Fifty Shades Annotated 4 – The Final Reckoning

That’s all folks.

Chapter Eighteen

…begins with this sentence. “Christian continues to drive past single-story, well-kept clapboard houses where kids play basketball in their yards or cycle and run around in the street.”

I know it’s been said before, but E.L. James is a horrible writer. Transcribing her mangled sentences is a strange experience, largely because there’s never a comma where you expect one. Opinions vary about comma use, but a general rule of thumb is that if you read your stuff aloud and find yourself needing to take a breath or a beat, that’s where you put your comma.

They drive past this –

Grass and wildflowers have reclaimed it, creating a rural idyll – a meadow, where the late evening breeze softly ripples through the glass and the late evening sun gilds the wildflowers. It’s lovely, utterly tranquil, and suddenly I imagine myself lying in the grass and gazing up at a clear blue summer sky. The thought is tantalising, yet makes me feel homesick for some reason. How odd.

Hurrr you guys she’s Bella and it’s the meadow from Twilight you guys – aren’t I clever?

No. It’s not big and it’s not clever – now go and sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done. Incidentally, before we dive any deeper into these final five chapters of soggy prose, continuity errors and sheer pants-on-head foolery, check out these hilarious dramatic readings of Master of the Universe, the fanfiction on which Fifty Shades was ‘based’. I’d been joking about Find/Replace ever since these books came out, not realising that that’s more or less literally what they are. It’s almost word for word with only the smallest tweaks (unsuccessfully) performed to hide the character’s origins.

So yes, that’s what you’re getting with the Fifty Shades Trilogy – raw, unedited brain vomit.

Anyway, back in the happy land of Chapter Eighteen, Dickfacehead takes Miss Mope to an ‘an impressive Mediterranean-style house of soft pink sandstone,’ and she puts her ears back the second she discovers there is a woman in the empty house.

She smiles at me and holds out her hand, which I shake. Her isn’t-he-dreamily-gorgeous-wish-he-were-mine flush does not go unnoticed.

Don’t you just hate her?

The lady is an estate agent and Dickfacehead wants to buy the house so that he and Ana can live there after they’re married. No pressure, darling.

And there’s plenty of room for kids, but again no pressure. Also there’s a paddock and stable and Ana clutches her pearls at the thought and oh so facetiously describes horses as ‘four-legged fiend[s] of Satan.’ Figures a yahoo like Ana wouldn’t get along with horses.

Then they go back to Seattle and he takes her to a restaurant called The Mile High Club, where they have champagne and oysters and Ana eats asparagus all sexy and takes off her panties. He says he’s going to make her wait for sex in what, again, I suspect is some kind of delayed gratification scenario but is actually just boring. This is the kind of thing we have to rely on for dramatic tension now that Leila is picking out new straightjackets and Jack has disappeared.

Also nobody seems to be worried about Jack’s attempted rape/blackmail threat or his subsequent disappearance. And nobody’s called the police.

Everyone in this book is a moron.

Then Dickfacehead fingers Miss Mope in a crowded elevator and everyone in the elevator suddenly wonders why it smells like sea bass in here. Okay, no, they don’t, but judging by the state of this book at this point if they did turn around and find him wrist deep in her hoo-hoo then everyone would sigh enviously and wish they too could find a love so pure and fisty.

Then they make it a mission to fuck on every available surface of the apartment and Mrs. Jones the housekeeper is going to be so thrilled to be cleaning sweaty bottom-prints and bodily fluids off the glass-topped tables. I hope she pees in his coffee-maker.

The next day Ana goes and snoops in Dickfacehead’s closet and finds photos of his previous subs, which he keeps in a shoebox in case this book should ever need a third unsatisfying blackmail storyline. Ana really has an unholy knack for making herself miserable, doesn’t she? Then she goes to ‘work’ and we all know what that means, don’t we?

YES, IT’S TIME FOR E-MAILIES AGAIN!

Ugh. He signs himself – ‘Christian Grey. Priapic CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc,’ causing Ana to ‘wonder idly what the female equivalent might be?’

You. Next question.

While we’re on the subject, Ana must be the only woman in the world who can have rough sex three or four times a day without getting a UTI.

Then she says she has a surprise from his birthday and he e-mails to say ‘I hate it when you keep things from me’ and starts sulking. Also it’s nice to see that Ana has taken to her new job as the busy acting editor of a publishing house. Maybe they just told her she was editor to keep the new boss (Dickfacehead, of course) quiet and are running things properly behind Ana’s back. In fact they probably told Ana that the editor’s job is to e-mail her boyfriend all day, take two hour lunches and play Minesweeper until carpal tunnel sets in. It’s just better for the company that way.

THEN HE DOESN’T E-MAIL HER BACK AND SHE STARTS TO FREAK OUT YOU GUYS OH MY GOD WHERE IS HE?

I don’t know. Maybe he’s doing that thing that people do on weekdays. You know. Work.

Then Kate is back from Barbados and she joins Ana and Jose for a drink, because everyone in this book drinks like a fish even though they never, ever pee.

And then we find out that Dickfacehead went up in his helicopter and it crashed.

This is the best news ever.

Chapter Nineteen

Dickfacehead is dead. The End. Oh wait – he’s only ‘missing’ and being as it’s only about eight in the evening and the last time he e-mailed Ana was less than twelve hours ago, he might just be late at the office.

Like I say, because we’ve run out of plot we have to wring tension out of anything we can get our hands on. Brace yourself for something even more stupid than Dickfacehead’s catatonic shitfit.

HIS HELICOPTER IS MISSING! IT’S SO DRAMATIC!

I stare at the flames, mesmerised. They dance and weave bright blazing orange with tips of cobalt blue in the fireplace at Christian’s apartment.

Jesus. What a sentence. Literally a mental Technicolor yawn.

It’s still June, by the way, but Ana is ‘cold. Bone chillingly cold.’ It’s a metaphor for how all the warmth has gone out her life, because she hasn’t seen Dickfacehead since breakfast, and he may very well be dead.

My thoughts turn to the house we saw yesterday and the huge fireplaces – real fireplaces for burning wood. I’d like to make love with Christian in front of a real fire. I’d like to make love with Christian in front of this fire. Yes, that would be fun.

I love how when he’s apparently dead the first thing she thinks to miss about him is sex.

Mia sits across from me on the larger-than-large u-shaped couch, holding hands with Grace. They gaze at me, pain and anxiety etched on their lovely faces. Grace looks older – a mother worried for her son. I blink dispassionately at them. I can’t offer a reassuring smile, a tear even – there’s nothing, just blankness and the growing emptiness.

That’s probably because you are a terrible, hollow person and absolutely dead inside. Just saying.

Seriously – I think she just out-Bella’d Miss Swan. What an astoundingly unpleasant young woman.

Anyway, she wallows in her own pain like a pig in stink for a couple more pages, then it turns out Dickfacehead wasn’t dead after all and he walks unhurt and alive back into the apartment. Yes, there was a helicopter crash and he was presumed dead for less than eight hours and five whole pages. Holy fucking shit.

Dramatic tension – how not to do it.

According to Dickfacehead he was flying back with Ros, his ‘number two’. And yes, Ros is short for Rosalind. We later find out that Ros is twice as fabulous as Liberace’s favourite candelabra, which is why this time Ana felt free to worry that Dickfacehead was only dead and not (horrors) bumping uglies with another woman. There was a fire in the helicopter – both engines – and they managed to land safely.

Daddy Dickfacehead, AKA Carrick AKA T.T. Daddy Pumpington queries this, since there are supposed to be safety features in place that mean both engines couldn’t catch fire. So either Dickfacehead is flying the helicopter version of the RMS Titanic or there is a plot point afoot.

T.T. Daddy Pumpington stands around saying things like ‘Both engines?’ and ‘Electrical failure…that’s odd, isn’t it?’ but Dickfacehead and Ana are busy ignoring him and admiring one another. I think at one point he takes out a set of semaphore flags and signals PLOT POINT but everyone is too busy smugging it up about how great it is that Dickfacehead isn’t dead.

Yes, everything’s super. It’s not like there’s a disgruntled former editor/part time rapist and blackmailer out there. And it’s not like he’s nursing a Japanese horror movie sized grudge against our hero and heroine.

People this dense deserve everything they get.

Then Ana gives him his birthday present, which is a plastic keychain (I know. She really made an effort) and it has an LED display that lights up and says YES, which means she is not only a horrible person but also certifiably too stupid to live.

Chapter Twenty

She’s going to marry him, he’s not dead and this can only mean one thing – yes, it is most definitely FUCK O’CLOCK.

I love him so much, and I’m suddenly overcome by the enormity of my love and the depth of my commitment to him. I will spend the rest of my life loving this man, and with that awe-inspiring thought, I detonate around him – a healing, cathartic orgasm, crying out his name as tears flow down my cheeks.

Ana is literally so narcissistic she can make herself orgasm and weep simultaneously, simply by thinking about how great she is. Honestly – I don’t even remember Bella Miseryguts Swan being this fucking horrible.

Then it’s more smuggery about how much they love each other and how they’re so deep and special and amazing and blah blah blah. Luckily I don’t really have to summarise this because it has even less substance than the usual bleatings that pass for conversation in their ghastly little world.

She talks for a bit to Jose about how great Dickfacehead is and then gives him his ‘other’ birthday present, which is this…

…an eye mask, some nipple clamps, a butt plug, his iPod, his silver grey tie and – last but by no means least – the key to his playroom.

I like how she gives him his own iPod back as a gift, because she finally got round to making him a mixtape. I think this is supposed to reflect that although she’s poor she gives him ~heartfelt~ gifts. Except she’s now pulling down an editor’s salary and has never had to pay rent. So, shallow and cheap. Ain’t she cute?

Anyway, that was his birthday present – sex. Because they never have that, ever.

Desire races hot and slick through my blood as my insides tighten with hungry anticipation. Finally!

What do you mean, finally? You were only at it five minutes ago.

Also, she’s still talking about her ‘insides’, which could be her gall bladder for all anyone fucking knows. Or cares, by this point.

Chapter Twenty One

More tepid sex. Yawn.

E-mails, dinner, boring.

He asks her stepfather for permission to marry her, which is fucking weird since he should be really be asking her mother – her real mother. But, hey, to all intents and purposes he’s still Edward Cullen and along with that comes a pile of regressive patriarchal bullshit.

Then she says she snooped in his safe and found his kinky photos of his exes, because Ana is never happy unless she is torturing herself.

She calls her mother, one of the rare voices of sanity in this book, whose first reaction to Ana’s big news is ‘You’re not pregnant, are you?’

“No, no, nothing like that.” Disappointment slices through my heart, and I’m saddened that she would ever think that of me.

What, that you had premarital sex? Holy shit – is this the big M. Night Shyamalan   plot twist? Ana suddenly comes down with amnesia and turns into a wilting Victorian flower who is horrified to discover that for the last two books she’s been at it on pool tables and yachts, banged silly in bathtubs and elevators and porked at all hours of the night with no signs of fatigue or cystitis?

Oh. No. It’s not. She’s just a massive, massive hypocrite.

It turns out that Ana is herself the product of a shotgun marriage and Ana asks “Mom, I didn’t really ruin your life, did I?”

God yes. Imagine if you gave birth to a thing like that. I’d be begging for a hysterectomy so that it could never happen again.

But because nobody can stay sane for long in the presence of a Category 5 Mary Sue like Ana, Mom agrees that it’s a super idea to get married to someone you barely know and probably, when all is said and done, don’t even like that much beyond the obvious pelvic attractions.

Then Dickfacehead deposits fifty grand in Ana’s bank account and tells her off for wearing a short skirt in public. Yeah – you can tell this is going to be an idyllic marriage, can’t you?

Finally, just before the chapter ends, Kate turns up to throw a spanner in the works.

“What the fuck is this?” she hisses and waves a piece of paper at me. Completely at a loss, I take it from her and scan it quickly. My mouth dries. Holy shit. It’s my e-mail response to Christian, discussing the contract.

Contract? Do they mean the sex contract they had in book one? And who prints e-mails? Why is…oh, fuck it. I don’t care anymore. It’s the final chapter.

Chapter Twenty Two!

The final chapter! Wow, these books are short when you skip past the sex scenes.  Like I say, the author ran out of plot about five chapters ago and had to throw in a helicopter crash to zhush things up, but look how that turned out.

Right, yeah. So what’s eating Kate?

Well, it turns out that Kate thinks the whole contract thing sounds fucked up (it is) and is horrified that Dickfacehead would foist such a thing on a pig-ignorant virgin like Ana. She thinks he’s taking advantage and she is absolutely, one hundred per cent on the motherfucking money. I like Kate. Why can’t this book be about Kate? She’s one of the few minor characters who isn’t a total fucking cretin or an aspiring rapist.

She’s a beacon of hostility in a slinky, bright red dress. She looks magnificent. But why the hell is she going through my clothes? It’s usually the other way around.

This is exactly why you have no right to bitch, Ana. You’re always stealing her things.

“I just want to know you’re okay, Ana,” she whispers.

“I’m fine, Kate. More than fine. Please, Christian and I are good, really good – this is old news. Please ignore it.”

“Ignore it?” she says. “How can I ignore that? What’s he done to you?”

Kate – one of the few characters who inhabits a world approaching something akin to Reality.

“We’re getting married. We’re going to announce our engagement this evening,” he says.

“Oh!” Kate gapes at me. She’s stunned. “I leave you alone for sixteen days, and this happens? It’s very sudden.”

See? Someone is finally making sense. Oh sweet, glorious sense.

Sadly, for all she’s not an idiot, Kate is still a minor character, and as such prone to the plot-warping powers of the Mary Sue. Ana sheds a few tears, pleads with her to not to spoil the evening and Kate is forced to accept that Ana is happy and give her blessing to their stupid fucking sham of a relationship.

Then there’s a birthday/engagement party and Mrs. Robinson is there, and the party rapidly turns into an episode of Footballer’s Wives.

“I neither need nor want your congratulations, Elena. I’m surprised and disappointed to see you here.”

She arches an eyebrow. I think she’s impressed.

No. She’s not, Ana. Trust me. She’s not. She probably thinks you’re a pompous little see-you-next-Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t have thought of you as a worthy adversary, Anastasia. But you surprise me at every turn.”

“I haven’t thought of you at all,” I lie, coolly. Christian would be proud. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do than waste my time with you.”

Mrrrreeeeoooow. Hissssssssssssssssss.

“Not so fast, missy,” she hisses, leaning against the door, effectively blocking it. “What on earth do you think you’re doing, consenting to marry Christian? If you think for one minute you can make him happy, you’re very much mistaken.”

Slap her! Pull her hair! Any minute now they’re going to start wrestling and knock over the ice-sculpture and someone’s skirt will fly up to reveal that yes, she’s going commando and yes, she had the full Hollywood down at the salon.

How dare this fucking bitch preach to me? “You’re nothing but a sick child molester, and if it were up to me, I’d toss you down into the seventh circle of hell and walk away smiling. Now get out of my way – or do I have to make you?”

Oh shit – it’s ooooon. Our little Ana is all grown up and she is cunty. (I hate to give her credit, but Mrs. R. is most certainly a nonce, although at this point she’s a nonce in the way Jack is a rapist – she had to be a child molester because the main characters are so staggeringly unsympathetic.)

“You’re making a big mistake here, lady.” She shakes a long, skinny, manicured finger at me. “How dare you judge our lifestyle? You know nothing, and you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. And if you think he’s going to be happy with a mousy little gold digger like you…”

That’s it! I throw the rest of my lemon martini in her face, drenching her.

Given that Ana drinks like a dipsomaniac fish, I doubt there would be enough to drench a fly left in her martini glass, but yeah – carry on. Admit it, this is actually fun.

“Don’t you dare tell me what I’m getting myself into!” I shout at her. “When will you learn? It’s none of your goddamned business!”

She gapes at me, horror struck, wiping the sticky drink off her face. I think she’s about to lunge at me, but she’s suddenly shunted forward as the door opens.

Now, Elena would have had the immediate advantage, due to a fresh manicure and because she probably actually goes to the gym, unlike Ana, who has less muscle tone than cooked tripe, although by this point she probably has pelvic floor muscles that could vacuum a rug. On the other hand, I think you could rely on someone as self-righteous as Ana to fight dirty – really dirty, so someone is almost certainly going to get kicked in the tits and definitely badly bitten.

Sadly they don’t have a full on Dynasty style catfight, because Dickfacehead comes in. Boo, you whore.

Elena goes full on pantomine villain and the dialogue tags go nuts – even more hissing, shouting, snarling and whispering than usual. Dickfacehead announces that his money is on the mousy little golddigger and Mrs. Robinson leaves in a snit, but not before we find out that Dickfacehead’s mother is really angry at him for getting molested when he was fifteen. Great parenting there, Mama Dickfacehead.

Ana goes up into Dickfacehead’s childhood bedroom so that she can have another one of her exciting personal revelations and so bring the plot, such as it is, full circle.

She’s wrong. I am right for Christian. I am what he needs. And in a moment of stunning clarity, I don’t question how he’s lived his life until recently – but why.

You didn’t figure that out when he told you he liked to fuck and beat skinny brunettes like you because they reminded you of his Mom? Girl, you are dumber than a box of hair.

Then there’s some blah blah about how he’s not going to see Mrs. Robinson again and she’s the one for him and it’s nearly the end. But he has one last romantic surprise for her. He leads her to the boathouse where they fucked in book one. (By this point places where they haven’t fucked have blue plaques to mark the occasion.)

[He] leads me up the wooden stairs. Opening the door at the top, he steps aside to let me in.

My mouth drops to the floor. The attic is unrecognisable. The room is filled with flowers…there are flowers everywhere.

And then they had four children, all with names that begin with C, and they lived happily ever after. Oh no, wait – wrong terrible book.

Anyway, he gives her a rock heavy enough to break her wrist and she remarks on how simple and elegant her huge motherfucking diamond ring is and that’s that.

Then there’s a sort of epilogue about an angry literary type who likes to set fire to helicopters, but that’s probably nothing to worry about.

The End

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