Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter Seventeen
Happy Sunday, my good readers! The football season is back, and I’ve already been crushed with disappointment as an Arsenal supporter, so I figured I’d take this feeling of utter, endless let-downery and turn it into something constructive- ie, a new Fifty Shades Darker recap! I can’t believe we’re already on chapter seventeen- another brutal journey draws into it’s second act once again. Speaking of which, did I mention I linked up all my Fifty Shades recaps in the blog directory? You should check that out.
Anyway, we left off last week with Ana and Christian having the best sex ever (again), and we open this chapter with Ana waking up to Christian nuzzling at her like the worst puppy there ever was.
” I stretch out beside him, relishing his touch, and feel his erection against my behind. Oh my. A Christian Grey wake-up call.”
This amuses me, because it implies EL/Ana don’t know that morning wood is a thing not exclusive to Christian Grey. He starts to finger-bang her, and she thinks of his smile as “his dazzling, all-American-drop-dead-male-model-perfect-teeth smile”, which is odd as I didn’t think Ana had anything against male models but here she’s saying she wants them to die immediately. Also, why is morning breath never, ever a thing in movies or TV shows or books? You know how much I long for the realism of “fuck, don’t come to close to my mouth or I might breath on you”?
Christian whispers the words every woman longs to hear-
““Oh, Ana,” he murmurs reverentially against my throat. “You’re always ready.””
OoooOooOOoOoOoOoOoooooOOoOHhhhHHhh YyYYEeeaAaahhhHhh. On top of that, it’s worth noting morning pussy is also a thing (heat+cramped space+vagina does not equal, like, Elysian deliciousness), and it isn’t necessarily pretty. Ana giggles at something Christian says, so we can close out the sex scene on what sounds like a legitimate murder threat-
““Not now. There’s a time and a place for giggling. This is neither. I need to stop you, and I think I know how,” he says ominously, and his body covers mine.”
I mean…she’s dead, right? She’s very, very dead? I assume when she said “his body” she meant “a plastic tarp to keep the blood off the sheets” before he drilled he teeth out or something. God, how has EL written a book and a half of so-called erotica at this point and managed to stay unable to write something that doesn’t sound like something Hannibal would murmur tenderly to Will Graham in my Hannigram fanfi I’ve said too much.
They have breakfast and Christian lets Ana drive to work- well, he lets her drive, but insists on sitting in the car with her and admonishing her for not paying attention to the road and wanting to put the radio on while she drives. Well, baby steps. Christian reminds Ana they’re seeing his therapist, Dr Flynn, tonight, and she says she’s compiled a list of questions. Christian tries to guilt-trip Ana into saying yes to his proposal by telling her that he’s sooo scared she’ll leave, etc, etc. Honestly, this is all shit we’ve seen before.
Ana arrives at work and finds that Jack Hyde, her boss who assaulted her in the last chapter, has left, unsurprisingly. What IS surprising, though? Her getting Jack’s job.
““Please, I know this is sudden, but you’ve already made contact with Jack’s key au-
thors. Your chapter notes haven’t gone unnoticed by the other commissioning editors. Youhave a shrewd mind, Anastasia. We all think you can do it.”
“Okay.” This is unreal.”
You’re god fucking damn fucking right it’s unreal (SPEAKING OF). You remember the chapter before last, where she basically just fucked around at work, turned up late, spent hours emailing Christian, failed to complete simple tasks on time or up to scratch, and took social calls and visitors during work hours? We’ve seen NOTHING of her making chapter notes that are sooo good that they just can’t not give her the job. This is bullshit, fucking bullshit, and another example of EL James inability to write anything other than the Mary-Sue-est of Mary-Sues. Fuck, it’s not like Christian won’t crush the job out of her life soon enough, because he hates having her leave the house so much- why is this even important? Is it just to show, once again, how amazing Ana is without having to do any of the hard work of, you know, depicting it in the narrative outside of other characters word-vomiting it at her? Fucking Christ.
Ana calls Christian, and asks if he had something to do with her promotion- he denies it, and reminds us that she’s been there a week (A FUCKING WEEK). Does EL… this may sound like a redundant question, but does EL know how the writing industry works? I mean, just because she plagiarised someone else’s trilogy, dismisses critics with genuine concerns about her work, can’t write even a little bit, and somehow also had her books become bestse- now I say it out loud, I can see why she might think this is the way the publishing world functions. If she had everything handed to her on a plate with literally no fucking work or talent, why shouldn’t Ana?
Ana asks him again, and we get another nice wee reminder of the fact EL James cannot write a romantic hero-
“He is silent for a moment, and then he says in a low menacing voice. “Do you doubt me? It angers me that you do.””
Who TALKS like this? The only time I can think of saying “It angers me that you do” to my partner is when I’m talking about his love for the show Angel and trying to do my best impression of moody David Boreanaz.
To really drum home that Mary-Sue point I was making earlier, Ethan arrives at Ana’s work.
““Wow! You look hot, Steele,” he says, nodding appreciatively.”
Again, who talks like this to a casual friend? To their little sister’s best friend, no less? I happen to have an older brother and am friendly with people he’s friends with, and if one of them said this to me it would just be…ugh. No. Ana palms Christian’s sister, who was coming to visit her, off on Ethan, so they can pound and fall in love and get married and all that. God, this chapter is dulllll.
Christian sends Ana some flowers at work, and she goes to a meeting, and then finally she meets with her beloved again, thinking about how quickly the day has gone, which, well, lucky for some. Ana gives Christian an early birthday present- a small black box- but tells him he has to wait to open it. Then they head off to Christian’s therapist. Now, I’m not saying that meeting a guys therapist within the first few months is necessarily a bad sign, but- no wait, I am, sorry. I am.
Christian is a pissy little bitch, obviously, as soon as they arrive at the therapist’s office, so Dy Flynn asks him to leave. Now, let’s examine the following scene between Flynn and Ana, shall we? I’ve excerpted the most important bits below-
““He intimidates you?”
“Yes. But not as much as he used to.” I feel disloyal but it’s the truth. (…)
“Dr. Flynn, I’ve never been in a relationship before, and Christian is . . . well, he’s Christian. And over the last week or so, a great deal has happened. I haven’t had a chance to think things through.” (..)
“Of course, there’s such a thing as sexual sadism, but it’s not a disease; it’s a lifestyle choice. And if it’s practiced in a safe, sane relationship between consenting adults, then it’s a nonissue. My understanding is that Christian has conducted all of his BDSM relationships in this manner. You’re the first lover who hasn’t consented, so he’s not willing to do it.” (…)
“He’s potentially exposing himself to a whole world of emotional pain, which, incidentally, he had a taste of when you left him. Naturally he’s apprehensive.” Dr. Flynn pauses. “I don’t mean to stress how important a role you have in his Damascene conversion—his road to Damascus. But you have. Christian would not be in this place if he had not met you.”
Okay, so. First things first, Ana tells him that she’s intimidated by Christian, which should be a MAJOR red flag. And that things have been moving fast, so fast she hasn’t had a chance to think things through. Flynn basically reveals that Christian hasn’t been telling him the truth about his BDSM, because if he had, Flynn would have defined it as what it was-coercive consent. And then he puts the onus on Christian getting better on Ana. So, either Flynn is a shitty therapist, or he’s being paid off by Christian to say what Christian wants him to say. Ana is expressing her worry, her intimidation, how uncomfortable Christian has made her by rushing her into things- and Flynn is telling her that as long as Christian feels better about it, she should just suck it up. Because as long as he feels good, who gives a shit about her silly woman feelings?
Fuck. Sake. And Hugh Dancy TOOK this role? Of his own free will? Christian storms back in at the end of the section I quoted above, and tells them that their time is up. God, this is horrible. They go outside to the car, and Jose calls Ana about the plans they’d made earlier- and notes that she’s talking in monosyllables because Christian is around, but for some reason NOBODY IN THIS FUCKING STORY IS PICKING UP ON ANY OF THESE RED FLAGS. Ana is obviously scared by him- which she has actively said herself, earlier in this fucking chapter- and Jose notes that she seems nervous talking to him around Christian. How the fuck does everyone just think this is alright? I’m including all the readers of this fucking book that claim it’s 100% abuse-free in that statement, too, because I would sincerely like one of them to sit down and explain to me why they see this as the sexy romance of a generation and not the story of an abusive fuckwad brainwashing an inexperienced younger woman into emotional and sexual servitude.
Christian agrees to let her go out (SUCH GENTLEMAN MUCH NOT ABUSE WOW) and even lets Ana drive her own car- though, of course, he yells and nips at her so much that she ends up pulling over and making him drive instead because she can’t handle his bullshit.
They discuss Ana and Flynn’s conversation, and Ana once again reveals how fucking brainwashed Christian has got her-
“I can list the salient points—his control freakery, his possessiveness, his jealousy, his overprotectiveness—and I completely understand where he’s coming from.”
Just because these things are understandable based on Christian’s past, doesn’t mean they’re an okay thing to take out on Ana. But of course, we can’t dwell on any of this depressing abusive awfulness for too long, because CHRISTIAN HAS A SURPRISE FOR HER OH MY GOD!
A girl can dream.