Here are some links you may find amusing, as recommended by commenters/emailers/twitterers/that creepy guy at the gas station who always hangs out around the air compressor but never seems to have anything in need of inflating:
Let’s do this thing. We’re nearly at the finish line.
Ana wakes up to Christian kissing her on the head.
“We have to leave in half an hour for dinner at my parents.” He’s amused.
Well, Mr. Grey, it is not amusing to be woken up from a long nap only to find that you don’t have enough time to pull yourself together. We already know she’s got major problems with her hair, and you allotted only thirty minutes for her to talk to us about it while frowning in the mirror and hating all the pretty girls? You don’t know Ana at all, do you, Mr. Grey?
I’m refreshed but suddenly nervous. Holy cow, I am meeting his folks! He’s just worked me over with a riding crop and tied me up using a cable tie which I sold him, for heaven’s sake – and I’m going to meet his parents. It will be Kate’s first time meeting them too – at least she’l be there for support.
Ah, shittyfriend!Ana. How good it is to see you again. Kate will be there to support Ana. Of course she will! It’s not like she might be nervous and in need of some support, herself. No, she won’t be, because the relationship between Kate and Elliot isn’t important, just the relationship between Ana and Christian. She’ll have to be supportive, because Ana is the heroine. I also really enjoy the part where Ana is ruminating on how she sold Christian the cable ties. How are the Greys going to know this? I’m kind of imagining Mrs. Grey asking, with a martini glass paused half-way to her lips, “Ana, I understand you worked in a hardware store. Tell me, did my son buy any hardware for deviant sex purposes?”
Where are my panties? I check beneath the chair. Nothing. Then I remember – he squirreled them away in the pocket of his jeans. I flush at the memory, after he, I can’t even bring myself to think about it, he was so – barbarous. I frown. Why hasn’t he given me back my panties?
Is “barbarous” the word choice we’re going for here? Because slowly sliding off your panties and then sniffing them doesn’t seem barbaric at all. I mean, when I think barbaric, I think…
I don’t really think…
I steal into the bathroom, bewildered by my lack of underwear. While drying myself after my enjoyable but far too brief shower, I realize he’s done this on purpose. He wants me to be embarrassed and ask for my panties back, and he’l either say yes or no. My inner goddess grins at me. Hell… two can play at that particular game. Resolving there and then not to ask him for them and not give him that satisfaction, I shall go meet his parents sans culottes. Anastasia Steele! My subconscious chides me, but I don’t want to listen to her – I almost hug myself with glee because I know this will drive him crazy.
First of all, who is bewildered by not wearing underwear? Did she forget how to walk without panties on? Second, no, two cannot play at this particular game, Ana, unless you’ve got a pair of his underwear stashed away somewhere. Are you really going to go into a high-stress situation like meeting your boyfriend’s parents without any underwear on? Come on, lady, this is a time when you’re supposed to feel secure and confident, at least about your appearance, because you’re not going to feel that way about literally anything else all night long. No one wants to walk into the lion’s den without panties on.
Oh, it will impress your boyfriend, you say? Well, carry on, obviously.
Back in the bedroom, I put on my bra, slip into my dress, and climb into my shoes. I remove the braid and hastily brush out my hair, I then glance down at the drink he’s left.
It’s pale pink. What’s this? Cranberry and sparkling water. Hmm… it tastes delicious and quenches my thirst.
This book brought to you by the cranberry growers of New England.
You know, I bet after all this time, you’re wondering to yourself, “Jen, you haven’t mentioned anything about Chedward’s pants hanging off his hips in that way in quite some time. Surely, this is an error.” No, seriously, it didn’t come up again… until right now:
Christian is standing by the panoramic window, wearing the grey flannel pants that I love, the ones that hang in that unbelievably sexy way off his hips, and of course, a white linen shirt. Doesn’t he have any other colors? Frank Sinatra sings softly over the surround sound speakers.
So, there you go, dear reader. His pants are finally hanging off his hips in that way again. And do you like the music? We once again hear about a piece of music Christian listens to, and have a conversation about how eclectic his tastes run, because the narrative would surely suffer without such a discussion.
Frank starts crooning… an old song, one of Ray’s favorites. ‘Witchcraft.’ Christian leisurely traces his fingertips down my cheek, and I feel it all the way down there.
She just had an orgasm from being smacked in the clit with a riding crop over and over while her hands were shackled to the ceiling, but it’s still her “down there.” Plus, let me just point out, in case you missed it because you have boundary issues: gross, it’s not okay to think, “Oh, this is my dad’s favorite song I am so horny.” Or maybe it is. Maybe I just don’t have a good relationship with my father.
Ana and Christian dance for a few paragraphs, and of course his effortless grace means she moves like a pro, too, but before the number pops up so I can vote for them, Christian is all, “Shall we go and meet my parents?” and then tries to prompt Ana into asking for her panties back. Ana doesn’t bite:
“Okay. If that’s the way you want to play it, Miss Steele.” He grabs my hand, collects his jacket which is hanging on one of the barstools, and leads me through the foyer to the elevator. Oh, the many faces of Christian Grey. Will I ever be able to understand this mercurial man?
You seem to have him figured out pretty well, if you managed to suss out the underwear thing. Or have you?
I peek up at him in the elevator. He’s enjoying a private joke, a trace of a smile flirting with his beautiful mouth. I fear that it may be at my expense. What was I thinking? I’m going to see his parents and I’m not wearing any underwear. My subconscious gives me an unhelpful I told you so expression. In the relative safety of his apartment, it seemed like a fun, teasing idea. Now, I’m almost outside with No Panties! He peers down at me, and it’s there, the charge building between us. The amused look disappears from his face and his expression clouds, his eyes dark… oh my.
You fear that his private joke may be at your expense? I thought you were all smug about having figured it out. And duh, what did you think was going to happen when you left for dinner? That panties would materialize over your bits through sheer force of winning the game? Now, here is an interesting thing that comes up in the next paragraph. She gets into the car without exposing herself, and she’s thankful that Kate’s dress is so clingy and comes to the tops of her knees. If you are not a woman or you just don’t give a shit about getting dressed, you might not be hip to this awesome trick that we have. If a dress is clingy, you’ll probably have a panty line. So, in a lot of cases, women in clingy dresses will opt for no panties at all. What Ana is doing isn’t really that scandalous. It only becomes scandalous when Britney Spears or Paris Hilton or La Lohan are too coked out to keep their knees together getting out of the damned car. Something tells me you’ll be fine, Ana.
On the drive to his parents’ house, Ana notices that Christian has become withdrawn. She tries to pry some conversation out of him by asking how he learned to dance, and he tells her that it was “Mrs. Robinson,” the woman who raped him for six years beginning at age fifteen. Ana wonders if Christian was a different person before Mrs. Rapistson, and if so, was he a better person? Would he have gotten into BDSM without her influence?
I realize, in that moment, that I hate her. I hope that I never meet her because I will not be responsible for my actions if I do. I can’t remember ever feeling this passionately about anyone, especially someone I’ve never met. Gazing unseeing out of the window, I nurse my irrational anger and jealousy.
If your anger was directed at the fact that this woman straight up raped him, then it would be totally rational, Ana. But Ana isn’t mad that someone raped Christian, just that someone turned him on to BDSM, ruining him in her eyes. Because the most important person in this story is Ana.
Ana thinks about the afternoon and the fact that Christian was obviously going easy on her. She decides that she would do that all again, if it’s the only way to be with him. “That’s the bottom line. I want to be with him.” Good, then we won’t have to listen to any more rumination on that particular point, thank God.
His world indeed, and I want to belong in it, but on his terms? I just don’t know.
Ugh, Ana, you just told us on the last page that you totally would do anything to be with him. One of the things that drives me crazy in this book is the way the heroine will come to a final decision on something, then immediately turn it around and go, “No, just kidding, let’s have long thoughts about this again.” I realize that coming from me, the writer who pushed a heroine’s indecision out for four fucking novels, this is a laughable complaint. But it’s not like she’s deciding in one chapter that she’s okay with the situation, then changing her mind in the next chapter. Her flips and flops come paragraphs apart, and all they seem to do is take up space to indicate some long, tedious period of travel time. This book could have been a hundred pages shorter if every car or helicopter ride were just written as transitions, not their own scenes full of Ana’s conflicted feelings.
They arrive at the Cullen house, which is not all glass and white, because that’s
Edward’s Christian’s apartment in this book. Instead, it’s a colonial-style mansion with roses around the door.
“Are you ready for this?” Christian asks as Taylor pulls up outside the impressive front door.
I nod, and he gives my hand another reassuring squeeze.
“First for me too,” he whispers, then smiles wickedly. “Bet you wish you were wearing your underwear right now,” he teases.
I flush. I’d forgotten my missing panties.
What do you mean, “you forgot?” You were obsessing about them for almost the entire ride. Then you started thinking about your relationship. Is that how all-consuming your love for Chedward is, that you can ignore a cool breeze on your cooch?
The Chevalier Trevelyan-Grey and her husband, Mr. Grey, are on the doorstep waiting, looking blond, which in most cases in this book is code for “evil” but we know that Christian’s parents are totally not evil, even if they did let one of their friends sexually abuse their son for six years when he was a teenager. Christian’s dad’s name is Carrick, a nice, unwieldy stand-in for Carlisle. They exchange a few pleasantries, then Alice shows up. Read this, and tell me if you find this exchange a totally-not-plagiarized-piece-of-original-work:
“Is she here?” I hear a screech from within the house. I glance nervously at Christian.
“That would be Mia, my little sister,” he says almost irritably, but not quite.
There’s an undercurrent of affection in his words, the way his voice grows softer and his eyes crinkle as he mentions her name. Christian obviously adores her. It’s a revelation.
And she comes barreling down the hall, raven haired, tall, and curvaceous. She’s about my age.
“Anastasia! I’ve heard so much about you.” She hugs me hard.
Holy cow. I can’t help but smile at her boundless enthusiasm.
My god, what a staggering work of fiction, to introduce such a sharply defined character as Mia! I bet you could see her in your head instantly. I bet she looked a lot like either Ashley Green, or the way you imagined Alice to look when you read Twilight, am I right? Truly, E.L. James is a master crafter of original, not at all stolen, characters.
No, seriously, if you haven’t notice by now, there is barely any description of any character (besides Edward Cullen) in this book that doesn’t rely entirely on the reader’s familiarity with Twilight. I can predict at least two comments to this entry will be some variation of, “You’re wrong, because I didn’t read Twilight and I read 50 Shades and I totally saw the characters in my mind,” and I’m going to stop you right there and point directly in your face and shout, “WRONG! WRONG WRONG WRONG!” and possibly do a little dance, because I’m a poor winner, at best. Whether or not you read Twilight or have watched the movies doesn’t matter. If you live in the Western world, you know what the cast of Twilight looks like. You know this, because the commercials are everywhere. Their pictures are in magazines. They’re on the side of your Burger King cup. Whether or not you are consciously aware of them, you know what the characters of Twilight look like, just like anyone who hasn’t read or seen Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone knows that Harry has a scarf, an owl, and eyeglasses. The fact that James does little in 50 Shades to describe any character (who is not Chedward the Adonis) beyond “They had blonde hair and looked mean/nice” is because she knew that Twilight and your knowledge of Twilight, willing or unwilling that it might be, would mean that you both knew exactly who she was talking about. Because these aren’t characters of her own invention. They belong to another writer.
Christian has never brought a girl home before, so Mia is really excited (sound familiar?). There is a lot of hugging and kisses on the cheek, and Mia keeps holding Ana’s hand, so it all starts to remind me of that skit on SNL where the family is overly-kissy and it freaks out the girlfriend who is meeting them for the first time. I would put a video here for comedic effect, but I can’t find one, and it’s the little side trips through internetlandia that make these recaps three-hour ordeals for me, so we’ll just keep going. At least Ana notices that it’s a little excessive:
Elliot grasps me in an all-embracing hug. What is this, hug Ana week? This dazzling display of affection – I’m just not used to it.
You and me both, sister. Mr. Grey offers everyone Prosecco, because if a scene passes where Ana doesn’t ingest some kind of alcohol, she might stop functioning.
I flush scarlet, and seeing Kate sitting with Elliot, it occurs to me suddenly that the only reason Christian invited me is because Kate is here. Elliot probably freely and happily asked Kate to meet his parents. Christian was trapped – knowing that I would have found out via Kate. I frown at the thought. He’s been forced into the invitation. The realization is bleak and depressing. My subconscious nods sagely, a you’ve-finally-worked-it-out-stupid look on her face.
I kind of wish I could be Ana’s conscious mind for a minute, to explain to her that no, Christian did not have to invite her. Their relationship is not Kate and Elliot’s relationship, and they don’t have to play keep up with them. Christian and Ana have just started seeing each other. He could have easily said, “I’m not ready to introduce you to my parents,” even though she’s already met his mother. That would have been a perfectly acceptable boundary, from a man who sets all sorts of unreasonable boundaries as effortlessly as sneezing. You know who was trapped into letting someone meet their parent, Ana? You were, at your graduation.
They chit-chat with the parents, and it is revealed that Elliot is going to Barbados with Kate and her family on vacation.
I glance at Kate, and she grins, her eyes bright and wide. She’s delighted. Katherine Kavanagh, show some dignity!
What a strange idea of dignity Ana has, if she believes it’s undignified to be happy that your boyfriend is comfortable and secure enough in your relationship to go on vacation with your family. This falls into the whole “Kate is a dirty, dirty slut for having sex with Elliot and liking it, while I am a paragon of virtue for dreading my orgasms” thing that Ana has going on. But at least we don’t spend a lot of time slut-shaming Kate. We move right on to the next thing that’s going to get Ana spanked and fucked:
“Are you taking a break now you’ve finished your degree?” Mr. Grey asks.
“I’m thinking about going to Georgia for a few days,” I reply.
Christian gapes at me, blinking a couple of times, his expression unreadable. Oh shit.
I haven’t mentioned this to him.
“Georgia?” he murmurs.
“My mother lives there, and I haven’t seen her for a while.”
“When were you thinking of going?” His voice is low.
“Tomorrow, late evening.”
Remember, Ana hasn’t signed that contract yet. There is no reason Christian should assume she’s going to check in with him before going anywhere. And wait, even if she had signed that contract, there’s no reason to assume that, because it’s not legally binding and only a psychopath would assume they should have complete and total control over every facet of another person’s life, unless it’s been granted to them by court order for the individual’s own well-being. Christian’s dad tries to move things along with a toast, but Christian asks her how long she’s going to be gone for, and when she responds that it’s all up in the air, Kate gets involved:
His jaw clenches, and Kate gets that interfering look on her face. She smiles over-sweetly.
“Ana deserves a break,” she says pointedly at Christian. Why is she so antagonistic towards him? What is her problem?
Well, Ana, let’s look at your relationship from Kate’s pov, shall we?
What Kate has seen of Ana and Christian’s relationship:
- Ana is afraid to call Christian.
- Ana goes to coffee with Christian and comes home crying.
- Christian uses Kate as his errand girl to retrieve Ana for him at graduation.
- Christian sends Ana excessively expensive gifts which make Ana uncomfortable.
- Christian comes over for sex with Ana and leaves her crying.
- Ana expresses only doubts about her relationship with Christian to Kate, shares nothing positive.
Kate and Elliot follow Mr. Grey and Mia out of the room. I go to follow, but Christian clutches my elbow, bringing me to an abrupt halt.
“When were you going to tell me you were leaving?” he asks urgently. His tone is soft, but he’s masking his anger.
“I’m not leaving, I’m going to see my mother, and I was only thinking about it.”
“What about our arrangement?”
“We don’t have an arrangement yet.”
He narrows his eyes, and then seems to remember himself. Releasing my hand, he takes my elbow and leads me out of the room.
“This conversation is not over,” he whispers threateningly as we enter the dining room.
Nitpick! He didn’t have her hand. He was clutching her elbow. With that out of the way, is anyone else now picturing Chedward as the husband from Sleeping With The Enemy?
They go into the fancy dining room and all sit around the table, and despite everyone just having a drink in the living room, Mr. Grey starts passing the red wine around. Mia asks where Ana and Christian met, which leads Mia and Kate into a discussion about the student newspaper, which Ana ignores in favor of wine and begging Christian to not be mad at her. Of course he’s mad at her, and things are about to get a lot worse:
“What are you two whispering about?” Kate interjects.
I flush, and Christian glares at her in a butt-out-of-this-Kavanagh kind of way – even Kate wilts under his stare.
“Just about my trip to Georgia,” I say sweetly, hoping to diffuse their mutual hostility.
Kate smiles, a wicked gleam in her eye.
“How was Jose when you went to the bar with him on Friday?” Holy fuck, Kate. I widen my eyes at her. What is she doing? She widens her eyes back at me, and I realize she’s trying to make Christian jealous. How little she knows. I thought I’d got away with this.
“He was fine,” I murmur.
Christian leans over.
“Palm-twitchingly mad,” he whispers. “Especially now.” His tone is quiet and deadly.
Hey, Kate, if you were really concerned about Christian being a dangerous guy, WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU DO THAT? I’ve gotten some complaints recently that these recaps aren’t funny anymore because I concentrate on the domestic violence aspect too much, but I can’t, in good conscience, ignore this. As Ana Steele might say, my subconscious is very consciously glaring at me over some kind of unattractive eye wear about this one. If you have a friend who is in what you suspect might be an abusive relationship, do not goad the motherfucker she’s dating into giving you visible proof in the form of, say, a black eye. Or a corpse. If Kate really thought Christian was dangerous, why would she try to get Ana “in trouble” with him? This is not sound reason and logic, please, do not apply this in real life.
Enter the Chevalier Grey and another evil!blonde:
Grace reappears carrying two plates, followed by a pretty young woman with blonde pigtails, dressed smartly in pale blue, carrying a tray of plates. Her eyes immediately find Christian in the room. She blushes and gazes at him from under long mascara’d lashes.
Yeah, What! indeed. Listen, you tramp (and I know you’re a tramp, because you’re wearing mascara, and Ana has pointed it out to me), blushing/flushing/going scarlet/going crimson and gazing at Christian from under lashes is Ana’s thing. Stop trying to steal Ana’s thing!
The phone rings, and it’s the hospital for Dr. Grey. The mom, you remember. Because this isn’t Twilight, it’s nothing at all like Twilight and it never had any connection to Twilight. In Twilight, the father was a doctor, not the mother. Totally different.
They tuck into their food (which Ana eats, so we don’t have to read another argument about how she doesn’t eat enough), Chevalier Grey comes back to talk about how kids are getting the measles because people aren’t vaccinating their children, and then the men start talking baseball.
BECAUSE THIS BOOK HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TWILIGHT.
This gives Ana a chance to think totally normal, healthy relationship thoughts about Christian:
My mind is working furiously. Damn Kate, what game is she playing? Will he punish me? I quail at the thought. I haven’t signed that contract yet. Perhaps I won’t. Perhaps I’ll stay in Georgia where he can’t reach me.
Except for the part where he already told you he’d track you down if you went to Alaska. Ah, romance, and the perfectly acceptable personal boundaries therein.
As dinner goes on, Gretchen, the evil!blond servant, becomes more and more threatening to Ana:
As we finish our starters, Gretchen appears, and not for the first time, I wish I felt able to put my hands freely on Christian just to let her know – he may be fifty shades of fucked-up, but he’s mine. She proceeds to clear the table, brushing rather too closely to Christian for my liking. Fortunately, he seems oblivious to her, but my inner goddess is smoldering and not in a good way.
Yeah, that’s right! He may be some unwieldy nonsense measurement of abusive pseudo-boyfriend, but he’s Ana’s unwieldy nonsense measurement of abusive pseudo-boyfriend. The dinner conversation turns to talk about Paris, and Christian remembers that Ana would would rather go to London than Paris. This charms her, for about a second, before he skeevily tries to fingerbang her at his parent’s dinner table:
He places his hand on my knee – his fingers traveling up my thigh. My whole body tightens in response. No… not here, not now. I flush and shift, trying to pull away from him. His hand clamps down on my thigh, stilling me. I reach for my wine, in desperation.
Little Miss European Pigtails returns, all coy glances and swaying hips, with our entree, a Beef Wellington, I think. Fortunately, she gives us our plates and then leaves, although she lingers handing Christian his. He looks quizzically at me as I watch her close the dining room door.
I’m not sure where in the scene it was established that Gretchen is European, or that she’s wearing a style of pigtails that could be deemed distinctly European, but let’s just go with it. Ana is already feeling out of place because she’s not well-traveled, so let’s make this evil!blonde a shady foreigner, as well. And if this chick is so obviously coming on to Christian, why hasn’t anyone at the table noticed? Wouldn’t Kate comment on it? Or Mia? They both seem pretty outspoken and observant.
Mia calls her old boss a “domineering tyrant,” which makes Ana choke on her wine, because she can connect literally anything to her sex life with Christian, but at least it makes Christian take his hand off her thigh. They all eat their delicious food, and at one point Mia and Christian converse in fluent French, so you know they’re some fucking classy ass people up in this joint. Christian offers to give Ana a tour of the grounds, and it’s an offer she literally can’t refuse, so they go out into the splendorous backyard, where Christian picks her up over his shoulder and smacks her behind.
Oh no… this is not good, my subconscious is quaking at the knees. He’s mad about something – could be Jose, Georgia, no panties, biting my lip. Jeez, he’s easy to rile.
Which is something you really want to look for in a responsible dominant, am I right? Someone who is going to get irrationally and seriously angry about everything? That’s super safe. Christian tells Ana he’s taking her to the boathouse.
“Why?” I sound breathless, bouncing on his shoulder.
“I need to be alone with you.”
“Because I’m going to spank and then fuck you.”
Ah, the perfect end to the perfect evening, then. And the perfect place to end this chapter recap.
You know what would be awesome? If Victoria and Laurent and that other fucking guy showed up and killed Ana and Chedward in the boathouse. That would be a satisfying read.