Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter Fifteen
It’s a beautiful summer day today, and I’m rendered incapable of going outside because I STILL have The UTI From Hell and it’s just not playing ball right now. So, while I’m pissed off and miserable and in pain anyway, I figured it was time to get started on this week’s Fifty Shades Darker recap!
We left off last week with Ana and Christian having a huge fight about Leila, during which Christian proposed, and Ana ran out crying. Christian goes to comfort her-
“Cooing softly into my hair, he gently strokes my back, my head”
I think we’re all smart enough to know that EL James meant cooing as in what you might do to a baby, but it sounds so out of place here that I’m choosing to belief Christian is making pigeon noises at Ana in an attempt to cheer her up. Can’t wait to see Jamie Dornan chirruping away at a nonplussed Dakota Johnson when they adapt this scene for the movie.
Ana sits and cries for a while, then they go to bed. Ana wakes in the middle of the night, and wanders round the apartment wondering if she could actually live there, if she could really marry Christian. And, then of course-
“The peaceful tranquility is shattered by a visceral, primeval cry that makes every single hair on my body stand to attention. Christian! Holy fuck—what’s happened?”
He noticed you were out of bed and instead of getting out as well to check if you were doing okay, he just started bellowing like a wounded dinosaur to get your attention because then it could finally be all about him again? Did I get it right? Ana’s all “shit- a nightmare!” (no, really), and wakes him up.
““I’m here.” I sit down on the bed beside him. “I’m here,” I murmur softly in an effort to reassure him. I reach out to place my palm on the side of his face, trying to soothe him.
“You were gone,” he whispers rapidly. His eyes are still wild and frightened, but he seems to be calming.
“I went to get a drink. I was thirsty.””
Well, this is a great omen for marriage for the two of you. No-one thinks that there might be some serious issues to address here if Christian ends up screaming in terror every time Ana goes to get a fucking drink during the night?
But that’s only half as disturbing as this chapter is about to get, I tell you. Serious trigger warning for rape/coercive consent coming up.
So, Christian is so happy that Ana didn’t leave him, that he starts to make out with her (morning breath, mmm). I’m just going to put in this whole passage, verbatim-
“His erection is rigid against my hip through his boxer briefs. He wants me, but his words from earlier choose this moment to come back and haunt me, what he said about his mother. And it’s like a bucket of cold water on my libido. Fuck. I can’t do this. Not now.
“Christian . . . Stop. I can’t do this,” I whisper urgently against his mouth, my hands pushing on his upper arms.
“What? What’s wrong?” he murmurs and starts kissing my neck, running the tip of his tongue lightly down my throat. Oh . . .
“No, please. I can’t do this, not now. I need some time, please.”
“Oh, Ana, don’t overthink this,” he whispers as he nips my earlobe.
“Ah!” I gasp, feeling it in my groin, and my body bows, betraying me. This is so confusing.”
I feel like this shouldn’t need explaining, but I will anyway. When Ana recalls Christian’s earlier actions, she’s put off having sex with him. She tells him to stop, and that she can’t do this-multiple times. She asks for some time before they next have sex, as well as explicitly saying no. Christian continues sexual activity with her, and implores her not to “overthink” things, completely overriding her retraction of consent. She is saying no-literally, and explicitly no- and he is ignoring that. I know some people will argue that she changes her mind, and later consents- but that’s what coercive consent IS. It’s cool for someone to change their mind during sexual activity, and it’s cool for them to change it back and want to continue, but in order for these things not to come from coercion, their partner needs to not interfere with that process by pressuring them with words and actions, to continue. And, you know, stop sexual activity immediately when they ask you to. I feel like this shouldn’t need explaining.
If you ever needed proof of what a piece-of-shit rapist cunt EL James wrote for the sexy leading man of her dreams, it’s riiiight here. This is fucking disgusting, and what disturbs me most is the implication that so many people read this scene and were just like “seems legit, now to masturbate”. Ugh. UGH. I need a fucking shower, but it would aggravate the cystitis so…
We get this later in the scene-
““You want to do this? You can still say no. You can always say no,”
“Don’t give me a chance to think, Christian. I want you, too.””
Now, this feels as if an editor read the earlier scene and went “holy fuck, that is straight-up rape, you need to put in something about how he actually respects her consent.” And so we got this line, where Christian reassures her that she can always say no, right after he legit COMPLETELY IGNORED HER SAYING NO. Followed by, of course, Ana saying that he has the right to override her consent at all times, by “not giving her a chance to think”. Agency. Feminism. Woo.
Ana gets on top, they fuck, she comes with a “Jeez . . . argh!”, and the section is over, leaving us all with a depressing amount to ponder on.
Directly after the sex, Ana starts quizzing him about his abusive childhood because she KNOWS how to pillow talk. Christian discusses the dreams he has about his mother’s body, and the beatings he suffered at the hands of her pimp. Ana asks to see Christian’s therapist, Dr Flynn, and he agrees.
Ana wakes late the next day, and hurries to get dressed-
“I check my clothes—black slacks, black shirt—all a bit Mrs. R, but I don’t have a second to change my mind. I hastily don black bra and panties, conscious that he’s watching my every move. It’s . . . unnerving. The panties and bra will do.”
What…what order was she putting those close on in? Is she wearing the underwear outside her actual clothes? Or is she just wearing the underwear? This is only three sentences long, and it’s just the worst clusterfuck. It sometimes feels like language is some giant, unwieldy tool EL James can’t quite fit her hands around, and so we end up with paragraphs like this. Christian grabs her before she can leave-
““What can I do to tempt you to stay?” he says softly, and my heart skips a beat and begins to pound. He is temptation personified.
“You can’t,” I grumble, struggling to sit back up. “Let me go.”
He pouts and I give up.”
I mean, like, seriously now. Once again, he’s ignoring her straight-up asking him to stop what he’s doing, but it’s okay because it’s so sexy-sexy-sexy to have a man want you so much he doesn’t give a shit if you’re into the sexual contact you’re having? Fucking hell, this chapter is ruining my Friday.
Taylor gives Ana a run to work, but she still arrives late. Her boss is pretty mad at her-
““What time do you call this?” he snaps.
“I’m sorry. I overslept.” I flush crimson.
“Don’t let it happen again. Fix me some coffee, and then I need you to do some letters. Jump to it,” he shouts, making me flinch.
Why’s he so mad? What’s his problem? What have I done?”
Um…arrived late for work, maybe? He gives her a letter to transcribe, and she turns on her computer and checks her emails instead of doing her actual work. Then she gets a call from Jose, who offers to drop off the pictures Christian brought of Ana in Seattle and suggests catching a drink. She’s just wondering how she’s going to handle this, when-
““Ana!” Jack pulls me abruptly out of my reverie. Is he still mad? “Where’s that letter?”
“Er—coming.” Shit. What is eating him?”
Maybe that you arrived at work late, then exchanged emails with your boyfriend and took a personal phone call instead of doing the task given to you? Just a thought. Once again, EL’s attempts to paint Ana as strong-willed and smart fall flat and she just comes off as oblivious and thick. Ana finally brings him the letter, which he points out has several mistakes, and Ana strops off to do it again. Then Ethan calls her and arranges a visit to her workplace. Is Ana actually the worst employee ever? Send your answers on a postcard to any address you like.
Jack sends her out for lunch, but Christian has sent her a flurry of worried emails and is demanding a response or he’ll send his bodyguard out to check on her. Jesus, this guy, seriously! She calls him, they talk all sexy while Christian is apparently in a meeting, etc. Ana returns to the office with Jack’s lunch, and he continues to be short with her.
““You seem, kind of out of sorts today. Have I done something to offend you?”
He blinks at me momentarily. “I don’t think I’m in the mood to list your misdemeanors right now. I’m busy.” He continues to stare at his computer screen, effectively dismissing me.
Whoa . . . What have I done?
I turn and leave his office, and for a moment I think I’m going to cry. Why has he taken such a sudden and intense dislike to me?”
WHY OH WHY INDEED. She’s spent the whole day sending emails, taking two separate personal phone calls, fucking up the work he assigned to her, and having random visitors wander into the building. But it must be because he’s a teeeeerible person for not liking the precious Ms Anastasia Steele, Esq, right?
Ana thinks about whether or not she could actually marry Christian some more, and this helpfully fills up two whole awful pages as she mulls on how her life is so wonderful since she met him etc. Christian’s sister Mia turns up at the office, and invites Ana to a birthday party they’re throwing for Christian the following weekend. Ana starts to panic about what to buy him, and this chapter is swinging between the endlessly depressing and crushingly boring with really quite nuanced skill.
Ana stays late at the office, and her boss corners her in the break room before she can leave-
“His lips twitch into a grotesque smile, and his eyes gleam a deep, dark cobalt. “At last, I have you on your own,” he says, and he slowly licks his lower lip.”
And we can leave this chapter on the note that, unsurprisingly, the way Ana’s would-be assaulter speaks isn’t far removed from the way her cunty boyfriend speaks. Well, see you next week for another soul-crushing adventure down Fifty Shades Darker lane!