Since the original intended release date of Fifty Shades Darker the movie has come and gone, news is starting to roll out about the sequel. Dakota Johnson wants Jamie Dornan to take it all off, full frontal style, and though she may just be joking, it does seem only fair. Major roles have been cast, including Kim Basinger as Elena Lincoln, and filming is apparently underway. They’re going to do the final books in the trilogy back to back, and are now describing them as “thrillers” and talking up how “scary” they’ll be. I think we all knew it was going to be scary, just not in the way the studio is hyping it.
Now, let’s all place our bets on whether or not the final book will be split into two unnecessarily dragged out pieces, in keeping with the Twilight rip-off theme.
Also, CW: There’s like, a lot of gross pedophilia vibe in this thing. Although at this point, everyone should just assume that all content warnings ever apply to this stupid fucking book.
Also, Also: Welcome to yet another enormous chapter that I’ll break up into parts, since nobody at the publisher could be arsed to.
This Day In History: There was a huge rash of tornados across the midwestern United States. Seriously, it was a fucking mess.
Because E.L. James has never met a chapter she couldn’t begin without someone waking up, we start here:
I wake with a start and a pervading sense of guilt, as if I’ve committed a terrible sin.
First of all, Christian Grey can’t possibly feel remorse for his actions. Or, wait, he does. Just not for the actions he should actually feel guilty about. I’m happy to see that the protagonist being absolutely shocked to find that they haven’t died in their sleep is going to continue in this book. So many of the chapters in Fifty Shades of Grey begin with someone waking up like that.
Is it because I’ve just fucked Anastasia Steele? Virgin?
Underline = Italics
Can you just imagine Ana’s business cards?
I check the radio alarm; it’s after three in the morning.
What the fuck is a radio alarm? Do you mean a clock-radio? I’m getting my bad books confused here, and thinking, “Well, since Grey is an alien who speaks Ahnktesh, obviously he wouldn’t know that.”
Ana sleeps the sound sleep of an innocent. Well, not so innocent now.
Does naive and oblivious not count as innocent? Serious question.
I could wake her.
Fuck her again.
There are definitely some advantages to having her in my bed.
Grey. stop this nonsense.
Fucking her was merely a means to an end and a pleasant diversion.
Okay, but…isn’t sex always a means to an end? You’re like, “I’m horny and I want to get off. So let’s have sex.” But framing it that way still sounds incredibly creepy and skeezy.
I close my eyes in what will probably be a futile attempt to sleep. But the room is too full of Ana: her scent, the sound of her soft breathing, and the memory of my first vanilla fuck.
Boo. Why is it necessary or important for Christian to be a “virgin” when it comes to sex without kink? I get that his introduction to sexuality was through Elena, and it was BDSM. But knowing that he never once thought to try having sex without kink involved goes against the characterization of Christian Grey as being sexually adventurous and imaginative. Did it just never occur to him to have sex without the props? Has there ever been an instance (in an elevator, perhaps) when he’s wanted to have sex and there just wasn’t time for a good, thorough spanking? Does he carry a blindfold in his pocket?
Visions of her head thrown back in passion, of her crying out a barely recognizable version of my name, and her unbridled enthusiasm for sexual congress overwhelm me.
Not many people know this, but Sexual Congress is the title of Mitch McConnell’s smooth R&B album.
So, all ripping on the GOP aside, what is Christian Grey really saying with this “sexual congress” bullshit?
He’s never pleased a woman in bed.
No, seriously. The things he’s describing as this new and powerful experience? Just somebody getting off. Ana’s POV is that of a person who’s never had sex before, so we know that she has no frame of reference as to whether he’s actually good in bed or not. So we hear from her, “Oh my god, he’s making me feel things I’ve never felt before,” which is like, duh, she’s literally never felt any of this before, and him going “This was my first time having vanilla sex and it was so incredible, she was moaning and stuff, this is totally uncharted territory.”
Way to unintentionally write your sex god hero in such a way that his own POV makes it clear that he’s never been good in bed before, E.L..
Miss Steele is a carnal creature.
She will be a joy to train.
My cock twitches in agreement.
Is your cock also into dehumanizing women based on their response to physical pleasure, or is that just your brain doing that? I want to know how much blame I can place on your cock.
Christian gets up and takes care of the condoms, which is great, because I thought before that he just left them for the cleaning lady. I am placated now. He refers to his dresser as a “chest of drawers”, yet another instance of archaic/not-typically-American language, and goes downstairs because he’s thirsty. He gets a glass of water and checks his email:
Taylor has returned and is asking if he can stand Charlie Tango down. Stephan must be asleep upstairs. I e-mail him back with a “yes,” though at this time of night it’s a given.
Wait, the helicopter pilot and the bodyguard have been waiting around this whole time? I hope the engine wasn’t running.
Back in the living room I sit down at my piano. This is my solace, where I can lose myself for hours.
I just want to bring up a point I think I made in the first set of recaps, which is that between all of his hobbies–piano, gliding, helicopter piloting, sailing, hiking–, where the hell is he finding time to become a bajillionaire?
When I want to forget everything, this is what I do.
I thought that’s why you went hiking. Or kickboxing.
Ana comes into the room and apologizes for disturbing him, and he points out that he’s the one playing piano in the middle of the night, so who is disturbing who?
“That was a beautiful piece. Bach?”
“Transcription by Bach, but it’s originally an oboe concerto by Alessandro Marcello.”
“It was exquisite, but very sad, such a melancholy melody.”
Just two normal American twenty-somethings talking the way the average American twenty-something talks. Why do Christian and Ana always sound like really snooty extras on an episode of The Nanny where you just know that Fran is going to do something that doesn’t fit in?
Melancholy. It wouldn’t be the first time someone has used that word to describe me.
“May I speak freely? Sir.” Leila is kneeling beside me while I work.
“Sir, you are most melancholy today.”
In other news, we’ve learned that stilted dialogue is sexually transmitted.
They go back into the bedroom:
There’s blood on my sheets. Her blood. Evidence of her now-absent virginity. Her eyes dart from the stains to me and she looks away, embarrassed.
“Well, that’s going to give Mrs. Jones something to think about.”
She looks mortified.
You think maybe? You made her embarrassed about being a virgin, told her she was a problem that had to be fixed, and now you’re pointing out that your housekeeper, a total stranger, will now know of her terrible shame.
I’m about to give her a short lecture on how not to be ashamed of her body, when she reaches out to touch my chest.
I step out of her reach as the darkness surfaces.
So look. I know that for many, many people, it’s much easier to say “you should do/feel this way,” to someone else than it is to apply it to themselves. But it’s funny when it’s so clearly juxtaposed in text.
I also like how he’s just got a “short lecture” in his back pocket at times like this. I assume the longer lecture requires a white board.
“Get into bed,” I order, rather more sharply than I’d intended, but I hope she doesn’t detect my fear.
Yeah, it’s way better for a person to think you’re angry with them for no reason than it is for them to know about one of your boundaries.
Her scent fills my nostrils, reminding me of a happy time and leaving me replete…content, even…
Mommy is happy today. She is singing.
Singing about what love has to do with it.
And cooking. And singing.
My tummy gurgles. She is cooking bacon and waffles.
They smell good. My tummy likes bacon and waffles.
They smell so good.
1. Ana smells like bacon and waffles. 2. We’ve arrived at the starting line of what will be a creepy Oedipal marathon. 3. E.L. James has never known severe poverty. It’s either bacon OR waffles, not bacon AND waffles, and hardly EVER bacon.
Christian wakes up and realizes the bacon smell in his dream is from actual bacon. He goes to the kitchen to find:
There’s Ana. She’s wearing my shirt, her hair in braids, dancing around to some music. Only I can’t hear it. She’s wearing earbuds. Unobserved, I take a seat at the kitchen counter and watch the show. She’s whisking eggs, making breakfast, her braids bouncing as she jiggles from foot to foot, and I realize she’s not wearing underwear.
Just in case you were thinking, “I don’t know, Jenny, it seems like you’re reading a lot into the pedophile vibe here,” let me offer up another birthday cake corner piece-sized lump of reinforcement:
She looks even younger in her braids.
He thinks this, by the way, after a paragraph in which he describes her clumsiness as “arousing”.
Ready for another Fifty Shades of Greatest Hits?
“Are you hungry?” she asks.
“Very.” And I’m not sure if it’s for breakfast or for her.
Christian asks her if she wants music on so she can keep dancing, and she gets embarrassed.
With a pout she turns her back on me and continues to whisk the eggs with gusto. I wonder if she has any idea how disrespectful this is to someone like me…but of course she doesn’t, and for some unfathomable reason it makes me smile.
I’m sorry, Chedward, I didn’t realize you were the pope. She’s making you breakfast, but she’s not following the proper protocol by averting her adoring gaze from you. You know how Queen Elizabeth II would handle this? Fisticuffs.
Sidling up to her, I gently tug one of her braids. “I love these. They won’t protect you.”
Not from me. Not now that I’ve had you.
Christian sets the table and thinks about how weird it is that he’s doing that, because normally his submissives do all the chores on the weekend. So basically this whole BDSM thing is a way for him to avoid shelling out weekend pay to his housekeeper.
There’s a few paragraphs about making coffee, pouring orange juice, getting Ana tea, how lucky it is that Christian put teabags on his shopping list, and Ana, seeing the tea, says:
“Bit of a foregone conclusion, wasn’t I?”
Which I don’t understand. I don’t drink much tea, but I have it in my house. That doesn’t mean I’m preparing to fuck the next tea drinker who happens to stop by.
Unless it’s Giles, but I assume I don’t have to point that out by now.
I add her self-deprecation to the list of behaviors that will need modifying.
At what point does the list of things Chedward doesn’t like about Ana become longer than the list of the things he does like about her? I mean, so far, the only things he’s liked about her are that she’s clumsy and she looks like a preschool version of his mom. As a businessman, why isn’t he running a cost and benefit analysis here?
In keeping with the torturous-pain-of-deflowering theme, Ana winces when she sits down.
“Just how sore are you?” I’m surprised by an uneasy sense of guilt.
The fact that he’s surprised to feel guilty about hurting her should have been enough for the publisher to go, “You know, Erika, this is not painting Christian Grey in the sympathetic light you had hoped.” But obviously they don’t say that, because she might throw a chair at them.
Yes, it’s just a rumor, and probably (definitely) not true, but it is my favorite probably-not-true rumor about E.L. James.
Chedward’s sense of guilt is fleeting, as his selfishness reemerges and the world is right once more.
I want to fuck her again, preferably after breakfast,
Why not during? Multitask.
but if she’s too sore that will be out of the question. Perhaps I could use her mouth this time.
I just thank the lord that he bestowed alternate fuckhole options when designing the human body, lest Christian Grey lack a place to deposit his seed.
Ana asks if Christian just planned to commiserate with her, and he’s like, no, I was wondering if we could fuck some more, but first, he orders her to eat.
I take a bit of my breakfast and close my eyes in appreciation. It tastes mighty fine.
I reckon E.L. James thinks “mighty fine” is a totally normal thing people who are not ranchers or hillbillies or cranberry farmers say.
Ana asks Christian what he wants to do sexually, and he says oral, .
“That’s if you want to stay.” I shouldn’t push my luck.
“I’d like to stay for today. If that’s okay. I have to work tomorrow.”
“What time do you have to be at work tomorrow?”
“I’ll get you to work by nine tomorrow.”
I just want to make sure, because it’s not totally clear here, does Ana work tomorrow? Does she work at nine? Nine on what day? Yesterday? Oh, no, tomorrow. Sorry, I was confused because it was ambiguous. But just to check one last time, is it tomorrow? Does Ana work tomorrow? At nine?
“I’ll need to go home tonight–I need clean clothes.”
“We can get you some here.”
Or–and this is a radical notion if ever I’ve proposed one–you could take her home, like she’s asking you to do.
“I need to be home this evening.”
Boy, she’s stubborn. I don’t want her to go, but at this stage, with no agreement, I can’t insist that she stay.
Even with an agreement you can’t insist that she stay. Holding someone in your private residence against their will is illegal, even if they sign a non-enforceable sex contract with you.
Christian tells Ana to eat, and she says she’s not hungry.
“I told you, I have issues with wasted food. Eat.” I glare at her. Don’t push me on this, Ana. She gives me a mulish look and starts to eat.
I will glare at you because you do not share my psychological hangups. This is unacceptable to me.
So, she starts to eat, and he thinks about how novel it is to meet a woman who doesn’t automatically do whatever he says. I wonder how many of his submissives, assistants, housekeepers, basically any woman, spit into his food because of that exact attitude.
He tells her that after he cleans up the kitchen, they’ll take a bath together.
And I can test her oral skills. I take a swift breath to control my instant arousal.
Nothing gets me hotter in the pants than treating sexual acts like a pop quiz I haven’t studied for.
Ana gets a phone call, and she goes to answer it.
As she stands against the glass wall, the morning light silhouettes her body in my white shirt. My mouth dries. She’s slim, with long legs, perfect breasts, and a perfect ass.
I know that a lot of you hate the term “Mary Sue,” because it’s applied unfairly and to female characters when “Gary Stu” rarely is. I know that it’s used to dismiss the OCs written by teen girls out of hand. But I truly do believe that despite the unfair way it’s applied, the term is useful in literary critique.
For example, right the fuck here.
How many times so far has Christian described how physically perfect Ana is by taking inventory of her body parts? She’s always perfect, an awe-inspiring beauty. And by no means is a romantic hero recognizing that the heroine is beautiful, or complimenting her, a bad thing. But just like in the original series, we hear all the time about how thin Ana is, about how flawless her skin is, how perfect each body part is. And it’s multiple times in every scene they have together. Sometimes, it doesn’t even make sense. We already know that Ana is skinny. If the description was written, “silhouettes her slender body”, it’s an adjective. But “She’s slim, with long legs,” etc. is presenting the information as though it’s new, as though we haven’t read it about a thousand times already.
We get it.
Christian hears Ana say something that makes him aware that she’s talking to Kate, and that’s just like, unacceptable.
She turns away and a moment later hangs up, then walks back toward me, her hips swaying in a soft, seductive rhythm beneath my shirt. Should I tell her what I can see?
What happened to “don’t be ashamed of your beautiful, perfect, body that is slender and has CURVES IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES IN THE GRAND TRADITION OF POORLY WRITTEN FANFIC”? Is she supposed to be modest and freely display her nude body for your pleasure? This is going to be some trick to pull of.
Ana asks Christian what the NDA she signed prevents her from talking about.
“Well, I have a few questions, you know, about sex. And I’d like to ask Kate.”
“You can ask me.”
“Christian, with all due respect–” She stops.
Don’t stop, Ana. Never stop. Also, don’t say “with all due respect” to someone who can’t even grudgingly bring himself to respect you.
Ana tells Christian she won’t tell Kate anything about the Red Room of Pain, she just wants to talk to Kate about practical sex stuff. But Christian is more hung up on her perception of his kink:
“It’s mostly about pleasure, Anastasia. Believe me. Besides, your roommate is making the beast with two backs with my brother. I’d really rather you didn’t.”
I cannot for the life of me figure out why it’s so damn important to the narrative of the story that Ana not be allowed to talk about sex with her best friend. I know people have varying comfort levels. For example, I will get done having sex with Mr. Jen and immediately text Bronwyn Green about it. And Mr. Jen rolls his eyes, but he doesn’t really care. There are times when he says not to tell her stuff. Mostly, he doesn’t want me to show her any of his dick pics. Which is a shame, because he took a really hilarious one where he took a dick pic on his phone, then held up in front of his dick, then took a picture with my phone, then lined that one up, and I took a picture with my tablet, so it’s like this dick pick of a dick pick of a dick pic in a dick pic, and it’s so cool and I can’t show Bronwyn and that eats me up inside every. single. day.
I lost track of what I was talking about. Basically, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for Chedward to say, “I’d rather you not talk about the BDSM stuff with Kate, because that’s private.” I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand she not talk about sex, even to ask questions in the abstract, with anyone else. Especially when she’s so inexperienced. Isolating her from further information is just him grooming her to agree to do stuff she’s reluctant to do. After all, if she talks to Kate, Ana might find out that she can say no to things or that it’s okay to just not like some sex acts.
Christian can tell that Ana wants to ask him something, but she’s too embarrassed. So instead he asks her to stroke his ego. He wants to know what she thought about the night before.
Our whole deal could hang on her response.
“Good,” she says, and gives me a soft, sexy smile.
It’s what I want to hear.
Why is that an internal thought? It reads like narrative.
Note that Christian appears to feel that if she liked sex with him the night before, that basically means she’s going to be cool with BDSM.
Christian tells Ana that he really liked having “vanilla” sex with her, but probably just because it was with her. How romantic.
And that’s where I’m going to break up the chapter. Join us in the next section, where they take a bath and Ana does a blowie.