Monday, June 20, 2016

50 Shad3s: The Last Bits

There are nearly fifty pages of bullshit after Chapter 25. I know right? It's like, srsly? For reals? That's just really a whole lot.

Here's maybe a more fair way of talking about the plot of this trilogy: I've said a few times that Ana isn't really the protagonist, and I'm more or less going to stand by that. It's not that Ana is completely passive. It's more that her activity is limited to the early part of the series, the will-they-or-won't-they part. So at some point--and I'm not going to go back and decide when this was, precisely, the will-the-or-won't-they is thoroughly resolved and Ana ceases her role as an active participant in the story. She does make the rather bold choice to step out on her own to save Mia, and that's neat and everything. But it's still really Christian's story by that point. I think the shift happens gradually, but it's complete by somewhere in the second book. Eventually, the story, to the extent we can say it's about anything, is about Christian confronting his past, as represented by Jack Hyde.

What's even more of a bummer is that the sex gets kind of boring as the story becomes more about Christian's arc. I mean, I guess if I were to go through and pick my "favorite" sex scenes in this mess, I certainly would have to say that I enjoy them more in the last two books than in the first one, just because Ana develops quite a bit more agency. But EL runs out of kinks in the very first book. Even though CG had that big ol' list of kinks that he wanted to kink, our heroes never get very far into it.

In that first book, there's a feeling that CG is raising the stakes with every encounter--introducing new surprises every time they do it. Even though these scenes often feel gimmicky or even gross, CG's little surprises bring significant variety to the proceedings. It's much less fun once we're no longer wondering, "Hey so what're they gonna do this time?" And you can only read that same basic thing so many times without being prettttttttttttty bored IMO.

I bring this up because I think that Ana kinda runs out of story once CG has tried out all his sexual tricks. She's seen him at his kinkiest or whatever, and didn't run away, so pretty much once Ana takes CG back at the beginning of the second book, she's pretty much done. Right? Yeah for sure.

But then there's like, a book and a half left just for Christian and it's boring, particularly since they go on all these pointless fetch-quests, like their trip to Aspen for absolutely no reason whatsoever. This third book is just so, so padded. The whole first section--the honeymoon section--is worthless. The Ray's car accident section is worthless. And the Aspen section is worthless. That's literally about half of this book. What an absolute waste! These three books really should've just been two. Or zero, I guess, really.

Wait so what happened?

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.
  17. Ana goes to Portland to be closer to Ray while he recovers.
  18. It's Ana's birthday and Ray is recovering. 
  19. Back to Seattle. Ana learns she's totally pregnant. 
  20. Christian is mad at Ana for being pregnant. He goes out and gets drunk with his ex. 
  21. Ana and Christian are fighting a lot. Christian flies to Portland on business. Ana gets a call from Jack Hyde via Mia's phone. 
  22. Ana withdraws ransom money from the bank. Christian believes she is leaving him. Jack Hyde attacks Ana. Ana shoots Hyde in the knee. Ana hears Christian's voice as she passes out. 
  23. Ana recovers in the hospital. Christian figured everything out and rescued her because Ana secretly hid her phone so that she could be tracked.
  24. Ana goes home and everyone is an asshole to her even though she saved Mia's life.
  25. And they all lived happily ever after.

Hey so before we get into our last little bits and bobs here to end things, let's glance back at that chapter summary. Oh huh. Chapter 5. Some lady chased our heroes in her car. There's absolutely no discussion of this after the fact. I mean, I guess that must've been Elizabeth? She's the only lady who was in cahoots with Hyde, so it must've been her, right? I mean otherwise it could've been one of CG's ex-lovers, I guess. But isn't that ridiculous? This fairly significant scene is just totally left dangling. I wonder what EL's process was like. I expect that she maybe just kinda threw it in with little plan and then never explained it because how could she? What possible reason could there be for this chase? if we say that this was Elizabeth chasing them. . . um. She knows where Ana works! It's not like Elizabeth wouldn't have plenty of other opportunities to do whatever mayhem she wanted to mayhem! So wtf was that about? 

Oh well!


So the opening of this epilogue is pretty much peak EL James. She carefully sets the scene--Ana, relaxing in the sun at their new country estate, three years after the events of Chapter 25. Great. But psych! That was just a frame! For absolutely no reason that any of us could ever understand, EL immediately moves the action back one single night to their other house downtown. Why not just start last night downtown? Shrug. 

Anyway we're back in the sex dungeon and Ana is pregnant again and I know that I've said a few times that "[x] is the worst part of the whole series!" I think I maybe really found the worst part of the whole series. 

This isn't it, but it's plenty bad: "The strands of the flogger skim across my swollen belly at an aching, languorous pace." That's the first line of this part of the epilogue. CG using the ol' floggeroo on a pregnant Ana. Anyway. There's a sex scene and it's just like a bazillion other sex scenes in this book other than the part where Ana is super pregnant this time. 

So they're cuddling or whatever and here's my vote for the very worst part of the entire series:

Christian lies beside me, his hand caressing my belly, his long fingers splayed out wide. 
“How’s my daughter?” 
“She’s dancing.” I laugh. 
“Dancing? Oh yes! Wow. I can feel her.” He grins as Blip Two somersaults inside me. 
“I think she likes sex already.”
 Barrrrffffffffff. Gotta hand it to you, EL! I was worried that you wouldn't have any last surprises! But you really managed something pretty remarkable right there. Really accomplished something truly spectacular. Slow clap. 

That part is so bad that it barely phases me when CG says, "And I'm looking forward to the taste of breast milk again." 

Think about that for a moment, right? We get to that and we're just kinda like, "Oh ok sure." Because in context, that one is pretty ordinary.

So Ana wakes up back at the country estate and EL is once again doing that thing where she's acting like people dream in flashbacks which of course no one does except for in lazy bits of entertainment like this one. Whatever.

Anyway she's lying in the grass and CG and their son Ted show up and it's all terribly cute I suppose if you're into this kind of thing and I can't imagine that anyone is but maybe I'm mistaken somehow.  

We learn some pointless stuff. Like we learn that CG's birth mother was named Ella and that Ana made him admit that he loved her and that they visited her grave. Very interesting!

Taylor's daughter is there somehow and offers to take Ted to get a popsicle and I'm a bit uncomfortable with the fact that this makes it seem like maybe she's become some kind of child servant. CG puts Ted's popsicley fingers into his mouth and that is by far the filthiest thing that happens in this book because holy shit is there anything as dirty as a two-year-old's sticky fingers? No? No.

Speaking of uncomfortable: here's the last little paragraph before a section break:

I wave to Taylor who, on a rare day-off, is outside the garage, dressed in jeans and a wife-beater, as he tinkers with an old motorbike. 
This makes me yearn for EL's more typical move, where she instead uses Britishisms. Meaning, I wish she'd used "vest" instead. Also, why does Taylor live there? This is like Chris Pratt in Jurassic World only it makes less sense because that was on an island surrounded by water, not in a house surrounded by houses. And why are days off so rare? I think that somebody should look into this. The Greys seem like they're maybe forcing overtime on their staff and also employing children.

For some reason we're going to now flash back to Ted's birth by emergency c-section.

“Okay,” I whisper. 
“Finally,” Dr. Greene mutters. “Nurse, page the anesthesiologist. Dr. Miller, prep for a C-section. Mrs. Grey, we are going to move you to the OR.” 
“Move?” Christian and I speak at once. 
“Yes. Now.” 
And suddenly we’re moving—quickly, the lights on the ceiling blurring into one long bright strip as I’m whisked across the corridor. 
I can only assume that CG and Ana both say "move" because that's their secret code-word for "fuck" and so they get confused when they hear anyone say it ever under any circumstances.

Here's a fun bit of writing:

“Mr. Grey, you’ll need to change into scrubs.” 
“Now, Mr. Grey.” 
He squeezes my hand and releases me. 
“Christian,” I call, panic setting in. 
We are through another set of doors, and in no time a nurse is setting up a screen across my chest. The door opens and closes, and there’s so many people in the room. It’s so loud . . . I want to go home. 
“Christian?” I search the faces in the room for my husband. 
“He’ll be with you in a moment, Mrs. Grey.” 
A moment later, he’s beside me, in blue scrubs, and I reach for his hand. 
Well, that wrapped up tidily! When Ana can't find CG in the room, it seems like EL is maybe trying to do something or build in some extra drama. But then she's like, "Eh why bother?" and brings him in.

And then the c-section happens and it's fine.

Then the flashback is over and CG says, “I am not going through that again. Elective caesarian this time.” And I don't even think that this is supposed to be a joke, you know? Like, it would be an ok joke! That's kind of a classic--the husband complaining about how difficult his wife's pregnancy was for him. But it's really not played as a joke.

I have some theories for why EL finds it important that we know that Ted was born via c-section and that their daughter is likely to be the same way. I'm not going to share them all with you. You can figure it out.

The one that you're not thinking of is this: probably there's going to be some prophecy and Ted will eventually kill Macbeth in some sequel. 

And then CG sets up a solar-powered train set for Ted's birthday and yeah, after that we see those magical words: "The End."

Only it's not the end. Next we get an Author's Note, which I'm going to share in its entirety:

I am aware that today you cannot walk into an American bank and withdraw five million dollars. The conversation Ana did not hear went like this:

“Troy Whelan.” 
“It’s Christian Grey. I’ve spoken to my wife. Give her the money. Whatever she wants.” 
“Mr. Grey, I can’t . . .” 
“Liquidate five million of my assets. Off the top of my head: Georges, PKC, Atlantis Corps, Ferris and Umatic. A million from each.” 
“Mr. Grey, this is highly irregular. I’ll have to consult with Mr. Forlines.” 
“I’m playing golf with him next week,” I hiss. “Just fucking do it, Whelan. Find a way, or I’ll close all the accounts and move GEH’s business elsewhere. Understand?” 
He’s silent on the end of the phone. 
“We’ll sort the fucking paperwork out later,” I add, more conciliatory. 
“Yes, Mr. Grey.” 


Fucking come on. The problem with with withdrawing 5 mil from a bank on no notice is that they don't have that kinda cash sitting around. The problem is not what stocks you sell. You know this. I don't have to tell you this. Liquidity of course means the shit that isn't "frozen." The shit you can use immediately. You can't immediately turn stocks, in any amount, into cash. Either CG and Ana have the cash, or they don't. Either the bank has the currency, or they don't. EL's extra step doesn't explain anything. If anything, this scenario is more farfetched than the original, because you can't just dump 5 mil in stocks like that. It takes time. It's not like punching your PIN into an ATM. The core problem remains: how much cash does the bank have? Probably not 5 mil. 

I also kinda like how this is in CG's pov, only not really. He's just learned that his wife is leaving him. Is this really his strategy? Letting her do whatever she wants? Ceding all control? Dunno if I buy it. I also dunno if I buy him playing golf with anyone. Has that come up before? I don't remember. Meh.

There are two sections left. They can both take flying fucks at rolling donuts.

1. Fifty's First Christmas.

As in, newly adopted CG's first xmas with the Greys. I'm just going to give you a little taste of this one and then yeah. That's enough. It's a real August dumpster.

My sweater is scratchy and smells of new. Everything is new. I have a new mommy. She is a doctor. She has a tetscope that I can stick in my ears and hear my heart. She is kind and smiles. She smiles all the time. Her teeth are small and white. 
Right? Do either of us need any more than this? There's more. I can't be bothered. I won't be bothered. FTB. I scanned it. It's just a lot of this shit and you get the idea already so whatever.

2.  Meet Fifty Shades

This is the beginning of the first book from CG's perspective. It's pretty bad, but I already read that whole dumb book so I'm not going to do anything with this section either.

And then, the real end:

That's all . . . for now.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading

E L James

You know what? Same from me. And you know what? Thank you EL. I had fun. Some of the time. 

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