This is it. The last chapter of the entire 50 Shades of Grey series. I mean, there’s an epilogue, and a vignette, and the first part of the first book rewritten from Christian’s POV– OMG YOU GUISE THIS IS TOTALLY NOT LIKE TWILIGHT LIKE AT ALL–, but the chapters, the main part of the story, the horrible, crushing legacy of “love him ’til he’s well” is over. It’s… it’s over.
If you remember what happened in our last chapter, then good for you! Because it’s been a fuck of a long time since I’ve done a recap. Anyway, Christian was about to tell Ana literally everything she has been longing to know ever since she met him. He’s going to tell her all about Mrs. Robinson, and how he got into kinky fuckery. The entire plot of the series is about to be wrapped up in a single conversation. So, how does Ana react?
Do I want to hear this?
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
OF COURSE YOU WANT TO HEAR THIS!
HOW DARE YOU, HOW VERY, VERY DAAAAAAAAARE YOU, MAKE ME READ THREE WAY TOO LONG NOVELS OF CONSTANT WHINGING THAT CHEDWARD WON’T TELL YOU ANYTHING, ONLY TO DOUBT THAT YOU WANT HIM TO TELL YOU IN THE VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THE VERY LAST CHAPTER OF THE VERY LAST BOOK! HOW DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARE YOU!
Christian tells Ana that he was doing yard work for Mrs. Robinson when she brought him lemonade, then slapped him, kissed him, and slapped him again. Because she went to the Daytime Soaps School of Nonsensical Seduction.
“Do you want to hear this?” Christian asks.
“Only if you want to tell me.” My voice is small as I lie facing him, my mind reeling.
“She didn’t touch me when she kissed me,” he murmurs and turns his head to gaze at me. “You have to understand… my life was hell on earth. I was a walking hard-on, fifteen years old, tall for my age, hormones raging. The girls at school–” He stops, but I’ve got the picture; a scared, lonely, but attractive adolescent. My heart twists.
“I was angry, so fucking angry at everyone, at myself, my folks. I had no friends. My therapist at the time was a total asshole. My folks, they kept me on a tight leash; they didn’t understand.”
So, basically he was a very normal, typical American teenager? Except for the part where he keeps saying, “my folks.” I’ve never met anyone born after 1970 who says, “My folks” this often.
Christian began a sexual relationship as a sub to Mrs. Robinson:
“And you know something, Ana? My world came into focus. Sharp and clear. Everything. It was exactly what I needed. She was a breath of fresh air. Making the decisions, taking all that shit away from me, letting me breathe.”
So, remember everybody, BDSM is the cure-all. But also, the problem. I guess. Somehow.
This is what I don’t understand, and maybe you guys can help me out in the comments: if Chedward was miraculously healed by being a submissive to Mrs. Robinson, then why did he turn to sadism and Dominance? It seems like if being a sub was helping him, and he was clearly able to achieve subspace in an enjoyable way, he would have stuck with being submissive.
OH SHIT, I FORGOT WHAT BOOK I WAS READING.
Let me explain to you why Christian went from being a sub to being a Dom totally unable to switch:
- This is plagiarized from Twilight.
- In Twilight, Edward accidentally hurts Bella all the time during their intimate alone times.
- So Chedward has to hurt Anabella all through these books.
- But the author seems to have a problem with BDSM, viewing it as abusive at the very least.
- So for Christian Grey to have been abused and mentally scarred by his relationship with Mrs. Robinson, he had to be a sub.
- Also, I’m pretty sure that Christian Grey would have seemed less “manly” to a lot of female readers if he were a sub, and ick, women being in charge during sex is so gross and unsexy, so he has to make a nonsensical 180 to full-time Dom with absolutely no chance of switching.
- Because the very notion of sexual submission is automatically emasculating in the minds of 80% of contemporary romance readers,
So, what this is telling me is that I need to write an alpha male sub, because these mythic creatures can exist and be, gasp, sexy.
“And even when it was over, my world stayed in focus because of her. And it stayed that way until I met you.”
Wait, his world remained in focus from his submission to Mrs. Robinson until he met Ana, at which point his world went out of focus… so you know what would have made this book a) better b) more suspenseful and c) make more sense? If Christian didn’t have this long string of women he’d dominated in the past. What if Ana had been the first woman he’d wanted to Dom with? What if that’s what blew his entire world view to pieces? Then the BDSM plot device would have been so much less insulting. He’s confused, he’s angry that he’s powerless to stop these feelings, he doesn’t want to change, etc. My god. It would almost resemble a plot, or character development.
“You turned my world on its head.” He closes his eyes, and when he opens them again, they are raw.
“My world was ordered, calm, and controlled, then you came into my life with your smart mouth, your innocence, your beauty, and your quiet temerity… and everything before you was just dull, empty, mediocre… it was nothing.”
I’m really glad that E.L. worked this in here, because it would have been weird to end the book without another string of unearned praise for Ana.
“I fell in love,” he whispers.
I stop breathing. He caresses my cheek.
“So did I,” I murmur with the little breath I have left.
His eyes soften. “I know,” he mouths.
Read that again, but imagine the scene taking place in a faulty airlock.
After a few paragraphs, Christian says:
“If you grow up with a wholly negative self-image, thinking you’re some kind of reject, an unlovable savage, you think you deserve to be beaten.”
Savage, huh? Also, Christian seemed to believe that all of his subs deserved to be beaten, because they looked like his mother. So, he has a negative image of Ana, as well?
Christian goes on to say the same kind of shit that he’s been saying for all three books (his submission to Elena helped him, he quit drinking, he stopped fighting, he sees the relationship for what it was), but we’re supposed to believe it’s some big fucking revelation because it’s the end of the book and everything is surprising to Ana. So either she hasn’t been listening to him throughout the entire series, or she’s the kind of person who watched Titanic and was shocked when the boat sank.
“But you like control,” I whisper.
“Yes. I do. I always will, Ana. It’s who I am. I surrendered it for a brief while. Let someone make all my decisions for me. I couldn’t do it myself– I wasn’t in a fit state. But through my submission to her, I found myself and found the strength to take charge of my life… take control and make my own decisions.”
So, now this officially doesn’t make sense. He surrendered control because he was too controlling, and it helped him by… making him realize he should be more controlling? And this was a positive thing? I just want to make sure that I, as the reader, am understanding this correctly: even though “make my own decisions” translates to engaging in unsafe sex and BDSM practices and emotionally manipulating a woman (Leila) into a mental breakdown, it made him better?
“Dropping out of Harvard?”
“My decision, and it was the best decision I ever made. Until I met you.”
Is there someone else here, Ana? Jesus Christ.
Christian tells Ana that it was Elena that encouraged him to follow Ana to Georgia, because she was trying to break them up. Remember when everyone was like, “You have to read the whole series so you can understand that he reforms and becomes a good man?” That’s some grade A bullshit, because this is the last fucking chapter, and all I’m seeing is an author scurrying desperately to blame the behavior of her abusive shit stain of a hero on any woman who’s ever come into contact with him. This book is like an MRA manifesto. It should have a fedora on the fucking cover. The title should be, It’s All Her Fault.
“She thought I needed all the trappings of the lifestyle I enjoyed.”
“The Dom?” I whisper.
He nodds. “It enabled me to keep everyone at arm’s length, gave me control, and kept me detached, or so I thought. I’m sure you’ve worked out why,” he adds softly.
“Your birth mom?”
“I didn’t want to be hurt again. And then you left me.” His words are barely audible. “And I was a mess.”
These are the big revelations, by the way. If you’re feeling a sense of deja vu, it’s not just you. You really have read this conversation over and over. But if the author insists hard enough, it’s all new and revelatory.
Ana asks Christian if he misses being a Dom. Like… since when? Since the last time you guys had sex or something? Anyway, he says he does:
“But only insofar as I miss the control it brings. And frankly, your stupid stunt” — he stops– “that saved my sister,” he whispers, his words full of relief, awe, and disbelief. “That’s how I know.”
“Really know that you love me.”
I frown. “You do?”
“Yes. Because you risked so much… for me, for my family.”
I don’t know what’s more infuriating to me, the idea that the entire plot of this series is apparently that Ana has to prove to her abuser that she loves him, or that the main conflict is only being explicitly defined in the very last chapter of the very last book.
“You have a V here when you frown,” he murmurs. “It’s very soft to kiss. I can behave so badly… and yet you’re still here.”
What is this shit? A greatest hits chapter?
Christian tells Ana he thought she would leave him because:
“Because of the way I behaved when you told me you were pregnant.” He runs his finger down my cheek. “You were right. I am an adolescent.”
Oh shit… I did say that. My subconscious glares at me. His doctor said that!
“Christian, I said some awful things.” He puts his index finger over my lips.
“Hush, I deserved to hear them. Besides, this is my bedtime story.”
Once again, Ana tries to apologize for setting reasonable boundaries, like, “Could you please not slam shit around and scream at me when you find out the birth control method you forced upon me because the more reliable barrier method you simply didn’t care to use failed.” I’m so glad this book is nearly over.
Christian makes a remark about how he expected they would have a child in the future, and Ana thinks:
Just one? No… Not an only child. Not like me. Perhaps now’s not the best time to bring that up.
You fucking think?! You can’t just randomly introduce new conflict in the last chapter of the last book of a fucking series! AAAARGH!
“Well, you pulled the rug out from under me. Christ, was that unexpected. Never in a million years, when I asked you what was wrong, did I expect you to be pregnant.” He sighs. “I was so mad. Mad at you. Mad at myself. Mad at everyone. And it took me back, that feeling of nothing being in my control. I had to get out. I went to see Flynn, but he was at some school parents’ evening.” Christian pauses and arches an eyebrow.
“Ironic,” I whisper. Christian smirks in agreement.
That’s not irony. That’s coincidence. Aren’t you an editor with an English degree, Ana?
Christian’s chain of excuses leads up to the big event. He’s going to tell Ana what happened when he saw Elena:
Oh shit. We’ve cut to the chase. My heart doubles in speed. Do I really want to know this? My subconscious glares at me, a plucked eyebrow raised in warning.
If you’d actually cut to the chase, this entire fucking life-long drag-out of this goddamned series would have been a single fucking book, but in your own time I guess, Ana. Plus, this is the second time, after three books of “Please talk to me,” that Ana is now doubting she actually wants him to talk to her. It doesn’t increase the tension. It’s just fucking annoying.
Aside: since the subconscious and the inner goddess are polar opposites of each other, and the subconscious has noticeably plucked eyebrows, the part of Ana’s inner goddess will be played by Peter Capaldi:
Anyway, Christian explains that Elena made a pass at him that night, Ana gets to call her a Bitch Troll again, and Christian tells her about how he broke it off with Mrs. Robinson and is never going to see her again. Which is going to be quite the trick to pull off, since he still has her business tied up with his and all.
“I’m sorry,” I mutter.
He frowns. “What for?”
“Being so angry the next day.”
He snorts. “Baby, I understand angry.”
Here, we see Ana apologizing to Christian for being mad that he slammed shit around and screamed at her when she told him she was pregnant, then stormed off and spent the night drinking with the woman who has tried repeatedly to sabotage their relationship. And we see him magnanimously forgiving her by brushing off her apology.
Excuse me a moment.
He goes on to tell her that he was only mad about the baby because he wanted to be the center of her universe. Which is a totally reasonable and not at all juvenile, manipulative, and generally prickish thing to say to someone. This, of course, makes Ana cry, because she exists solely to fulfill his needs, as the good lord intended of women. They talk about his mom, and Ana asks him to forgive her for being such a shitty parent, and he says:
“I’m scared I’ll be a shitty father.”
I stroke his dear face. Oh, my Fifty, Fifty, Fifty. “Christian, do you think for one minute I’d let you be a shitty father?”
You let him be a shitty husband, so why not? The idea that she thinks she can force him to be a good father means they should not be having a kid. Because that’s not how parenthood works. No one can make someone else be a good parent, no matter how hard they work at it.
Ana asks Christian why he’s being forthcoming about all this stuff:
“Why am I being forthcoming? I can’t say. Seeing you practically dead on the cold concrete, maybe. The fact I’m going to be a father. I don’t know. You said you wanted to know, and I don’t want Elena to come between us. She can’t. She’s the past and I’ve said that to you so many times.”
Right, you’ve totally said that so many times. And then when the chips were down, you ran straight to her. This is an “actions speak louder than words” kind of situation, buddy.
“If she hadn’t made a pass at you… would you still be friends?”
“That’s more than one question.”
“Sorry. You don’t have to tell me.” I flush. “You’ve already volunteered more than I ever thought you would.”
I’m glad the book didn’t end without another “flush.” I would have felt incomplete. Also, uh… yeah, he does have to tell you if he would have maintained a relationship with a woman who tried to break up your marriage. It’s called being emotionally honest with your partner, dipshit.
They have some weird back and forth about how much he wants to have sex with her, but he won’t because safety, then there’s a section break and:
I wake with a start.
This moron is alarmed at everything. I cannot imagine a world in which I am routinely startled by normal bodily functions like waking up. What happens when she takes a shit? Does her heart stop? What about when she sneezes? Is that like watching American Horror Story in the dark during a thunderstorm? WHY IS SHE ALWAYS STARTLED WHEN SHE REGAINS CONSCIOUSNESS?
I feel like I’m running out of pages here, and we’re not going to get an answer re: Ana’s constant sense of terror at every day occurrences.
It’s Monday, and I spent all of yesterday lounging about in bed. Christian let me go out only briefly to see Ray. Honestly, he’s still such a control freak. I smile fondly. My control freak.
Hands off, ladies, he’s taken. The guy who will prevent you from spending time with your recently severely injured father is, sadly, off the market.
Ana thinks about how Christian telling her all these big revelations (90% of which were not new information at all) will put the past behind them. Or maybe not:
We haven’t spoken of the Bitch Troll once since his confession. I hope we never do. To me she’s dead and buried.
Methinks the idiot doth protest too much. See, if she was really “dead and buried,” Ana wouldn’t think it was some big milestone that they hadn’t talked about her in a day. And she wouldn’t be referring to her as the Bitch Troll if she’d let go of her anger the way she’s claiming.
Ana goes out to the kitchen for breakfast, and Christian says:
“Ana, you are not going to work.”
Christian tells her he’s not going to work, either, and she acts like it’s some big damn deal, but for a guy who is Master of The Universe, he certainly holds some steady 20 hour work weeks throughout this series.
Hey, read this:
I slide onto a barstool beside him and hoist my skirt up a little. Mrs. Jones places a cup of tea in front of me.
“You look good,” Christian says. I cross my legs. “Very good. Especially here.” He traces a finger over the bare flesh that shows above my thigh-highs. My pulse quickens as his finger runs across my skin. “This skirt is very short,” he murmurs, vague disapproval in his voice as his eyes follow his finger.
“Is it? I hadn’t noticed.”
Christian gazes at me, his mouth twisted in an amused yet exasperated smirk.
“Really, Mrs. Grey?”
“I’m not sure this look is suitable for the workplace,” he murmurs.
“Well, since I’m not going to work, that a moot point.”
“Moot,” I mouth.
Christian smirks again and resumes eating his omelet. “I have a better idea.”
He glances at me through long lashes, gray eyes darkening. I inhale sharply. Oh my. About time.
Did you notice something in that excerpt? Was it that Mrs. Jones never left the kitchen? She’s like, right there, making Ana some eggs and toast, while this awkward, supposedly steamy flirting is happening right in front of her. How does she not just projectile vomit all over the tile backsplash? Okay, I know. It’s because everyone in this book thinks these two are the most sexy, adventurous, courageous, brave, intelligent, funny, charming, beautiful, humble, exciting people who ever fell into a love so pure it puts all others to shame, but it’s just too big a stretch of the imagination for me to think that a housekeeper wouldn’t be profoundly uncomfortable listening to Christian further grooming his wife for emotional manipulation.
Because guess what?! He still won’t fuck her! For her own good! Ha, those women. They never know what’s good for them, am I right?
Christian’s “better idea” is going to see new house. Before they do, this happens:
Leaving the breakfast bar, he tugs his T-shirt over his head, treating me to the sight of his finely sculptured shoulders and naked back as he saunters out of the great room. I stop mid-chew. He’s doing this on purpose. Why?
Because in Twilight, Bella wants to have sex with Edward and he consistently turns her down because he’s afraid of hurting her. Ana, everything that happens to you happens because it happened in Twilight. I’m surprised nobody’s written a fanfic wherein Bella Swan finds a copy of 50 Shades of Grey and reads it The Neverending Story style, gasping and flushing every time she recognizes that she is, in fact, a part of the story.
After a section break, Ana once again informs the reader that she’s like, so totally over Mrs. Robinson, no, really, doesn’t even think about her at all, and Christian puts his hand on her knee and she’s so super hot for him, etc. Then there is another section break, and why isn’t this book done yet? Hasn’t the main conflict been wrapped up? Anyway, they meet Elliot outside the new house, where construction is happening, and then there’s another section break where in something ASTOUNDING happens:
The new work is sympathetic and in keeping with the old-world charm of the house… Gia’s done well.
Okay, brace yourself, dear reader. Ana doesn’t say anything else about Gia. She doesn’t think about how she’s a home wrecker or a slut or overly familiar with other people’s husbands or has a bad dye job or wears too much makeup, she just thinks, “This female character is good at her job,” and adds nothing after that. This is literally the first time that has happened in this entire series.
Bask in it, dear reader. We’ve earned this fleeting reprieve.
Christian says something about hanging José’s photos in the house, and Ana is all falsely modest about her looks, and then:
“Worse things to do than look at your beautiful smiling face all day. Hungry?” he asks.
“Hungry for what?” I whisper.
There’s some talk about the baby and Ana shows Christian the ultrasound, because she’s just been carrying it around with her this whole time, I guess. Christian suggests they have a picnic in the meadow, because Twilight, and then there’s a section break and Christian is on the phone to Ros, being busy and important. Then Welch calls, and Christian gets serious:
He narrows his eyes for a moment, then gives me a cool, chilling smile. A shiver runs down my back.
Mmm, so sexy when you’re afraid of your husband. He calls Ros:
“Ros, how much stock do we own in Lincoln Timber?” he kneels up.
My scalp prickles. Oh no, what’s this?
“So, consolidate the shares into GEH, then fire the board… except the CEO… I don’t give a fuck… I hear you, just do it… thank you… keep me informed.”
Why don’t you fire the CEO yourself, Christian? Since you’re such a hard ass? I’ve noticed that throughout this entire series, he never gets his hands dirty at his company, despite being “Master of The Universe.”
Welch found out that Linc, Elena’s ex-husband, posted bail for Jack Hyde.
Wait, is his name Linc Lincoln?!
Pushing past that, can E.L. figure out who the fucking villain is? Linc has barely been mentioned in this series, except to say that he beat up his wife for having an affair. What kind of a shitty, half-baked plot twist is this? You can’t just throw in a random villain at the very end. Also, random yahoos can’t find out who posted bail for who through legal channels, so once again, Christian is using his wealth to circumvent the law. Ana says:
“Well, he’ll look like an idiot,” I murmur, dismayed. “I mean, Hyde committed another crime while out on bail.”
Okay, no, he won’t look like an idiot, because that information is supposed to be confidential, and is that really the point? Like, if this dude posted bail in the hopes that Hyde would murder you, why are you thinking, “He’ll look like an idiot,” as though that’s some kind of fitting consequence?
Since this is the greatest hits chapter, Christian responds:
“Fair point well made, Mrs. Grey.”
You know, there’s a difference between repetition as a motif and repetition born of amateur–
“Several years back, when I was twenty-one, Linc beat his wife to a pulp. He broke her jaw, her left arm, and four of her ribs because she was fucking me.” His eyes harden. “And now I learn he posted bail for a man who tried to kill me, kidnapped my sister, and fractured my wife’s skull. I’ve had enough. I think it’s payback time.”
I blanch. Holy shit. “Fair point well made, Mr. Grey,” I whisper.
Fuck it. Never mind.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he whispers.
“You didn’t,” I lie.
He arches a brow, amused.
“You just took me by surprise,” I whisper, then swallow. Christian is really quite scary sometimes.
Do I really need to be here for this anymore?
Why did Christian go into business with Linc if he’s such an ahole? Was it to help Elena? Or so he’d have this leverage over him? If it’s the former, eh, I can see that. If it’s the latter, what kind of idiot is Linc?
“I will do anything to keep you safe. Keep my family safe. Keep this little one safe,” he murmurs and splays his hand out over my belly in a gentle caress.
He’ll do anything, except report major crimes, not commit crimes or pay someone else to commit them for him, or alter his violent and controlling behavior in any way. But other than those things, which are entirely under his sole control, he will do anything.
Then they start having sex, and he’s all Edward about it. He says:
“Your body’s changing,” he whispers.
Already? Isn’t she like ten weeks pregnant or something? I got to twelve weeks before I even knew I was pregnant with my first baby. I even lost weight.
Basically, the entire scene is a boring retread of every other sex scene that hasn’t involved some kind of prop. But I’m so, so glad it’s in here, because:
My panties disintegrate.
I almost want to say that reading this entire series has been worth it, just for that line.
My inner goddess is unleashed,
Then there’s a section break after Ana has an orgasm, and E.L. wedges “fair point well made” in there again like this is Dead Horse Fight Club, and Ana asks Christian if he misses BDSM. Well, she asks if he misses “it” because god forbid we use proper terms for anything.
He stills, gazing at me. “Sometimes,” he whispers.
Oh. “Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that,” I murmur and kiss him lightly on his lips, curling around him like a vine. Images of us together, in the playroom; the Tallis, the table, on the cross, shackled to the bed… I love his kinky fuckery– our kinky fuckery. Yes. I can do that stuff. I can do that for him, with him. I can do that for me.
Notice how she first thinks, okay, I can endure this for him, before she thinks, oh, and hey, bonus, I kinda like that stuff, too? It’s not an accident. This entire series is founded on the principle that BDSM is gross, dirty, and wrong. It can only be sexy if you’re doing it not out of desire, but out of duty to Twu Wuv. Ana is allowed to enjoy BDSM because she doesn’t enjoy BDSM and isn’t choosing it for herself. Take away her agency, and it’s acceptable for her to enjoy sex.
Now, I try not to make a lot of connections between the author of a work and the work itself. But considering the fact that E.L. James wrote the biggest selling erotic book of all time and she can’t talk about the sex in the book in interviews unless she’s talking about how it helped other women… And let’s also think about the fact that this is Twilight fanfic and mirrors that series in every way except that whereas Bella wanted to join Edward’s world and become a vampire, Ana is repulsed by BDSM and resents joining Christian’s world as his sub, well… let’s just say I find E.L.’s attitude toward kink highly suspect. I’m not outright saying that she finds BDSM deviant, dirty, and wrong and she only used it to make a quick buck… but am I saying that I wouldn’t be shocked if she released a statement to that effect tomorrow.
After a break, Ana is working from home, because Christian won’t let her return to work. Get used to it, honey. She thinks about how Christian hasn’t taken her into the playroom since she used her safe word, and she hears him playing the piano in another part of the apartment. She sends him an email– greatest hits, remember– saying she’s awaiting instructions, then she goes to the bedroom, strips down, and kneels. When he comes in and finds her, he puts on his ripped jeans and takes her to the playroom, but not before he scolds her for “topping from the bottom.” Which is bullshit, because they’re not in a 24/7 D/s relationship, so initiating sex is just initiating sex. It doesn’t matter who does it.
Jeez… life is never going to be boring with Christian, and I’m in this for the long haul. I love this man: my husband, my lover, father of my child, my sometimes Dominant… my Fifty Shades.
And that’s it. Don’t get all weepy on me, now. We still have about fifty pages of epilogue, short story, and opposing POV to slog through, so stay tuned.