a guy being a total dickhole to a girl.
This isn’t the only time we’ll see Xander behaving as though his female friends exist for his sexual objectification.
In the library, Giles is making a phone call when Jenny Calendar comes in. She knows something is up, based on her technopagan connections and also because she has eyes and can read a newspaper. Some horrific shit is happening in Sunnydale, including cats giving birth to snakes, lakes boiling while families frolic in them, and a baby being born with its eyes facing inward (although that could just be a birth defect; it would hardly be the worst one out there). Oh, and this truly epic Van Gogh photo bomb:
For a total of three ears in this picture.

Jenny: “I’m not stupid. This is apocalypse stuff. Throw in last night’s earthquake, and I’d say we’ve got a problem. I would say the end is pretty seriously nigh.”

Giles: “I don’t know if I can trust you.”

Jenny: “I helped you cast that demon out of the internet, I think that merits some trust.”

Good point, Jenny. She tells Giles about a monk who’s been spamming the internet with talk of a prophecy about The Anointed One. Giles tells her to contact the monk, and Jenny points out that Giles hasn’t given her a lot of details to go on, and he’s all, “Just do it!” and I’m like, “Yes, Sir!” but Jenny Calendar isn’t as susceptible to gruff Giles orders as I am. She’ll do what he’s asking, but he has to explain why later, and she’s really not thrilled at being spoken to like that.

In the hallway, Cordelia is making plans for the Spring Fling dance with… wait, did she dump the guy that got beat up by a baseball bat in the last episode?

Pictured: Not the same guy, I’m pretty sure.

Damn. She wasn’t fucking around about the whole yearbook pictures thing, was she?
Cordelia spots Willow in the hallway, and they have an awesome exchange in which Willow is amazing:

Cordelia: “Willow! I really like your outfit.”

Willow: “No you don’t.”

Cordelia: “No, I really don’t. But I need a favor.”

This is one of the reasons I like Willow so much. She doesn’t play along with Cordelia’s bullshit, or try to act impressed that Cordelia is talking to her. Cordelia asks Willow to help set up for the dance, because Willow is apparently awesome at sound systems due to being awesome at computers. Or something. I don’t get that logic. But the important part is, Willow doesn’t fawn all over Cordelia and that makes me like her even more.

Willow spots Xander moping in an empty classroom, so she goes to comfort him. And of course, he totally appreciates her support and deals with his rejection gracefully:

Willow: “How’d it go?”

Xander: “On a scale of one to ten? It sucked.”

Willow: “Oh.”

Xander: “Well, I guess it could be worse. I could have gangrene on my face.”

Willow: “Well, what’d she say?”

Xander: “Apart from ‘no’ does it really matter?”

Yes, I think it does, Xander. Because the reason Buffy gave you wasn’t, “You’re a douche and I never want to see you again.” She didn’t say, “Ugh, gross, how dare you!” and pepper spray you in the face. She said she didn’t think of you that way, but that she valued your friendship. A girl wants to be your friend? You’re right, it really could be worse.

Oh, hey, here comes Xander, making it even more worse:

Xander “The polls are in, and it’s time to make my concession speech. Hey, I know what we’ll do! We can go. Be my date, we’ll have a great time. We’ll dance, we’ll go wild, what do you say?”

 Willow: “No.”

YES. This is another reason that I like Willow. She’s kind and she’s a bit meek, but she doesn’t let people walk all over her (unless it’s a plot point and vampire!Willow shows up later). And she sees Xander’s “be my date” proposal for exactly what it is: a consolation prize. Willow has heard all of Xander’s romantic practice lines. “Concession speech” was never a part of them, and she doesn’t want that for herself. She tells Xander she doesn’t want to go to the dance with him knowing that he would rather be with Buffy. Then she tells him she’ll see him on Monday, and leaves Xander spouting more Nice Guy lines in the empty classroom.

Later, when night has fallen over Sunnydale high and people are still letting their kids hang around there for some reason, Buffy goes into the bathroom and… wait, she just put that on the sink?

You can’t just casually leave that there, Buffy.

Just moments before, we saw that there were still students at the school, so Buffy is taking kind of a risk here, leaving her stake out in view of God and everyone. But there are more important things to think about, like OMFINGCHRISTWHATTHEHELLISTHAT?!
This would be the worst time for someone to plug up the drain with paper towels.

Buffy goes to the library to tell Giles about the gory plumbing problem the school is suddenly having, when she sees Angel got there first. She’s excited to see that he’s there, but she slows her roll as she approaches the door to Giles’s office and overhears what he and Angel are talking about:

Angel: “It can’t be, you’ve gotta be wrong.”

Giles: “I’ve checked it against all my other volumes, it’s very real.”

Angel: “Well, there’s gotta be some way around it.”

Giles: “Listen, some prophecies are a bit dodgy. They’re mutable. Buffy herself has thwarted them time and time again, but this is the Codex. There is nothing in it that does not come to pass.”

Angel: “Then you’re reading it wrong.”

Giles: “I wish to God I were! But it’s very plain. Tomorrow night, Buffy will face the Master. And she will die.”

Not good news. Let’s see how Buffy is taking it:

Okay, that doesn’t look too promising. She starts laughing all crazy-like, alerting Giles and Angel to her presence. Fun bit of trivia, Sarah Michelle Gellar didn’t like laughing on camera, because she thought she sounded too fake. She was way right. But we still all love her and NOBODY ELSE COULD HAVE EVER BEEN BUFFY FAKE SOUNDING LAUGH AND ALL FOREVER.

Buffy: “So that’s it, huh? I remember the drill. One Slayer dies, next one’s called. Wonder who she is. Will you train her? Or will they send someone else?”

Giles: “Buffy, I-”

Buffy: “They say how he was gonna kill me? Do you think it’ll hurt?”

Ow. My heart.

Angel tries to comfort Buffy, but she tells him not to touch her and decides the best way to go is to quit being slayer. She resigns, and when Giles tells her no one else can beat the Master, that there are signs, she doesn’t take it… well. She hurls a book at him, screaming:

Buffy: “The signs? Read me the signs! Tell me fortune! You’re so useful sitting here with all of your books! You’re really a lot of help!”

Once Buffy seems to be out of books to throw, Angel steps in and gives it a try:

Angel: “I know this is hard.”

Buffy: “What do you know about this? You’re never gonna die.”

Angel: “You think I want anything to happen to you? Do you think I could stand it?”

But Buffy isn’t having ANY of it. She insists she’s quitting. Giles starts to warn her about the dire consequences of the Master rising, and Buffy won’t listen:

Buffy: “I don’t care! I don’t care. Giles, I’m sixteen years old. I don’t want to die.”

Buffy throws the cross necklace Angel gave her on the ground and storms out, and Angel and Giles can only watch her go, probably not because they’re paralyzed with emotion, but because Buffy could kill them both with her hands and she is way angry.

At home, Willow looks longingly at a photo of her and Xander, and picks up the phone to call him. He’s at home, in a filthy room, listening to Patsy Cline. He picks up the phone, then hangs it up, and takes it off the hook. PS. OMG LOOK AT THE PHONE:

OMG, it’s rotary!

Buffy is in her room, looking at the scrapbook of good times she’s had since she came to Sunnydale. I would have assumed the scrapbook would be somewhat emptier, what with the whole “Hellmouth” thing going on, but whatever. Joyce comes in and asks Buffy what’s the matter, and Buffy begs her mom to take her away from Sunnydale. But Joyce, unaware of Buffy’s Slayerness, assumes that Buffy is reacting this way because no one has asked her to Spring Fling. She reveals that she bought Buffy a beautiful dress to wear to the dance. She tries to convince Buffy to go with a heartwarming story:

Joyce: “Homecoming, my freshman year of college. I didn’t have a date, so I got dressed up and went anyway.”

Buffy: “Was it awful?”

Joyce: “It was awful. For about an hour.”

Buffy: “Then what happened?”

Joyce: “I met your father.”

I hate to interrupt this anecdote, but didn’t Buffy’s parents, you know… get divorced recently? I know that divorce doesn’t magically erase all the good memories and love you had for the other person in your past, but damn. If I were a child of a recent divorce, this would drive a stake through my heart (rimshot). And also, do they have dances in college for real? I went to community college, so I don’t know from sleep-away camp style college. Somebody fill me in on this one.

Buffy makes a comment about how having her whole life ahead of her must have been nice for her mom, and we don’t see Joyce immediately rush her daughter to the hospital for suicide watch because it cuts to a new scene. I really, really hope Joyce had some discussion with Buffy after that remark, because so far, she’s batting a thousand in the parenting department.

The next morning, Cordelia and Willow are walking through Sunnydale high because Cordelia’s date- who she is totally falling for in way she obviously didn’t fall for the poor guy who got beaten with a bat in the last episode- didn’t show up at the Bronze with the AV equipment. Willow and Cordelia spot the guy and a friend sitting in a classroom watching television.

“You know, I’m just hanging out with my dead friends.”

When she opens to the door to give her boyfriend a piece of her mind, he falls out of the room dead, and Willow goes inside to find lots of dead students and a creepy, child-sized handprint on the television, which is showing cartoons.

My kids are on summer vacation, so this is how you’ll find my body.

Buffy is getting all prettied up when her mom rushes in and tells her that there’s something on the news, and it has to do with Willow. Buffy goes to Willow’s house, where she finds Willow absolutely traumatized:

Willow: “I’m trying to think how to say it, to explain it so you’ll understand.”

Buffy: “It doesn’t matter as long as you’re okay.”

Willow: “I’m not okay. I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there, it wasn’t our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun. What are we gonna do?”

Buffy: “What we have to.”

That’s really all it takes. Buffy loves her friend so much, and she’s so shaken by how upset Willow is, that she’s willing to go face the Master and die.

Because Buffy is a fucking hero.

Pardon me, this is the part of this episode where I get a tissue and delicately dab at my eyes and pretend like it’s allergies and not crying. I’m sorry, but I can’t force myself to do the dishes if I don’t want to, and here is Buffy, ready to march into death because she has to if she wants her friends to live in a world where the monsters don’t win.

In his subterranean hidey hole, the Master tests the force field around him and, seeing it’s weakening, sends the Anointed One out to fetch Buffy.

In the library, Giles is getting all his weapons out, while Jenny Calendar gives a little rundown of events that will A) clarify what’s happening for any viewers who are stragglers or not paying attention, and B) lets us know she’s in on the Slayer secret club now:

Jenny: “Okay, so, this Master guy tried to open the Hellmouth, but he got stuck in it, and now all the signs are reading that he’s gonna get out, which opens the Hellmouth, which brings the demons, which ends the world?”

Giles: “Yes. That about sums it up, yes.”

Jenny: “The part that gets me though, is where Buffy is the Vampire Slayer. She’s so little.”

That’s one of my favorite Jenny Calendar lines ever. She can totally get all the demon stuff, that makes sense. Buffy being the Slayer is what blows her mind.

I’m going to point this out now, because it ties into my overall #2: Did anyone else notice how Jenny and Buffy have the same speech patterns and irreverent black humor about the supernatural? It’s almost a subheading under #2 for me, that Jenny is a grown up and acceptable version of Buffy for Giles to be interested in. And the weird thing is, it might not even be intentional on the part of the writers, because in the Buffyverse, there are basically two modes for female characters who are given personalities- quirky or bitchy. Some characters swing between the two, but at any given moment, those are their personalities. Since Jenny isn’t bitchy, she has to be another quirky girl, so that could be how she’s ending up just like Buffy. It’s the template.

But moving on, Jenny tells Giles that Brother Luca, the monk who first warned the internet about the Master, has disappeared, and his last email was just a verse from the Bible, the one about “a little child will lead them,” or whatever nonsense was used to justify the Children’s Crusade back in ye olden days. They realize that this means the vampire that Buffy killed in the funeral home wasn’t the Anointed One, and is probably a kid. But Buffy won’t know this. Jenny says they have to warn Buffy, but Giles says:

Giles: “Buffy’s not going to face the Master. I am.”

Then Buffy walks in and she’s all:

Buffy: “No you’re not.”

And she’s wearing her Spring Fling dress and Angel’s leather jacket, and it looks awesome.

Giles is not having it when Buffy says she’s going to find the Anointed One and let him bring her to the Master:

Giles: “I’ve made up my mind.”

Buffy: “So have I.”

Giles: “I made up mine first. I’m older and wiser than you, and just do what you’re told for once! All right?”

He tells Buffy there’s nothing she can say to stop him from going off to death at the Master’s hands in her place, and she says she knows. Then she punches him and knocks him out, so we’re, what, ten out of twelve episodes now that he’s gotten knocked unconscious? Good luck remembering all your smarty pants library stuff with multiple brain injuries, Rupert!

Jenny runs to Giles’s aid, and Buffy tells her to think up something cool and say that she said it when he wakes up. Then she puts her cross necklace back on and picks up a crossbow.

Jenny: “You fight the Master, and you’ll die.”

Buffy: “Maybe. But maybe I’ll take him with me.”

Outside the school, Buffy sees the Anointed One standing all alone. He asks her to help him, but Buffy knows who he is. She tell’s him it’s okay, and with the pretense dropped, they walk off into the commercial break hand in hand.

Like two best mates, but one is leading the other one to certain doom.
Back in the library, Xander and Willow have just found out from recently-conscious Giles that Buffy went to face the Master and her demise. And Willow and Xander do not react well to the presence of Jenny Calendar:

Jenny: “Uh, I’m sorry to bring this up, but we also have an apocalypse to worry about.”

Xander: “Do you mind?”

Willow: “How come she’s in the club?”

The kids really do not care about the end of the world. They just care about the end of Buffy. And this is a weird logic we will see the characters go through over and over again. It’s a thing I’ve always gotten hung up on in the storytelling with this show. “[Character] might die! But the world might end! Let’s all forget that [character] is in this world and will die anyway, but also the whole world will die and one of those things is way worse than the other.” I guess I can’t say I would react differently, having never been in a situation where I had to choose between losing a loved one or allowing earth’s inevitable destruction, so I can’t say what I would choose either way… but I’m hoping I wouldn’t wrestle with it at least once a year for seven years, if you get my drift.

Buffy reaches the Hellmouth via sewer tunnels. Later in the series, it will be easily accessible from the Sunnydale high basement, and sometimes bursting directly up through the library floor.

Angel is in his apartment, brooding:

Brood! Brood like Heathcliff, you chiseled-featured bastard!

…when Xander shows up and tells Angel that Buffy has gone to fight the Master. Angel says that the Master will kill her, but he doesn’t sound real concerned about it. He’s all prickly and stand-offish with Xander, even as Xander is asking for help for Buffy. Angel knows Buffy is going to die… so why doesn’t it seem like a good idea to help her? #9, Angel. #9.

Xander cuts off Angel’s trash talking with a cross to the face and tells him what’s what:

Xander: “How can I say this clearly? I don’t like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you’re a vampire. But Buffy’s got this big old yen for you. She thinks you’re a real person. And right now, I need you to prove her right.”

Angel: “You’re in love with her.”

Xander: “Aren’t you?”

Back in the library, Jenny Calendar points out that they don’t know where the Hellmouth is going to open. Buffy fans know, don’t we? They ask a distracted Willow to help them research it, and we cut to Buffy entering the Hellmouth with the Anointed One. He leaves her at the entrance, and with tense music playing, Buffy ventures in to face the Master, alone.

Buffy: “You know, you really ought to talk to your contractor. Looks like you got some water damage.”

Master: “Oh good. The feeble banter portion of the fight. Why don’t we just cut to the- “

Buffy cuts to the, all right. She shoots the Master with the crossbow, but he grabs the arrow before it can pierce his heart. While Buffy bickers with the Master and Xander bickers with Angel, Willow, Giles, and Jenny realize that the other vampires will be going to the Bronze- where the Spring Fling dance is happening. The Master gets the jump on Buffy, just like in the dream she had, and Willow and Jenny try to get to the Bronze to warn everyone, but are met with a Night of The Living Dead-style army of shambling vampires who are headed straight for the school.

The Master explains to Buffy that just by showing up, she’s let the prophecy happen; her blood will give him the power to get free, and then the apocalypse, etc. If she hadn’t shown up, none of the bad stuff would have come true. He bites her, drinks her blood, and then leaves her face down in a pool of water.

And this is why people don’t like going to Michael Stipe’s halloween parties, guys.

Xander and Angel arrive and find Buffy dead:
Looking at that pose, we clearly having the mourning romantic hero and the tragic, doomed heroine, right? This is some real Brontë shit going down here, right? Well, in comes Captain Nice Guy to save the day, because Angel can’t perform CPR because he can’t breathe.
Back up the canon truck a sec.
Angel smelled gas in the last episode. Which means, he has a sense of smell. He can also smell Buffy when she’s around, and in season two or three (I forget which) he can smell a werewolf. So, he can at least choose to breathe, right? I mean, we see the vampires on this show smoking all the time (because smoking is evil and associated only with evil people, cigarettes being a good indicator of a person’s inherent evilness and not symptomatic of our addiction culture that makes people crave poison for profit), so they have to at least be able to breathe if they will it. Why can’t Angel do CPR?
BECAUSE IF ANGEL DID CPR, XANDER WOULDN’T GET TO BE THE TRUE HERO OF THE STORY, AND HE’S OWED SOMETHING AFTER BUFFY’S REJECTION.
I am disappoint.
Back at the school, Cordelia shows up just in time to rescue Jenny and Willow, while in the Hellmouth, Xander continues CPR. Just when they’ve given up hope, Buffy comes miraculously back to life, spitting up cave water, and breathes, “Xander,” in a total Nice Guy fantasy resolution jack-off porn voice.
YES, I AM BITTER.
The thing is, I’m also torn. Because if Buffy got together with Xander after this, I would have been really mad. But she doesn’t. So… is this subverting the Nice Guy Gets The Girl trope? Or making it worse? I’m really not sure.
Cordelia takes the fastest route to the library:
When you need somewhere safe to get away from vampires, you should definitely make huge holes in that place with a car.
Willow, Jenny, Cordelia, and Giles barricade themselves in against the vampires, but they don’t notice Slenderman’s dick poking up through the floor:
Why is it always tentacles with this show? YOU KNOW WHY.

The Master stands atop a building, I’m assuming from the skylight that it’s the school, and surveys the city of Sunnydale. Back in the Hellmouth, Buffy gets up, despite Xander telling her she’s still weak (god, why did Xander have to deliver that line? Now I’m going to overanalyze it), but she tells them she feels different and strong. She’s ready to take on the Master.
I bet Buffy’s change of heart comes from the fact that she’s already died, and now that the mystery is all cleared up there’s nothing to fear anymore? Either way, while her friends are in the library fighting for their lives, Buffy struts up to the school to the strains of her own theme music, and she’s ready to rumble.
And also, Cordy bites a vampire. Good job, Cordy.

Slenderman’s dick grabs Willow’s ankle, and before anyone can get help her, the library floor busts open and it’s PENIS MONSTER TIME.
I told you #7 was gonna happen!
I’m not going to point out the fact that there are three young “maiden” type women in the library when this fight goes down, and there just happen to be three dick monsters. Because I understand that, like real penises, two is too few and four is just too many.
Buffy finds the Master on the roof, and he’s understandably surprised to see her there:

Master: “You’re dead.”

Buffy: “I may be dead, but I’m still pretty. Which is more than I can say for you.”

Master: “You were destined to die. It was written!”

Buffy: “What can I say? I flunked the written.”

She’s pretty and bad at school! I’m so glad they worked both of those in there.

Hey… who wrote this episode, anyway?

I can go on at length about why Joss Whedon as feminism’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy savior is such a huge pile of steaming bullshit, but I won’t. Because I feel like this episode kind of says it all. He wrote and directed it. He had control over the message in it- that Nice Guys deserve the love of the girl they’re objectifying, that they’re the true heroes these girls can’t live without, and that being a “strong” female means getting scared and killed, then rescued by a dude, and that experience builds character, so the “strong” female can confidently downplay her intelligence in her fight with the bad guy.

Look, I understand the draw of Whedon-brand ™ feminism. I really do. It’s actually a great stepping stone, and it got a lot of the women of my generation to look past our culturally limited representations of feminism in the media, but I feel so… I don’t know. Let down that geek culture raises up Joss Whedon as an example of a feminist hero. Why can’t we embrace a woman who delivers these messages? The simple answer to that is, female creators still don’t get a lot of attention or shelf-life in the genre. Before we can fix that, we have to admit to ourselves that if a man who crafts an entire television show around the concept of human women as mindless programmable sex dolls is our idea of a feminist icon, then we still have a lot of fucking work to do.

Buffy fights the Master on the roof while Giles fights the penis monster in the library and Jenny Calendar tries to keep Willow from being pulled into the Hellmouth. Giles is thrown through a table, the breaking of which creates a sharp wooden protrusion right under the skylight Buffy and the Master are fighting near, so yes, yes it is a Rube-Goldberg vampire murdering device, why do you ask?

You pretty much know what happens next.

After all the carnage is over and the penis monster recedes and the vampires run away, the gang gathers round the Master’s bones and decides to go to the dance at the Bronze. Season one over!
And everyone really liked Buffy’s dress.

This has been a really hard episode for me to recap, because until I started examining it, “Prophecy Girl” was one of my all-time favorites. But now, all I can see is the Nice Guy revenge fantasy of proving how heroic and noble and much more better for the girl Xander is than the guy she’s actually into, and how in the end he inevitably proves himself the real hero- again, not the guy Buffy prefers. This suggests further that Buffy is an object; even in the confines of her own story, she’s being judged and shamed for not doing the “nice” thing and going for the “nice” guy. The script is subtly telling the audience, “Okay, she’s going to get the brooding, handsome prince-type guy, but we all know she should really be with the guy who loved her patiently from afar and saved her life, so she owes him.” And note, Buffy shirks her obligation to Xander’s Nice Guy love, and never finds true happiness with the guy she turned him down for. Buffy’s punishment for choosing “wrong” is never having lasting happiness in her love life. That’s pretty harsh. #6

I used to ship Buffy and Xander a little bit, but never again. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

There’s also a lot of Sleeping Beauty/Persephone imagery in this episode, and when meshed with the Nice Guy thing and the giant three-donged penis monster, it somehow makes Buffy even less empowered.

Because of impending vacation, season 2 recaps will start up again in the first week of July. I’m so looking forward to season 2, you have no idea!

50 Shades Freed recap Chapter Seventeen or “Grey’s Anatomy”

Someone sent me this link: Scott Shepherd Hit My Friend and I’m sorry, I don’t remember who sent it to me, but it’s worth reading. It’s a perfect example of how society punishes women for their abuse.

In this link, Laci Green describes the differences between a healthy relationship and a not healthy relationship. NSFW, language wise.

And Yahoo! has everything under control, kinksters (many folks sent me this link) BDSM practitioners aren’t mentally ill: study. Basically, rest easy, you’re not into kink

When we last left Ana, she had just gotten a call saying her father was in the hospital.

“Mr. Rodriguez, what’s happened?” My voice is hoarse and thick with unshed tears. Ray. Sweet Ray. My dad.

I love it when the first lines of a chapter are super clumsy.

Ray has been in a car accident, and he’s been transfered to a hospital in Portland:

Portland? What the hell is he doing in Portland?

Yeah, why didn’t they take him to Seattle Grace?

 Seattle Grace is on Ana’s proscribed list of hospitals. Because this.
Actually, it’s better that they didn’t take Ana’s dad to Seattle Grace, because there are too many evil hot chicks there:
And of course, an evil gay man. Look at all of them, plotting to steal Ana’s husband. Especially the blonde.

Ray has been airlifted to the Oregon Health and Sciences university hospital, and Mr. Rodriguez and José OMG I CAN ACTUALLY PUT THE ACCENT MARK IN BLOGGER’S COMPOSE MODE?! WHEN THE FUCK DID THIS HAPPEN?!
Ahem. José and his father will meet Ana in Portland. She calls her boss up and tells him what’s going on, and tells Hannah to cancel all her appointments for the rest of the day and Monday. Which, of course, is going to affect her birth control shot again. I don’t want to spoiler it for anyone, but Ana MAAAAAAY be pregnant.
Hannah says:

“I hope he’s okay. Don’t worry about anything here. We’ll muddle through.”

Keeping in mind that Ana has worked there all of three months, three weeks of which she was on her honeymoon, is she really that integral to daily operations? Or by “muddle through” does Hannah mean, “We’ll somehow manage to make it through our days without your husband dropping by to cause a scene and interrupt us all?”

The concern etched on her pinched, pale face is almost my undoing.

Even in crisis, Ana can think of the most unflattering adjectives possible to describe another woman.

Ana orders Sawyer to take her to Portland. This is how it goes down:

“We’re going to Portland- now.”

“Okay, ma’am,” he says, frowning, but opens the door.

Moving is good.

“Mrs. Grey,” Sawyer asks as we race toward the parking lot. “Can I ask why we’re making this unscheduled trip?”

“It’s my dad. He’s been in an accident.”

“I see. Does Mr. Grey know?”

“I’ll call him from the car.”

Compare this to Ana’s interaction with Prescott in the chapter before, and earlier in the book when she goes out for drinks with Kate. Prescott fought with Ana over seeing Leila and going out with Kate, and ultimately she was fired when Ana did what she wanted to do. Ana just told Sawyer she’s making an unscheduled trip to another state, and he’s like, “Yes, ma’am.” There is no chance of him getting fired, because he’s a white male. And you might be thinking, “But Jenny, this is an emergency, her father is in the hospital.” To you, I say, “This is Christian Fucking Grey. Why wouldn’t he fire someone for driving Ana out of state without his express permission, even in an emergency? He only wants to keep her safe.”

Ana tries to call Christian, but she gets his assistant, instead. She leaves a message and then he calls her immediately back, so… what was the point of a page-long conversation with his assistant? Why did we have to read that? She doesn’t have any ECIF (external conflict/internal feelings) about not being able to reach Christian, it has nothing to do with the plot, but we had to read it because E.L. is, at this point, bored of writing this story and she’s adding unneeded shit to pad out her word count.

Ana talks to Christian and tells him her father has been in an accident and she’s heading to Portland. Christian is going to fly there to meet her, but he can’t come for about three hours:

Oh shit. Charlie Tango is back in commission and the last time Christian flew her…

“I have a meeting with some guys over from Taiwan. I can’t blow them off. It’s a deal we’ve been hammering out for months.”

Why do I know nothing about this?

Do we really need an answer here? Ana, you didn’t know your husband had a list of people your security team was supposed to forbid you from seeing. Why would he tell you jack or shit about his business?

PS. Christian could have just said, “I’ll meet you in three hours,” but he had to be sure to mention flying. For a moment there, Ana was almost worried about someone other than Christian, which is obviously unacceptable.

After hanging up, I hug my knees once more. I know nothing about Christian’s business. What the hell is he doing with the Taiwanese?

Ana knows nothing about his business, but she somehow finds it odd or incongruous that he would be working with a company from Taiwan? Why do we even have this thought in here? Shouldn’t she be more concerned about the fact that her father has been airlifted somewhere after a horrible accident?

He must fly safely. My stomach knots anew and nausea threatens. Ray and Christian. I don’t hink my heart could take that. Leaning back, I start my mantra again: Please let him be okay. Please let him be okay.

We all know she’s talking about Christian and not her dad now, right?

After a section break, they arrive at OHSU:

My mind flits back to my last visit to OHSU, when, on my second day, I fell off a stepladder at Clayton’s, twisting my ankle. I recall Paul Clayton hovering over me and shudder at the memory.

Now, we remember that Paul asked Ana out and she wasn’t in to him. Maybe it’s because it’s been a year since I read the first book, but was he really like, so creepy and bad that you wouldn’t want him to help you if you twisted your ankle? And hey, Ana, maybe he was hovering over you because you were a brand new employee and he was worried you’d sue his family business. But either way, this paragraph is stuck in here to remind us that Ana has never, ever had naughty down there feelings for any man other than Christian, and men are able to form intense and creepy obsessions with Ana in a mere two days. This is important to remember, because in the OR waiting room, she runs into José:

“Ana!” Mr. Rodriguez gasps. His arm is in a cast, and his cheek is bruised on one side. He’s in a wheelchair with one of his legs in a cast, too. I gingerly wrap my arms around him.

If you’re having a hard time picturing this totally original, wheelchair bound character, allow me to provide some help:

It’s not plagiarism if everybody ignores it!
José gives Ana a hug:

José gently strokes my hair. I wrap my arms around his neck and softly weep. We stand like this for ages, and I’m so grateful that my friend is here. We pull apart when Sawyer joins us in the waiting room.

Because he’ll inform on you to your husband. At this point, Sawyer mumbles into his headset, “She touched another man, sir. Should we initiate protocol Othello?” No, just kidding, that doesn’t happen. But let’s be honest here, we all know it could.

José holds up his hands to halt my barrage of questions and sits down beside me. “We don’t have any news. Ray, Dad, and I were on a fishing trip to Astoria. We were hit by some stupid fucking drunk- “

Mr. Rodriguez tries to interrupt, stammering an apology.

Cálmate, Papa,” José snaps. “I don’t have a mark on me, just a couple of bruised ribs and a knock on the head. Dad… well, Dad broke his wrist and ankle. But the car hit the passenger side and Ray.”

According to Google maps, it taks about two hours and forty-six minutes to drive from Seattle, where Ana works, to Portland, where her dad is in the hospital. Mr. Rodriguez told Ana on the phone that he was about to leave the hospital in Astoria at the beginning of the chapter. But he has already a) been seen by doctors b) been sent for xrays c) had those xrays read, and d) been casted and released from the ER. Then he drove to the hospital and got there before Ana did. That entire “You’ve got a broken leg” process takes a lot of time, so… why didn’t José call Ana to tell her? If he was fine, why did he wait until his dad was discharged for anyone to let Ana know that her father was seriously injured? Either the timeline here doesn’t make sense, or the Rodriguezs are jerks.

Oh no, no… Panic swamps my limbic system again. 

I get that Ana is supposed to be really, super smart, but how many times does the average person, in the middle of a serious emotional crisis, think, “My hippocampus is totally doing [x] right now?”

Ana is freezing, so José gives her his jacket and Sawyer gets her some tea:

Sawyer reenters, bearing a paper cup of hot water and a separate tea bag. He knows how I take my tea!

…made out of hot water and a tea bag? I don’t…

We wait… and wait. Mr. Rodriguez with his eyes closed, praying I think, and José holding my hand and squeezing it every now and then. I slowly sip my tea. It’s not Twinings, but some cheap nasty brand, and it tastes disgusting.

Like Twinings is the most posh and exclusive tea brand that there is? I’m dying. Twinings is like three dollars a box.

I remember the last time I waited for news. The last time I thought all was lost, when Charlie Tango went missing.

The tea was better then. It was rich people tea.

Closing my eyes, I offer up a silent prayer for the safe passage of my husband. I glance at my watch. 2:15 p.m. He should be here soon. My tea is cold… Ugh!

The order of storytelling importance in this chapter is:

  1. Tea
  2. Whether or not Christian gets in another helicopter crash
  3. Ray might die

Sorry, Ray. It’s hard to compete with those one and two slots.

Christian strides in. His face darkens momentarily when he notices my hand in José’s.

Really, Chedward? Really? You think she’s trolling for a piece of ass in the hospital waiting room while her dad is fighting for his life? Way not trust your wife. What makes this even worse is, Ana doesn’t even think, “Wow, I can’t believe he really think I would cheat on him when my father is being operated on? What kind of person does he think I am?” She thinks:

Then I’m wrapped in his arms, his nose in my hair, and I’m inhaling his scent, his warmth, his love. A small part of me feels calmer, stronger, and more resilient because he’s here. Oh, the difference his presence makes to my peace of mind.

So, there’s that.

José introduces Christian to Mr. Rodriguez:

“Mr. Rodriguez- we met at the wedding. I take it you were in the accident, too?”

No, Christian, the wheelchair and casts are his Halloween costume, he thought he’d wear them to the hospital to see how convincing they were.

Once Christian has been filled in on the details of the accident, it’s time to continue with his unchecked insecurity over Ana’s friendship with José:

“Have you eaten?” he asks.

I shake my head.

“Are you hungry?”

I shake my head.

“But you’re cold?” he asks, eyeing José’s jacket.

I nod. He shifts in his chair, but wisely says nothing.

That’s right. He’s subtly letting Ana know how upset he is to have found her associating with José without his permission. So, I’m guessing we know at least one name on that “proscribed list.”

A doctor comes in to update Ana on her father’s condition:

“You’re his next of kin?” the doctor asks. His bright blue eyes almost match his scrubs, and under any other circumstances I would have found him attractive.

 So what you’re saying is… they did go to Seattle Grace?

“I’m his daughter, Ana.”

“Miss Steele-”

“Mrs. Grey,” Christian interrupts him.

“My apologies,” the doctor stammers, and for a moment I want to kick Christian.

Welcome to the club, Ana. Not the Sub Club, just the club of people who want to cause bodily harm to Christian Grey. Seriously, sit down, little boy. This is not about you.

“He’s suffered severe internal injuries,” Dr. Crowe says, “principally to his diaphragm, but we’ve managed to repair them, and we were able to save his spleen. Unfortunately, he suffered a cardiac arrest during the operation because of blood loss. We managed to get his heart going again, but this remains a concern. [...]“

No shit? His heart stopping is a concern? I never would have guessed. Also, excuse me, but if he was in that much danger of bleeding out, why did they attempt to save his spleen? If it were damaged and bleeding and he was that bad off, a surgeon would just take it out. In fact, until recently, a surgeon wasn’t going to try and save your punctured spleen at all.

Here’s another thing I don’t understand- and if there are any trauma doctors or surgeons who read this blog, or medical school students or what have you, feel free to correct me on this stuff, I’m not a doctor- but if they were taken to the hospital in Astoria first, wouldn’t they have treated the massive internal bleeding themselves to stabilize him, then sent him via helicopter to OHSU? It seems like peritoneal lavage would have been performed when Charlie  Ray first came into the ER, and with a ruptured or punctured spleen they would have had to act fast. Dr. Crowe goes on to tell Ana that her father has a closed head injury, something that could have necessitated a transfer to a larger hospital, but it just seems sketch to me that they’d put someone with abdominal bleeding that bad in a helicopter and fly them to another hospital.

“And what’s the prognosis?” Christian asks coolly.

“Mr. Grey, it’s difficult to say at the moment. It’s possible he could make a complete recovery, but that’s in God’s hands now.”

I would be so mad if a doctor ever said that to me. Not just because I hate the default “of course everyone believes in God,” but because it sounds like they’re saying, “Well… basically… done here. Don’t have a lot of interest in… you know. Saving your loved one. Let’s just see what happens.”

Ana gets permission to go see Ray, and Christian offers Sawyer’s driving services to José and Mr. Rodriguez. Before they leave, José and Ana have a tender goodbye:

“Stay strong, Ana,” José whispers in my ear. “He’s a fit and healthy man. The odds are in his favor.”

Let’s try to remember which young adult franchise we’re plagiarizing and when, okay, dear?

I hug him hard. Then, releasing him, I shrug off his jacket and hand it back to him.

“Keep it, if you’re still cold.”

“No, I’m okay. Thanks.” Glancing nervously up at Christian, I see that he’s regarding us impassively. Christian takes my hand.

Then he lifts his leg and pees on her, just in case all the other men in the hospital don’t realize that she belongs to him.

And with that they leave. Christian and I are alone. He caresses my cheek. “You’re pale. Come here.” He sits down on the chair and pulls me onto his lap, folding me into his arms again, and I go willingly. I snuggle up against him, feeling oppressed by my stepfather’s misfortune, but grateful that my husband is here to comfort me. He gently strokes my hair and holds my hand.

“How was Charlie Tango?” I ask.

He grins. “Oh, she was yar,” he says, quiet pride in his voice. It makes me smile properly for the the first time in several hours, andI glance at him, puzzled.

“Yar?”

“It’s a line from The Philadelphia Story. Grace’s favorite film.”

“I don’t know it.”

“I think I have it on Blu-Ray at home. We can watch it and make out.”

Her dad is in a coma.

What’s the point of introducing a quirky new phrase for a character two thirds of the way through the third and final (oh god, I pray it is the final) book? Just to fill space? So he can impress Ana with his knowledge of old movies? Why did this scene feel like a good fit here? Was any of this information needed by the reader at all?

No? It’s just a self-indulgent crapfest, you say? All right, then, carry on.

Christian tells Ana about the Taiwanese shipyard he’s just purchased. It’s cheaper to build ship hulls in Taiwan. But what about the shipyard and the workers he already has in the states?

“We’ll redeploy. We should be able to keep redundancies to a minimum.” He kisses my hair.

Oh baby, talk some more of that sexy talk about shipping American jobs overseas. It gets me all hot and squirmy to think of you two fucking idiots rolling around in a bed covered in money and your love juices while some blue collar shipyard worker gets told he’s a redundancy and ends up moving his family of four out of their foreclosed house and into a two bedroom apartment.

But enough with Christian’s business, let’s go into the ICU to see Ray. He’s in a bad way. I won’t quote the whole description, but he’s on a ventilator, he’s got a cast on one leg, and his chest is covered in a big bandage. This is all very disturbing to Ana, but not so disturbing that she can’t notice a few key details about the situation:

“A petite young nurse stands to one side, checking his monitors.

“Can I touch him?” I ask her, tentatively reaching for his hand.

“Yes.” She smiles kindly Her badge says KELLIE RN, and she must be in her twenties. She’s blonde with dark, dark eyes.

Ana. Your father is in a coma. Do you really need to point out to us that his nurse is not a natural blonde?

Okay, okay. I’m caught. I’m criticizing something that is actually a crucial plot detail, because you see, just a few lines later, this happens:

“All Mr. Steele’s vitals are good,” Nurse Kellie says quietly.

“Thank you,” Christian murmurs. I glance up in time to see her gape. She’s finally gotten a good look at my husband. I don’t care. She can gape at Christian all she likes as long as she makes my father well again.

See, we know that Kellie is no threat to Ana right now because she’s not a natural blonde. If E.L. hadn’t included the description of Kellie’s blonde hair and dark eyes, we would never have known that her blonde beauty was artifice, and we, the vapid, shallow readership of this crap,  would have been more concerned with the possibility of yet another evil!blonde ruining Ana’s perfect fairy tale happiness. You know, instead of worrying about the dude in the bed in the coma.

“Can he hear me?” I ask.

“He’s in a deep sleep. But who knows?”

Nurses do. Nurses know that coma patients can hear what’s going on around them. I worked in an ICU/NCU, and I heard nurses every day telling people to talk to their loved ones, because they could hear them, or turning on the television so the people in the coma had noise to listen to. And this isn’t some big mystery or anything; people who have been in comas often report that they were aware of what was happening around them.

“Can I sit for a while?”

“Sure thing.” She smiles at me, her cheeks pink from a telltale blush. Incongruously, I find myself thinking blonde is not her true color.

No, Ana, that’s not incongruous. You often think jealous, bitter, and uncharitable thoughts about other women and their appearances. Who do you think you’re fooling here?

Christian goes out to make a phone call, while Ana stays with Ray and talks to him:

Very quietly, so as not to disturb anyone, I tell him about our weekend in Aspen and about last weekend when we were soaring and sailing aboard The Grace. I tell him about our new house, our plans, about how we hope to make it ecologically sustainable. I promise to take him to Aspen so he can go fishing with Christian and assure him that Mr. Rodriguez and José will both be welcome, too.

Worst. Coma. Ever. Can you imagine being unable to wake up, move your body, speak, but you have to listen to Anastasia Rose Steele talk to you? I would suggest they make a Twilight Zone episode about it, but I’m sure E.L. would just see Twilight in the title and plagiarize that, too. Plus, Ana is lying to this poor man; there’s no way in hell José is ever going to Aspen with them.

After a while, Christian suggests they check into a hotel so Ana can rest and stay close to the hospital. Gosh, I wonder where they’ll go?

The suite at the Heathman looks just as I remember it. How often have I thought about that first night and morning I spent with Christian Grey? I stand in the entrance to the suite, paralyzed. Jeez, it all started here.

Yeah, three long, long months ago, when your dreamy romance boyfriend kidnapped you from a night out with your friends and brought your unconscious body here and put you in his bed. He is truly Prince Charming.

“Do you want a shower? A bath? What do you need, Ana?” Christian gazes at me, and I know he’s rudderless- my lost boy dealing with events beyond his control. He’s been withdrawn and contemplative all afternoon. This is real life in the raw, and he’s kept himself from that for so long, he’s exposed and helpless now. My sweet, sheltered Fifty Shades.

I’m glad Ana is concentrating on the most important part of this whole ordeal with her father being on deaths’ door: how Christian is handling it and whether or not he’s able to fulfill his yearning for absolute control. Because I totally care about that psychopath’s internal struggle right now.

“Oh, Ana,” Christian murmurs. “I’ve not seen you like this. You’re normally so brave and strong.”

No she isn’t.

They go to take a bath together, and Ana asks Christian if he got in the bathtub with Leila when he bathed her after her breakdown. He says he didn’t, and then Ana asks how long he’s going to support Leila.

“Until she’s on her feet. I don’t know.” He shrugs. “Why?”

“Are there others?”

“Others?”

“Exes who you support.”

“There was one, yes. No longer though.”

“Oh?”

“She was studying to be a doctor. She’s qualified now and has someone else.”

WELL THANK GOD FOR THAT. CAN’T HAVE ALL THOSE UNMATED FEMALES RUNNING AROUND ALL WILLY-NILLY WITH THEIR DEGREES AND SELF-RELIANCE.

“Leila says you have two of her paintings,” I whisper.

“I used to. I didn’t really care for them. They had technical merit, but they were too colorful for me. I think Elliot has them As we know, he has no taste.”

I giggle, and he wraps his other arm around me, sloshing water over the side of the bath.

“That’s better,” he whispers and kisses my temple.

“He’s marrying my best friend.”

“Then I’d better shut my mouth,” he says.

Christian is being a good partner by distracting Ana with her favorite subject: dissing other women. Ana should be feeling a lot better about herself and her dad’s situation now.

After a section break there is a pointless scene in which Christian gripes about Paul at Clayton’s having a crush on Ana, because that is just unacceptable that any man laid eyes on her before Christian Grey came along, then there is another section break. In another pointless section, Ana and Christian talk about how young Ana looks and how she’s going to be a year older the next day, and then Christian tries to get her to eat again, but she just wants to go back to the hospital.

Remember how I said before that these recaps would get shorter because not much was happening in the book? It is super evident in this chapter. The weird thing is, there’s almost too much plot happening at any one time in the storyline, but there still is nothing happening now. Which means that when the plot actually does happen, it will be wrapped up with unrealistic speed. So if you’ve been really concerned and worried that the book might get unexpectedly good and there will be nothing to be angry over or to mock, don’t worry. That definitely does not happen.

Christian and Ana go back to the ICU so Ana can say goodnight to her father. José is there, visiting, but he’s just about to leave:

José eyes Christian quickly, then pulls me into a brief hug. “Mañana.”

“I’M MEXICAN!” José screams, pulling a sombrero and serape out of no where before playing a jaunty tune with his Tejano band.

“He’s still nuts about you,” Christian says quietly.

“No he’s not. And even if he is… ” I shrug because right now I just don’t care.

“And even if he is… it doesn’t matter, because you’ve put your tiny golden shackle on me, and I’ll be your prisoner forever.”

Isn’t it amazing how we’re all reading this book where we’re rooting for the heroine to end up with the guy who was basically going to date rape her in the first book of the series? Because compared to the guy she’s actually with, he seems like the best option? What the fuck, world?

“Well done,” I murmur.

He frowns.

“For not frothing at the mouth.”

We’re giving him praise for not causing a scene at her possibly dying father’s beside over his petty insecurities. DREEEEEAAAAAM MAN.

Not a lot happens in this hospital visit, except Christian has had his mother and a Dr. Sluder, an “expert in her field,” come to evaluate Ray’s condition. Dr. Sluder assures Ana that her father will be okay. We don’t learn what Dr. Sluder’s field is. For all we know, it’s farming mushrooms or building yurts or something.

After a section break, we’re back at the Heathman, and Ana and Christian are going to bed.

We’re not going to make love? And I’m relieved. In fact, he’s had a totally hands-off approach with me all day. I wonder if I should be alarmed by this turn of events, but since my inner goddess has left the building and taken my libido with her, I’ll think about it in the morning.

Sign #2,598,390 that this is not a healthy relationship: you should never have to wonder if the person you’re with is mad at you for not having sex with them during a tragedy.

“Promise me you’ll eat something tomorrow. I can just about tolerate you wearing another man’s jacket without frothing at the mouth, but, Ana… you must eat. Please.”

Ah, sign #2,598,391, right on schedule.

“Thank you for being here,” I mumble and sleepily kiss his chest.

“Where else would I be? I want to be wherever you are, Ana. Being here makes me think of how far we’ve come. And the night I first slept with you. What a night that was. I watched you for hours. You were just… yar,” he breathes.

Why is this coming up again? Is this a thing they’re going to be saying now? Like “Laters, baby?” Because I may have reached my threshold of tolerance for these morons saying stupid shit.

“Sleep,” he murmurs, and it’s a command. I close my eyes and drift.

Every time I end a chapter with characters going to sleep or begin a chapter with them waking, I think about these books and I feel so, so ashamed.

That’s it for this thrilling chapter, that was not in any way at all a means to stretch a third book out of what was originally a two-story series to bilk readers for more money.