The Cutprice Guignol

The Fifth Year: How to Get Away with Meh

Fifty Shades Freed: Chapter Five

Yes, I’m back with another recrap – after the monstrous awfulness that was Fifty Shades Darker the (barely) motion picture, I had to take a break for a little bit to swoon on to my fainting couch and get over all the outrageously sexy missionary position and massage oil. We left off last time with Christian and Ana having hissy sex, and we open with Ana waking up to Christian missing from the bed. He soon appears to soothe her;

“”Were you watching me sleep?”

“Yes,” he says gazing at me steadily, studying me […]”

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Man, for a show about two straight men, Hannibal is just the gayest thing

Christian tells Ana she was talking in her sleep, and they wide-eye at each other about how they need protecting etc (there was a fire at GreyCorp, set by an “unknown” assailant). Then, he drags her out of bed so they can go play on a jet-ski – and he even lets Ana drive! What a non-controlling and decent man he’s been all along, and not just in this book as EL tries to retcon his dramatic terribleness out of existence.  Ana manages to fuck up and throw them both off the jet-ski, whereupon Ana is, kind of obviously, damp;

“”I like you wet.” He leers.”

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“Leer” is not exactly a word I associate with, you know, sexy romance. I don’t know, is this just me? No matter how into the person I am, “leering” is just a word that connotates a creepy lechery that I don’t think we’re meant to associate with Christian. I mean, I do, but I don’t think I’m meant to.

We cut to Ana and Christian in the airport, where Christian tells her that he wants to get the arsonist who attacked his building out of their lives for good.

“A shiver runs down my spine at his menacing tone. He gazes at me impassively, and I don’t know if he’s daring me to be flippant or what.”

Oh, come on. i get that Christian is meant to be sexy, powerful, and in-control, but once again, EL’s staggering lack of talent has it read as far more like creepy, controlling, and childish. They travel the rest of the way home, and Ana is outrageously exhausted after being up for three days straight while riding on the back of a camel from France all the way back to Seattle (including through the actual ocean). Oh, wait;

“Travelling is exhausting, even in first class. We’ve been up for more than eighteen hours straight, I think—in my fatigue I’ve lost track.”

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Ellie, for you

Eighteen hours?! Fuck off. I have really excitingly shit bouts of insomnia throughout the winter, and my record is about thirty hours, and that was spent probably working, going to class, and trying to stop the cat from licking my fingers while I wrote an essay or something. But yeah, eighteen hours in first class. How is she even alive? Do humans work that way? Christian has to carry her into the house lest we forget that Ana is an actual child, and we’re finally done with the interminable honeymoon bullshit. Christian obviously comments on the fact that Ana has put on weight, because he’s a great guy and knows the needs of women innately and better than your husband does. He says that it’s good, because Ana lost weight when she left him back at the start of the first book or whatever. They snog in the lift, then drink some champagne, and we fade to black on Christian telling her he wants to hit that (not the words he uses, but if only).

Ana wakes in the night thanks to the new timezone, and thinks about how they’ve only been together three months but they’re married and stuff. Then, she admires Christian’s beauty in this bizarre description-

“He looks so young and carefree in his sleep, his long lashes fanned against his cheek, a light smattering of stubble covering his jaw, and his sculptured lips slightly parted.”

How fucking fleek are his lashes that they are fanned out ON HIS CHEEK? Bitch needs to start a fucking make-up channel on Youtube. On another note, Christian strikes me as the kind of guy who would get up in the night to redo his make-up before his partner woke up, and pretend that it was all his effortless perfect natural beauty. I mean, if his eyelashes are literally an inch and a half long, it’s not very subtle, but Ana’s so stupid she can’t see that he’s literally wearing drag-queen falsies to bed, so…

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Pictured: Christian Grey, ready for bed. LOL nah he could never dream of looking this good.

Ana thinks about the fire some more, and tries to figure out who would have done such a terrible thing;

“My blood chills. Who could want to harm Christian?”

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Christian and Ana head over to his family’s place for a welcome-back Sunday dinner, only to find that his family have fled the country in his absence, seeing an opportunity to escape Christian and Ana and their punishing dullness at last. Nah, everyone’s there, including Kate (who is still dating Christian’s brother). Christian and his brother talk about the plans for the new house that he’s going to build for him and Ana, and of course, it’s a chance for her to be jealous as fuck for no real reason;

“Why does he make these decisions without telling me? Or is it the thought of Gia—all lush hips, full breasts, expensive designer clothes, and perfume—smiling too provocatively at my husband? My subconscious glares at me. He’s given you no reason to be jealous.”

Aye, and neither has she. From all we’ve heard of Gia, she had the temerity to be a) female, b) in the presence of Christian, and c) to do her job by showing them around a house. She wasn’t fucking rolling up the waistband of her skirt-suit to show off a few more inches of thigh as soon as she set eyes on him. But what is this book without Ana hating women so passionately that I feel the need to go apologise to EL personally for whatever my gender has done to her?

Christian and the rest of the family return to the house, where everyone is having a perfectly nice time until Christian sits at the piano and just starts playing and singing to himself. I mean, it’s meant to be this beautiful moment and an example of Christian’s emotional breakthrough since he met Ana, etc, but all it proves is that EL James has never been to a party where some cunt has whipped out a guitar and the entire thing has had to grind to a halt to indulge them.

Christian and Ana head home, and Christian lets Ana drive. But! It turns out that they’re being followed, and we get to sit through the most boring car chase in living memory. It’s all Christian talking Ana through how to fucking drive and where she should go, while Ana thinks about her stepfather Ray teaching her to drive safely. Ana thinks three seperate variations on “boy, can this car move”, just in case we didn’t know Christian’s dumb sportscar can go real fast. It’s not worth recreating here, and Ana is just so fucking interminably stupid that it makes me want to scream.

Ana bursts into tears as soon as they’ve parked up in some parking lot, and of course, Christian takes the moment to land this slick line on her-

“”Your lips are so soft when you cry, my beautiful, brave girl,” he whispers.”

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Yeah, that’s real hot, letting me know that your boner is still into me when I’ve just had to outrun a pursuer. Of course, Ana is super into it, and they start making out, though Christian tells her he doesn’t want to do it right there and then.

“My craving spirals out of control at his words, tightening all my muscles below my waist once more.”

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This, but from the waist down. And sexy, apparently.

They bang in the car, and Christian tells Ana she’s “so ready”, etc. Then, their security team contacts them again to let them know that the driver of the car that was pursuing them is a woman. They head back to the apartment, where they have a pointless conversation with a neighbour who just moved in. Legitimately, I went over this section twice just in case I missed some cleverly-buried subtext, but there is none. This chapter just wasn’t long enough already, apparently. Won’t someone please think of the recappers?!

They get to their place, and Ana rolls her eyes at Christian, and well, you know what that means. Time for some kinky BDSM fuckery. But we’ll have to save that for next week, as this chapter is (mercifully) done with. Have a great start of the month, and don’t get caught up in any boring car chases!

 

The Great Ryan Gosling Debate

Ryan Gosling. Either that name has you trying to pre-book tickets or searching for the “x” button on your browser so fast that your fingers start to melt. For some reason, this leading man seems to be one of those most divisive figures in Hollywood today; either you adore his performances in critically acclaimed movies like Drive and Ides of March and can’t wait to see what he does next (like my boyfriend inexplicably does), or you’re baffled by the spoon-faced, goose-named flavour of the month who doesn’t seem to realize that his five minutes of stardom should have finished about four years ago (like I very logically do). In fact, this is a debate that happens my boyfriend and I have at least twice a week and now, with Gosling up for an Oscar on Sunday for his performance in La La Land, we figured that (since we both write and have pointlessly strong opinions about pop culture) now was as good a time as any to settle the debate once and for all, with the help of the readers of this blog. Without further ado, I present: The Great Ryan Gosling Debate.

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On Breaking Bad, The Second Time Around

You’ve probably seen Breaking Bad by now. I mean, you are a person, with eyes, and a face, and an internet connection, and at least a passing interest in TV. If you’ve somehow avoided the avalanche of hype that surrounded this show in the eight years since it’s first season aired, welcome back from that enormous rock you were presumably trapped under. I certainly watched it, and loved it, like everyone else. But I always had this nagging feeling that perhaps I’d been swept along on the unstoppable Breaking Hype Express, that it wouldn’t look so good outside of the hysterical enthusiasm that everyone (myself included) seemed to buy into. When we rewatched the series four years after it finished early this month, I was prepared to be at least a little bit let down by what is, by popular agreement, one of the best TV shows ever made. So, how does Breaking Bad stand up outside the buzz?

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Movie Review: Fifty Shades Darker

I know I’ve written a lot about shit movies in the last year. But, in my defence, that’s because movies have scraped the bottom of a whole new barrel over the last ten months, and they’ve rarely been lower than with the release of Fifty Shades Darker.

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Fifty Shades Freed: Chapter Four

Ah, the end to another week; i hope your’s has been especially good, because ruining it will bring me even more twisted pleasure than normal. Also! I updated my Patreon page today with some awesome new rewards I think you’ll love, so please give that a look if you get the chance. On with the recap!

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Legion, Or, The Problem With Premieres

I noticed that in the last few months this blog hasn’t had nearly enough non-recappy TV stuff on it. And since TV, like prawn cocktail crisps, is my first and true love, let’s talk about it some more! Mostly, let’s talk about Legion, and the problem of premieres as dazzling as this one.

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Riverdale, or In Defense of Trash TV

I love trash TV.

I love trash TV so much that, when my boyfriend and I finished watching this first episode of Riverdale, I turned to him and said “well, I loved it, but then I guess I like trashier stuff,” and he gave me a look that was the very epitome of “well, duh.” I have been criticised in the past for following every compliment of a show I love with “…but it’s a bit shite.” I have seen every show Ryan Murphy has released in the last few years. Every. Single. One. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I love prestige television as well, but I have this sick, twisted desire to subject myself to TV with a heavy streak of sticky, seductive bullshit through it’s core. Life is a bit shit- TV should be too. That’s my justification, anyway.

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Fifty Shades Freed: Chapter Three

I’m on my period, so between munching everything in sight and holding back pathetic tears every time the cat doesn’t want a cuddle or my boyfriend turns a page too loudly beside me, I’ve decided to channel my furious yet miserable energy into another recap (yes, I am the very definition of a cliche when on my period. Sue me.)

 

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Vikings Recaps, S4E20: The Reckoning

Well, that’s another season of Vikings firmly behind us. And I think the finale, The Reckoning, really summed up everything right- and wrong- with season four.

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Firstly, let’s talk about that opening fight scene; as I said last week, I fucking love the way Vikings handles it’s action sequences, and the clash between Aethelwulf and Bjorn’s troops is another great example of how thrilling they can be. The sequence is a reminder that, for the Vikings and unlike many other similair protagonists on TV, battles like this aren’t just a necessity- they’re a pleasure. Ubbe has never dominated the screen more in the few seconds we see of him ploughing through the English troops, and Hvitserk (whose name I suppose I’ll have to start spelling correctly now he seems to be sticking around) was actually kind of a badass. I loved it to death, and it reminded me of all the amazing fight scenes this show has consistently delivered us over this patchy season.

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While I’m sticking with the good stuff, this was an amazing Ecbert episode, as Vikings bids a fond farewell to it’s second-best character. He cons the sons of Ragnar, abdicating the throne to a fleeing Aethelwulf and misleading the sons of Ragnar into believing he has the power to sign them over the land that their father always dreamed of having in England. His panicked but gleeful farewells to his family, his boozing with the bishop, the fear in his eyes as the battle rages on in the field beyond- it’s a powerhouse performance, and is brought to a close in a beautifully shot scene where Linus Roache (very graphically, for those disturbed by this kind of stuff) opens his veins in the very pool where he first met Ragnar. Ragnar’s voice tells him not to be afraid as he dies, and it’s a staggeringly beautiful moment- and an appropriate goodbye, as Ecbert wins the game that Ragnar has been playing since they met. In giving the sons the land without the legal power to do so means that his son will be able to chase them off eventually, and seeing Ecbert, a character torn between personal ambition and decency from his very inception, pull it off makes for satisfying if sad farewell.

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Floki, too, has had just an amazing arc this season. Ever since he killed Athelstan, he has been damned by this show- he lost his daughter, Ragnar (not to mention Ragnar’s friendship and trust), and, in this episode, Helga (in a dissapointingly trite scene). Now, he curses himself to wander the Earth alone, completely broken and apparently wavering in his faith. The scene where he buries Helga is genuinely heart-breaking- not least because he’s forced to bury her in England, the country that took Ragnar from him both spiritually and physically. His arc has been phenomenally well put-together, and I’ve loved every minute.

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Sigurd also bit the dust in a surprising-yet-inevitable finale to the episode After the brothers kill Ecbert, they soon realize that his death was the only thing keeping them together was the compulsion to avenge their father. Ivar wants to go raiding, while Bjorn is looking to the Mediterranean-and Sigurd isn’t going anywhere, as his taunting of Ivar goes too far and he gets an axe to the chest for his troubles. For a second, Ivar’s composure drops and it’s obvious that even he can see he’s gone too far. But, as soon as his walls go back up as Sigurd bleeds out on the ground before him, it’s clear that this is a turning point for Ivar. If he’ll kill one of his own brothers, there is nothing standing between him and the unrepentant sadism that he was always destined to vanish into. I have to admit, I’m secretly looking forward to seeing what more the show will give to the consistently brilliant Alex Hogh, whose savagely compelling performance has been the closest Fimmel-replacement we’ve had since he elft.

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On the weaker end of the scale? Once again, this episode knew not what to do with Lagertha (also, Tove’s alive, because…?). And now, with no Aslaug or Helga or, apparently Judith, I feel like the show is finally loosening it’s grip on the amazing female characters it once laid claim to. I still love Lagertha, but the show is way, way more interested in the brothers  Lothbrok these days than her story. She is as influenced by Ragnar as them- even if she romanticises him a whole lot less than Ivar and company- and I would like to see the show ackowledge that a bit more.

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And the last scene does not fill me with a sense of comfort about what’s to come. Johnathan Rhys Myers, an actor who I have hated for literally years, makes his first appearence in the show as an apparently famous historical Viking-slayer. Which is cool, but he’s still played by JRM, and his nastiness was underlined by him doing a widow doggy-style in a tacky and uncreative little scene. Also, that is far too much hair gel for a ninth-century Bishop. Just saying.

Like the rest of the season, The Reckoning is plagued by problems. It’s still juggling too many balls, and introducing another to the mix feels like a mistake. It’s bid goodbye to two of it’s best characters this season (in Ragnar and Ecbert), and, while the surviving cast (particularly Ivar, Ubbe, and Aethelwulf) hold some promise, I’ve not seen it fulfilled yet. Season four was a mess, but an almost always interesting one- with some staggering highs and yawnsome lows. All I know is that I’ll be back next season to see what happens next- and how the show survives post-Ragnar. What did you think? And will you be coming back for season five?

Here’s What I Found Out Going Vegan for a Month

Before you ask: yes, I am getting enough protein.

I’ve been vegetarian for most of my life- my Mum was for most of my childhood, and I never particularly loved meat (I’ve never eaten steak in my life, which so many people seem to think is a legitimate black mark against my character), so I just…didn’t eat it. Eventually, as I got older, I found some vague moral reasons to back up my choice and that became my primary purpose for continuing to avoid meat.

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