Fifty Shades Freed: The Malign and the Ridiculous

Last time on Fifty Shades Freed, Ana and Christian had a long and really stupid fight about her not changing her name at work. Then she changed it anyway, rendering the last several million pages completely pointless. Then they bullied an architect and there was a haircut and some sex and holy mother of God, who even cares any more.

And a gun. There was a gun. In a drawer. Anyway. Something else is about to happen. Probably. (help me)

Chapter Nine

…opens with Ana waking up, because the author still hasn’t learned how to do any other kind of section break. She’s got her husband wrapped around her like a sweaty octopus and immediately sets to psychoanalysing him.

Oh Fifty. He is so needy on some level.

Some level? How about every level?

Who would have thought? The familiar vision of Christian as a dirty, wretched little boy haunts me.

Yeah, this is the problem, Ana. You keep thinking of him this way and he’ll never have to grow up at all.

I’m also surprised to discover that the Greys wear nightclothes. Am I being weird in thinking that people who are supposed to be this into each other should be rolling around naked in one another’s arms all night?

Christian announces that he has to go to New York. He wants her to go with him, even though she says she can’t get the time off. For once he concedes and I know without reading ahead that something will happen that means we never hear the end of this.

…a nasty thought pops into my mind. “How are you getting to New York?”

“The company jet, why?”

“I just wanted to check if you were taking Charlie Tango.”

Your ‘brilliant’ heroine, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, Ana – because you can totally fly from Seattle to New fucking York in a helicopter.

I recall the anxious hours I spent waiting for news. That was possibly the lowest point in my life.

Then you’ve led a pretty charmed life, fucko. Also, need I remind you – he was missing for five pages.

We’re reminded of the helicopter accident again and how it was sabotage and Ana is all ‘I wonder if he knows who was responsible?’

IT WAS JACK. NEXT QUESTION. 

“That reminds me. There’s a gun in your desk.”

He frowns at my non sequitur and probably at my accusatory tone, although I don’t mean it that way. “It’s Leila’s,” he says finally.

Actually it’s Chekhov’s. Bad-dum tish.

Then E.L. James tries to do a section break that doesn’t involve someone falling asleep. The results are so odd they deserve recording.

“I am just going to brush my teeth,” I mutter. Christian always brushes his teeth before breakfast. I don’t understand why.

So, yeah. Neither do I. Let’s get back to the gun.

Christian parrots some lines about gun control that could only have come from a British author, since there’s no way I can believe that a full blooded American psycho like Christian Grey would not relish the opportunity to scare people at gunpoint if necessary. Ana begs him to learn to shoot. He says no.

The discussion moves around to Leila, the bugfuck crazy ex who broke into Ana’s apartment and tried to kill her in Fifty Shades Darker. Of course, Ana wasn’t worried that someone was trying to kill her but was rather more worried that there might be a chance that Leila and Christian were still knocking boots. Because Ana is insane.

Bear in mind this happened in June and we’re now in August. Apparently after a couple of months, Leila was cured of homicidal impulses and set free to enrol in Art School. Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Anyway, hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work they go. You know what this means, don’t you?

YES IT IS TIME FOR E-MAILS FOREVER AND EVER UNTIL THE SEAS TURN TO BLOOD AND THE SUN BURNS HELL RED AND SWALLOWS THE EARTH WHOLE.

It ends with Ana signing off as ‘Anastasia Grey. Now Moist Editor, SIP’

Clearly the last book has taught her nothing about how much information is too much information. Meanwhile, all the office underlings who hacked her e-mail for shits and grins are off being sick in the washing up bowl.

Then a whole day scoots by in a paragraph and the next thing we know it’s Thursday and Ana is sad because Christian left for New York that morning. ‘…and though he’s been gone only a few hours, I miss him already’. You’re pathetic, Ana. Truly pathetic. ‘I fire up my computer and there’s an e-mail waiting for me. My mood lifts immediately.’

Mine, however, takes a turn for the worse.

Despite the fact that I’m going out this evening with Kate, I feel like a chunk of me is missing. At the moment it’s thirty-five thousand feet somewhere above the Midwest en route to New York. I didn’t know I would feel this unsettled and anxious just because Christian’s away. Surely over time I won’t feel this loss and uncertainty, will I?

Yes. Because you are ridiculous and co-dependent. They’re like those ‘three bolt chemistry’ couples in The Sims2 – the ones that follow each other to the toilet and neglect their children and pee themselves because they never stop messing with one another.

Christian phones and says he doesn’t want Ana to go out. She says she’s only going out for drinks with Kate. He says he doesn’t want her to leave the apartment because Jack Hyde is still out there and Ana only has three security guards, including a new woman, Prescott.

Then they actually do that ‘no, you hang up first’ thing because their love is Better Than Yours. Also they are mentally about thirteen.

In the next section Kate shows up and Ana describes her in that annoying, overcompensatory way that doesn’t help with my impression that Ana hates every other fucking woman on the planet.

Kate looks gorgeous. In her tight white jeans and red camisole, she’s ready to rock the town.

See? Ugh.

Ana and Kate go for a cocktail at a bar even though Christian wanted Kate to come to the apartment and Ana agreed to this. This wouldn’t be a big deal but this is Christian ‘Shitfit’ Grey we’re talking about.

We’re followed by Miss Belinda Prescott, who’s new to the security team – a tall, African American with a no-nonsense attitude. I’ve yet to warm to her, maybe because she’s too cool and professional.

Oh look. The first black character that Ana doesn’t coo over and want to be best friends with. Way to admit you basically hate all other women who are more capable than you, Ana.

Kate tells Ana that all the Grey family have doubled and tripled down on their security details because of Jack Hyde. Apparently he’s after them too. It’s the first Ana’s heard about it because Christian tells her nothing, although to be fair even if he did tell her she’d probably get distracted by the way his pants hang from his hips or the beauteous stormy grey of his melancholy eyes. Or lint. You know how it goes with Ana.

They bitch a bit about Gia Matteo, who apparently had a fling with Christian’s brother Elliot. ‘She’s a social climber,’ says Kate. Unlike Ana, who five months ago used to work at a hardware store.

The conversation moves round to kids, because subtle foreshadowing is for pussies. Spare a thought for the already pickled foetus currently swimming in Ana’s sozzled uterus.

It hadn’t even crossed my mind that my kids will be rich. Holy crap. They’ll want for nothing. I mean…nothing.

Save for a sober mother and a well-adjusted Daddy. You see – this is why abortion is sometimes the lesser of two evils. Can you imagine growing up with these clingy fucking pricks for parents?

‘Honestly,’ says Kate, who has also heard of foreshadowing but wants nothing to do with it. ‘You married so quickly that I thought you were pregnant’

Duh.

Some two hours and four mojitos later, Ana is sloppy drunk and stupider than ever.

Could I be any happier? In spite of all his baggage, his nature, his Fiftyness, I have met and married the man of my dreams.

Sorry? What? That’s like saying ‘I love spaghetti and meatballs. Except for the spaghetti. And the meat. And the way the meat is made into balls.’ You’re basically admitting that you’re in love with a fantasy version of the man and that it kind of pisses you off when he reminds you what he’s like in reality.

Well, thank you for introducing me to a new experience again; I almost feel sorry for Christian Grey.

I say ‘almost’ because I know what’s coming. If you thought his behaviour at her office was atrocious, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

We pull up outside Kate’s apartment. She hugs me hard.

Helpful, this security detail. If Jack Hyde was watching he would now know where Kate lives, should he ever want to kidnap her to get to her boyfriend, Elliot Grey.

Ana checks her Blackberry and finds Captain Shitfit going thermonuclear on her.

“Sawyer tells me that you are drinking cocktails in a bar when you said you wouldn’t. Do you have any idea how mad I am at the moment?”

Yeah. He’s probably pretty miffed. Actually he’s probably so far past miffed that he’s busting blood vessels and holed up in the bathroom right now, angrily flogging his hot little dong while his eyes turn red and a turgid vein throbs wildly at the sweaty edge of his temple. He gets off on this. I have proof.

“What time did Christian call you?”

Sawyer flushes. “About nine thirty, ma’am.”

“Why didn’t you interrupt my conversation with Kate so I could speak with him?”

“Mr. Grey told me not to.”

“Yeah, don’t tell her I called. You hear me, Sawyer? You hear me? Unf…yeah…oh yeah…hell yeah. I’m so fucking angry right now…fuck yeah. I’m a big man, bitch. I’m a biiiig man…”

Gasp. Sweat. Splut.

You know it happened like that.

But yeah – back with the plot – Ana goes into the apartment and shock-a-doodle-doo, it’s been broken into! These people have the worst security team since Caligula.

Ryan is standing at the entrance of the great room. A cut above his eye is bleeding, and there’s another on his mouth. He looks roughed up, his clothes disheveled. But what’s more shocking is Jack Hyde slumped at his feet.

Indeed. It’s nearly as shocking at the fact that the above paragraph made it into an actual finished book.

Chapter Ten…

…is kind of worrying, considering my Kindle says I’m only 36% through this shitfest and the main antagonist is already unconscious on the main character’s living room floor.

According to Ryan (Incompetent Security Guy #3) Jack Hyde came up in the service elevator and having spotted him on the security camera, Ryan decided to let him in. ‘That way I knew we’d have him’.

I don’t like you Ryan. 64% – does that number mean nothing to you? That’s how much book we have to go.

They decide they need to tie Jack up and Ana is embarrassed when they use cable ties. Because cable ties have never been used for anything other than crap bondage. And it’s not like the apartment has a room full of handcuffs or anything.

Then I notice the Glock on the floor with a silencer attached. Holy shit! Jack was armed?

Yes, Ana. He probably was. And have you still learned nothing about prepositions?

Sawyer bends down and gingerly picks up the Glock.

“Should you be doing that?” I ask.

No. Next question.

They find duct tape in Jack’s pocket and Ana decides she’s not going to think about that. I don’t know why. This kind of thing used to get her all hot and bothered once upon a time. Remember when Christian Grey came into the hardware store and bought the Serial Killer Starter kit? She couldn’t drop her drawers fast enough. Maybe it’s like keeping dossiers on people or kidnap or taking creepy photos of people when they’re asleep – it’s okay when he does it because he’s pretty.

“Should we call the police?” I mutter, trying to hide my fear.

Yes. Yes you should.

Ryan and Sawyer glance at each other.

“I think we should call the police,” I say rather more forcefully, wondering what’s going on between Ryan and Sawyer.

Potentially hot, but yes. You should call the police.

This man – I glance down at Hyde again – has invaded my home, and he needs to be removed by the police.

Yes he does. Call the police.

I decide I must be missing something, so I decide to call Christian.

Oh dear. Can you guess what Ana’s missing? I can.

She leaves Christian a voicemail and finally tells Sawyer to call the police. Because for some reason she can’t lift a phone. Although let’s be fair, she is pretty fucking drunk right now.

The police come and Ana’s miffed that one of them looks grumpy.

I suspect he’s been woken and dragged from his warm bed because the home of one of Seattle’s most influential and wealthy businessmen has been breached.

Yes, if it was anyone else he’d stay tucked up with his teddy bear in happy snoozy-snoozy dreamland. Seriously, Ana – not everyone exists to kiss your ass.

I am tired – beyond tired – and I want to go to bed.

You see, she had a little drink about an hour ago…

Anyway, it’s time for a section break, so after eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich Ana goes to bed so that she can wake up all fresh for the next part of the chapter.

She wakes up with a hangover to see Christian sitting beside the bed. Yep. That was why he wasn’t answering his phone – the mad fucking bastard was already on a plane home so that he could treat her to the full force of his latest tantrum.

He must be a joy to do business with, mustn’t he? How has this man got any money left at all? He’s flinging a fortune into the black hole of SIP and apparently when he does go to work he takes off in the middle of the night and runs home to yell at his wife.

Also because the author wanted to wank to the sight of him all angry. And wearing a tuxedo. That’s what high class swanky business people wear in New York, you see.

He’s also drinking Scotch, which explains why he’s taken to brushing his teeth before breakfast – so that the fumes don’t knock the housekeeper over when he wends his merry, drunken way to his morning eggs and bacon. Or it would, if the author had the first fucking clue about what she was doing.

Slowly I pull myself up into a sitting position, not taking my eyes off him. My mouth is dry. “How long have you been sitting there watching me sleep?”

“Long enough.”

“You’re still mad.” I can barely speak the words.

He gazes at me, as if considering his response. “Mad,” he says, as if testing the word, weighing up its nuances, it’s meaning. “No, Ana. I am way, way beyond mad.”

Bear in mind he’s been at this same state of emotional intensity since he found out she went out drinking without his permission. That must have been one hell of a transcontinental flight.

Flight attendant: Would you like some nuts, sir?

Fuckface: Nuts?

Flight attendant: Honey roasted peanuts, sir.

Fuckface: (staring fit to pop a blood vessel) I think you’ll find it’s gone way, way beyond honey roasted peanuts.

Ana begs him not be monosyllabic and cold.

“Anastasia, cold is not what I’m feeling at the moment. I’m burning. Burning with rage. I don’t know how to deal with these” – he waves his hand, searching for the word – “feelings.” His tone is bitter.

“I don’t know how to deal with these – I don’t know what you peons call them – peanuts. God damn. Leave me. Leave me to my beautiful, beautiful rage.”

It’s a good thing he’s ridiculous, otherwise he’d be fucking terrifying.

Ana crawls into his lap and tries to coax him to forgive her, but he sits there like a dummy and pouts.

“I want to punish you,” he whispers. “Really beat the shit out of you.”

Okay, maybe not so ridiculous now. This right here is the essence of why the kink community finds these books horrifying. When two (or more) people engage in a spot of BDSM they are doing it because it’s generally agreed that everyone involved will get a kick out of it. Not because one person wants to hurt another. That’s not kink; that’s just violence.

It’s not about to get any better, so hold hands for the next bit.

My heart leaps into my mouth. Fuck. “I know,” I whisper as my scalp prickles.

“Maybe I will [beat the shit out of you].”

“I hope not.”

He hugs me tighter. “Ana, Ana, Ana. You’d try the patience of a saint.”

Oh dear. ‘Look what you made me do to you.’ Yeah. This has just taken a turn for the very, very unsettling. I feel like this exchange should be printed out in huge type and plastered over every billboard and book cover that has touted Fifty Shades as this liberating and wonderful romance.

This isn’t the man of anyone’s dreams. He’s the man of plenty of people’s nightmares though.

Wow. Deep breath. Grab yourself some cocoa and your favourite teddy bear. That wasn’t very nice, was it?

Never mind. Thankfully this piece of shit is only a fictional character, and we can laugh and ridicule him like the overgrown toddler he is. For all your real life Christian Grey needs, see the list of phone numbers at the end of this post.

Ana gets into the shower with him and tries to hit him up for sex. He refuses and Ana freaks the fuck out.

My mind goes into free fall – has this ever happened before? My subconscious shakes her head, her lips pursed…I feel like I’ve been slapped, hard. Rejected. And a lifetime of insecurity spawns the ugly thought that he doesn’t want me anymore.

At this point it’s just sad. Honestly? People think this is the love story for the ages? These are horrible people who exploit every single one of each other’s mental weaknesses at every chance they get.

Ana gets dressed up, eats breakfast and goes to brush her teeth one at a time, because even in the wake of her husband’s horrifying admission that he wants to beat the shit out of her, we still need to piss about narrating every mindless detail of the day.

As I brush them, I’m reminded of Christian’s sulk over the wedding vows. He holed up in his study then, too. Is this what this is? Him sulking?

In a word, yes.

I shudder as I recall his subsequent nightmare. Will that happen again?

Oh, you bet it will. Extra thrashing, wailing and mommy issues. Just in case you were thinking of calling the whole thing off.

“You’re going?” he says when he sees me.

“To work? Yes, of course.” Bravely I walk toward him and rest my hands on the edge of the breakfast bar. He gazes at me blankly.

“Christian, we’ve hardly been back a week. I have to go to work.”

“But –“ He stops and rakes his hand through his hair.

But nothing. You want it both ways, Tantrum McManbaby? You want her to stick around all day so that you can hmmph and turn your back every time she walks in the room? Grow up.

“I know we have a great deal to talk about. Perhaps if you’ve calmed down, we can do it this evening.”

His mouth pops open in with dismay. “Calmed down?” His voice is eerily soft.

I flush. “You know what I mean.”

And we’re back to ridiculous again.

…because I don’t want to leave him like this with so much unresolved and so much tension between us, I step tentatively towards him. He stiffens, his eyes widening, and for a moment he looks so vulnerable it pulls at some deep, dark place in my heart.

He’s so broken and complicated. And that’s hot.

Anyway, she calls his bullshit bluff and goes to work. Elizabeth comes in to ask if she’s okay after Jack’s arrest. If you remember Fifty Shades Darker you’ll remember that when Jack attempted to rape Ana and then disappeared Elizabeth said something about how he’d done something to her too. Ana doesn’t remember and is simply baffled as to why Elizabeth is asking. Because Ana is terrible.

And because she’s at work it’s e-mail time. Christian e-mails Ana to say that the detective in charge of the case will be visiting Ana to take her statement. She e-mails back hoping to coax him out of his sulk ‘but there’s nothing. Christian is not in the mood to play today.’

What the fuck is wrong with these idiots?

I sit back. Can I blame him? My poor Fifty was probably frantic, back in the early hours of the morning. Then a thought occurs to me. He was in his tux when I woke this morning. What time did he decide to come back from New York? He normally leaves functions between ten and eleven. Last night at that hour, I was still at large with Kate.

Astonishingly Ana has figured something out. Yep – he didn’t come rushing back from New York because the apartment had been broken into and because he was worried about you. He came tearing back because you disobeyed him about going out for drinks.

If Christian came back merely because I was out, then he was overreacting.

No, honey. If Christian came back merely because you were out, he’s a motherfucking psycho. You need a psychiatrist and a lawyer, in no particular order. And a place to stay. Call your mother.

I have to know – did he come back because of Cocktailgate or because of the fucking lunatic?

Which fucking lunatic?

There’s some more e-mail nonsense and then Ana writes a long, sane, lucid e-mail rather like the one she wrote in Fifty Shades of Grey. There’s no nonsense, no pretentiousness and no twee attempts at being witty. She actually communicates her frustration at being left out of the loop regarding the Jack Hyde situation and that she was perfectly safe when she was out drinking because she had two security guards with her at all times.

It’s almost a stab at half-way decent characterisation – an inarticulate English Major who communicates more effectively in writing. Unfortunately this is still Fifty Shades Freed and we’re still living in the happy fucky dumb-dumb land where creepy, controlling and violent men are super, super hot.

He e-mails back.

As ever, Mrs. Grey, you are forthright and challenging in e-mail.

And in e-mail as in real life, you still talk like a cunt. Of course she is. Via e-mail she’s less likely to be cock-struck by the angry little stump you keep waving at her.

Perhaps we can discuss this when you get home to OUR apartment. 

Anyone with half a brain and a passing acquaintance with this mess of a series can guess what’s going to happen next. They’re going to rehash the argument in a situation where he can use sex to manipulate her, she’s going to cave because for some reason she still hasn’t learned what the massage attachment on the shower head is actually for, and they’re going to play out the same tedious, mommy-issues, you’re-so-broken-and-that’s-so-hot psychodrama that they’ve played out all along. And he’ll probably have one of his ‘nightmares’ and cry in his sleep. Because he’s fucking five or something.

This chapter is going on forever, by the way. The detective turns up and tells Ana that Jack is in custody. ‘With what he’s charged with, he should be with us for a while.’

So at least two months then. Then they’ll let him out to enrol in Art School.

“I spoke at length with Mr. Grey this morning. He’s very relieved. Interesting man, your husband.”

You have no idea.

Yeah. He drinks before breakfast and comes home smelling of blood, chemicals and lily of the valley. Seriously – he must be running a meth-lab. With the way he does business it’s the only way he has any money left at all. Although obviously I apologise for comparing Christian Grey with Walter White – a character with several dozen shady industrial barrels worth of depth. Quite unlike Christian ‘Basic Bitch’ Grey.

As [the detective] leaves, I wonder exactly what Hyde has been charged with. No doubt Christian won’t tell me. I purse my lips.

Why don’t you ask the detective who was just here, Ana? I know I should be feeling much more sorry for her at this point, but she doesn’t make it easy. She heads home, bracing herself for an almighty ‘fight’. (About forty pages of whining, to you and me.)

…Prescott kindly opens [the door] for me. She’s been so quiet today. I think I prefer her this way.

Aaand there goes any sympathy I had left for Ana. Fuck you, Ana.

I drop my briefcase in the hall and head into the great room. I stop. Holy fuck. “Good evening, Mrs. Grey,” Christian says softly. He’s standing by the piano, dressed in a tight black t-shirt and jeans…those jeans – the ones he wore in the playroom. Oh my. They are overwashed pale blue denim, snug, ripped at the knee, and hot. He saunters over to me, his feet bare, the top button of the jeans undone, his smouldering eyes never leaving mine.

“Good to have you home. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Told you.

nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/

thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk

womensaid.org.uk/

refuge.org.uk/

thehotline.org/

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2 responses to “Fifty Shades Freed: The Malign and the Ridiculous

  1. > It ends with Ana signing off as ‘Anastasia Grey. Now Moist Editor, SIP’

    i don’t think I want to read these recaps any more.

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