Monday, May 16, 2016

50 Shad3s: Chapter 17

Hospital stuff

I think I'm going to stop thinking of this trilogy as a trilogy, because it just doesn't behave like one. Ooh unless we're thinking about movie trilogies, in which case it totally does. And not like the rare trilogy that was planned as a trilogy. The sort of accidental trilogy where the producers are like, "Well, they keep buying tickets, so yeah I guess let's keep making these movies." Like, not with any plan or anything. Not one long story that needs to be told over multiple hours. Just like, "Uh I dunno. Maybe let's do this one in space?"

That's what's going on here. See, the core contradiction in this novel is never going to be resolved. The conflict in this book is either between Ana and Christian, or, thought of in a bit of a different way--each has their own personal conflict, which is that neither can just kinda relax and accept the other's love and not be a jealousy monster all the time.

But here's something annoying: EL is always offering her characters excuses to follow their worst impulses. CG is a hideous control-monster, yes, but he and Ana are being stalked by some kind of downmarket super-villain, so events basically justify his paranoid thinking. Ana is staggeringly jealous and insecure, but why shouldn't she be? Her husband's exes are always showing up and trying to get back into his life, and literally every woman who crosses his path displays a Tex Avery-style overreaction to his good looks and basically begs for a trip to his sex dungeon. That's absolutely everyone besides his lesbian personal assistant. Only the people interested in bedding zero men are not trying to bed Christian Grey. So maybe Ana should be jealous! I don't know!

But anyway--maybe at the end of this book, CG will be like, "I'm relaxed! We caught that one super villain so we no longer need to worry!" And Ana will be like, "I'm ok with the shockingly high proportion of humanity that wants to have sex with you!" But even if EL tries to force through a late-game arc like this, I just don't think I'll believe it. I expect I'll feel exactly the same about both of these characters: not mature enough to be in an adult relationship.

But hey. While we're waiting around in vain for all that, let's check in on the car collision that we're all so worried about!

So 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. 
  12. I don't remember. So probably nothing I guess.
  13. Oh I guess in twelve everyone left for Aspen. And then in thirteen, Elliot asks Kate to marry him. 
  14. Kate says yes and someone touches Ana's butt and she slaps him and then CG hits him.
  15. They go home and nothing happens but Leila shows up at the end.
  16. That Leila thing is NBD but at the end Ana learns that her dad has been injured in a car wreck.

EL is outrageously concerned with capturing all the details of Ana's trip from Seattle to Portland to visit her pops. It would be entirely reasonable for EL to just like, skip all that and put Ana in PDX but instead, she's going through so. much. nonsense. 

Ana learns from José's dad that Ray is in PDX and she finds this v surprising but also she doesn't know where the car wreck was and I don't remember where Ray lives so I'm going to go ahead and say it seems fine that Ray is in a hospital in Portland. I believe it's a place where there are hospitals.

But then we get all these repetitive mini-convos where Ana tells everybody that she has to go. She tells her assistant, and her . . . boss? I don't know who Jerry is so let's say boss. I mean to the extent that she has a boss since her husband owns the whole mess. And then Sawyer, one of her security goons. And then my favorite part: once she's on the road to PDX, Ana calls CG but his assistant answers his phone because he's not where his phone is. This seems like a decidedly unlikely move for him, right? Like, look at me: I have nothing like CG's over-the-top control issues? But like you will basically never find me more than a foot from my phone, so I think it quite odd that Mr. Important Business Man is so far from his. But of course, he calls back like one minute after Ana gets off the phone with his assistant, making us all wonder--what was the point of having his assistant answer the phone first?

Here's my fav part tho: CG says he can fly down shortly. "I can be there in about three hours."

Uh, ok. I'll be impressed if Ana can get to Portland in three hours. If she arrives ahead of him, their difference in arrival times are going to be absolutely trivial. So um. Why not carpool? Or helicopter-pool? I should stop wondering about this kind of shit because yeah. There is no answer! There is no logic. There is no answer.

Part of the final paragraph of this section:

“Bye.” After hanging up, I hug my knees once more. I know nothing about Christian’s business. What the hell is he doing with the Taiwanese? I gaze out the window as we pass Boeing Field-King County Airport. He must fly safely.  
First delight: "What the hell is he doing with the Taiwanese?" Earlier CG said he had a meeting with "some guys from Taiwan." Their nationality is relevant in this context because it suggests they came a long way to talk to him, so it might be intolerably rude to cancel. But Ana's phrasing makes it sound like perhaps CG is in negotiation with the entirety of the people of Taiwan, right? And it comes across as quite negative, too, right? Like Ana harbors some big grudge against all of Taiwan? I dunno. It's just oddly careless writing. Or fine writing, if Ana is indeed racist against Taiwan.

But what I really love is the end: "Boeing Field-King County Airport." IRL Ana might read a sign that says "Boeing Field-King County Airport." But she's not going to call it that herself. Because that would be ridiculous. When's the last time you referred to airport by its full official name? You probably never have ever. I know that, for instance, the airport code for New Orleans is MSY and I have literally no idea what that stands for, and it doesn't matter, because real people don't use the official names of airports. Ana would just say "Boeing Field." Saying the full name like that makes me think of when I used to "teach" preschool [Editor's note: the quotation marks are because Alden isn't sure what anyone really learned.] and I had this kid Daniel and Daniel did a lot of odd things and I had to disinfect his cot after most nap times but he did two things that stick out in my mind, and only one is relevant but I'm going to share both with you now:

  1. When we spoke to his mother at the end of the day, and he sensed that we were giving her a bit of a negative report, he'd tug on her sleeve and say, "I love you too, Mommy! I love you too!" 
  2. His favorite movie was Cars but he exclusively referred to it as "Disney-Pixar Cars" and that is just fantastic. Just absolutely magnificent and I loved it every single time always. Always always always. 
Anyway. Ana saying Boeing Field-King County Airport strikes me as being only as likely as Daniel saying Disney-Pixar Cars. So I guess it makes sense if Ana is also four. 

In this chapter, EL starts referring to Sawyer alternately as "Luke" and "Sawyer" so I guess one of those is his first name and one is his last name. There really are a lot of minor characters in this book and I really do forget about them quite frequently.

At the hospital reception, Ana is sent to the third floor.

The elevator is agonizingly slow, stopping on each floor. Come on . . . Come on!  
I get that this a high-stress moment. But each floor. . . I guess it depends on how the floors are numbered. But like in America? Where Portland is? It probably goes G, 2, 3, right? Let's say for the sake of argument that it goes G, 1, 2, 3. Ok cool. It's like EL forgot what she said earlier in the same page. Why not send Ana to like, I dunno. Five? Just sayin. Just sayin.

Finally, the doors open on the third floor, and I rush to another reception desk, this one staffed by nurses in navy uniforms.
“Can I help you?” asks one officious nurse with a myopic stare. 
Reminder: EL James hates all women. All the side-characters, even those dropped in for like, one second, with one or even no lines, are miserable hags who desire nothing more than to make all other characters miserable. Particularly other women. I don't mention it all the time? But like I try to usually mention that every lady who steps onto the page in this thing is just instantly hated by Ana, and for absolutely no goddamn reason. Like, this bit of nurse dialogue is not at all necessary. We don't need this character. We don't need to know that she's wearing a navy "uniform." Ana could just mention being directed to the waiting area and wait there. But no. EL can't resist the opportunity to remind us that all women are terrible, terrible people. EL is such a mutterflushing MRA. Just an absolute bro all the time.

Ok so José and his pops are also in the waiting room. Pops is pretty messed up with busted bones and stuff but José is pretty good. They were all fishing together. Ray loves to fish because EL went over to google and was like, "Hey googs, what's a thing that American men might like to do?" What I'm saying is that it just feels fake. Ray, José, and José's dad are three of the four characters we've met who knew Ana before she met CG. And the three of them fish together? Uh, ok. I get it--EL needed a reason to put all three of them in a car together, so they could have this car wreck. She needed this car wreck to happen because? Oh I don't know. No reason.

Ana asks why they were fishing in Astoria because that's the kind of stupid, pointless-ass question that she often asks. Why the hell not? I hear it's mutterflushing lovely out there. Why not ask, "Why did you go fishing?" Because they like fishing! And you gotta go somewhere to do it! So why not Astoria? Whatever.

CG shows up. Yay. Then a doctor comes in and tells us about the coma that Ray is in. Fairly dialogue-heavy section but it's all basically worthless. Just time-wasting while we wait to learn what's going to become of Ray. Of course, I presume that he's going to be fine. He's a relatively insignificant character, so it would be kinda pointless to kill him off like this, right? What would that even accomplish? Other than some creepy symbolism where like, CG takes over as her dad when Ray is gone. Ew. Ew.

Oh I forgot. The highlight of this boring-ass part is where the doctor calls Ana "Miss Steele" and CG corrects him because he is so pathetic that he throws a conniption fit if even a total stranger he may never see again his whole life doesn't know that he is the rightful owner of Ana Grey.

Soon Ana is feeling sad looking at Ray while he lies comatose all hooked up to hospital equipment.

Then Ana and CG take a bath at the Heathman hotel where they're staying, and where I'd suggest you not stay unless you want to run into a bunch of 50 Shades cosplayers. In her typical style, Ana needles CG about all his exes. CG is intolerably jealous about any bit of contact that Ana might have with any dude. Ana is intolerably jealous about all the ladies from CG's past, and wants to know all about them all the time. It's not healthy. I am legit impressed that CG is willing to indulge in this. I think many, if in his shoes, or in his bathtub, would be super peeved but he basically keeps his cool about it. There. I said one nice thing about CG, sort of.

Oh but of course this gets ruined immediately when they go back to the hospital and José is there and CG gets all jealous. Also we learn that tomorrow is Ana's bday so that'll probably be a whole thing in the next chapter.

CG's mom is in Ray's hospital room consulting with doctors which seems not at all weird, right? Sure very normal and everything. Ray is still in a coma but some new doctor tells Ana that he's looking pretty good, all things considered, so now it seems like my theory that Ray is going to be fine is confirmed. Whatever.

Then they go back to their hotel and go to bed because pretty much all chapters in this thing end with Ana falling asleep.

I'm not going to say that this is the worst chapter in the series? But there haven't been many quite this pointless. No mention of Jack Hyde, and he's the only real plot thread remaining. And I can't say that we've advanced our characters in any noticeable way, although Ana seems to think that, although CG reacts with quite a bit of jealousy at points, he reacts with less jealousy than she might have been expecting, so, yay? I guess?

I feel like I've let you down a bit this week, gentle readers. But this is one of those chapters where it's just kinda too boring for me to do much with. Plus I don't feel too good about hassling Ana too much when she's all sad about her dad. That would be rude. I hope Ray gets better soon so that I can enjoy being mean.

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