The Most Unnecessary Flashback. Ever. Already.: Fifty Shades Freed Chapter Three

There was a Fifty Shades of Grey joke on How I Met Your Mother yesterday. Everybody in the room turned to look at me.

Chapter Three

The last chapter ended with a distinctly “trying too hard”, Goosebumps-level cliffhanger.

As I absentmindedly wash my hands at the vanity unit, recalling last night at the Casino, my robe falls open. I stare at myself in the mirror, shocked.
Holy fuck! What has he done to me?

And this chapter picks it up from there rather engagingly.

Hickeys! I have hickeys!

Ana is upset that Christian left hickeys on her breasts and welts on her wrists and ankles from the cuffs, but also sort of admits to herself that she enjoyed Christian giving them to her. This sort of thing happens a lot in Fifty Shades, where Ana wants to be sexually dominated or “punished” by Christian, but then doesn’t like dealing with the aftermath. So she consults her schizophrenic alter egos for direction:

My subconscious peers over her half-moon specs and tuts disapprovingly,while my inner goddess slumbers on her chaise longue, out for the count.

Disapproval from the subconscious? And no counterargument from the inner goddess? Well, looks like we know what direction Ana’s going in!

which is basically "I dunno"

How dare he mark me like this, like some teenager.

Ana’s gonna stand up for herself and tell him that he went too far and explain why she’s upset!

I seethe as fury spikes through me. I can behave like an adolescent, too!

Or, um…

“Anastasia,” Christian calls and I hear his anxiety. “Are you okay?”
I ignore him. […] I hurl the hairbrush at him, turn, and leave

Okay, I don’t know why I expected Ana to address the issue like an adult. Maybe I’ve been reading too many other stories where characters actually develop after two goddamn books.

“You’re mad at me,” he whispers.
“No shit, Sherlock!”
“How mad?”
“Scale of one to ten, I think I’m at fifty. Apt, huh?”
“That mad.” He sounds surprised and impressed at once.

Okay. That’s it. Enough of the goddamn “fifty” bullshit. I’d like you to consider the following.

It'll be like an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy, except if Bill Nye cursed and talked about erotic fiction.
It’ll be like an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy, except if Bill Nye cursed and talked about erotic fiction.

The title Fifty Shades of Grey refers to two things, one being the concept of multiple shades of the color grey and the other being the concept of the many different sides of the main character Christian Grey. This makes sense. Additionally, Ana and Christian reference the number “fifty” a lot; Ana even refers to Christian sometimes as “fifty shades”, referencing his multi-faceted (in theory) character. Still makes sense, right? However, the words “fifty shades of Grey”, in that sequence, appear nowhere in the novels. Instead, the first time “fifty” comes up is in Chapter Sixteen of Fifty Shades of Grey, where Christian refers to himself as “fifty shades of fucked up”. Since then, all this “fifty” and “fifty shades” referencing begins. So none of it is actually referring to the title “fifty shades of grey”, but is instead all referring to Christian describing himself as “fifty shades of fucked up”, which I might point out doesn’t make any sense.

Now the counterargument might be that “fifty shades of fucked up” is figurative. Christian’s just describing his abysmal mental health. Let’s think about what the word “shade” actually means. It means it’s a degree of something. Fifty shades of grey (or any other color) would refer to different degrees of that color along a scale as they change incrementally. They’re different degrees of one color, not varieties of colors – that’s what the other colors are for. So “fifty shades of fucked up” would therefore figuratively mean that there are different degrees – or intensities – of a lack of mental wellness, and not of different kinds of mental wellness like Christian and Ana think his line means. Christian’s mental instability is relatively stable insofar as his issues are fixed – he isn’t bipolar or schizophrenic, his problems are the same day-to-day. While he is all kinds of fucked up, he is not different degrees – or shades – of fucked up.

So every time Christian or Ana refer to this “fifty” business they are referencing a statement that doesn’t make any sense. Not literally. Not metaphorically. Nothing. They have misunderstood their own forced title drop and constantly make meaningless references to how they don’t understand that they’re not making any sense, which, ironically, actually makes a lot of sense.

Now you know.
Now you know.

Okay, back to the funny funny jokes. Ana and Christian make up a page and a half later.

“I will always love you, Christian.”
“And I you,” he says softly.
“In spite of my disobedience?” I raise my eyebrow.
“Because of your disobedience, Anastasia.” He grins.

Wasn’t Christian the one who was just in trouble for being disrespectful? Like this conversation could be happening the other way around and actually mean something.

Anyway, remember how E L James is including flashbacks in this book?

And how I can make LOST references all the time now?
And how I can make LOST references all the time now?

Remember how the flashbacks went very quickly from “not really necessary” to “actually entirely unnecessary”? Well, now they go beyond that. But first, things get horrifying.

“Shall I do this to you again?” he whispers wickedly and holds up the razor.

Holy shit! Was Fifty Shades actually a slasher narrative this whole time?!?!

I purse my lips at him. “No,” I mutter, pretending to sulk. “I’ll wax next time.”

That’s a weird way to murder some- wait a second…

I remember Christian’s joy in London when he’d discovered that during his one meeting there, I’d shaved off my pubic hair out of curiosity.

Oh no.

Of course I hadn’t done it to Mr. Exacting’s high standards …

Not a flashback. Not a flashback. Not a flashback.

“What the hell have you done?” Christian exclaims. He cannot keep his horrified amusement to himself.


“I think I should do a thorough inspection of your handiwork, Mrs.Grey.”

Oh god, it is a horror story after all…

“I think you missed a bit,” he mutters and tugs gently, right underneath.

“I have an idea.” He leaps naked out of bed and heads to the bathroom.
What on earth is he doing? He returns moments later, carrying a glass of water, a mug, my razor, his shaving brush, soap, and a towel.

I have never known such discomfort.

I hear the slosh of water as he dips the shaving brush in the glass of water,then the soft swirl of the brush in the mug.

Somehow the word “slosh” just made everything ten times worse.

I gasp as he runs the lathered brush over my pubic bone. It’s warm. The water in the glass must be hot. […] with a gentleness that surprises me, he runs the razor over my sensitive flesh.

Is this still supposed to be erotic? I have a hard enough time telling with this novel as it is, and then this scene happened. At least the flashback ends and it’s over.

“But that was fun,” he says his eyes gently mocking.
“For you maybe.” I try to pout—but he’s right . . . it was . . . arousing. […] I take the razor from him.


“Tit for tat, Mr. Grey.”

I have to read a pubic hair shaving scene again?!?!

Very gently, I stroke his razor up from his neck to his chin, revealing a path of skin beneath the lather.

Oh. She’s shaving his facial hair. Oh. Oh thank god.

Okay, I still need to recover from that scare that I thought I was going to have to read that scene again. Ana and Christian go buy art and shit. There’s a fire at Christian’s office and it’s probably not arson but it probably was. I need to take a breather.



  1. Chuck Reply

    Matt, you’re still watching HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER? Why do you want to do that to yourself?

    That RATATOUILLE gif made me extremely happy for some reason. Unlike this terrible book.

    • matthewjulius Post authorReply

      I like how nobody ever asks why we’d want to do something to ourselves when we read books for this blog, but for when we mention other things we read or watch. It makes me giggle.

  2. Bellomy Reply

    It seems that we have reached a new nadir of the story. This is the point where E.L. James writes utterly random things that happened on their honeymoon just to fill pages that would otherwise have no reason for existence.

    This pubic hair scene is disgusting and has literally NO relevance to the plot. But I think E.L. James knows that. I’d imagine her thought process to be something like this:

    Scene: E.L. James sits at an old-fashioned typewriter, thinking. Like Ana, she never *really* got the hang of this whole new fancy electronic magic typing screen, and this just saves her the time of figuring out this witchcraft.

    “Shit, there’s no reason for me to be writing anymore. Even the honeymoon is boring and utterly normal. I need to come up with weird shit to keep readers interested…wow, my crotch really itches…I think it’s my pubes…Wait! Wait! EUREKA! PUBIC HAIR! It’s weird and, like a train wreck, people won’t be able to look away! Genius!” *Begins writing furiously.*

    -End Scene

  3. Chuck Reply

    On an unrelated note, I really want Crayola to come out with a box of 50 gray crayons that are all slightly, almost imperceptibly different from each other. I would buy the shit out of that.

  4. Peter Tupper Reply

    I think “fifty shades” is actually an Irish idiom that means, “a lot of something and in different ways”, so you could say, “It’s fifty shades of shite”, to mean “It’s very bad in many different ways.”

    Keep up the good work.

    • matthewjulius Post authorReply

      I’d love to be able to look this up and verify this, but it’s impossible to google Fifty Shades and not get stuff related to the novel now =/

      • mightyfastpig Reply

        Actually, I checked with my Irish friend, and she says that there is a saying of “seven shades of shit”, i.e. really bad, but not “fifty shades”. My mistake.

  5. Emma Reply

    I like how nobody’s mentioned the fact that regardless of how we all feel about the shaving scene they go about this in the wrong way. I mean they make special razors for women to be able to do this in the first place unless you don’t value your lady bits and then I suppose a normal one you use on your legs is fine.

    My fiancee knows I read this blog and we’ve had many laughs over the ‘sexy times’ together. So I decided to do a little test and called him up:

    Me: Hey, I’m ready the blog about Fifty Shades of Despair again. Can I run something by you?
    Him: Sure.
    Me: Soooo, let’s say you were going to shave me in the parts you like best. How would you do this?
    Him: (silence for a moment) Well, um, first I’d go get one of the razors you have for that sort of thing.
    Me: So you wouldn’t use the razor you use on your face then?
    Him: Hell no! I don’t want to cut you open
    Me: I’m supposing you wouldn’t grab your shaving cream and lather me all up then either?
    Him: What?! What the fuck are you reading? Of course not. How would I know how close I am before you started bleeding everywhere after I cut something important off?
    Me: Congratulations Hon, you’re officially smarter then all the characters in this book combined.
    Him: I feel like you’re still insulting me.

    It’s my running theory that James has 1) Never shaved anything in her life 2) Never had sex with the lights on and 3) Possibly has never had sex at all. Which would explain the massive amounts of weirdness that’s in this book. My Fiancee laughed for like 5 minutes after I told him about the tampon scene. Every time he sees a tampon, even on a store shelf, he smirks and I feel weirdly dirty.

    Ack, sorry. Apparently I had to share all that. Probably all bottled up from reading even the terrible quotes this book has to offer. Thanks guys for putting yourself through that torture so I don’t have. 🙂

    • matthewjulius Post authorReply

      This is so flattering! Ariel and I just sitting here gushing over how a reader and their fiancee actually talk about our blog. We’re talking about your comment about you talking about our blog.

    • f1332133 Reply

      Well some women have never shaved down there so how would they know about special razors. And this is just fantasy, you think all women shave with a special razor?!!! Can you do any better and write a best seller of book or ebook, get it published and sell millions of copies?!!!
      PS. Nobody really wants to read about your special razors or any of the other things (shudders @ the thought)

  6. f1332133 Reply

    OMG Ana is like a whiney teenager to be upset over hickey’s of all things, she doesn’t seem to remember that Christian never really had those teenage years & in all honesty it doesn’t seem she’s worthy of him, she likes the kinky sex, so that’s not really a punishment, seems to me the real punishment was the hickeys but talk about Overreacting she is just as immature as Christian but at least he has a excuse. Also she never really lets him go all the way over to the light, she keeps dragging him back to the dark when it suits her needs.

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  9. Doedee Reply

    Actually I shave my ..there.. with a razor for men. Works much better. It’s smooth like a holy cow. Although maybe you have to be more carefull with a meaty vagene.


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