Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chapter By Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter 5

When last we left Christian and Ana, Christian had taken Ana to the salon owned and operated by his former mistress, whom Ana likes to call Mrs. Robinson owing to the large age difference and the fact that Christian was a teenaged boy when she started training him to be her sub.

Sort of makes the whole "You totally hugged Jose and kissed him on the cheek" thing seem nominal and stupid, no?

Oh, but this is Christian, not Ana, so it's okay. You see, Jose and Ana never actually slept together, so they have WAY more of a connection than Christian and Mrs. Robinson have, so it's totally normal for Christian to spend time with his ex-lover while it's wrong for Ana to do anything platonic with Jose. That's the way life works.

So, Ana gets into another conversation with her "sub-conscious" (I'm going to pretend that it's an imaginary friend that she calls Sub  Conscious) about how it's so upsetting that Christian has a good relationship with the pedo woman who had sex with him when he was a teenager, but really after Jacob and Renesmee, this seems pretty tame to me, so I guess I just don't care right now.

Mrs. Robinson finally realizes that Ana's unhappy, so she tells Christian about it. I sometimes just want to know what the author was actually going for with Christian. I mean, I really can't tell. Is he supposed to be smart-yet-naive? But all I get from him is the "me, me, me"-centeredness of a narcissist. I would think that even a guy who has never dated before would know better than to trot the new girlfriend in front of the old lover. Christian's naivete does not come across as innocent misconception, but rather as blatant unfeeling towards Ana. I just get the feeling that it's supposed to look like something else, that the author is attempting to paint Christian in a different light, but I can't figure out what that light is supposed to be. All I see is him being a jerk, especially in light of the Jose/Ana thing.

So, Christian finally figures out that Ana's not real happy and asks her what's wrong. She wants to go. Now.

They walk for a bit, and Ana aks him terse, tense questions about how he's taken other girls there, and they've all met Mrs. Robinson, though none of them knew who she was in relation to Christian. She turns and faces him, and he seems to be frightened.

This is the first NORMAL thing that Christian has done so far. He should be frightened. This is so messed up, and Ana calls him on it. He sees now that it is messed up.

People bustle past us, lost in their Saturday morning chores, no doubt contemplating their own personal dramas. I wonder if they include stalker ex-submissives, stunning ex-Dommes and a man who has no concept of privacy under US law.

Aw, poor Ana! Gosh, it's so horrible that your life is so much more complicated than anyone else's! You poor, poor dear. I mean, it's not like you can actually just walk away from this guy, change your identity, flee to a foreign country where he can't find you or anything. You're just totally and completely stuck here.

Good gracious. Yes, wallowing in self pity is a valid choice to make when something bad happens, and it's always a really horrible, terrible thing because it's happening to you and not someone else. I get that. Trust me. But Ana has choices. This isn't a mom trying to decide whether she should stop packing lunches for herself so she can buy Christmas presents for her kids with the money she saves, or a guy whose wife left him and filed false charges of child abuse against him so she can gain sole custody of their kids. No one has made choices for Ana that she has to roll with here. I'm sorry she's got problems, but they're her problems. These are not global-scale issues. They are not injustices. They are not commentary on the very real issues that people face every day. They're superficial, and I just can't care because she can walk away.

Ana and Christian are totally Dee and Murray from Clueless. Except, you know, we like Dee and Murray. And they were teenagers, which made their daily dose of drama bearable.

Ana's virginity status totally went from "technical" to "non-existant."

While Ana is feeling sorry for herself, Christian gets a phone call where he says all kinds of cryptic stuff like, "She's here. She's watching us." And "Two or four, twenty-four seven...I haven't broached that yet." and then he looks at Ana and we're supposed to wonder what this means. Oh, the comments for this author when this was a fanfiction. "Wut duz Xtian meen wehn he sed htat!!111!" someone would say in their review. The author would smile to herself. "I guess you're going to have to wait until I update!" she'd think smugly.

Okay, Leila is obviously watching them, and Christian is apparently thinking of adding some sort of security detail to Ana, because that just wouldn't completely piss her off or ruin her life or anything. What does he think Leila's going to do to Ana exactly? She's had plenty of opportunity to hurt her or kidnap her at this point.

Of course, that just makes too much sense. Instead, they have a scene on the sidewalk. Christian wants Ana to go to his house for safekeeping (he could always have her stuffed like he did his last few victims...), but Ana isn't having it. So he picks her up and carries her over his shoulder, because that wouldn't be weird or upsetting.

See, this is all about Christian. He wants Ana safe because she's his. He wants her at his house because that's where he keeps his stuff. She is his stuff, therefore she belongs at his house. Her feelings don't count because she doesn't count. He counts, so his feelings are the only ones that matter.

Christian, in a nutshell

Ana gets a good mental list going of stuff she's mad about, but of course she never brings it up to him and instead demands he tell her about Leila. You see, while she was compiling her list, she figured out that something bad must have happened with Leila to make Christian even more unreasonable and megalomaniacal than he was before, and she's figured out that it's Leila.

She got a concealed weapons permit, apparently. Which makes no sense.Not only has there not been time for the requisite background check, but no law enforcement agency in America would sign off on a suicidal person getting a CWP. That's why you have to apply for it. It's not the same as buying a gun, which you also have to get a permit for. This is a permit that allows you to conceal a weapon on your person and carry it into stores, malls, parks, and certain public transportation. Leila wouldn't even be able to buy the gun in the first place, let alone get a CWP. I don't know who EL James thinks she is, but a researcher, she is not.

Also, if Leila is really operating under a psychotic break, then why would she bother to do things legally? Why not just find some back-alley grifter? Of course, I have a hard time believing she could talk a black market gun runner into selling her a gun if she's so unstable, but she'd have a better chance. That just makes no sense.

This whole part right here? It's because the author has to move things along. She has to create a plot, so this is how she does it. It's Deus Ex Machina on stupid pills. Maybe even crazy pills. Or crazy stupid pills. If Leila had just obtained an illegal firearm, Christian wouldn't be able to freak out. But the books are based on him freaking out (like Edward! she screams. Only Edward from Growing Up Cullen, not Edward from Twilight.), so we have to freak out. Therefore, Leila gets a gun. It's so sloppy and lazy, but then so are the people who read this shit (including myself), so it passes.

No wonder the aliens want to become our overlords. Compared to Christian Grey, they'll be a cakewalk.

So, they go to Ana's house and she packs some stuff. She tells him that Ethan (Kate's brother, remember him? He's not really important) will be moving in on Thursday, so she'll need to be back by then. Christian is really pissed at this, of course, but it's totally not the same thing as his relationship with Mrs. Robinson.

Ana asks if all Christian's subs have been brunettes and if they look like her. He says yes.

Just think about that for a moment.

Mrs. Robinson was blonde, and Christian says that she put him off of blondes.

The first book with all the blonde interns is suddenly starting to get a whole lot creepier.

So, Christian surrounds himself with women he's not attracted to? What does that say about him?

Back at Casa Gris, Ana makes herself at home in the Sub Room and finds lots of expensive clothes in the closet. She gets upset and sad and calls her mom and it turns out her mom is having issues too. Ana seems surprised by this.

Okay, maybe the narcissism in this relationship goes both ways.

Actually, Ana cares about Christian. She doesn't care about anyone else. Christian cares about Christian, and he cares for others as far as they are important to him. So, he's the real narcissist. Ana's just self-centered and oblivious.

Christian walks into the closet (heh) and finds Ana sitting amongst the designer duds. He wants to know what the problem is. Ana wants to know why he's after her instead of a person who will actualy be submissive. It turns out that Ana gives him hope. She translates this to be cryptic in some way. I don't see how it is. If she doesn't love him for his money and actually expects stuff from him and it gives him hope, then that is not cryptic to me at all. So now I want to know what the author's plans are for Ana's characterization, because she seems like a big old drama queen to me. If Christian wanted to have pie for dessert, she'd analyze what that means in agonizing detail. "It's so weird that he wants pie!" she'd say to herself. "Why pie of all things? OMG, what does it mean?"

Christian's so deep, man.

Franco, Ana's hairstylist enters the scene. He's "small, dark, and gay." Ana loves him.

There is, of course, no reason to introduce Franco at all. He gets a paragraph and a few speeches. That's it, and he's done. We don't need to know anything about him, really, but we do. I have a suspicion that EL James is a character hoarder. She wants people in her books who aren't completely horrible, so she has this huge supporting cast. But then, she doesn't know what to do with them, so they just sort of exist off-stage, out there somewhere.

Christian, after the haircut, of course tries to get Ana in bed. She's having none of it, so she lists all of her grievances over lunch. One of her biggest grievances is that she can't touch him, but Mrs. Robinson can. She actually holds out her hand to touch him, and he backs away and says, "Hard limit." It's one of the few "real" scenes we really get so I'm going to savor it for a minute. Christian doesn't want to be touched, and it's a condundrum for Ana because he loves to touch her, so how can he not want it for himself? He would feel deprived and devastated if he couldn't touch her. I mean, if this were a better book, this scene could be heartbreaking.

This ends and they have an argument about how he knows so much about her. The best part is that the author confirms what I've been saying. "He stares at me blankly, and there it is, his problem in a nutshell--empathy, or lack thereof." and "This is it, the crux of his Fifty Shades, surely. He can't put himself in my shoes."

Let us all say it together: Narcissist!

Ana starts making an omelet and wonders if all men have no empathy and are baffled by women like Christian. Okay, she gets that he has no empathy, but then she turns it into him being "baffled" by her. No, this won't do. He knows what he does is wrong, and he knows it upsets other people. But because he's a narcissist, he can't understand how it makes them really feel on the inside. He doesn't get how voilating it is, how upsetting it would be for your name and social security number to be in a file in your boyfriend's study along with lists of known contacts and highschool yearbook photos. It's creepy and strange and one step away from starting a frozen toe collection in the basement. It's not normal. It's the opposite of normal. It's just crazy.

Christian comes to watch Ana dance and cook and tries to get close to her, but she pushes him away. "How long are you going to keep this up?" he asks. See, to him, this is a game. It's something she's doing in order to get whatever it is that she wants. The thought that she's actually pissed off about something real does not enter into his equations, because he has justified all of his actions, and to him there is no argument. He's right, she's wrong. End of story. Now he just has a waiting game to see how long she can be angry at him while she deprives herself of all the hot sexxorz he could be giving her. Because that's a huge motivation, you know.

Protip: most women can do it better on our own. We don't need you guys. Sometimes we want you guys. But we don't need you.

Thankfully, Taylor comes around and interrupts them. They eat lunch and Christian turns into Mr. Bad Mood, which is almost indistinguishable from his usual self. Ana notes that he's like several people in one body and wonders if that's schizophrenia.

No, Ana, it's not. Schizophrenia is usually accompanied by delusions and hallucinations, both auditory and visual. Christian is a narcissist. I don't know how many times I have to point this out to you. It's one thing to mess around with concealed weapons permits, it's another to bring this sort of thinking into the book. People with psychological and neurological disorders already have enough trouble, we don't need people like you getting involved and making these ascertations, EL James. Jeez. Next she'll be saying that poor Leila is bipolar or something equally stupid.

Well, at least Christian walks in on Ana reading over the MPD wikipedia page, so I hope she's happy. They joke about her research a little, and then he hands her a "harlot red" tube of lipstick.

Well, that's great, James. Let's relegate all colors to specific types now, shall we? Harlots get red, I guess good girls get light blue since you dress Ana in that color all the time. You know, maybe The Handmaid's Tale was really onto something with their classifications. Of course, then you'd have to say "unwomen" instead of "harlots," so that's getting a little complicated.

So, Ana's slut-shaming a tube of lipstick. Both she and Christian agree it's not her color, and it's sort of like it's no-one's color. No one respectable. He wants to use it to roadmap his body so she knows where she can touch. He suggests he could get a tattoo, but Ana can't imagine him "marring" his beautiful body in such a way.

Oh ugh, now we're lifestyle-shaming.

Great work here, James! Maybe you can say a few despariging things about the GLBTQ crowd and work in a slight against migrant workers, and we'll be all set for understanding your views of the world. Yes, tattoos are just teh ebul! OMG! I bet only schizophrenics get them. Gay schizophrenic migrant workers who wear fire engine-red lipstick and really high heels.

Oh, wait, you don't seem to have a problem with really high heels. Hmm...Maybe EL James is the one who doesn't know who she truly is. (I think she's Mitt Romney.)

Ana uses the red lipstick to draw a sort of boundary on Christian. Like the boundary you'd get if you drew a vest or a wife-beater (ha!) on someone with fire engine-red lipstick.

The chapter ends, thankfully, before they have sex.

And we're done for the night. More to come.


  1. Hilarious, per usual, though I do miss Bingley a little bit :)

    1. I miss him too. :-(

      But seriously, I can't keep putting him up there as Christian.

  2. I have just had a marathon run of Grey - Darker.... I think I am not going to bother with Freed.... The only thing I have to say is that I can understand and appreciate the urge to write as an amateur and I don't begrudge Mrs. James her attempt or subsequent successes (that is not to say that I don't agree with you about her apparent mental health issues... I shudder to think how she has raised her children). I am however totally and completely embarrassed and ashamed of women In the US for being so into these books. Seriously, I have read better 50¢ romance novel (I have read better FAN FICTION of 50¢ romance novels!) these books are NOT the greatest thing since sliced bread!!!

    1. I don't begrudge her her success. Seriously. She discovered that she has a supply for a demand that I didn't realize existed, but she totally did.

      I've said in comments before that I love fanfiction, and I seriously do. I do think that since she got published, she should have stepped away from the fanfiction tropes, the endless background music (that really annoys me...), and the superfluous characters that do nothing but take up space. Fanfiction can be really good, and sometimes it can transcend its source material. How I wish it was the case with this!

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  4. I am enjoying your synopses so much! You are such a good writer and so funny! I wonder: would Ana stick it with Christian if he was not rich? I mean, a great part of the novels is all the stuff that he can provide for because he is filthy rich. What if he worked at Mickey D's and still wanted to do the SM stuff but without the perks?

    1. I actually think it's how "hot" he is more than how rich he is. The author really goes out of her way to have Ana not care about the money, but then you're right that there are things in here that they just couldn't do if he weren't so wealthy. His wealth embarrasses her, but she doesn't hate it.

      I still don't know the motivation for either of them to be together. In that way, they are more "normal" a couple than you'd think. But I just still think that no matter how hot or rich a guy is, if he makes you as miserable as Christian makes Ana, you need to walk away.

  5. Hi College@30, (revised/re-send from July’12 Month) I've enjoyed your review of this 1st horribly written book in which an older female co-worker passed this book along to me to read insistently, although I told her I'm not into reading crap like that (but not a prude but live in the reality that not much shocks me). Out of mere curiosity to see what the hoopla was all about from women, I guess I had to read/flipped through pages through Chap 20 on my own, and, just found it too painful to continue reading the back and forth nonsense and what the book presented.
    As I’d expected, given I’m not typical female mentality, I knew I would not enjoy such crap, so I felt I had to put the book down and return it to my co-worker.
    Thankfully, I found your blog! Although this book is fictional, unfortunately, Christian's character does represent much of the men out there I've (and sure many women have) met and unfortunately been involved with who are narcissistic 'control-freaks' to various degrees (not necessarily the S&M,D/S roles). Loved it when you referenced his character: "Seriously, if you personally are the indicator for what sort of mood someone is in, then that person has issues." and "psychopaths aren't capable of putting themselves in anyone else's shoes. They are completely devoid of empathy." These statements are soooo true, especially now that it is after I had a very brief (4 weeks) encounter with someone who portrayed these characteristics. There were so many telling red-flags I’d noted but was flattered by the attention and didn’t take action to walk away from this sooner. Lesson learned for myself…seriously!
    At the same time, Ana's character represents many woman who crave attention from an attractive man, no matter what sort of abuse, mental or physical, she had to endure to take it. This is her first lover and was amazed that he found her attractive and challenging, so, therefore her willingness to take what she can from/with him, even if her gut from the beginning continuously tells her everything about the relationship is WRONG!
    I was so hoping that she strapped on some balls and walked away permanently from him and said 'enough is enough'...and realizes she deserves to be in a true loving/reciprocated trusting relationships where touching and talking exists. Sadly, we see in the beginning of the 2nd book, she goes back to him with nothing much that changes in what she’s willing to take or not take, that allows her to feel 100% comfortable about being back in the relationship….for now, she stays….

    I understand the BDSM lifestyle as preferred by some, and, I’m not here to judge it for those who enjoy this. Whatever the reason for those who choose this lifestyle, it’s a personal choice. It’s just this book is so horribly written that I lost interest even before halfway reading it….it was too painful to continue.
    I'm hoping to stick with reading your blog about Book 2 and maybe book 3.... :-)
    On your side 4Sure....

    1. I don't think this book represents a true look at BDSM. I did post a link a while back to a blogger who is involved with BDSM and has written some excellent articles on the subject, so I'll try and interject her into this more so that readers can go to someone for some more understanding of BDSM and how it really works.

      I do think that the books are representative of certain parts of the population, and I definitely think First Love is a part of that population. Ana is out of her depth, and Christian is taking advantage. It's not unusual, as you say.

      Were they just books that people shrugged at and thought were dumb, that's one thing. But this author and most of her readers seem to think these books are great and claim that those who don't find Christian hot are just gay or something...that's disturbing, and it makes the books more disturbing.

  6. I could not be bother to read the rest of the trilogy and I was looking for a summary of the rest, because in the end I want to know what else can be written for 1000 pages more about those 2 boring charachters... so your blog did it well for me! you are great! can't wait to read you again!and good luck with studying!
    LAU from Redroom

  7. I just wanted to thank you so much for doing this. I intend to read all your Fifty-posts and maybe some of the others too. You seem so bright and you are hilariously funny!

    I have been an abuse-victim myself when I was a teenager so witnessing this Twilight-fan-craze has been very challenging for me through the years.
    But I found that the best cure is to plow through books like this, point out all the things that is wrong with it and laugh.
    It helps alot and is only funnier when I find other people who does the same.

    I wish you all the best in the world. Thank you for putting a smile on my face <3

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