Monday, November 30, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 12

So lots of writers--most obviously on tv--will have a couple of stories going so that they can build tension in one by switching over to the other. Pretty effective! EL tries to do a similar thing sometimes only she doesn't have two plots. Barely one. So instead what she does is just have the characters go do some pointless shit for a while in a section that really feels like fanfic inside fanfic because after a bunch of moping around, Ana and CG are going to fly out to Aspen for an unrelated adventure.


But first! Remember that cliffhanger from the previous chapter? Where we learned that Jack Hyde and CG were both born in Detroit? And thus Maybe Jack Hyde is CG's dad? Or long-lost brother? Or just the guy who murdered CG's mom? Srsly. That's a thing now. EL has put a loaded gun onstage and it's going to go off before this book ends. Plus there's also the literal loaded gun. So there's going to be an intersection of the literal loaded gun and the metaphorical loaded gun and that is how this terrible book is going to end. The death of Jack Hyde will prove, once and for all, that Ana and CG are great for each other. Does this make any sense to you? No? Weird. I don't know why. It makes total sense to me. I know lots of couples who've been brought together by one of them shooting a third person. Really tends to help people through tough times.

But wait. Where were we?

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. 


  1. Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
  2. They ride a jet-ski back to their honeymoon yacht and riding jet-skis cheers up Christian a bit. Then they have sex. 
  3. Ana discovers that Christian gave her a bunch of hickies and she is angry. But then she gets over it and they look at art together and CG learns that there was a fire in his server room. 
  4. Ana buys a camera.
  5. Ana and Christian return to Seattle. After visiting Christian's parents, they become embroiled in a medium-speed chase on the interstate. After eluding their pursuers, they have sex in a parking lot. 
  6. Ana figures out that Jack Hyde was the arsonist.
  7. Christian bullies Ana until she agrees to go by "Ana Grey" in her professional life. 
  8. Ana is extremely jealous of the architect hired to remodel the new home she will share with Christian. Ana cuts Christian's hair.
  9. Ana discovers that Christian keeps an unlicensed gun in his office. While Christian is away on business, Ana has a few drinks with Kate. When Ana returns home, Jack Hyde has been apprehended during an apparent home invasion. 
  10. Christian spends a whole chapter pouting because Ana went out with Kate without telling him. 
  11. Christian pouts some more and reveals that he and Jack Hyde both used to live in Detroit. 

But before they run off to Aspen, they have to rehash the previous chapter for like half of this chapter. It's really a bummer.

Also, Ana just can't get her shit together. Can't follow the plot of the story that she is literally narrating. This is a unique experience for me as a reader. I mean, I get the idea of the unreliable narrator. And I get the idea of the heavy-handed narrator who has to over-explain everything. But this is a weird hybrid of both. We can't rely on Ana to understand everything, so we get every other character over-explaining everything to Ana. And it's great. It's really fun to read and not at all annoying and doesn't make me literally roll my eyes constantly.

So like this:

“No. Elliot and I were both adopted in Detroit. We moved here shortly after my adoption. Grace wanted to be on the west coast, away from the urban sprawl, and she got a job at Northwest Hospital. I have very little memory of that time. Mia was adopted here.” 
“So Jack is from Detroit?”  
Holy shit Ana! Ok it doesn't matter if Hyde is from Detroit or merely lived there for a time. The whole point of what's happening here now is establishing that Hyde and CG have some shared Detroit thing so just like, pay attention. Christ. Just another reminder that every chapter in this series comes with a "Previously on 50 Shades" section to start us off. Y'know. In case we forgot or whatever.

The internet tells me that the Detroit metro is like 4.3 mil and the Seattle metro is like 3.6. So great jorb moving to the countryside, Grey family! I would also like to commend EL for the great job she's doing naming different shit. What would be a v creative name for a hospital that is somewhere in the northwestern part of the US? I know Northwest Hospital! There is, in fact, a branch of the UW hospital system whose name includes the words "Northwest Hospital" but in the context of this book, it just feels like EL just looked up hospitals on the internet and was like, "Oh sure that one sounds good. 'Northwest Hospital' does sound like a 'hospital' that one might find in the 'northwest.'"

I think the thing that bothers me the most about this book is the extent to which the heroine accepts the villain's logic: (Editor's note: CG is the villain.)

“I know it’s why you feel the need to control me. Keep me safe.” 
“And yet you choose to defy me,” he murmurs baffled, his hand stilling in my hair. 
I frown. Holy cow! Do I do that deliberately? My subconscious removes her half-moon glasses and chews the end, pursing her lips and nodding. I ignore her. This is confusing—I’m his wife, not his submissive, not some company he’s acquired. I’m not the crack whore who was his mother . . . Fuck. 

Lot of gross going on here really. The italicized part is basically Ana saying, "Oh shit! Maybe this is all my fault after all!" Ugh. Gross gross gross. Oh geez. Do not like. What a goddamn bummer.

Also gross: Ana taking on that ugly phrase "crack whore." I feel so bad for Christian's mom. Doesn't get a say in any of this. And probably would've liked the idea of her son growing up all rich, but it's like some Faustian bargain where CG gets to be rich but is a huge asshole to everyone all the time. Poor Christian's mom. Her fake memory deserves better. Plus it's gross the way Ana shares in objectifying both  CG's ex lovers and his poor dead mother. Logical, I suppose. Makes it easier for her to deal with the knowledge of his exes if she doesn't think of them as being human.

Here's some more of that Oedipus shit that everybody loves:

Okay. Here goes nothing. “Christian, I know you loved your mom, and you couldn’t save her. It wasn’t your job to do that. But I’m not her.” 
He freezes again. “Don’t,” he whispers. 
“No, listen. Please.” I raise my head to stare into gray eyes that are paralyzed with fear. He’s holding his breath. Oh, Christian . . . My heart constricts. “I’m not her. I’m much stronger than she was. I have you, and you’re so much stronger now, and I know you love me. I love you, too,” I whisper. 
Oh man. Yeah. It's some weird shit to see Ana be all like, I'm not your mom but not get how troubling it is that she feels compelled to say that out loud. Right? That's weird, right? Not just me?

And yeah poor Christian's dead mom. Even Ana isn't cutting that lady any slack. "I'm much stronger than she was." Uh, ok.

Yeah I can tell we're both bored right now. So skip ahead. They fall asleep, there in the sex room.

Scene break. Then:

I wake with a start, disorientated. Where am I? The playroom. 
It's like this book is a shitty tv show and at every moment, EL is like, "Well, remember: sometimes people turn on the tv right when they get off work, or like leave for a while to take the dog out or whatever. So let's make sure people don't have a problem if they skip the first half of the chapter."

Oh yeah she says she's disorientated. Which sounds like a made up word but I guess is a thing people say in England. Anyway, Christian is having a nightmare and she wakes him up and then they have sex and, if I'm doing the math right, they both have two orgasms separated by one minute.

Let me look back at the numbers here and check this again. Make some notes. Oh! No I was off slightly. Christian's two orgasms are separated by two minutes. Ana's are separated by one minute. Because, you know. Men need a lot more recovery time.

They move to the bedroom. Ana wakes up *again.* And *again* we get more Christian-booding-at-the-piano because we haven't done that in a while so hey why not. Why not! Why the hell not? I mean we haven't seen him play piano in the middle of the night in I don't know, several chapters? The cool thing about this book is that no matter what, you get to read everything *again* later on. It's a great system!

Boy, what an evening. I feel like I’ve been run over by a train—the freight train that is my husband. 
You and me both, sister. You should get rid of that guy. He's a goddamn disaster. It's fun though, like when couples have little nicknames for each other. Freight train. That's a cute one, right? Yeah totally. Totally cute.

Ok finally it's the next day and CG is all, "Let's go to Aspen right now!" Because that is how shit happens in this relationship. Ana never gets to plan anything or have any input or anything. She just gets taken places and it's all very magical or whatever because that is what all ladies secretly desire more than anything: to never have opinions or make plans but instead just to be told what's going to happen next all the time and never participate in their own lives the tiniest little bit. That's basically right, right ladies? Everything I know about ladies I got from this book series so I hope it hasn't steered me wrong!

Taylor drives us onto the tarmac at Sea-Tac and around to where the GEH jet is waiting. 
This is the kind of thing that you can do in this book because based on it's attitudes about gender, it must be set in 1962, and you can do whatever you want at airports in 1962. Wait, it's not 1962? No? Huh. Weird. Must at least be pre 9/11 tho right? No?

Well. CG is like the world's richest asshole so I guess it's fine. You can do whatever you want if you're rich enough I guess.

Anyway they get on CG's private plane and EL introduces us to the whole flight crew and I'm like yawn. But wait! There's more!

Guests? I turn and gasp. Kate, Elliot, Mia, and Ethan are all smiling and sitting in the cream-colored leather seats. Wow! I spin around to Christian. 
“Surprise!” he says. 
“How? When? Who?” I mumble inarticulately, trying to contain my delight and elation. 
“You said you didn’t see enough of your friends.” He shrugs and gives me a lopsided, apologetic smile. 

The thing I really enjoy about this is that of those four people, only Kate is Ana's friend. Ana barely knows Elliot or Mia, her siblings-in-law. And Ethan is whatever. It's like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer makes that custom video for Lisa and lists Maggie as Lisa's best friend. So yes, I'm saying that CG only understands Ana as much as Homer understands Lisa. And I think that's quite fair of me.

Here's a lengthy part I'm going to make you read:

“Keep this up and I’ll drag you into the bedroom,” he murmurs. 
“You wouldn’t dare,” I whisper against his lips. 
“Oh, Anastasia.” He grins, shaking his head. He releases me and without further preamble, stoops down, grabs my thighs, and lifts me over his shoulder. 
“Christian, put me down!” I smack his behind. 
I briefly catch Stephan’s smile as he turns and heads into the cockpit. Taylor is standing at the doorway trying to stifle his grin. Ignoring my pleas and my futile struggles, Christian strides through the narrow cabin past Mia and Ethan who are facing each other in the single seats, past Kate and Elliot, who is whooping like a demented gibbon.
“If you’ll excuse me,” he says to our four guests. “I need to have a word with my wife in private.” 
“Christian!” I shout. “Put me down!” 
“All in good time, baby.” 
I have a brief view of Mia, Kate, and Elliot laughing. Damn it! This is not
funny, it’s embarrassing. Ethan gawks at us, mouth open and utterly shocked, as we disappear into the cabin. 
Goddamn! Everyone but Ethan is an absolute monster for enjoying this caveman shit. (Editor's note: all indications are that hunter / gatherer type societies enjoyed more equal relationships between the sexes than we see in the modern world so this analogy is not really fair but I'm leaving it in because you get it. You guys totally get it.)

I can only hope that everyone is laughing awkwardly because they don't know what else to do. Except for Elliot. That guy is is a monster. Did you see the movie? The guy they got to play him is basically Kid Rock Jr. I used to think of Elliot as a chill dude I guess? But not anymore. Now I just think of him as Kid Rock.

Lessee. Just a few bits of assorted business to wrap up before we finish our chapter.

  • CG says that he emailed Elliot and Mia to set up this little adventure, so Mia and Ethan are definitely doing it. This whole thing is basically incest at this point. Three siblings, paired off with Kate, Kate's brother, and Kate's best friend. 
  • Ana is worried about the flight attendant because she has brown hair and Ana knows that her husband sees women as objects, and in particular, he is more attracted to objects with brown hair than he is to objects with lighter hair. Anybody who says, out loud, that he prefers women with a particular hair color is a monster and must be stopped before it's too late. 
Here's another one. Maybe this is on me: am I totally missing the connotation here, or is this a gross understatement? 

“He made at pass at me,” I mutter. I try to kick Kate’s ankle beneath the table, and miss. Shit! 
“When?” Kate glares at me. 
“Ages ago.” 
“You never told me he made a pass at you!” she splutters. 
Am I misinterpreting the word "pass"? I always presumed "a pass" to mean "a harmless but unwanted sexual advance." This is the kind of thing that would make a person feel awkward, and could be very unpleasant, certainly, but doesn't necessarily have to permanently alter the course of a relationship so long as the person making the "pass" is like, "Oh shit! That was a bad idea! I misinterpreted the situation! Must remember to never do that again!"

But in fact, Hyde's move was more like, "attempted rape" and Kate's reaction is more befitting what actually happened so maybe I'm the one who doesn't understand language here which is fine.

Here's some hilariously impossible shit about Jack Hyde:

“This is off the record,” Christian says directly to her. Kate’s mouth sets in a subtle but thin line. I swallow. Oh shit. 

“We know a little about him,” Christian continues. “His dad died in a brawl in a bar. His mother drank herself into oblivion. He was in and out of foster homes as a kid . . . in and out of trouble, too. Mainly boosting cars. Spent time in juvie. His mom got back on track through some outreach program, and Hyde turned himself around. Won a scholarship to Princeton.” 
“Princeton?” Kate’s curiosity is piqued. 
“Yep. He’s a bright boy.” Christian shrugs. 
Show of hands, please? Every single foster kid who spent time in juvie and then won a scholarship to Princeton? No? I'm not trying to suggest that a kid in Hyde's position couldn't earn it. I'm saying that Princeton puts his application in the circular file. Because c'mon. That's how they roll.

I guess this is an attempt to make CG and Hyde mirror images of each other. Like Professor X and Magneto or something. Which would be fine and all were it not for the fact that Hyde is such a tertiary character.

Later in this conversation it's revealed that Jack Hyde is 32. So, I'm afraid he can't be CG's dad. But he can be his older brother! So that's what I'm hoping for. It's all I want for Christmas! The dumbest revelation imaginable! Please please please please please!

This chapter ends with a big cliffhanger which is someone on the flight crew asking if anybody wants coffee. So that's important!

So we're halfway into this thing and all we've seen happen is a slight escalation of stakes as Jack Hyde gets nastier and some additional details about Hyde's life. Oh man. V v exciting!

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