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50 Shades Darker recap Chapter 22, or, “Every episode of Dynasty, ever.”

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Well, here we are, friends, at the end of another 50 Shades book. I would feel relieved, if I wasn’t aware that there was another book right around the corner, waiting for me with fresh horrors. God help me if she finishes Midnight Sun or whatever before I finish recapping the third book.

Someone sent me this link via twitter, and I’m a fool and didn’t write down who sent it. But hopefully you’re seeing this, because thank you, this is just about the most awesome thing to have come out of all this mess: Canadian 50 Shades of Abuse flyer.

Let’s get right into this recap. As you may recall, the last chapter ended with Kate finding out about the sex contract, and confronting Christian. With a juicy set up like that, there’s bound to be a huge pay-off, right? Let’s watch.

All the color drains from my face as my blood turns to ice and fear lances through my body. Instinctively I step between her and Christian.

All through the book, color has drained from Ana’s face, her blood has turned to ice, fear has lanced through her, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen it happen all at once. So, you know she’s super afraid for Christian’s… safety? From Kate? What reason would she have to believe she needs to bodily protect Christian from her friend?

“Kate! This has nothing to do with you.” I glare venomously at her, anger replacing my fear. How dare she do this? Not now, not today. Not on Christian’s birthday.

Thanksgiving, fine. Christmas day, go to town, Kate, I’m not stopping you. But you ruin what is, by my count, the fourth celebration of his birthday in two days, and that’s it. Ana is not having it.

Kate admits to having found the email in the pocket of a jacket in Ana’s room. Look, remember what I said earlier, about how I hate when people start to infer things about an author based on something she’s written? I take it back, because now I’m operating under a personal certainty of about 94.8% that E.L. James is one of those people who thinks it’s acceptable and productive to print out emails.

She’s a beacon of hostility in a slinky, bright red dress. She looks magnificent. But why the hell is she going through my clothes? Usually it’s the other way around.

Ana borrowed Kate’s clothes, sometimes without asking, all through the first book and the beginning of this one, but how dare that bitch borrow the jacket Ana left in her room she hasn’t been back to for like, weeks.

Christian sets fire to the email and drops it in the fireplace, while Kate assures the two of them that she hasn’t told anyone the scandalous contents. She just wants to know that Ana is okay, and that Christian hasn’t done anything weird to her.

So, obviously this is going to be the underlying plot of the entire next novel, and it’s being set up in this last chapter. I must say, I’m looking forward to the struggle between Kate and Ana, and how Kate’s disapproval of Christian affects their friendship:

“Ana has consented to be my wife, Katherine,” he says quietly.

“Wife!” Kate squeaks, her eyes widening in disbelief.

“We’re getting married. We’re going to announce our engagement this evening,” he says.

“Oh!” Kate gapes at me. She’s stunned. “I leave you alone for sixteen days, and this happens? It’s very sudden. So yesterday, when I said – ” She gazes at me, lost. “Where does that email fit into all this?”

“It doesn’t, Kate. Forget it – please. I love him and he loves me. Don’t do this. Don’t ruin his party and our night,” I whisper. She blinks and unexpectedly her eyes are shining with tears.

“No, of course I won’t. You’re okay?” She wants reassurance.

“I’ve never been happier,” I whisper. She reaches forward and grabs my hand regardless of Christian’s arm wrapped around me.

“You really are okay?” she asks hopefully.

“Yes.” I grin at her, my joy returning. She’s back onside.

Oh. So… you mean that entire dramatic set up led to nothing, and now it’s over? You know, if I had expected more from this book, I would be really disappointed right now.

Kate asks Ana to explain what happened, and Ana says she will, just not, you know, right now in his parent’s house with a party going on and stuff.

“Good. I won’t tell anyone. I love you so much, Ana, like my own sister. I just thought… I didn’t know what to think. I’m sorry. If you’re happy, then I’m happy.” She looks directly at Christian and repeats her apology. He nods at her, his eyes glacial, and his expression does not change. Oh shit, he’s still mad.

One thing this book does really well is encapsulate all of its terribleness into convenient chunks, like that one right there. In one paragraph, we have nonsensical writing (she repeats her apology? So she tells Christian she loves him like a sister?), abusive dickhole behavior (he’s mad because his girlfriend’s friends care about her too much?), and battered woman syndrome (she takes responsibility for him being mad about Kate’s actions?). That just about puts the button on our read, doesn’t it? And here we were thinking E.L. wouldn’t tie anything up.

Grace comes in to remind the three of them that, hey, there’s a party going on in the other room and maybe since Christian is the guest of honor he might want to make an appearance. But she does it with less sarcasm than I just did, because she’s classy. Christian tells Ana that he already told his mother about their engagement:

“Oh.” And to think our evening could have been derailed by the tenacious Miss Kavanagh. I shudder at the thought – the rammifications of Christian’s lifestyle revealed to all.

I love how Ana is so sure everyone would be scandalized to find out that a rich young dude was into kinky sex with women he didn’t have romantic feelings for. Like that has never, ever happened before. But then again, I’m forgetting that in the framework of this universe, the BDSM Christian is into is super hardcore, what with the butt plugs and nipple clamps. I truly hope Ana never becomes technologically savvy enough to find out what real hardcore BDSM fetishists are getting up to.

They go out to the party, which is actually kind of a sad gathering, when you take into account that these people are the only friends Christian has in the entire world, and if they’re not directly related to him, they work for him:

I scan the room quickly; all the Greys, Ethan with Mia, Dr. Flynn and his wife, I assume. There’s Mac from the boat, a tall, handsome African American – I remember seeing him in Christian’s office the first time I met Christian – Mia’s bitchy friend Lily, two women I don’t recognize at all, and… oh no. My heart sinks. That woman… Mrs. Robinson.

Leaving aside the fact that this is the least surprising surprise in the history of fiction, this party reminds me a lot of the Republican National Convention. Gay people and black people don’t get representation. BAM.

See, I say that because the two women who aren’t named are Ros and her partner, and… oh, fuck it, never mind.

Ana is momentarily distracted from her hatred of Mrs. Robinson by the appearance of Gretchen, the other obligatory evil!blonde in the story:

Gretchen materializes with a tray of champagne. She’s wearing a low-cut black dress, hair in an updo instead of pigtails, flushing and fluttering her eyelashes at Christian.

No one gets to flush in this book except Ana, damnit! Learn your place.

This party reads kind of like a curtain call, what with even minor characters no one cared about, like Mac and the nameless black guy from Christian’s office, standing in the background. They actually applauded when Christian and Ana entered the room… which kind of reminds me of…

 I really hope this means Ana and Christian are fucking dead.

Elena makes an out and out territory grab, going up to Christian and hugging and kissing his cheeks while Ana is still standing there holding his hand. She wants to know why he didn’t call her, and asks if he’s gotten her messages. Which is, you know. Awwwwkwaaard.

Christian shifts uncomfortably and pulls me closer, putting his arm around me. His face remains impassive as he regards Elena. She can no longer ignore me, so she nods politely in my direction.

“Ana,” she purrs. “You look lovely, dear.”

“Elena,” I purr back. “Thank you.”

Now and forever.

Actually, I was torn between that, and a Thundercats joke, but dancers pretending to lick their groins enthusiastically set to music will always take the gold in the laff-a-lympics of my heart.
Christian blows Elena off to make his big announcement. He starts off by reminding everyone in the room that he almost died, and introduces Ros, who is there with her partner. See, that RNC joke makes more sense now, doesn’t it?

“So I’m especially glad to be here today to share with all of you my very good news. This beautiful woman” – he glances down at me – “Miss Anastasia Rose Steele, has consented to be my wife, and I’d like you all to be the first to know.”

That’s twice now that he’s said she “consented.” That would mean something, if he ever actually appeared to care about her consent in anything.

There are general gasps of astonishment, the odd cheer, and then a round of applause! Jeez – this is really happening. I think I am the color of Kate’s dress.

Damn, she even has to borrow Kate’s dress color.

Now, in case you were worried that we weren’t going to get to see the jealous reactions of all the women in the room, worry no longer. It’s almost the first thing Ana notices:

Lily, who is standing beside Mia, looks crestfallen; Gretchen looks like she’s eaten something nasty and bitter. As I glance anxiously around at the assembled crowd, I catch sight of Elena. Her mouth is open. She’s stunned – horrified even, and I can’t help a small but intense feeling of satisfaction to see her dumbstruck.

Uh-oh, ladies. You know what this means? If Ana is going to marry Christian Grey, then she wins. She wins at being a woman, because she got the very best man. We might as well all sew our vaginas up, because the game is over.

You just lost the game.

Mia asks to see the ring, and of course, it’s a big drama:

“Um…” A ring! Jeez. I hadn’t even thought about a ring. I glance up at Christian.

“We’re going to choose one together,” Christian glowers at her.

They’re going to choose one together, in exactly the same way Ana has chosen her wardrobe, her computer, her car, any meal at any restaurant in the entire time she’s known him, whether or not she’ll associate with certain friends…

Then Mia asks when the wedding will be and if they’ve set the date:

He shakes his head, his exasperation palpable. “No idea, and no we haven’t. Ana and I need to discuss all that,” he says irritably.

You probably should have discussed all that before announcing your engagement, since this is basic shit most people ask about when you say, “Hey, I’m getting married.”

“I hope you have a big wedding – here,” she beams enthusiastically, ignoring his caustic tone.

Maybe we can invite the local werewolves in a gesture of unity and harmony, too.

The response from the room is overwhelming, and it’s a few minutes before I find myself back beside Christian with Dr. Flynn. Elena seems to have disappeared, and Gretchen is sullenly refilling champagne glasses.

Beside Dr. Flynn is a striking young woman with long, dark, almost black hair, impressive cleavage, and lovely hazel eyes.

“Christian,” says Flynn, holding out his hand. Christian shakes it gladly.

“John. Rhian.” He kisses the dark-haired woman on her cheek.

Does she instantly climax?

“Glad you’re still with us, Christian. My life would be most dull – and penurious – without you.”

You have to be kidding me. “Penurious” in dialogue? In a contemporary erotic romance? And I’m supposed to take this shit seriously? Pfff.

“That was one googly you bowled there, Christian,” Dr. Flynn shakes his head in amused disbelief. Christian frowns at him.

“John – you and your cricket metaphors.” Rhian rolls her eyes.

Well, I think that solves the mystery of whether or not E.L. James writes stilted dialogue because she doesn’t understand the way Americans talk. She just doesn’t understand the way humans talk. We finally have our answer!

YES!
Rhian starts talking to Ana, but Ana openly and admittedly does not listen to her, nodding politely while trying to overhear Christian’s conversation with Dr. Flynn re: Leila. But she doesn’t get much out of it, and eventually they move on to talk with Ros and her partner, Gwen, who is also blonde and who we will probably never see again, so why not confuse us all by giving her a similar name to the blonde housekeeper, Gretchen?
Grace announces that dinner is served, buffet style in the kitchen. Which is convenient, because Mia needs to pull Ana into the dining room for the second of what is sure to be many confrontations tonight.

“Ana, I need some advice. And I can’t ask Lily – she’s so judgmental about everything.” Mia rolls her eyes then grins at me. “She is so jealous of you. I think she was hoping one day that she and Christian might get together.” Mia bursts out laughing at the absurdity, and I quail inside.

No female in this story can respect or even like their female friends. Either that, or Mia is going to get tired of Lily and go for Ana, who is far more superior and desirable when compared to every other woman on the planet.

This is something I will have to contend with for a long time – other women wanting my man.

But that number will drop drastically once they read these books.

Mia wants Ana’s advice on how to deal with Ethan. He doesn’t want to date her, since her brother is dating his sister. Which I get, because that happened in my family and then some other stuff happened and when the dust cleared, someone’s brother was his father-in-law and someone else was his own uncle. Shit can get weird when siblings date another set of siblings, is all I’m saying.

Anyway, Ana has some sage advice:

What can I say? “Can you agree to be friends and give it some time? I mean you’ve only just met him.”

“I mean you’ve only just met him.”

“I mean you’ve only just met him.”

“I mean you’ve only just met him.”

“I mean you’ve only just met him.”

Luckily, Mia ain’t having that shit:

She cocks her eyebrow.

“Look, I know I’ve only really just met Christian but…” I frown, not sure what I want to say.

The good news is, she doesn’t go on to lecture Mia about her love for Christian being pure and true and the most important thing in the world, whereas Mia’s attraction to Ethan means nothing to her because it has nothing to do with Christian. She advises they try friendship, and suggests Mia talk to Kate.

Mia leaves the dining room, and must bump asses with Elena on the way out, because suddenly she’s got Ana cornered.

I summon all my self-possession, slightly fuzzy from two glasses of champagne and the lethal cocktail I hold in my hand. I think the blood has drained from my face, but I marshal both my subconscious and my inner goddess in order to appear as calm and as unflappable as I can.

By their powers combined, they become… I don’t know, some kind of Voltron of emotional instability and pathological insecurity?

 The left leg alone is made up of her unexpressed anger toward her mother.

Why are two cocktails and a glass of champagne suddenly a problem for our resident heavyweight, by the way? She’s drinking constantly throughout the entire book. I’m actually looking forward to her pregnancy because then she won’t be drinking and I won’t have to hear about it. I feel like I’m getting drunk reading these damn books. Usually because I am getting drunk reading these damn books.
Elena tells Ana that she won’t congratulate her, and Ana tells Elena that she doesn’t want her congratulations and doesn’t know why she’s even at the party in the first place:

She arches an eyebrow. I think she’s impressed.

“I wouldn’t have thought of you as a worthy adversary, Anastasia. But you surprise me at every turn.”

Even the fucking villains are always complimenting Ana. Have you noticed that? It’s like she’s so amazing, even the people who hate her are forced to admit that she’s perfect. And what do we call that, boys and girls? Say it with me now:

“He has needs – needs you cannot possibly begin to satisfy,” she gloats.

“What do you know of his needs?” I snarl. My sense of indignation flares brightly, burning inside me as adrenaline surges through my body. How dare this fucking bitch preach to me? “You’re nothing but a sick child molester, and if it were up to me, I’d toss you into the seventh circle of hell and walk way smiling. Now get out of my way – or do I have to make you?”

I’m pretty sure at this point, they’re both wearing bejeweled scrunchies and fucking enormous shoulder pads.

“You’re making a big mistake here, lady.” She shakes a long, skinny, finely manicured finger at me. “How dare you judge our lifestyle? You know nothing, and you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. And if you think he’s going to be happy with a mousy little gold digger like you…”

That’s it! I throw the rest of my lemon martini in her face, drenching her.

 BOOM BITCHES!
I really am enjoying the dialogue in this portion of the book. It’s like what a melodramatic thirteen-year-old thinks adults argue like.
Christian comes in and intervenes before it can become a full-on, 1980’s prime-time soap opera throw down, which is disappointing. 

“She’s not right for you, Christian,” she whispers.

“What?” He shouts, startling both of us. I can’t see his face but his whole body has tensed, and he radiates animosity.

“How the fuck do you know what’s right for me?”

“You have needs, Christian,” she says her voice softer.

That missing comma? Not a typo. And how does her voice get softer than a whisper? I’m assuming the copy editor was found hanging from a light fixture in his or her office before they got to this page.

“I’ve told you before – this is none of your fucking business,” he roars. Oh crap – Very Angry Christian has reared his not-so-ugly head. People are going to hear.

Oooh, he’s gonna make a sceeeeeene!

Christian and Elena continue to fight in overwrought dialogue that no one on the planet would actually speak out loud. Check out this gem:

“I was the best thing that ever happened to you,” she hisses arrogantly at him. “Look at you now. One of the richest, most successful entrepreneurs in the United States – controlled, driven – you need nothing. You are master of your universe.”

And:

“You taught me how to fuck, Elena. But it’s empty, like you. No wonder Linc left.”

And then, from out of left field, what is possibly the most intriguing, most promising line, plot-wise, in the entire book:

“You never once held me,” Christian whispers. “you never once said you loved me.”

Now, this is some deep shit that we need to explore, right? Like maybe from the beginning of this book? I would read an entire book of Christian Grey working out that Elena took advantage of him, and him becoming a whole man through that healing process. But no, instead I got to read a whole book of Christian Grey’s emotionally immature girlfriend running all over town going, “tee hee, everyone wants my boyfriend, tee hee, I’m so skinny!”

“Get out of my house.” Grace’s implacable, furious voice startles us. Three heads swing rapidly to where Grace stands on the threshold of the room. She is glaring at Elena, who pales beneath her Saint-Tropez tan.

That tan detail makes me think this scene recycled a confrontation with Kate, since she just got back from vacation, but that it was rewritten as an Elena scene when the author realized she could get a lot of mileage out of Ana hating her maid of honor.

Elena’s eyes widen in alarm, and Grace slaps her hard across the face, the sound of the impact resounding off the walls of the dining room.

 Gosh, I’m glad I had two of these Dynasty .gifs.

This is apparently the first Grace is hearing about her son’s affair with her friend, and she’s not taking it well. I mean, would you? Really?

“Take your filthy paws off my son, you whore, and get out of my house – now!” she hisses through gritted teeth.

Elena leaves, and Grace asks Ana for a moment alone with her son. Which Ana obviously respects and gives them space for:

In the hallway I am momentarily lost. My heart pounds and my blood races through my veins… I feel panicked and out of my depth. Holy fuck, that was heavy and now Grace knows. I can’t think what she’s going to say to Christian, and I know it’s wrong, but I lean against the door trying to list.

It’s okay, guys. She knows it’s wrong, and besides, she got all sorts of confused in the hallway, so she has an excuse. Hallways are hard.

Ana listens, but only hears Grace asking how old Christian was when the affair started before Ros catches her eavesdropping on her way to have a cigarette. The club can’t even handle this right now, so Ana goes upstairs to Christian’s bedroom so she can correctly prioritize the trauma:

That has to be, without doubt, one of the most excruciating confrontations I’ve ever had to endure, and now I feel numb. My fiance and his ex-lover – no would-be bride should have to see that. Having said that, part of me is glad she’s revealed her true self, and that I was there to bear witness.

My thoughts turn to Grace. Poor Grace, to hear all that.

So, the order of importance here is:

  1. Victimize self for role as mere bystander in future husband’s past psychological trauma.
  2. Congratulate self for victory over evil other woman.
  3. Oh yeah, and his mom is probably tore up about it or something.

What am I doing? Perhaps the evil witch had a point.

No, I refuse to believe that. She’s so cold and cruel. I shake my head. She’s wrong. I am right for Christian. I am what he needs. And in a moment of stunning clarity, I don’t question how he’s lived his life until recently, but why. His reasons for doing what he’s done to countless girls – I don’t even want to know how many.  The how isn’t wrong. They were all adults. They were all – how did Flynn put it? – in safe, sane, consensual relationships. It’s the why. The why  was wrong. The why was from his place of darkness.

See, it doesn’t matter how he treated those other girls, who were all supposedly in safe, sane, consensual relationships despite the fact that we’ve seen total evidence to the contrary and one of the subs actually became unhinged to the point that she tried to kill him. But all of that doesn’t matter, because Mrs. Robinson was “cold and cruel” and that automatically invalidates anything she might have to say.

Now, I’m not saying Christian should spend his life doing what Elena wants him to, and clearly Elena has unresolved issues of her own, but cheesy dialogue aside, I’m having a hard time painting her as this huge villain when she’s basically arguing the same point that I am. Christian isn’t miraculously healed. He’s only been with Ana a month, tops. No one goes from “I have to whip women who look like my mom who died in front of me when I was four,” to, “I’m totally normal and well adjusted now, thanks,” in a few weeks. Granted, Elena is arguing that Christian will NEVER be cured and rise above that need, so he shouldn’t even try, and I’m clearly not agreeing with her there.

But now he’s moved on, left it behind, and we are both in the light. I’m dazzled by him, and he by me.

 Dazzle!
Ana goes on to realize that she has to confront the ghosts of his past if she wants a happy future with him. Or something. That’s not in the book, all it really says is that Ana wants to “lay this ghost to rest” and then she gets up and goes to his bulletin board.

The photos of young Christian are all still there – more poignant than ever, as I think of the spectacle I’ve just witnessed between him and Mrs. Robinson. And there in the corner is the small black-and-white photo – his mother, the crack whore.

I can’t even. Again with this. Ugh.

 Ana looks at the picture and realizes that she doesn’t look very much like his mom at all, and his mom’s hair was lighter than Ana’s. Okay, then! Problem obviously solved!

 My subconscious tuts at me, arms crossed, glaring over her half-moon glasses. Why are you torturing yourself? You’ve said yes. You’ve made your bed. I purse my lips at her. Yes I have, gladly so. I want to lie in that bed with Christian for the rest of my life. My inner goddess, sitting in the lotus position, smiles serenely. Yes, I’ve made the right decision.

Don’t listen to that daffy bitch! Listen to your subconscious! We’re always saying – perhaps unfairly – that men make all their decisions with their “little brain?” This is the female equivalent of that.

Christian comes into the room and hugs her, and she smells his body wash and thinks about how good he smells, and I’m thinking that if he ever changes brands, Ana is going to have some olfactory meltdown or something.

“I’m sorry you had to endure all that.”

“It’s not your fault, Christian. Why was she here?” He gazes down at me, and his mouth curls apologetically.

“She’s a family friend.”

I try not to react. “Not anymore. How’s your mom?”

“Mom is pretty fucking mad at me right now. I’m really glad you’re here, and that we’re in the middle of a party. Otherwise I might be breathing my last.”

“That bad, huh?”

He nods, his eyes serious, and I sense his bewilderment at her reaction.

“Can you blame her?” My voice is quiet, cajoling.

Yeah, I can blame her, Ana. Can you sense MY bewilderment? Let me tell you something, if one of my friends, one who was close enough to be deemed family, slept with my teenaged son, I would not be mad at him. He’s not the one who breached the trust. He’s a kid, with no possible idea of what kind of trouble this is all going to cause. The adult friend? Should fucking well know better. There would be blood and hair all over the place, I don’t care if there’s a party going on. It would end like… well…

These are so handy!

Christian tells Ana that having the thing with Elena out in the open makes him feel liberated.

“Really?” I beam back. Wow, I’d crawl over broken glass for that smile.

Healthy!

He also tells Ana that his business relationship with Elena is over. He’s going to cut the salons loose and gift them to her. Then Ana and Christian talk about getting drunk, and he tells her she has to eat:

“No arguing, Anastasia. If you’re going to drink – and toss alcohol on my exes – you need to eat. It’s rule number one. I believe we’ve already had that discussion after our first night together.”

Oh yes. The Heathman.

Back in the hallway, he pauses to caress my face, his fingers skimming my jaw.

“I lay awake for hours and watched you sleep,” he murmurs. “I might have loved you even then.”

Remember that time when Ana got blackout drunk and he took her back to his hotel room without her permission, but it was okay with her because he was a gentleman enough to not rape her? That’s the time he’s talking about. At that point, she’d interviewed him, gone to a photo shoot with him, and then gotten coffee. They weren’t even dating. They barely knew each other. And he not only abducted her, but he lay awake that night just staring at her while she was passed out drunk. That’s so fucking romantic, it’s practically the spaghetti date scene from Lady and The Tramp.

Here’s the thing. A lot of people have been saying, “It’s just fiction, you’re assuming this book was intended as a how-to book or that people are going to decide that every woman wants this kind of relationship because of this book, and that’s not true.” Well, look what I found in my fucking December 2012 copy of Maxim:


Yes, I have a subscription to Maxim. I don’t want it. I didn’t ask for it, and I’ve never paid for it. It just randomly shows up in my mailbox and has for the past three years. But that’s not the point. The point is, while all the defenders of this book are saying over and over again, “This is not a how-to book, and it was never intended to be, you’re acting like the author/publisher is blatantly telling people to live their lives according to this book,” blah blah, right there is an advertisement blatantly suggesting that men should buy the book and “share the experience,” because it’s “what every woman wants.” Considering that this ad is running in a men’s magazine that routinely tells guys how to get women into bed without resorting to date rape (but they never entirely rule it out), well… what the fuck do you think that ad is trying to say? A reader sent me a picture they took of a similar ad on a subway train. And it’s not like these ads weren’t taken out by the publisher, or their hands are somehow clean in this. There is no shadow council of advertisers running ads that companies don’t approve of in order to discredit their products. This is an ad paid for by the publisher – although I’m not sure why they think the best selling book of all time (I’m sorry, I just gagged on some bile, give me a second) needs advertising. But it’s clear that they’re marketing this as a sex/relationship game changer. So this book is absolutely being touted as containing relationship secrets that will please women.

I just want to suggest that perhaps the way to a modern woman’s heart is not to abduct her while she’s drunk and later confess to watching her sleep. That is some creepy, creepy shit.

Cut to the end of the night, and Grace is super drunk, singing karaoke with Kate and Mia. Look, I’m not going to judge her grieving process. If I found out one of my friends slept with my son, I’d probably grab the Gin and do a mean rendition of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Know” just to amp me up before I head over to set her house on fire.

“It’s been quite a day.”

“Christian, recently, every day with you has been quite a day.” My voice is sardonic.

 He shakes his head. “Fair point well made, Miss Steele. Come – I want to show you something.”

Every time he says, “Come,” when he should be saying “Come on,” I just imagine her having this loud, uncontrollable orgasm in front of everyone. And that is more arousing to me than anything E.L. has written in these fucking books so far.

As we make our way up the steps to the lawn, I take off my shoes. The half moon shines brightly over the bay. It’s brilliant, casting everything in myriad shades of gray as the lights of Seattle twinkle in the distance.

 She referenced the title of her own book for a change! OMG NEW FAVORITE AUTHOR!

“Christian, I’d like to go to church tomorrow.”

“Oh?”

“I prayed you’d come back alive and you did. It’s the least I could do.”

No, technically the least you could do was pray. I’ve never liked Ana, so I’m not entirely surprised to see that she’s one of those Christians, who goes to church like she’s applying for a cosmic mortgage. Either believe or don’t, but for fuck’s sake, commit. There is no Christian religion I can think of that asks you to come to church only if God is doing stuff for you.

Christian tells Ana he bought that house they looked at, and he’s not going to knock it down. Then he takes her to the boathouse.

My mouth drops to the floor. The attic is unrecognizable. The room is filled with flowers… there are flowers everywhere. Someone has created a magical bower of beautiful wild meadow flowers mixed with glowing Christmas lights and miniature lanterns that glow soft and pale all around the room.

Clearing my throat nonchalantly.

 Tugging my hand, he pulls me into the room, and before I know it, he’s sinking to one knee in front of me. Holy hell… I did not expect this. I stop breathing.

Do me a favor and don’t start again.

 From inside his jacket pocket he produces a ring and gazes up at me, his eyes bright gray and raw, full of emotion.

Told you she wouldn’t get to pick her own ring.

“Anastasia Steele. I love you. I want to love, cherish, and protect you for the rest of my life. Be mine. Always. Share my life with me. Marry me.”

Didn’t he already ask her to marry him? Is there a gas leak in my office?

I blink down at him as my tears fall. My Fifty, my man. I love him so, and all I can say as the tidal wave of emotion hits me is, “Yes.”

He grins, relieved, and slowly slides the ring on my finger. It’s beautiful, an oval diamond in a platinum ring. Whoa – it’s big…  Big, yet simple and stunning in its simplicity.

So much is wrong here. Just… a lot. A lot of this doesn’t make sense. Why is he relieved? She already said yes. Also, is her finger an oval diamond? And I thought Christian was all about caring about people in developing nations… so why is he buying diamonds? Doesn’t that support the colonial oppression of the underpaid gem miners working in dangerous conditions? Aren’t diamonds like, one step above heroin on the scale of shit you shouldn’t buy because you’re pouring money into an industry that literally destroys lives and rapes the Earth? Maybe he should give her a big spool of copper wire for Christmas, damn.

I know deep down I will always be his, and he will always be mine. We’ve come so far together, we have so far to go, but we are made for each other. We are meant to be.

You’d think the book ends there, or even the series, but oh no. No, no, no. We have, for no reason I can fathom besides, “I want to milk another book out of this because I’m too personally invested in the characters and I can’t let them go,” a third-person present-tense pov scene tacked on, in which a shadowy figure drinks cheap booze and smokes cigarettes as he conveniently thinks in blatant exposition about how he sabotaged Christian Grey’s helicopter. I think it’s supposed to be a mystery or something, but surprise, it’s Jack Hyde:

It had been the same all his life. People constantly underestimating him – just a man who reads books. Fuck that! A man with a photographic memory who reads books. Oh, the things he’s learned, the things he knows. He snorts again. Yeah, about you, Grey. The things I know about you.

What books has he read? Because I know he’s supposed to be a villain, but if he’s read these books and is burdened with a photographic memory, I feel really bad for him.

Not bad for a kid from the gutter end of Detroit.

I hate that Detroit has become lazy author shorthand for “this person had a rough upbringing.” Not every part of Detroit is 8 Mile in an Eminem song, you fuckers.

We also find out that Jack Hyde went to Princeton on scholarship, he blames Ana for him sexually assaulting his way through the publishing industry, and he’s out for revenge. As in, literally out, because he’s sitting in front of the Chevalier-Grey manse as we speak. Also, we get our last Taylor of the book:

He chuckles mirthlessly, then winces. Fuck, his ribs. Still sore from the swift kicking Grey’s henchman delivered.

He replays the scene in his mind. “You fucking touch Miss Steele again, I’ll fucking kill you.”

I TOLD YOU! I TOLD YOU TAYLOR IS IN LOVE WITH ANA!

And with that, we’ve reached the end.

I’m going to take a minute off from recaps, because there are other things I’d like to talk about, 50 Shades and otherwise, so let’s say if the world doesn’t really end, you’ll get a new recap December 22nd when I start recapping 50 Shades Freed. That way, I don’t spend what could be the last days of humanity with E.L. James and her misogynistic fantasies.

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  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous

    It is so very, very unprofessional for Christian’s doctor to be at his birthday party.

    August 19, 2013
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  17. TokenOfficeGoth
    TokenOfficeGoth

    Have to say, being as that I work tangentially to the hospitality industry…No exceptionally rich family with live-in servants is going to serve dinner buffet style in the kitchen…EVER.
    I once attended a high-tea where I made a complete ass of myself (apparently) because I didn’t realize I need only point to the things I wanted from the sandwich tray, rather than handle the tongs myself, these wealthy elites are going to just help themselves in the actual kitchen? Bullshit.
    They have a freaking great room, they aren’t serving a plated dinner on a formal occasion? That’s absurd, what do they feel like slumming it tonight? “Hey gang let’s do dinner like the 99%!!” As if.

    September 28, 2013
    |Reply
    • The-Great-Dragon
      The-Great-Dragon

      That’s really interesting. How do you work tangentially to the hospitality industry, if you don’t mind me asking?

      A major theme in this book seems to be that E.L. James doesn’t understand rich people. She gets the setting down alright, but the attitude is completely missing. They don’t have to be snobs or anything, but there’s definitely a different culture there that E.L. James fails at capturing. (I mean, I really doubt they’d just welcome Ana with open arms.)

      October 6, 2013
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  21. Cynamind
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    February 5, 2015
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  22. Maria
    Maria

    I know I’m super late to the discussion, but I discovered your wonderful blog only a week ago 🙁

    Your recaps are absolutely delightful and I laughed out loud more times than appropriate at a work place.

    I remember reading books 1+2 while on vacation 3 years ago and I think I sustained a minor head injury (or the books induced some kind of mental illness) because I don’t remember them being THAT bad.
    I can’t, for example, remember the inner goddess/ subconscious dialogs and the whole “abusive relationship” theme just went over my head. Though the last one can be explained by me reading super fast to minimize my contact with the books and the fact that I do not care at all about any of them.
    Honestly, all I can remember are the general impressions like “dear god, this is bad writing, must be the poor translation”, “I don’t care about these people at all”, “The sex is making me uncomfortable in an entire non sexy way”, ” this is racy sex scenes? ha” and the priceless “wow, she’s so perfect and skinny- how is she even real?”.

    I’d like to ask about the writing, if I may.
    As I mentioned, I read a translated version of the books and was really bothered by the unevenness of the writing. Some parts were written well (or at least not horribly) and were quite easy to read. But then something like “OMG, he’s so HOT” appears and well..
    I’m wondering if anyone else noticed anything similar or is it just the translator gave up posted his/her teenage daughter’s texts.

    I couldn’t bring myself to read the 3rd book so I’m exited to read your recaps of that.
    You are braver than me and I salute you.

    February 24, 2015
    |Reply
  23. Cassie
    Cassie

    Two down, one to go. I hate this series so much, probably as much as you do, but I enjoy reading your recaps. You’re an awesome writer.

    March 13, 2015
    |Reply
  24. I just started reading this, and so far it reads decently. Don’t know if there’s going to be any deviations from the Fifty Shades trilogy , but the main is Taylor. https://m.fanfiction.net/s/8175507/1/Fifty-Shades-of-Taylor
    I found some other Fanfiction stories that did involve Ana as a main love interest but none of them were terribly well written, and I agree with you about Taylor being a much more interesting character than any of the others. If Ana were written better, I’d even be willing to read her as a main love interest.

    April 9, 2015
    |Reply
    • Mel
      Mel

      I’d be more interested in Kate as a main love interest over Ana. Ana bores me to tears. Kate and Taylor – there’s a OTP for you!

      December 5, 2015
      |Reply
  25. Yvonne
    Yvonne

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Christian’s shitty attitude toward his sister. She asks to see the ring, and he “glowers” at her. She asks when the wedding will be, and his “exasperation is palpable,” and he responds “irritably.” She’s asking perfectly reasonable questions that, like you said, Ana and Christian should have expected and prepared for, and he’s giving her a pissy attitude. I can’t believe nobody called him out on it. You’d think his parents at least wouldn’t be intimidated by him. Seriously, why the FUCK did E.L. give him such an attitude in this scene? It’s completely uncalled-for. There is literally NO reason for any human being on earth to react that way, and it sure as fuck serves no purpose in this story.

    July 25, 2015
    |Reply
  26. Yvonne
    Yvonne

    Not bad for a kid from the gutter end of Detroit.

    I hate that Detroit has become lazy author shorthand for “this person had a rough upbringing.” Not every part of Detroit is 8 Mile in an Eminem song, you fuckers.

    ~ Yes, but please note that it says “FROM THE GUTTER END of Detroit.” If E.L. intended to imply that Detroit is a bad place to grow up, she would have simply said “Not bad for a kid from Detroit.” But she specifies the BAD part of Detroit, and pretty much every city in America has its bad side.

    July 25, 2015
    |Reply
  27. Jessica
    Jessica

    We all should have know Mrs Flyn was James. She’s the only white woman in the series Anna discribes positively and doesn’t give a bitchy nickname to.

    August 20, 2015
    |Reply
  28. Anon
    Anon

    I know, I know… massively late to the party, but just wanted to point something out.

    “A lot of this doesn’t make sense. Why is he relieved? She already said yes.”

    When my husband proposed to me, he had to have a glass of “liquid courage” to pop the question… with the ring that had been custom-fitted for my ring size because we had spent the past two weeks choosing it together. (Also, he was from England [I’m American] and so we’d spent months discussing getting married because that’s not something you do without lots and lots of planning when you’re from two different countries.) So while it may not make sense, it’s certainly not an unheard of reaction.

    September 28, 2015
    |Reply
  29. The Unicorner
    The Unicorner

    I’ve been rereading these lately and forgot how horrific these books are, to be honest. It’s almost impressive how flawlessly they condense all the worst parts of patriarchy and rape culture into 3 books and yet women are eating this shit up with a spoon. There’s like, layers to how shitty these books are. The first time around, I focused most of my impotent rage on the abuse aspect, and this time, it’s the sheer amount of girl on girl hate. Perhaps I was too sidetracked by the abuse the first time around to notice, but now i’m like “jesus christ, what blond chick hurt elj???” The clear and obvious contempt the narrative has for Kate despite her not being a bad character at all is staggering. I also didn’t realize how constant Ana’s gloating over having a man everyone else wants (I guess none of these women love themselves) and being skinnier than everyone else is, either.

    On a lighter note, however, I do agree that the catfighting in this scene is beyond high-larious. This book really does read like it’s written by a 13-y/o fanfiction.net author. I thought of the Jersey Shore catfights with acrylic nails and hair extensions flying thick and heavy but I guess these women would be too ~*classy*~ for such things (but not so classy they don’t call each other bitches and act like cats brawling over a particularly pungent sardine–and yes, I’m sorry to sardines for comparing them to Christian Grey).

    You are a stronger woman that I for reading all this and being able to recap it so articulately and hilariously.

    January 14, 2016
    |Reply
  30. Late
    Late

    Christian announces their engagement then gets pissed off that his sister asked about it? Like “Everyone, we’re engaged!”
    “That’s great! When did you propose?”
    “Fuck off! Stop meddling in my life you bitch!”

    He and Ana do have something in common. They both think that a loved one expressing interest in their lives is a huge boundary violation.

    September 4, 2016
    |Reply
  31. Mandy
    Mandy

    I love this blog. Honestly, I do. But I’ve just spent approximately three hours going through each page of the blog, trying to get to the 50 Shades recap beginning. Where, pray tell, might I find the recap page with all of the links to the posts?

    January 9, 2017
    |Reply
    • Jenny Trout
      Jenny Trout

      They’re listed on the Jealous Haters Book Club page.

      January 9, 2017
      |Reply
  32. My favourite thing about this post is the constant references to Twilight! Now I want to read Twilight!?

    April 14, 2017
    |Reply

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