Tuesday, June 24, 2014

50 Shades Shadier: Chapter 17 part 2

Ana gets promoted to Hyde's job. She and Christian meet with Christian's psychiatrist, and then they drive somewhere. 

Guys! I get it! We're all watching the World Cup of soccer, not reading about this book, which is the World Cup of terrible books. I respect that. So please, you know. After the thing is finished and Costa Rica has won it all (Editor's note: we like underdogs!) come back and catch up on Ana and her adventures or whatever. I wrote this? But I didn't like, edit it? So there you go! This is old-skool blogging! No proofreading! So who knows what I said this week! I don't! I'm like EL. I just write it! I don't pay any attention to it!

But at least I got through this terrible chapter! Lucky me! And lucky you! Wait no. None of us are lucky. We're just whatever. Anyway here's this terrible book!

Where were we?

Our story thus far:

Ana is a naive college student who dated a billionaire for a couple weeks but broke things off with him because he spanked her too hard.
  1. Ana starts her new job at a publishing company and agrees to let Christian give her a ride to José’s art show. It turns out they both miss each other or whatever.
  2. Ana and Christian eat steaks at a restaurant. They rekindle their “romance” and Christian says that they won’t have to have rules anymore and he won’t punish Ana. They drive back to Seattle and Christian gives Ana back the expensive gifts that she'd returned to him when they broke up, along with a new iPad.
  3. Ana goes to work. She is confronted by one of Christian's ex lovers on her way out for drinks with her coworkers. Christian picks up Ana from the bar, and then they venture to a grocery store so that they can cook dinner at Ana's house. But then they get too horny to cook so they have sex.
  4. Ana and Christian eat dinner and then have ice cream sex and then in the middle of the night Ana has a dream about Christian's ex lover Leila, which worries Christian. Later, Ana and Christian fight about money, eat breakfast, and then go to a hair salon where the woman who introduced Christian to BDSM works.
  5. Ana is upset by the sight of Christian's ex-lover, Elena, and storms out of the salon. Christian insists that Ana come to his house because his other ex-lover Leila may be armed. Christian picks up Ana bodily when she disagrees with him. Ana and Christian retire to Christian's house and Christian allows Ana to draw on him with lipstick so that she knows which parts of his body he is comfortable having touched and which parts are off limits. 
  6. Ana and Christian have sex and get ready for a fancy charity auction at Christian's parents' house. Then they go to the fancy charity auction, and Ana bids $24,000 on a weekend getaway at Christian's Aspen condo. 
  7. Ana gets auctioned off to Christian for the first dance of the evening, but before the dance, the couple retreat to Christian's childhood room for sex. Christian's ex, Elena, threatens to hurt Ana if she mistreats Christian. After the party, Ana and Christian drive home, where they are informed by Christian's security staff that someone, most likely Leila, has vandalized Ana's car and may have broken into the apartment.
  8. Christian's security goons conclude that Leila is not in the apartment, but soon she sneaks into Ana's room while she sleeps so Christian and Ana go to a hotel because Leila may be dangerous. Ana has another of her famous Sunday morning home appointments with her gynecologist. 
  9. Ana and Christian buy a car and ride on a boat. 
  10. Ana and Christian eat dinner and play pool.
  11. Ana returns to work and Christian follows every little thing she does from afar.
  12. Ana returns to her apartment to meet Kate's brother Ethan, but instead finds Leila, who holds a gun.
  13. Christian disarms Leila and Ana has drinks with Ethan. 
  14. Nothing happens in Chapter 14. 
  15. Ana's boss confronts her in the break room after work. 
  16. Ana thwarts her boss's attack. 

Ana arrives at work to find a note on her desk requesting that she speak to Elizabeth, the HR manager, immediately. Ana immediately jumps to the conclusion that she is being fired, and, as regular readers will know already, whenever Ana is confident in a bit of information, she is proved to be utterly incorrect. Elizabeth wants Ana to take Jack's job which seems like a logical thing to do. There was a point (Editor's note: last book.) in which Ana's work situation at SIP was explicitly called an internship. But I guess she isn't an intern and now I guess she's worked her way up the ladder far enough that hey--she could totally have her own interns now! Great jorb, Ana. Believable writing, EL!

Elizabeth makes no mention of the reason for Jack Hyde's departure, which is gross, but probably pretty common. The sexual predator is fired after a particularly damning incident, but there is no official discussion of his crime. The predator is allowed to hold onto his dignity for no particular reason.

EL James is terrible at subtext, of course. What's weird about this scene is that there's no indication that Elizabeth knows the reason for Hyde's firing. Can't tell if she's covering for him, or honestly in the dark. We do get this at the end:

“I’m glad he’s gone,” she whispers and a haunted look crosses her face. Holy shit. What did he do to her?
So. This is an indication that, even if Elizabeth didn't know about incident just the previous night, she's been harassed by Hyde at some point, and thinks that Ana has too. I mean, otherwise, why does she take this moment to confide in Ana, if only briefly? She must feel like they have some common ground, right? But Elizabeth is the HR manager! She's the one who enforces the harassment policy that this business certainly has. Whatever.

Ana calls CG because this book would literally explode if our heroes went more than like, two minutes without talking to each other or sending dumb emails or whatever. She tells him about the job thingy and EL uses the word "shocked" to describe his tone which is fun. I mean, I think Ana is a real idiot, but that's ok. I'm just some nobody. But CG--if you wanna keep being Ana's boyf, maybe act less shocked when she shares her workplace successes with you.

Oh and then he gets mad again because he's always always always mad.

“Hmm. Are you sure you had nothing to do with this?” He is silent for a moment, and then he says in a low menacing voice. “Do you doubt me? It angers me that you do.”  
I swallow. Boy, he gets mad so easily. “I’m sorry,” I breathe, chastened. 
Ughhhhghhghg. I will never not hate all the predatory terms that EL associates with CG. He's always "menacing" or "ominous" or "darkly" or "murdery" and I made up the last one but it seems like an appropriate word because the dude just seems murdery all the time and I can't stand it.

Look at how EL ends this pointless phone call:

“If you need anything, let me know. I’ll be here. And Anastasia?” 
“Use your Blackberry,” he adds tersely. 
“Yes, Christian.” 
He doesn’t hang up as I expect him to but takes a deep breath. 
“I mean it. If you need me, I’m here.” His words are much softer, conciliatory. Oh, he’s
so mercurial . . . his mood swings are like a metronome set at presto. 
“Okay,” I murmur. “I’d better go. I have to move offices.” 
“If you need me. I mean it,” he murmurs. 
“I know, thank you, Christian. I love you.” 
I sense his grin at the other end of the phone. I’ve won him back. 
“I love you, too, baby.” Oh, will I ever tire of him saying those words to me? 
“I’ll talk to you later.” 
“Laters, baby.” 

It's basically a round of You hang up first! No you hang up first! and it takes forever and I hate it. This books is so mutterblushing long because there's just all this padding just all over the place. All this fat that ought to be trimmed. Just get us somewhere EL! I don't care where!

Oh, what's that you say? You have nowhere to go? Huh. Well. Carry on then, I guess. I have no counterargument.

Elizabeth tells Ana that she has to go to some meeting during lunch and I am really excited because I find meetings absolutely riveting. Top notch entertainment! I've been watching basically ever second of the World Cup but what I would really enjoy would be a World Cup but of meetings. Every country could like, send a team of business-types somewhere, and then they'd have a meeting for 90 minutes and a ref would decide who won the meeting. And then eventually it'd be a tournament thing and the meeting team from some country would be declared the king of all meetings or something. Very exciting!

But Ana's meeting is a "clever" (Editor's note: the quotations marks mean he's kidding!) way for Ana to get out of lunch / birthday party planning with Mia, which Mia decided should happen because it's CG's birthday soon and he's a special snowflake and deserves a carefully choreographed birthday.

But then that doofus Ethan shows up at the exact same time. Ugh. Ethan's random arrival is um. Well. Ethan's random, unsolicited, undesired, bothersome arrival is a way to set up a truly bizarre bit of plotting that is at once so, so dumb that I can't even handle it and also so utterly expected that when it happens, it feels as natural as gravity, at least in the context of this dumb book.

Right so Ethan shows up right before Mia is expected and is like, "Let's hang out!" But who the hell does that? Ana is a serious person who works at an office or whatever. You can't just show up where people work every goddamn day, uninvited. That shit gets people in trouble, and also makes them hate you a lot. Right? I mean, we all have friends. Some of us more than others, obvs. I mean, I've got literally several and it's no big deal. A few of them are even people who don't work at the same place I work. And they don't just show up while I'm at work and and try to go to lunch with me regardless of my schedule or whatever. Because they knew better because they're real people! Who have had a job! And have manners!

But anyways. Ethan and Mia show up at Ana's job at the same time, unannounced. Look at this cartoon bullshit:

“Mia—this is Ethan, Kate’s brother.”
He nods, his eyebrows raised in surprise. Mia blinks several times as she gives him her hand.
“Delighted to meet you,” Ethan murmurs smoothly and Mia blinks again—silent for once. She blushes.
Holy cow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her blush.
“I can’t make lunch,” I say lamely. “Ethan has agreed to take you, if that’s okay? Can we have a rain check?”
“Sure,” she says quietly. Mia quiet, this is novel.
“Yeah, I’ll take it from here. Laters, Ana,” Ethan says, offering Mia his arm. She accepts it with a shy smile.
“Bye, Ana.” Mia turns to me and mouths, “Oh. My. God!” giving me an exaggerated wink. Jeez . . . she likes him! I wave at them as they leave the building. I wonder what Christian’s attitude is about his sister dating? The thought makes me uneasy. She’s my age, so he can’t object, can he? 
Gross. Gross gross gross gross gross.

Let us unpack this moment in our customary style. Right so Mia shows up and instantly Al Green starts playing in the background and Ethan and Mia run off with each other, and we can assume that they're on a one-way trip to bone-town. Because that's the kind of shit that happens in this book. Ana and CG danced around each other for easily several days before moving in together. But all the other characters are pretty much pairing off like, I don't even know. I don't even know how to complete this analogy. I don't know of any other circumstance in which people segregate themselves into sex-pairings quite so promptly as they're doing in this book. An old timey swingers party maybe? No idea!

And Ana rightly assumes that CG will be a huge dick about his. I mean he's a huge dick about everything, and treats ladies like property. And also I think that there's some kind of rule where like, men who are terrible to women generalize from their own experience and presume that all men are equally as bad. There's a certain variety of man--and CG is of this variety--whose desire to "protect" women from other men is merely a reflection of their own feelings of guilt.

File photo: Mia Grey and Christian Grey
But let's talk about the real shit here. The legit nonsense part of this whole scenario. We're now talking about a family (the Greys) who are basically pairing off with this other family. Now, it's not actually incest. But it's weird. It's weird weird. Christian starts dating Ana. Fine, I guess. I mean, terrible, really, but whatever. That's happening. They're like, patient zero for this outbreak.

But then CG's brother Elliot starts dating Ana's roommate and best friend, Kate. Weird. Already weird. Real questionable, but whatever. And now this. Rule of threes! Mia, sister of Elliot and Christian, is now going to date Ethan, brother of Kate.

C'mon. I mean, srsly? C'mon.

You've heard of "shippers" right? No? Good lucky you! So "shipping" can mean, you know. Moving parcels around. But say if you're watching a TV show and I don't know. What's a TV show that kids are watching these days? Ok so say you're watching Frazier and you really want Daphne and Niles to get together and you spend time on Frazier message boards you might be like, "Ugh I'm such a total Daphniles shipper!" And you made up a "cute" name for those characters mashed up together and you "ship" them meaning you want them to be in a relationship. 

Right? Right.

This book, though, is such a product of that message board universe that it does all the shipping ahead of time for the reader. We don't even get a chance to say, "Oh hey it seems like Ethan and Mia have a little chemistry, right? Maybe that could be a thing?" It's immediately a thing. A terrible, terrible thing.

Ugh. This chapter is so pointless. Ana goes to a meeting. Pointless. Ana gets a bunch of flowers delivered from CG. Pointlesser. Ana gossips with Claire. Pointlessest. Oh and then that's the end of this pointless workday. Terrible. Terribly Terrible. What is the point of any of this? Dunno.

Ana is permitted by her boyf to take herself back to his place today without a bodyguard or spy or whatever. Then they're going to get ready talk with his therapist together because that makes sense.

He strides over to me as I stand shyly in the entryway. He’s changed now into a white T-shirt and jeans, all bad boy and smoldering. Whoa. 
Does it just feel like EL is throwing words together at random sometime? Uhhhh bad boy! Ummmm. SMOLDERING! "Swaggering" would make more sense, right? Whatever. So he's smoldering! Ok! The man is capable of smoldering and walking at the same time, ok? Fine? Geez.

Ana recaps her day. Mentions Mia. CG's face "darkens" when he hears about Ethan because CG understands that Mia and Ethan are probably getting their swerve on right that very second because that's the kind of book that is.

They drive to Flynn's office. Ana gives CG an early birthday present but insists that he not open it until Saturday because who knows why?

Editor's note: chocolate is bad for dogs.
Right? Who does that? And why? Ana's answer: "Because I can." But what I don't get is why Ana is so opaque during this gift-giving scene. No sense of her motivation, her expectations, her desires. I continue to be amazed about how little sense Ana makes. How infrequently we're offered any information about what's going on in her brain beyond Whoa and "Holy crap!"

They make their way into Flynn's office with a brief pause so that Ana can be jealous of Flynn's receptionist. At least they're consistent! The two most jealous people in the world found each other! Great.

“Ana,” he [Flynn] says kindly, ushering us toward the couches.
Christian gestures to one of them for me. I sit, trying to look relaxed, resting my hand
on the couch rest, and he sprawls on the other couch beside me so that we’re at right angles to each other. A small table with a simple lamp is between us. I note with interest a box of tissues beside the lamp. 

What? Why? Why why? "I note with interest a box of tissues beside the lamp." Very interesting! Interesting thing alert! A BOX OF TISSUES!

Quick! Let's search for "very interesting" and paste in whatever comes up on google image search!

That worked well. Let's move on.

Right so here's something weird:

Dr. Flynn kind of seems like he has his shit together. I mean, he's useless, in the sense that CG obviously is pretty messed around still, and I suspect, super dangerous and may well be Patrick Batemanning around when Ana isn't looking. So I'm not going to say that he's good at his job. But, Flynn seems altogether more reasonable than anyone in this series, possibly even including Kate.

For one, when the subject of Ana's non-disclosure agreement comes up, Flynn says "lol wut" or something more or less like that because it's silly and silly that Ana has signed such a thing.

CG leaves so that Flynn and Ana can talk in private which is basically an excuse for EL to insert some character details about CG that she's incapable of expressing the normal way. You know--by showing what CG says and does. That's the usual way you judge a person in real life--you pay attention to the things they say and do and decide if those words and actions seem fitting for the kind of person you'd like to be around. Perhaps EL is aware that CG says terrible things and does terrible things, and thus she's trying to figure out some alternate way to make us like him. (Editor's note: spoiler alert. We still hate him.)

And Ana is so aggressively stupid in this scene. Like, stupider than usual. She's always reacting in this wildly outsized way about tiny little things. Look at this:

". . .Of course there are obstacles—his haphephobia for one.”
Oh jeez . . . his what? I gasp.
“I’m sorry. I mean his fear of being touched,” Dr. Flynn says, shaking his head as if scolding himself. “Which I’m sure you’re aware of.”
I flush and nod. Oh that! 

It is super dumb that Flynn is dropping in giant words like "haphephobia" as though that were a word that anyone would ever know. So That's kinda rough. But look at Ana! Gasping. Flushing. And there's something that just rattles me deeply about Ana saying "Oh that!" even if it's only in her head. "I nod" would be totally sufficient! That's a perfectly reasonable sign that a character agrees with whatever was just said. Just have her nod and let's move this scene along! But no--every time Ana has a chance to have a "eureka!" moment over something completely obvious is a chance for me to think even less of her. What a doofus.

Ana expresses concern about CG's sadism, and Flynn says maybe the only reasonable thing that anyone has said in this entire book!

“This is a pet peeve of mine.” He shakes his head. “Christian just thinks the worst of any given situation. It’s part of his self-abhorrence. Of course, there’s such a thing as sexual sadism, but it’s not a disease; it’s a lifestyle choice. And if it’s practiced in a safe, sane relationship between consenting adults, then it’s a nonissue. My understanding is that Christian has conducted all of his BDSM relationships in this manner. You’re the first lover who hasn’t consented, so he’s not willing to do it.” 
I mean, CG is working with a definition of "consenting" that is different from mine and perhaps from yours. But in general, Flynn is completely correct. He just doesn't understand what a jagoff CG is.

Here is another lengthy speech, courtesy of Flynn, that I want you to read:

“Christian recognizes that and has acted accordingly. He’s not insane.” Dr. Flynn sighs.
“In a nutshell, he’s not a sadist, Ana. He’s an angry, frightened, brilliant young man, who was dealt a shit hand of cards when he was born. We can all beat our breasts about it, and analyze the who, the how and the why to death—or Christian can move on and decide how he wants to live. He’d found something that worked for him for a few years, more or less, but since he met you, it no longer works. And as a consequence, he’s changing his modus operandi. You and I have to respect his choice and support him in it.” 
Right? So CG was way into BDSM and now that he's got a GF who isn't into it, he's ok with having less complicated sex in order to maintain his new relationship.

And that is where the book ends! Dr. Flynn solved it all! CG went on an emotional journey. He thought that he'd never be able to love anyone, and so he sought out sexual relationships that lacked any emotional content, but he found Ana. And at first he just tried to kind of slot Ana into the relationship pattern to which he'd become accustomed, but as they got closer, he saw that he needed to be less one-sided, and actually pay attention to her desires, and not just his own. It was bumpy at first, and he didn't always do a very good job of remembering to be respectful of her wishes, but he came around to the idea and understands that he still has progress to make, but he's committed to her and that's what matters most.

Great! I'm so, so glad we don't have to read any more of this garbage.

Wait, what? This chapter isn't over? And there are five chapters left after this one? Why? Why are there more pages? I mean, there's no real excuse for any of this but why is there more? 

At least I've got Dr. Flynn. He won't let me down.

Oh until the end when he lets me down.

Christian squeezes my hand and turns to Flynn. “How is she?” he asks softly.
“She’ll get there,” he says reassuringly.

“Good. Keep me updated of her progress.”
“I will.”
Holy fuck. They’re talking about Leila.

Um. That's none of your mutterblushing business, CG! It's implausible and terrible that CG and Leila share a therapist. I imagine that EL did this for reasons of expediency: I mean, how many psychiatrists is she going to put into this book? Surely not more than the one, right? So Flynn is just the clearinghouse for any information about anyone's mental health. But c'mon. He's not going to keep CG updated on her progress! He's going to say nothing at all because that's the right thing to do. You let me down, Flynn. It's ok. I'm used to it. Everyone in this book lets me down.

Then they leave and we get to marvel about how terrible a scene that was. EL is just writing the same chapter over and over: every chapter is about how CG is getting way better, but is still a real shithead with a long way to go. So glad I get to read that 22 times! Yay!

José calls and has a needlessly long conversation about his upcoming visit to Seattle to deliver the prints that CG bought way back in Chapter 1 or 2 or maybe in some other book. I don't really know anymore. Here's the one part of their conversation I enjoy:

“Okay. So are you allowed out tomorrow?”
“Of course I am.” I hope. I automatically cross my fingers. 

Isn't that great! Of course I am. I hope. Ugh. Of course I'm allowed to come and go as I please. Oh wait. I'm not really. 

Next, to remind us what a shithead CG still is, Ana has to fight for the right to drive her car and not be driven. Whole page devoted to that dumb debate. Oh but then as soon as Ana does start driving, CG is real bullshitty and keeps complaining about her driving because women drive like this! And men drive this other way! Venus! Mars! Right fellas? You guys here tonight all know what I'm talking about, right? The ways in which men and women are different? Fascinating stuff!

It's so terrible. I have so many other things I'd rather be doing. I could be watching the World Cup matches that I missed today! The Netherlands one was probably pretty fun! Or just watch the highlights from Brazil and Cameroon! See some Neymar goals! Everybody likes seeing a Neymar goal! Or I've got two different video games I could play! I love video games! Or I could just sleep. Or hell. I could write something worthwhile! That's a thing I could do maybe! Maybe!

But instead I'm putting up with this absolute garbage. Just garbage. Wah wah wah I'm Christian Grey wah wah wah my girlfriend doesn't drive the way I want her to drive wah wah wah. Ana changes her mind and makes CG drive so that he doesn't have to put up with so much of his bullshit but that was probably his plan in the beginning. He didn't get his way, so instead, he bullies Ana into letting him have his way. Reprehensible. What a complete asshole.

Oh CG is quick to hint about his marriage proposal again too. He does that like ten times this chapter.

Anyway they drive somewhere. It's unclear where, exactly, but basically Ballard or maybe north of Ballard. And that's where the chapter ends.

Obvs CG is going to try to further woo Ana with the offer of a new house or something and who cares. Really. Who cares?

What's left to happen in this book? Oh, right. José is going to stop by with his prints. Yawn.

See, usually, you know how a story is going to end. The good guys win! Hurray! But there will be obstacles and you don't know exactly what all the obstacles will be nor how they will be overcome. You know the ending, but you don't know how the hero arrives at the ending.

We know the ending of this: they get married and live happily ever after or whatever. But what we don't know is why this thing isn't over already. I don't know! There are no obstacles. There's no reason EL doesn't just wrap it up and say DONE! And be done.

Literally no idea why there are 5 more chapters and then a whole nother book. None. No idea.

But I guess I'll keep reading because what the hell else would I do?

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