In Fifty Shades news, the movies have apparently wrapped principle filming. Did you hear about that? Neither did I. Does anyone else find it comforting that we’re not getting the breathless daily updates from mass media the way we did when the first one was filming? A few blogs have mentioned “anxiously awaiting” the next film, but I don’t see people being anywhere near as jazzed for it as they were for the first movie.
Anyway, let’s recap this.
We start the day in a dream. Christian Grey doesn’t have nightmares about being naked at school, or just plain confusing dreams about sentient plants or something like that. No, Christian Grey dreams exclusively of his childhood trauma and his frequently absent mother:
I’m hungry. I eat the cheese. There is cheese in the fridge. Cheese with blue fur.
This paragraph is all out of order. Put it in the correct order, like it’s a word puzzle. It’s lots of fun.
My favorite place is in my mommy’s closet. It smells of Mommy. It smells of Mommy when she’s happy.
American preschoolers aren’t likely to say, “it smells of”. Anyway, the gist of this whole dream sequence is that he’s left alone a lot as a child.
I wake with a start.
Of course you do. There’s no other way to wake up in this series. Fifty Shades of Grey exists in an alternate universe where waking up is always an unexpected event, and people are routinely startled by it.
I hate my dreams.
That makes two of us.
My nightmares have recently become more frequent, and more vivid. I have no idea why. Damned Flynn–he’s not back until sometime next week.
So, I’m supposed to believe that Christian Grey is super smart, but he can’t make a pretty simple psychological link between his suddenly vivid memories and the fact that he’s obsessively stalking a woman who looks just like his mother? I mean, I’m no Dr. Flynn, but I feel like desperately wanting to bang someone who looks exactly like your mom might be something that’s been addressed by the psychiatric field.
So, how does Chedward deal with all of this? You know the answer to this one! Everybody sing along!
Go for a run, Grey.
Underline = italics.
So, he goes for a run, but of course it doesn’t help:
I know I’ll see her at the graduation ceremony.
But I can’t leave it.
Before my shower, I send her another text.
I just need to know she’s safe.
Safety always seems to be the number one concern of some abusers. “I need you to drop everything you’re doing and call me right now, so I know you’re safe.” “I think I should go with you to [place or event], because it might not be safe.” “You don’t need to leave the house, it’s not safe.” “You can’t be friends with those people you’ve known all your life because they’re not safe.”
Safe is such an amazing word with its power to manipulate.
Chedward is going to be the speaker at graduation, but he’s sure that he’s going to see Ana. Like, yes, probably when she comes up to get her diploma, you will definitely for sure see her. But he’s banking on actually seeing her, speaking with her, probably about the contract, at her college graduation. She has so many other things to do and people to visit with, but he, a guy who doesn’t want anything from her except sexual submission, feels he’s entitled to take some of her time? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no.
After breakfast there’s still no word from Ana. To get her out of my head I work for a couple of hours on my commencement speech.
I want to make a dig about how he’s only just now working on the speech and the graduation is that morning, but it would be hypocritical of me to pretend like I’ve never scribbled notes on a half-finished presentation during that presentation. However, there’s still this lack of awareness that Ana could, on the morning on her college graduation, be preoccupied with things unrelated to him.
I shrug it off as I rewrite. Sam, my VP for publicity, has sent a draft that is way too pretentious for me.
Holy shit, how pretentious was it, then? I mean, if it was too pretentious for Christian Grey?
Nine thirty and still no word from Ana. Her radio silence is worrying–and frankly rude. I call, but her phone goes straight to a generic voice mail message.
I hang up.
Show some dignity, Grey.
I think dignity flew out the window after two emails and a text within two hours of her asking for space, then another text in the morning, but your mileage obviously varies.
I’m sorry, I still can’t get past this notion of Ana being rude for not responding to his barrage of demands for her attention on the morning of an important milestone in her life. She’s probably getting ready. She’s probably with friends and family. She’s probably excited that she’s graduating college. And you, the man who wants nothing more from her than just a fuck toy, think you should be her priority in that moment, merely because you want to be?
No wonder fans of the original series were disappointed in this one. It takes the man they viewed as a perfect, tortured romantic and reveals his “torture” to be lack of respect for another person’s boundaries. Christian Grey isn’t an emotional prisoner of his past, he’s an emotional prisoner of his own ego and the expectation that he is the main character of everyone else’s story.
He does get an email, but it’s not from Ana, it’s from Mia, his sister and the other suspiciously-named-after-the-“cute”-nickname-for-an-eating-disorder character in the book. Mia mentions Christian picking her up from the airport (which like, again…they’re a rich family, can’t they afford a car service?), and Christian’s new girlfriend.
Oh hell! My mother’s big mouth. Ana is not my girlfriend!
If she’s not your girlfriend, why do you think you’re such an important part of her life that you should take precedence over everything she does? Because you’re an egomaniacal little shit, that’s why, Chedward.
At 9:45 I get ready for the ceremony. Gray suit, white shirt, and of course that tie. It will be my subtle message to Ana that I haven’t given up, and a reminder of good times.
Right, the good time that you went to her apartment for sex after she gave you the brush off. What a good time, to have a man you’ve just said no to show up in your room demanding sex. And how totally not full of yourself you are, trying to make an important day in Ana’s life all about you and your sex wants.
This book would be so much better if someone set Christian Grey on fire.
A minor quibble here, and it’s something I’ve noticed in a lot of books. Hell, I might do it in my own without realizing. But the style with which times are noted seems to be all over the place. Earlier it was “nine thirty”, but here it’s “9:45”. This is something a copy editor needs to be on top of, so that it stays consistent. Writers should also be aware of it while they’re writing, but really, the copy editor is your last line of defense here.
Christian calls Ana again and is frustrated when he goes to voicemail again. Why doesn’t Ana break the fuck up with him? Seriously, why doesn’t she go out and get a PPO? If she’d been allowed to talk about any of this to Kate, or if she even valued Kate’s opinions in the first place, none of this would be happening.
Taylor shows up, they talk about Taylor’s daughter, and they discuss the Audi being delivered to Portland. Then they leave for the graduation ceremony. At the venue, this happens:
There, in the greenroom, academics, administrative staff, and a few students are having pre-graduation coffee. Among them, to my surprise, is Katherine Kavanagh.
“Hi, Christian,” she says, strutting toward me with the confidence of the well-heeled. She’s in her graduation gown and appears cheerful enough; surely she’s seen Ana.
Yes. It has nothing to do with the fact that she’s graduating from college, which is a huge achievement for most people. It’s definitely because she saw Ana.
“You seem baffled to see me here,” she says, ignoring my greeting and sounding a little affronted. “I’m valedictorian. Didn’t Elliot tell you?”
“No, he didn’t.” We’re not in each other’s pockets, for Christ’s sake. “Congratulations,” I add as a courtesy.
“Thank you.” Her tone is clipped.
Gee, I wonder why her tone would be clipped.
Christian asks if Ana got home the night before, and when Kate tells him basically, duh, of course she did, he thinks:
I’m relieved that Ana is in one piece, but pissed that she hasn’t replied to any of my messages.
The messages. Of course. There were, what? Five? Because I’ve honestly lost count. But you’re pissed that she hasn’t replied to any of your messages? Any of the five messages you’ve left her since 11 PM the night before her college graduation? What right have you to be pissed off about that?
In a moment of weakness I try Ana’s phone once more. It goes straight to voice mail, and I’m interrupted by Kavanagh. “I’m looking forward to your commencement address,” she says as we walk down the hallway.
They are on the way into the graduation ceremony. Ana is later revealed to be already in her seat in the auditorium. And he expects her to take his call.
It’s not an emergency.
She is in the middle of one of the most important milestones in her life.
And Christian Grey expects her to take his call.
Remember, he wants to talk to her so he can get her answer about whether or not she’ll be his weekend sub. After she asked him for space hours before. He wants her to drop everything on the day of her graduation to give him this answer, because he has decided she’s had enough space (while he relentlessly called and texted and emailed her) and time to make her choice.
I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly furious this entire set up makes me.
They go up on stage:
Once the chancellor begins his welcome address I’m able to scan the room. The front rows are filled with students, in identical black-and-red WSU robes. Where is she? Methodically I inspect each row.
There you are.
This reminds me of fanfics where Zayn will somehow spot the OC from the stage and instantly fall in love with her.
In the original book, Ana says she’s seated with other students whose names begin with S, but that she’s in the second row. I don’t know exactly how WSU does their commencement ceremonies, but I’m guessing that they have more than two or three rows full of people graduating. Also, the few commencement ceremonies I’ve been to, the students aren’t already seated when the chancellor and president come in. But that’s nitpicking.
She’s alive. I feel foolish for expending so much anxiety and energy on her whereabouts last night and this morning.
Is he resenting her for being alive?
Yes, I’ve found you. And you haven’t replied to my messages.
Again. You have sent. At least five messages. In twelve hours. Before her college graduation.
A bunch of the messages he sent were in the middle of the night or in the early morning, too. So if she had answered them, he would have just gotten mad that she wasn’t sleeping, anyway.
She’s avoiding me and I’m pissed.
It takes more than twelve hours to avoid someone!
Really pissed. Closing my eyes, I imagine dripping hot wax onto her breasts and her squirming beneath me.
Hey, what do you know, another bad Dom red flag. “I’m angry with you outside of a scene and I want to physically hurt you because of that anger, but that’s okay because it’s sexual.”
Nope. Run in the other direction, potential subs.
Kavanagh gives an inspiring address about embracing opportunities–yes, carpe diem, Kate,–and gets a rousing reception when she’s finished. She’s obviously smart and popular and confident. Not the shy and retiring wallflower that is the lovely Miss Steele. It really amazes me that these two are friends.
What kind of mental Slinky tangle do you need to make in order to neg on someone for positive qualities? Smart and popular and confident, yuck. Nothing “lovely” about a confident woman people respect, right?
Christian gives his speech, a longer version of what was presented in the first book. He ends with:
“I’ll leave you with a quote that has always resonated with me. And I’m paraphrasing a Native American saying: ‘Only when the last leaf has fallen, the last tree has died, and the last fish been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money.'”
LET ME TELL YOU WHY THIS PASSAGE MADE ME THROW MY KINDLE ON THE FLOOR. First of all, that “Native American saying” is a quote attributed to Alanis Obomsawin, a Canadian filmmaker. It took me one Google search to find that out, from the first search result.
The second Google result is GoodReads, which ATTRIBUTES THE QUOTE TO E.L. JAMES.
So not only is “a Native American” given anonymous credit for the paraphrased quote when that credit belongs to a Native American who isn’t anonymous, readers who have their heads so far up their asses they can see the backs of their fucking teeth have decided that the brilliant mind who gave us “down there” and “I wake with a start” 98,000 times in a single fucking book came up with it.
Shut. It. Down.
As I sit down to rousing applause, I resist looking at Ana and examine the WSU banner hanging at the back of the auditorium. If she wants to ignore me, fine. Two can play at that game.
Two can play at what fucking game?! Are you kidding me?! Is the game “not calling in the middle of the night, when you’ll scold me for being awake,” or “not answering your call DURING MY COLLEGE GRADUATION?”
This is sick and disturbing. This is just a gross, gross book.
They start handing out degrees, in alphabetical order, which, again, I’ve never seen it done that way, but whatever. Maybe that’s what they do at WSU. Maybe they also let the commencement speaker hand out the degrees, because that’s what happens here:
“Congratulations, Miss Steele,” I say as I give Ana her degree. We shake hands, but I don’t let hers go. “Do you have a problem with your laptop?”
She looks perplexed. “No.”
“Then youare ignoring my e-mails?” I release her.
“I only saw the mergers and acquisitions one.”
What the hell does that mean?
Her frown deepens, but I have to let her go–there’s a line forming behind her.
OF FUCKING COURSE THERE’S A LINE FORMING BEHIND HER! Are you kidding me with this bullshit right now? There is NO TIME for this long ass conversation on stage during a graduation. They announce your name, you shake hands, you take your degree and you GO. If there is a line forming on stage, that’s calling attention to the fact that you’re standing there talking to Ana for a long ass amount of time. How embarrassing, and how dare you embarrass her on HER day! And you’ve now made her once-in-a-lifetime moment about your sexual wants. GREAT.
The thing that really horses my radish about this is that Christian is the one handing her the degree. It’s symbolic, even if it’s not meant to be, that she has nothing in her adult life that hasn’t involved him.
I’m in purgatory by the time we’ve reached the end of the line.
Purgatory is supposed to knock all the dings out of your soul so that you can go to heaven. As you have no soul, Chedward, I will assume that you will never be in purgatory for real and will instead be banished to the deepest fathoms of hell, where you will be forced to listen to this series on audiobook while watching the movie on a constant loop for all eternity.
I’ve been ogled, and had eyelashes batted at me, silly giggling girls squeezing my hand, and five notes with phone numbers pressed into my palm.
Oh no, girls squeezed your hand! It’s almost like they were, I don’t know, shaking it. The way you do when you get your degree. Interestingly enough, no guys did any of that to Chedward. If he’s so powerfully, magnetically attractive, why aren’t dudes lining up to bang him?
In the corridor, I grab Kavanagh’s arm. “I need to speak to Ana. Can you find her? Now.”
Kavanagh is taken aback, but before she can say anything I add, in as polite a tone as I can manage, “Please.”
Her lips thin with disapproval, but she waits with me as the academics file past and then returns to the auditorium.
Gosh, I wonder why she would look at you with anything resembling disapproval. You only physically grabbed her, then barked an order at her, then had to “manage” a polite tone.
Why do women love this guy? He is a super mega weapons grade shit weasel. Christian Grey is the literary equivalent of accidentally putting your hand on cold semen in a gas station bathroom. Christian Grey is the human version of medical waste being dumped on a playground. Why are we supposed to be manipulating our genitals in a self-pleasuring way to this dude?
Kate finds Ana:
Ignoring her, I take Ana’s elbow and lead her through the first door I find. It’s a men’s locker room, and from the fresh smell I can tell it’s empty. Locking the door, I turn to face Miss Steele. “Why haven’t you e-mailed me? Or texted me back?” I demand.
He takes her into a room and locks the door so she can’t leave. So. Fucking. Romantic.
Hey, let’s look at it from Ana’s perspective in Fifty Shades of Grey, shall we?
“Thank you,” he says, and before she can reply, he takes my elbow and steers me into what looks like a men’s locker room. He checks to see if it’s empty, and then he locks the door.
Holy shit, what does he have in mind? I blink up at him as he turns on me.
“Why haven’t you e-mailed me? Or texted me back?” He glares. I’m nonplussed.
Wow, she seems so not-threatened by him, doesn’t she?
Meanwhile, in Grey:
“I haven’t looked at my computer today, or my phone.” She seems genuinely bewildered by my outburst.
No shit? Because she realizes that it’s unusual for people to do so when they’ve got other shit going on.
How can she not have checked her phone or e-mail.
Because–let’s all say it again, like we mean it–
IT’S HER FUCKING COLLEGE GRADUATION.
I close my eyes. All this time I thought she didn’t want to talk to me. “I’ve been worried about you.”
“Because you went home in that deathtrap you call a car.”
And I thought I’d blown the deal between us.
How. How on earth could someone write such a perfect, text book depiction of an abuser, from inside an abuser’s head? How could James have looked at all the criticism of her series, thrown that huge Twitter tantrum about it–anybody remember “READ THE BOOK!”?–and then turn around and prove every single critic right? Remember when we read the first books, and every time Christian would say he was worried about Ana, I would be like, no, you’re not worried about her, you’re worried about not getting to fuck her? Right here we have confirmation, from inside his own head, that Christian Grey is not worried about Ana being safe. He’s worried about Ana being available.
Ana bristles. “What? It’s not a deathtrap. It’s fine. José regularly services it for me.”
“José, the photographer?” This just gets better and fucking better.
Further proves my point. If Christian truly cared about Ana’s safety, he would be pleased that someone takes care of her car and that it’s not a deathtrap. Instead, it sounds like he’d be happier if her car was unsafe, just as long as no other man is around her.
This is not addressing the fucking elephant in the room.
“Anastasia, I need an answer from you. This waiting around is driving me crazy.”
You have been waiting less than twenty-four hours.
I have never in my life wanted so much to cause physical harm to a fictional character. Not even Theon Greyjoy.
What the fuck is it with “Grey” and “Stupid Dick” that they go hand-in-hand in fiction?
Chedward tells Ana that he wants her answer by tomorrow, and she tells him he’ll have it then. He tells Ana he wants to meet her stepdad, which is like, come on, dude. You don’t want her to meet your family, but you want her to introduce you to her stepdad? Whatever.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” she says darkly, as I unlock the door.
What? Why? Is this because she now knows I was dirt-poor as a kid? Or because she knows how I like to fuck? That I’m a freak?
Oh wow, now we’re just gonna call it like E.L. James and her readership and the guy who plays Christian Grey in the movies really see it, huh? BDSM is for freaks. Be ashamed.
Why the fuck does Christian think that’s going to come up in conversation with Ana’s dad, anyway? That doesn’t even make sense. I have never once in my entire life had a conversation about my sexual preferences with my family. I even came out as bisexual in a passive-aggressive Facebook post. I would say that most people do not introduce their partners to their family with, “This is my new romantic partner, and they like to spank me.”
Also, the whole thing about her knowing that you grew up poor? You’re the richest bagazilljillionaire in the world, so why the fuck would that be a negative? Also, her dad already knows. He was in the audience.
I open the door and follow her out but stop when I reach the chancellor and his colleagues. As one they turn and stare at Miss Steele, but she’s disappearing into the auditorium. They turn back to me.
Miss Steele and I are none of your business, people.
Considering they just saw you come out of a locker room with a newly graduated student, yeah, it kind of is their business. Maybe they won’t have you back as a commencement speaker if they think you’re banging chicks in the locker room after your speech.
HA HA just kidding. They’re a university and he’s giving them money. He could have fucked a giraffe on stage and they would still kiss his ass. They’d have held the damn stepladder.
Christian hob knobs with the important people before going to find Ana again. Kate asks him if he’s going to bring Ana to dinner at his parents’ house on Sunday, but their conversation gets interrupted:
I spot Ana.
What the fuck?
A tall blond guy who looks as if he’s walked off a beach in California has his hands all over her.
So, in Christian’s perspective, this guy is pawing her. This is what happens in Ana’s POV in Fifty Shades of Grey:
“Ana!” I turn, and Ethan Kavanagh scoops me into his arms. He twirls me around, without spilling my wine–some feat.
“Congratulations!” He beams down at me, green eyes twinkling.
What a surprise. His dirty blond hair is tousled and sexy. He’s as beautiful as Kate. The family resemblance is striking.
In her POV, Ana is not only happy to see Ethan, but she doesn’t mind him touching her or being near her. They go on to have a friendly, enthusiastic conversation.
I should note that her description of Ethan and the conversation that follows it is probably the healthiest interaction with a man that Ana has in the entire series.
Anyway, back to Grey. Kate introduces Christian to Ana’s stepdad as Ana’s boyfriend:
We shake hands; his grip is firm, and his fingers and palm are rough to the touch. This man works with his hands. Then I remember–he’s a carpenter.
A carpenter, and definitely not, under any circumstances, the chief of police in Forks, Washington.
Then Kat introduces Christian to her brother:
I mutter his name as we shake hands, noting that they are soft, unlike Ray Steele’s.
This part is so great, because it perfectly highlights Chedward’s lack of self-awareness. He’s making a moral judgement here that Ethan is a bad guy because his hands are soft and he’s taking too many physical liberties with Ana. But Chedward touches Ana all the time himself, and how rugged and manly and calloused are his palms? The only work we’ve seen him do is talk on the phone and fire some people.
Rather than actually peeing on Ana to mark his territory, Christian chooses to play along with the “I’m her boyfriend” angle.
“Ana, baby,” I whisper, holding out my hand, and like the good woman she is, she steps into my embrace.
Like the good woman she is.
LIKE THE GOOD WOMAN SHE IS.
She’s discarded her graduation robe and wears a pale gray halter-neck dress, exposing her flawless shoulders and back.
Two dresses in two days. She’s spoiling me.
Or (and I understand why this may be difficult to believe), she wore a dress because it’s a kind of formal occasion and it has nothing to do with you or what she thinks you’ll like. In fact, Ana might (and this is entirely hypothetical) have a life that goes
Christian and Ray talk about fishing, which is totally because Ray is a very original and not-at-all-ripped-off Twilight character, while Ana talks to Kate. In Fifty Shades of Grey, Ana is talking to Kate about Kate calling Christian her boyfriend, and the fishing talk is just a footnote. I think she says something like, “they go off, talking fish”. Something like that. Now, from Chedward’s point of view. we have to read the entire fishing conversation, including a mention of José, giving us another opportunity to read about Chedward’s jealousy.
Oh, and again, just because this is totally not ripped off from Twilight:
“Sure do. Annie’s friend José, his father, and I sneak out as often as we can.”
Yup, good old
CharlieRay, just fishing with Bella’sAna’s friend JacobJosé and BillyJosé’s dad.
I know that we all know the stolen roots of this story by now, but I can’t help but continually point them out. Stephenie Meyer deserves justice.
Anyway, Ray tells Christian that Ana is a “gentle soul” as a warning, and Kate and Ana come back. Ray goes off to the bathroom, a photographer gets a picture of Ana and Christian together, and then Christian decides that the reception for Ana’s graduation, with her family and friends and other people she knows circulating in the crowd, is a great time to try to seduce her:
With my fingers, I trace the rosy flush that appears on her cheek. “Oh, I wish I knew what you were thinking, Anastasia.” When my fingers reach her chin I tilt my head back so I can scrutinize her expression. She stills and stares back at me, her pupils darkening.
They banter about the tie during this, but I’m skipping it.
“You look lovely, Anastasia. This halter-neck dress suits you, and I get to stroke your back and feel your beautiful skin.”
Her lips part and her breath hitches, and I can feel the pull of the attraction between us.
“You know it’s going to be good, don’t you baby?” My voice is low, betraying my longing.
Seriously. They are in a room full of people doing this shit. And there’s a photographer roaming around. Remember how later in the series, he’s furious about the paparazzi that stalk him for no realistic reason?
Ana tells him that she knows the sex would be good, but she wants more than just that. He tells her it’s not going to happen, and this is the moment when Ana settles. She tells him she’ll try the submission thing.
In Fifty Shades of Grey, Ana feels this way about the interaction:
I gasp, and I’m Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he’s the serpent, and I cannot resist.
Ray comes back.
Reluctantly, I release her. I’m on top of the world!
Deal done, Grey!
Then, Ray invites Christian to go get lunch with them.
For a moment I’m tempted, but Ana’s anxious glance in my direction says, Please, no. She wants alone time with her dad. I get it.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. We’re supposed to believe that Christian Grey knows what it means for someone to need space and “alone time”. Like we don’t all know that if Ana hadn’t given him the answer right then he would have gone to lunch to strong arm her into accepting his proposal.
We’re going to break right here, because it’s another thirty-plus page chapter I’m going to have to dissolve into smaller chunks in a bathtub full of acid in the basement.