Fifty Shades Freed: Daddy Issues

I love looking at my blog’s search engine terms. They have a mad, weird poetry all of their own, occasionally hilarious and frequently disgusting. In response to the curious soul who came here via the question ‘why doesn’t Christian Grey like anyone touching his chest,’ the answer is “Because he’s a poorly written fictional character who used to be a crap vampire with no pulse.”

I know that probably doesn’t help, but trust me – it really is that stupid.

Anyway, on with the recap.

Last time on Fifty Shades of I’m-So-Bored-I-Want-To-Die, a bunch of stuff happened and none of it was relevant to the plot. Sorry – let me just cover that again. Everything that happened in the last two chapters? And the two before that? And actually the two before that? Not relevant to the plot. Total filler.

The plot was last seen sometime back in Chapter Ten and if there are no further sightings in the next couple of chapters then I’m afraid we’re going to have to start the sad, inevitable paperwork to have it declared extinct in the wild.

In other news, Ana’s stepdad Ray was in a car-crash and is now in a coma. I envy him. You have no idea.

Chapter Seventeen

Ana is on the phone with José Rodriguez Snr, José’s dad. He used to be Billy Black from Twilight, just like Ray used to be Charlie ‘Disposable Dad’ Swan. To avoid confusion we will now be calling them Bosé and Chay – got that? Good. It’s not like Chay is going to be doing much anyway – he’s in a coma. Lucky prick.

A dark dread seizes me by the throat and overwhelms me. Ray. No. No. I take a deep steadying breath, pick up the phone and call Roach. He answers on the second ring.

Roach is the long suffering boss who has to somehow run a publishing company with Ana as its editor. At this point he probably has some kind of bingo card pinned up on the wall of his office listing all the stupid reasons Ana has used to skip work in the past.

Ana then spends a page explaining to her assistant all the things they have to do while she’s away in Portland. Her assistant assures her that they’ll ‘muddle through’ – which is hilarious considering all Ana ever does at work is e-mail Captain Tantrum and talk about her crotch.

Then she meets Sawyer and explains to him about her Dad being in a car-crash…wait, no. Is this whole section just Ana going round explaining to everyone who has been in the book for more than five minutes that her Dad has been in a car-crash? A quick skim ahead reveals that yes, this is indeed the case.

She calls her walking shitfit of a husband and he calls her back.

“Sorry, baby – I can be there in about three hours. I have business I need to finish here. I’ll fly down.”

Did you get that? This is the same shitlord who made an unscheduled flight back from New York because his wife went out for drinks when he wanted her to stay in. The same guy who drops everything, drives across town and harrasses her at work over her using her maiden name in an e-mail. And now he’s busy?

Every time I think this guy can’t get any more terrible he goes and proves me wrong.

On the other hand, Ana is also pretty terrible. The thought of Christian flying his stupid fucking dick-extension helicopter sends her into a panic, because the last time he did so it crashed for about five incredibly melodramatic pages.

They get to the hospital and Ana, in the depths of fear and grief, still takes time out to be a bitch to random people who don’t remotely deserve it.

The elevator is agonisingly slow, stopping on each floor. Come on…come on! I will it to move faster, scowling at the people strolling in and out and preventing me from getting to my dad.

Then she complains the nurse on the desk is ‘officious’ and ‘myopic’ and is led to the waiting room to meet José and Bosé. Bosé has a badly broken leg and is in a wheelchair, which makes no sense in the light of everything you thought you knew about orthopedic surgery. However, it makes all kinds of sense when you remember that he used to be Jacob’s paraplegic dad from Twilight.

José tells his dad to calm down in Spanish, in case you weren’t clear he was Mexican, and Ana takes up neurology again, which is fun, because she hasn’t done that since book one when she got everything-you-can-learn-about-the-medulla-oblongata-on-Wikipedia completely and hilariously wrong.

You’ll be pleased to know E.L. James writes anguish and worry almost as well as she writes…well, anything really.

Oh no, no…Panic swamps my limbic system again. No, no, no. My body shudders and chills…

We learn that Cray is still in surgery, having been on the passenger side of the vehicle when it was hit by a drunk driver. They were driving to a fishing trip, because nobody in this book ever goes to work, except for Christian Grey, and he can’t be relied upon to stay there unless his father-in-law is in a near fatal traffic accident.

José puts his jacket around Ana’s shoulders because her immediate response to anything bad happening is to start shaking like a shitting dog. Do you remember how often we’re told she’s ‘brave’? Yeah, good times.

“Why were you fishing in Astoria?” I ask.

Um…because I’m guessing there are fish there? Is this some kind of zen koan? I don’t get it. Ana, have you interacted with another person ever?

Sawyer reenters, bearing a paper cup of hot water and a separate tea bag. He knows how I take my tea!

Given that you assholes conduct your noisy, meaningless existence with all the discretion and good taste of a clinically depressed primate smearing poop all over its living quarters, Sawyer probably intimately knows the shape of your o-face and the size of your favourite buttplug by now.

I dunk my tea bag in the water and, rising shakily, dispose of the used tea bag in a small trashcan.

I’ve said it once before but it bears repeating – this is so not the kind of teabagging I should be reading about in a so-called dirty book.

Just in case you weren’t bored enough hearing about the tea bag…

I slowly sip my tea. It’s not Twinings, but some cheap nasty brand, and it tastes disgusting.

What? You mean it tastes like hot water that’s been briefly introduced to a tea bag? Well, I never.

I glance at my watch. 2.15pm. He should be here soon. My tea is cold…Ugh.

You can tell Ana is a deep and nuanced character, can’t you?

Time crawls so slowly.

Oh tell me about it, fuckface.

Christian strides in. His face darkens momentarily when he notices my hand in José’s.

Once again, Christian Grey ups the hateful ante. I don’t get it. If anyone can please explain the appeal of this man I would love to know. He is dreadful in every imaginable way.

A doctor comes in and tells them that Cray is out of surgery. Christian continues to behave like a fucking infant.

“I’m his daughter, Ana.”

“Miss Steele – ”

“Mrs. Grey,” Christian interrupts him.

“My apologies,” the doctor stammers, and for a moment I want to kick Christian.

Get in line, lady. Get in line.

“I’m Dr. Crowe. You father is stable, but in critical condition.”

What does that mean?

It means your father is stable, but in critical condition.

Cray is in an induced coma. I wish I was.

José goes off to get some rest and Ana curls up in Christian’s lap and starts smooching all over him in the middle of a hospital waiting area. Am I being overly English by thinking this is gross? Then they moo about The Philadelphia Story, which is Grace’s favourite film, although at this point you may be forgiven for asking ‘Who’s Grace?’ Then they go up to the ICU.

The ICU on the sixth floor is a stark, sterile, functional ward with whispered voices and bleeping machinery.

As opposed to a busy, cluttered gingham-trimmed space where people spill their coffee and yell at the top of their voices. Seriously – even if you’re lucky enough to have never seen the inside of an ICU you’ve probably seen one on television, right? I think we can furnish our own descriptions here.

[The noise of the ventilator] is weaving with the beep, beep, beep of his heart monitor into a percussive, rhythmic beat. Sucking, expelling, sucking, expelling, sucking, expelling in time with the beeps.

This is possibly the best paragraph in the entire book. It sums up the whole experience of reading it – it sucks and it makes me want to expel things, usually my last meal.

There’s more. Oh God, kill me. Why is there more. Why is there always more?

Weirdly Ana has always called Cray by his first name whenever she mentioned him before (rarely) but now he’s her Daddy Daddy Dearest and her heart belongs to Daddy forever.

The nurse is, predictably, ogling Christian. Because he’s the most beautiful man in the world and all women swoon at his approach. It’s not like beauty is in the eye of the beholder or that different women might have different types or anything.

She smiles at me, her cheeks pink from a telltale blush. Incongruously, I find myself thinking blonde is not her true colour.

Ana, there is nothing ‘incongruous’ about you revelling in mean-spirited criticisms of other women – you do it all the fucking time.

It’s worth mentioning that I hate Ana twice as much when she’s suffering in some way. She does nothing but cry, blarp out clichés and wallow greedily in her own picturesque pain. She flops down at Daddy’s bedside to act out her new soap opera role – Grieving-But-Beautiful-Daughter.

…it’s only now when he’s unconscious and can’t hear me that I really want to tell him how much I love him. This man has been my constant. My rock.

Has he?

And I’ve never thought about it until now.

Or mentioned him much at all, actually.

Very quietly, so as not to disturb anyone, I tell him about our weekend in Aspen and about last weekend when he were soaring and sailing aboard The Grace. I tell him about our new house, our plans, about how we hope to make it ecologically sustainable…

At this point my notes say ‘lol BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP’. Can you imagine? You’re lying there in a coma with holes in your spleen and a busted left kidney and more titanium in one leg than you see at the average BodyMod convention, and then Ana comes and sits down at your bedside and starts talking about herself? Pull the fucking plug.

On the bright side, I’ve stopped envying Cray. The poor, poor bastard.

Then Ana and Christian go to the Heathman. Remember the Heathman from book one? Sure you do.

How often have I thought about that first night and morning I spent with Christian Grey…

Yeah. I’ve thought about it a lot too. I’m sure if law enforcement agencies knew about it they’d also have found plenty of food for thought, not to mention several grounds for criminal prosecution.

Ana once again starts mentally mooing about how her husband is sheltered and a ‘lost boy’ and contemplating how the events of the last chapter must have affected him. Meanwhile Dad’s still in a coma but ho hum…

“Oh Ana,” Christian murmurs. “I’ve not seen you like this. You’re normally so brave and strong.”

Notes just say ‘LOL’. I have nothing to add.

They take a bath together and then Ana says this;

“You didn’t get into the bath with Leila, did you? That time you bathed her?”

Really? Really, Ana? We’re still on this? Now?

Then they talk shit about his other ex-girlfriends (one has got over him and qualified as a doctor – what a loser) and he makes her giggle.

“That’s better,” he whispers, and kisses my temple.

The one time he actually makes her laugh and it’s at a time when it couldn’t be less appropriate.

Meanwhile Taylor (remember him?) has been out shopping for them.

…[he’s] bought a whole weekend’s worth of clothes, and he knows what I like. I smile, remembering the first time he’s shopped for clothes for me at the Heathman.

Ana, that is nothing to smile about. Holy shit. If you haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, there’s a scene early in the book where Christian ‘rescues’ a puke-drunk Ana from a nightclub. At this point they’ve spoken to each other three times. She is unconscious when he bundles her into his car and takes her to his hotel suite at the Heathman, thus constituting a major felony which nobody seems to notice.

Are you creeped out? Well, hang on tight, folks. Because there’s more.

He takes off her vomit-stained clothes – while she’s unconscious – and puts her in bed with him. They are more or less total strangers. Then in the morning she discovers that he’s bought her not only new clothes but lingerie. And the bra is the correct size.

If you’ve ever had a man buy you lingerie you’ll know they’re not the best at guessing cup sizes. They almost always flatteringly assume that your boobs are much bigger than they really are. But on the morning after there’s a perfect 34B waiting for Ana’s sour little tits to fill it, which just made me think that while she was out cold someone flipped the strap of her bra to get this information. That, of course, reminds me of the bit in Silence of the Lambs when Buffalo Bill knocks Catherine unconscious and then peers at the label of her shirt to ascertain she’s the dress size required to complete the world’s worst Etsy project.

I will never stop shuddering over this.

Anyway, it’s Ana’s birthday tomorrow, and like everything they manage to be really, really annoying about it.

“You look so young,” Christian says softly, glancing up, his eyes glowing. “And to think you’ll be a whole year older tomorrow.” His voice is wistful. I give him a sad smile.

Yes, you’ll be a grizzled and world weary twenty-two year old. (Although to be fair after five months in his alcoholic company she’s probably put a good forty extra years wear on her liver. So she’s not entirely immature.)

Then they go back to the hospital and Ana praises Christian for ‘not frothing at the mouth’ in José’s presence. Yeah, well done, shitlord. You didn’t punch a guy for looking at your wife while her Dad was in a coma. Is this what happens when you praise your child’s every bowel movement?

It turns out that Grace, Christian’s mother, has come to the hospital too because she is a doctor and we can’t have Cray being treated by someone outside the cult family. Apparently while Christian didn’t ask her to come she knew anyway, because she was probably telepathic back when she used to be Esme ‘Stepford’ Cullen. I can’t remember what Esme’s vampire power was – knowing Stephenie Meyer’s unreconstructed views on women it was probably ‘Being supernaturally good at interior design’ or ‘Having really nice hair’. Anyway – I can’t be bothered to look it up.

Then they go back to the hotel and go to bed, because it’s time for the chapter to end, but not before Christian has given us some extra special bedtime creepiness.

“Being here makes me think of how far we’ve come. And the night I first slept with you…”

…when you kidnapped her.

“…what a night that was…”

…when you bundled her drunk, unconscious ass into your car, drove her to your hotel, partially undressed her and put her in bed with you like she was some kind of novelty teddy bear.

“…I watched you for hours.”

Oh yeah. Good night, sleep tight, don’t have nightmares. I’ll just be over here rocking back and forth in the corner. You creepy, creepy fuck.

Chapter Eighteen

…opens with Ana waking up. Is it Groundhog Day in here or is it just me?

“Shit! Daddy!” I gasp out loud, recalling with a gut-wrenching surge of apprehension that twists my heart and starts it pounding why I’m in Portland.

Why is this sentence? How are words? This what is?

Right. No. Don’t wake up and utter things like that, Ana. Please. I feel like I’m having some kind of brain event.

So, yeah – Shit!Daddy! is not dead, which is nice. He’s still in a coma but had a good night, and now it’s Ana’s birthday. Hurrah! Another opportunity to make everything in the sodding world ever all about her.

Christian gives her a gift and a card which reads ‘For all our firsts on your first birthday as my beloved wife’. Nice way to make it all about you, shitbird. It’s a Cartier charm-bracelet commemorating the various sights of Europe that they didn’t see on their honeymoon because they were too busy shaving one another’s junk or something.

Then there’s some crying. Because what this book needs is more crying.

I sniff in a rather unladylike way. “I’m sorry. I’m just so happy and sad and anxious at the same time. It’s bittersweet.”

I don’t think I can take much more of this.

Then they have breakfast. Then they brush their teeth. Are you excited? I’m excited. I’m so excited I could just shit.

Holding up my wrist, I shake it, and the charms on my bracelet give a satisfying rattle. How does my sweet Fifty always know exactly the right thing to give me?

Like the time he bought you a publishing company.

I feel lighter than I did yesterday. Perhaps because it’s morning and the world always seems a more hopeful place than it does in the dead of night. Or maybe it’s my husband’s sweet wake-up. Or maybe it’s knowing that Ray is no worse.

Poor Cray. Whether he’s Ray or Charlie Swan, he will always be an afterthought to his hellspawned daughter.

They get into the elevator and at this point it’s so inevitable it’s practically Pavlov.

He groans into my mouth and cups my head, cradling me as we kiss – really kiss, our tongues exploring the oh-so-familiar but still oh-so-new, oh-so-exciting territory that is the other’s mouth. My inner goddess swoons, bringing my libido back from purdah.

In other news the writing is still oh-so-terrible and the whole inner goddess thing is still oh-so-fucking-stupid.

Then they go outside and oh look, he’s bought her a sports car for her birthday, and she’s even allowed to drive it. And it’s the happiest day that ever did gambol and prance and happy it up in the joyous autumn sunshine Except for her Dad being in a coma after a life-threatening car accident, but let’s not rain on her parade.

Ray’s condition is the same. Seeing him grounds me after the heady road trip here.

Cray, you king-hell bummer. Bringing her down like that.

Ana goes back into the hall to find Christian shouting into the phone like he always does when it’s time for a spot of exposition and he says the other driver is;

“Some drunken trailer trash from southeast Portland.” He sneers and I’m shocked by his terminology and his derisory tone.

Why? This is the same man who regularly refers to his own mother as ‘the crack whore’. Has she been reading a completely different book or something?

“I should call my mom. Tell her about Ray,” I murmur.

Hey, that would be a good idea, Ana. When was the last time you even spoke to your mom, anyway? The wedding?

“I’m surprised she hasn’t called me.” I frown in a moment of realization. In fact, I feel hurt. It’s my birthday after all, and she was there when I was born. Why hasn’t she called?

I think you just answered your own question, Ana.

I fish my Blackberry out of my pocket. It shows no missed calls, but quite a few texts: happy birthdays from Kate, José, Mia, and Ethan. Nothing from my mother. I shake my head despondently.

“Call her now,” he says softly. I do, but there’s no reply, just the answering machine. I don’t leave a message. How can my own mother forget my birthday?

I dunno. Some people just block out events that are too traumatic and painful to face. What an astoundingly unpleasant young woman.

Christian shouts some more buzzwords into the phone so that we can pretend he actually does some work now and again. Ana asks him why he works the way he does – by which she doesn’t actually mean ‘shows up, shouts at some people, shouts at some more people, e-mails his wife all morning and then fucks off to go and shout at her.’ But we all know by now that this is the way Christian Grey works.

Ana says he’s very philanthropic, which is hilarious considering about two chapters ago he was threatening to pull the financial rug out from under a recently bereaved and severely mentally ill young woman whose state of mental upfuckage may very well have been – at least partially – his fault.

“Can we go for a drive?”

Christian and I are back in the R8, and I’m feeling giddily buoyant. Ray’s brain is back to normal – all swelling gone.

He’s still in a coma, but by all means let’s drive around like maniacs in our brand new sports car because car accidents only happen to poor, drunk people!

If you’re wondering whether they’re drunk in this chapter, they’re not. But only because it’s not yet lunchtime.

After lunch she goes and read slush submissions to poor comatose Cray, which is probably terrible for him but still better than listening to talk about herself. His continued recovery is kind of boring for Ana, since it doesn’t allow for dramatic weeping and wailing, so she fucks off for dinner and more conspicuous consumption.

Her shithead husband has hired a private dining room and arranged a surprise party! Because that’s a normal and wonderful thing to do when a member of your family is still in a coma.

Oh my. Kate and Elliot, Mia and Ethan, Carrick and Grace, Mr. Rodriguez and José, and my mother and Bob are all there raising their glasses.

Who the fuck is Bob?

“How did you get here? When did you arrive?”

“Your husband sent his plane, darling.”

Hey Mr. Philanthropist Business Man – you know what would be really philanthropic? If you didn’t keep burning through jet fuel to gather the fucking Twilight gang together every time your soggy twiglet of a wife experiences anything other than perfect fucking happiness?

Everyone gathers round and tells Ana she’s the best person who ever lived and that it’s totally not weird to be having a drunken, extravagant birthday party while her Dad’s in a coma.

Christian clears his throat. “This would be a perfect day if Ray were here with us…”

Fuck you, Cray. How dare you be so inconsiderate?

It’s strange to be cocooned in the bosom of my family, knowing the man I consider my father is on a life support machine in the cold clinical environs of the ICU.

That ‘strange’ feeling? That’s your conscience talking. If you listen very very hard you can hear it. Can you hear it? It sounds like it’s saying ‘Ana – Anaaaaa. You are a terrible person’.

I gaze at Mom. She’s in her element, charming, witty, and warm. I love her so much. I must remember to tell her. Life is so precious. I realise that now.

Meanwhile, in the ICU…

For dessert I am presented with a sumptuous chocolate cake blazing with twenty-two silver candles and a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday”.

That’s a fucking weird cake.

Grace watches Christian singing with the rest of my friends and family and her eyes shine with love. Catching my eye, she blows me a kiss.

“Make a wish,” Christian whispers to me. In one breath I blow out all the candles, fervently willing my father better.

Just so long as he doesn’t wake up tonight. Because then he’ll be alone. And disorientated. And in pain. And whatever happens he’ll still have an asshole for a daughter.

Poor old Cray.

______________________________________________________

For more Fifty Shades fun and games, grab yourself a copy of Fifty Shades of Neigh and the sequel Fifty Shades Fatter. Also stay up to date with news on the final part of the trilogy – Fifty Shades Later: An Inevitable Conclusion by subscribing to my newsletter. If you have enjoyed this recap (or even if you haven’t) please consider leaving a comment or ‘up yours’ as is your wont.

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4 responses to “Fifty Shades Freed: Daddy Issues

  1. Your blog posts are the only points of light on an otherwise dark sky which is extra dark because a comet um blasted through. I’m the lamb. I mean lion. Also Esme had no powers. She was just suicidal.

  2. I just found your blog through a friend’s facebook link. I really enjoy the sporking, but I’m kind of uncomfortable with the way you talk about Ana. Yes, she’s an immature airhead, but she’s fallen into the clutches of an abusive psychopath with massive resources at his disposal to keep her trapped. I don’t think that she focuses on his wealth/hotness because she’s a gold-digger, but more because she’s in deep denial and trying to make the best in a horryfing situation. She hopes that if she can resolve Christian’s issues, he’ll turn into a good husband who treats her well: this is a common hope that abused women cling to. The staggering amounts of alcohol that she’s drinking is clearly to numb the pain and fear. Christian’s wealth is a horrifying factor, because he uses it to make sure the women he dates/marries can never escape him. It’s exactly what he’s doing with Leila, who he buys in a moment in which she’s vulnerable instead of turning her over to the police like a normal person would do.
    Abuse works because the abuser works hard at confusing his/her victim as much as possible: the lightning-fast commitment, the mood swings, the nightmares, the possessiveness, the boundary pushing (there are several instances in which Christian shows a scary disregard for consent, like when he leaves hickeys on Ana’s body), the constant contrived drama, these are all classic tactics of the abuser. Not being able to think straight anymore is normal in Ana’s situation. When I was 17/18, I fell into the clutches of two abusive boys in High School. In the summer holidays, my parents sent me abroad, and I still remember how much clearly I was able to think when I was abroad. These boys were amateurs compared to Christian Grey, but the difference in how I was able to think was remarkable.
    And abuse can turn you into a horrible person. It’s not for nothing that people say that abusers are vampires, because they want to turn their victims into them. I have a friend who is currently in an abusive situation, and underneath a friendly exterior, she’s carrying a lot of rage which she can’t express because she’s terrified. She’s also very focused on appeasing her abuser, which means that everyone else takes a backseat (or has to be cut off, if the abuser deems them dangerous to the relationship). The fact that Ana spends her time at work e-mailing Christian is not because she’s lazy and doesn’t want to do her job, it’s to keep him from barging into her office to humiliate her in front of her coworkers.
    Finally, I don’t see Ana going out with Kate or taking the jetski to buy herself a cheap bracelets as signs of silliness, but as desperate attempts to cling to her own self, which Christian is trying to wipe out.
    I realise that I’m leaving you a novel, but as you can imagine, this is an issue that I care about. I actually think that 50 Shades of Grey works really well as a story about horrifying abuse. Ana is a naive ninny, but she’s getting manipulated and violated at every turn. I don’t see anything in her thoughts, feelings and behaviour that isn’t a consequence of the abuse. And she doesn’t deserve that.
    I don’t know if you’re interested at all in the dynamics of abuse, but a good book on the subject is “Why Does He do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. He’s worked with thousands of abusers in order to help them change (without much success – predictibly), and the book explains things very clearly. And it’s a lot better written than 50 Shades of Grey ;-)
    In the meantime, I’m looking forward to your next installment.

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