I realized the other day that I say "So" instead of "um." It's not much better. Just a pointless syllable that gives me an extra little moment before I have to proceed. It's hard to dive into these things; you'll forgive me just a little bit of procrastination before I leap in. So.
Here's what's bothering me the most: so there was never any plot in this thing, in the standard sense. Just a general, unpleasant tension between Ana and CG punctuated by either big dumb fights or sex. Just two character bumbling back and forth between these two poles, both basically uninteresting.
And that's where we still are, only they're married now. In real life, of course, the wedding isn't where the story ends. But this is a book, and that's where the book is supposed to end, because it's a big deal or whatever. So now that we've raced through the wedding, into territory unknown, where will we stop? I don't know where we will stop. I have no idea where this will stop or why it even started. Why did it even start? Oh well.
Onwards and upwards.
Where were we?
Our story thus far:
Ana Steele is married to billionaire / kink-enthusiast / child-abuse survivor Christian Grey. He is domineering and they are usually upset with each other except for when they're having sex.
- Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
- They ride a jet-ski back to their honeymoon yacht and riding jet-skis cheers up Christian a bit.
Ana and CG are off the beach and they're done jet skiing around and they had a G&T and now Ana jumps into a pointless flashback about nothing.
Let's look at how this pointlessness is set up:
I shudder as my mind drifts back to our conversation about prenups. It was the Sunday after his birthday, and we were seated at the kitchen table enjoying a leisurely breakfast . . . all of us. Elliot, Kate, Grace, and I were debating the merits of bacon versus sausage, while Carrick and Christi- an read the Sunday paper . . .Right? So. For you geographers, CG's parents live on the east side. They live in Bellevue. They live in New Jersey to Seattle's New York. They live in Mandeville to Seattle's New Orleans. They live in some boring place relative to a more interesting place. But they don't live far. Particularly late at night, after a party? It's a very quick drive. You just zip over the bridge and then you're back in Seattle. So it's weird that everybody slept over. But somehow, everybody slept over. I guess? I mean it would also be weird if they'd all reconvened Sunday morning after a Saturday night party. But still. It's curious.
Anyway they start talking about a potential Grey / Steele prenuptial agreement because a website called "Seattle Nooz" introduces the idea. "Seattle Nooz" would've sounded like a plausible name for a news website in 1995 I bet.
Here's the "relevant" line from the article: "Bet she's reading one helluva prenup." This word makes CG lose his shit! I'm not going to bother spending much time on this scene because it's like one page. Fake news site is mentioned. Fake article read. CG flips out, triggered by the word "prenup." Insists that they won't have one. They do another instant apology thing and CG insists that he'll love her forever or whatever and that he'll be SO CRUSHED if she were to leave again. And then this waste of paper ends with CG asking his mom if they can get married there at the family estate.
And then we're back on that dumb yacht.
CG finishes his phone call and insists that Ana finish her drink so that they can go have sex. It sounds exactly like a parent telling a child to finish a glass of milk before she leaves the dinner table. What a cute relationship! And so worthy of emulation.
Everybody! Get ready to get super horny! I'm sure this part is going to get you super turned on because that's what happens to Ana so why shouldn't it also happen to you as well?
Oh my, the look he gives me could be solely responsible for global warming. I pick up my gin and drain the glass, not taking my eyes off him. His mouth drops open, and I glimpse the tip of his tongue between his teeth. He smiles lewdly at me.Super hot, right? With his mouth all hanging open and whatever? And that lewd smile? BRB gotta go change my pants.
“I’m going to make an example of you. Come. Don’t pee,” he whispers in my ear.
I gasp. Don’t pee? How rude. My subconscious looks up from her book—The Complete works of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1—with alarm.
“It’s not what you think.” Christian smirks, holding his hand out to me. “Trust me.” He looks so sexy and genial. How can I resist?
“Okay.” I place my hand in his, because quite simply, I’d trust him with my life. What has he got planned? My heart starts pounding in anticipation.
Whoa. Whoa. Let's everybody calm down.
First, I am going to take back claiming that EL didn't ever really write anything very kinky because I don't know if there's any other way to interpret this, right?
I guess Ana is about to pee on Christian?
Hey brah. If that's your thing? And it obviously is because why else would you say that? You planned this one very well. The whole purpose of renting the boat in the first place was to get Ana nice and tipsy top side, so CG can take her to a nice comfortable place below deck, and you know, she can't refuse, because of the implication.
|Christian and Taylor, file photo
- "I'm going to make an example of you." Um. Oh? An example. . . for whom? Precisely? Oh so maybe other people are going to watch this go down? That seems possible now. Weird.
- Subconscious is reading The Complete works of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1. I don't have anything to say about this. I'm just curious. What do you think EL is trying to accomplish with this bit? Proving subconscious is smart? Boring? Lazy because she's only on vol. 1? No idea.
- "It's not what you think." Huh. Well. He says it's not what Ana thinks, but Ana seems to have no idea what to think. So I am not convinced, Christian. I think that it's exactly what I think, and what Ana is not smart enough to think. Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love. Christian Grey don't even want none of the above.
They head into their boat bedroom. CG gets naked right away. Ana does a quick survey of the interior. That's one of EL's sweet moves: interrupt the action by spending a long time talking about the furniture or whatever and then ending with a list of colors: "dark walnut furniture with cream walls and soft furnishings in gold and red." Predictable! But hey. It makes sense. You're trying to increase the tension by building up anpissitation. Sorry. Anticipation. That was a weird typo, right? Huh.
Check out how bad this sentence is:
He grasps my chin, pulling slightly so that I stop biting my lip and runs his thumb along my lower lip.
Right? You just cross out that part about the lip-biting and it's at least serviceable. Just another reminder that none of this shit was edited.
Anyway. Next CG is pulling out handcuffs. So that's going to be very different. Sure, Ana has been restrained by various things in previous sex scenes but never handcuffs so this will be very, very different and not at all a boring waste of our time. So he's got cuffs and keys.
“We’re going to need a safe word.”
“Stop won’t be enough because you will probably say that, but you won’t mean it.” He runs his nose down mine—the only contact between us.
My heart starts pounding. Shit . . . How can he do this with just words?
“This is not going to hurt. It will be intense. Very intense, because I am not going to let you move. Okay?”
Oh my. This sounds so hot. My breathing is too loud. Fuck, I am panting already. My inner goddess has her sequins on and is warming up to dance the rumba. Thank heavens I’m married to this man, otherwise this would be embarrassing. My eyes flick down to his arousal.
“Okay.” My voice is barely audible.
“Choose a word, Ana.”Oh . . .“A safe word,” he says softly.
“Popsicle.” I say, panting.
- I'm pretty sure CG said in the previous book that they didn't need safewords anymore or some shit. This book doesn't always agree with the previous book. Oh well!
- "Stop won't be enough because you will probably say that, but you won't mean it." I don't know that I need to comment on that so hey. I won't.
- "Very intense, because I am not going to let you move." Oh, like in literally every other sex scene in this entire mutterflushing trilogy? Cool. Can't wait.
- I don't even need to say anything about inner goddess because what the shit? What the shit, EL James? What even is that?
- What's the embarrassing part? Christian's boner? The rumba dancing, which nobody knows about except for Ana, so it can't be embarrassing? I don't know what's happening.
- Popsicle. Sure, why not. Sure.
So next CG uses two pairs of cuffs. One on Ana's left ankle and wrist. The other on her right ankle and wrist. It's not a terrible scene, by EL's standards. It's just that it lacks any distinguishing features. Just the same thing again. Some contrivance to keep Ana from moving. Yawn.
But then it gets gross, eventually, because these things always get pretty gross.
“Why do you defy me, Ana?” “Christian, stop . . .” He circles deep inside me again, ignoring my plea, easing out slowly and then slamming into me again. “Tell me. Why?” he hisses, and I’m vaguely aware that it’s through gritted teeth. I cry out in an incoherent wail . . . this is too much.
“Christian . . .”
“Ana, I need to know.”
Right? The problem here is that there's no sense of fun. CG just never gives us any hints that this is a game. He never winks. All I really need is for him to mutterflushing wink now and again so we can feel like he's in on the joke. But he never does. Never ever does.
Oh and then the parts where Ana has orgasms are so gross but you should read them with me because solidarity.
He groans loudly and thrusts deep, again and again, over and over, and I am lost, trying to absorb the pleasure. It’s mind-blowing . . . body blowing . . . I long to straighten my legs, to control my imminent orgasm, but I can’t . . . I’m helpless. I’m his, just his, to do with as he wills . . . Tears spring to my eyes. This is too intense. I can’t stop him. I don’t want to stop him . . . I want . . . I want . . . oh no, oh no . . . this is too . . .
“That’s it,” Christian growls. “Feel it, baby!”
I detonate around him, again and again, round and round, screaming loudly as my orgasm rips me apart, scorching through me like a wildfire, consuming everything. I am wrung ragged, tears streaming down my face—my body left pulsing and shaking.
That's hot, right? No? Oh right. No. Not particularly. The climax (heh) of every sex scene feels a little bit like it was written by a virgin trying to sound like a real sexpert.
The end of the scene? This line: "I really must misbehave more often."
Ugh. See, this is where we need to be, but we never get there. That's a much sexier idea: Ana willfully "breaking" CG's dumb rules so that she can be "punished." So when she "breaks the rules" CG gets "mad" and then he has to "punish" her.
The quotation marks are important. They are what's missing, for me. Every time CG gets mad, he really does get mad and he's borderline out of control, or actually out of control, and it's always for something suuuuuper dumb. And so when we get to the punishment stage, it just seems like, yeah, maybe this is the time he's going to snap and maybe the book is going to end with Ana getting thrown off the mutterflushing boat.
A pressing need from my bladder wakes me. When I open my eyes, I’m disorientated. It’s dark outside. Where am I? London? Paris? Oh—the boat. I feel her pitch and roll, and hear the quiet hum of the engines. We’re on the move. How odd. Christian is beside me, working on his laptop, casually dressed in a white linen shirt and chino trousers, his feet bare. His hair is still wet, and I can smell his body wash fresh from the shower and his Christian smell . . . Hmm.
“Hi,” he murmurs, gazing down at me, his eyes warm.
“Hi.” I smile, feeling suddenly shy. “How long have I been asleep?”
“Just an hour or so.”
Hey so is Christian roofying Ana here? I feel like this is a legit question for us to ask. She falls asleep immediately after sex every time, no matter what time of day. And I don't think this was the first time we've seen her waking up and she's out of it. She's like, "waking up from anesthesia" out of it, even though she's just an hour into a nap and she's been napping the whole day. This is like her third nap so I'm pretty sure she's getting drugged. That's going to be my new theory: Ana is getting drugged like, every chapter.
Oh! But at least we're back talking about Ana's bladder again! You know what Chekhov said about pee! "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the second chapter that a character must not pee, in the third or fourth chapter someone must absolutely get peed on. If nobody's going to get peed on, you shouldn't have mentioned pee in the first place." Right? We all know that.
Oh but of course that was just a dumb red herring. Seriously what the shit? Why did Christian Grey say "Don't pee"? That is a thing that he said. Why?
Don't know. Don't mutterflushing know. No mutterflushing idea. What reason could there possibly have been for this? Why did you do this, EL? What was your purpose? I just can't figure out the point of any of the things happening, you know? I guess there isn't one.
Here's how the chapter ends. Ana is looking in the bathroom mirror, having just relieved herself. It's almost like EL had this glance in the mirror planned earlier, but then was like, "Oh ok. I want Ana to see herself in the mirror after the handcuff sex. But why would anyone go into a bathroom and see a mirror? Hm. I guess maybe she might go in to pee? Not sure if readers will really buy that, tho, you know? Ooh! I've got it! I should bring up the idea of peeing earlier in the chapter. Have Christian specifically tell her not to pee, so that'll make it more believable that she has to pee later. I'm a genius! I deserve all the money I'm getting paid!"
I'm sorry I'm obsessing over this. The thing is that this book is super boring? And so I have to really cling on to the weird stuff when weird stuff happens. That's the only way to sneak any enjoyment out of this thing is to just really, really overanalyze the weird bits that stick out. Otherwise, I'll lose it. Like, for real.
Anyway. Ana looks in the mirror, and she's shocked! Last line of the chapter:
Holy Fuck! What has he done to me?
SPOILER ALERT: I'm going to tell you what he did to her.
Not yet tho.
See, I know that this book has been out a long time. But I know that lots of people get upset about spoilies so I want to make sure that I don't bother anyone. I don't want anyone to be like, "Ugh! There's no longer any point in me reading these essays! You've spoiled the next chapter for me! I might as well skip Chapter 3 entirely! And quit reading in general because it's brought me nothing but misery!" I want to avoid that.
So here, finally, is the spoiler:
What Ana sees is that she's covered in hickies. And not just any hickies! These must be magic hickies, because they somehow happened during the sex scene even though there was never any indication during the actual sex scene that any hickies were happening.
WAIT. Holy shit. She was asleep for an hour. Did Christian roofie her gin & tonic so that he could give her hickies for an hour? Because that would be fucked up. I'm pretty sure that's what he did. That is not ok, Christian Grey. I am glad that my copy of this book is a bootleg and hence none of my hard-earned money is supporting Christian Grey's filthy hickey habit. I hacked it from the internet by typing the code words "fifty shades freed pdf" into a google. I shouldn't share this with you? But fyi "pdf" is kind of like an internet hack. You use it to get books that you want. I think it's like a password? Anyway, another reminder: make sure you have a good, strong password. Three letters is not long enough! Do four, like for your PIN.
Oh also I looked at the back of somebody's credit card the other day? And they'd totally written their own PIN on the back! That's nuts, right??
Hey speaking of nuts--do you think I'm losing my mind? Be honest with me. Honesty is the foundation of every good relationship. Honesty, and roofie hickies. I guess we'll find out more about them roofie hickies next time!