Previously, kajillionaire business mogul Christian Grey spent most of a workday emailing his girlfriend and giving his employees spur-of-the-moment business decisions that revolved around him trying to control her life. He also yelled at the woman filling in as his personal assistant a lot. Unrelated: one time someone picked a fight with me about Fifty Shades on OK Cupid because she thought my profiting off criticism of this series was harmful to women’s media.
Darker: Chapter 5 (Part 2)
MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2011
At the office, Christian’s mom calls him to apologize for what she said about Ana over the weekend. Again. Yawn. Christian gets an email from Ana and immediately tells his mom he has to go. This sure was a conversation that added a lot to the story.
Christian reads Ana’s email and learns that Elena is still trying to meet up with Ana and ignoring his repeated requests to leave them alone. Christian reflects on how this behavior annoys him and how perhaps he has been guilty of the very same toxicity when pursuing Ana. lol just kidding none of that happens. Christian calls Elena to yell at her too.
“Christian,” she answers on the fifth ring.
“Do I have to get a banner and attach it to a plane and fly it over your office?”
She laughs. “My e-mail?”
Honestly, I think the only thing I kind of like about the Christian Grey rewrites is seeing what Christian and Elena’s dynamic is like. This is almost playful, even though they’re fighting. That’s interesting! But it often doesn’t stay interesting, because now that Ana’s no longer the narrator, boy oh boy is Ana not an interesting enough character for everyone to be talking about all. The. Time.
“I think she needs to know how hard you are on yourself.”
“No. She doesn’t need to know anything.”
“You sound exhausted.”
“I’m just tired of you going behind my back and chasing my girlfriend.”
“Yes. Girlfriend. Get used to it.”
She sighs long and hard. […] “Okay, Christian, it’s your funeral.”
Christian reflects on his deteriorating with someone who was one of the closest people in his life with his usual insight or lack thereof.
The women in my life are vexing.
Whoa. Deep. Tell me more, Christian Grey.
Life has become complicated.
Damn. When you’re right, you’re right.
The sky is dark and drab, reflecting my mood.
After lunch, Christian stops what he’s doing again to call Ana and chastise her at work. Do I need to keep summarizing this? It’s most of the book, but it’s hard to ignore how constantly, purposefully ignorant Christian is of Ana’s needs:
I ignore her question. “This is why I didn’t want you going back to work.”
Ana calls his behavior “suffocating”, which Christian brings up in therapy after work.
“You bought the company where she works?” Flynn asks with raised eyebrows.
“I think Ana has a point. I’m not surprised she feels suffocated.”
I shift in my chair. This is not what I want to hear. “I wanted to get into publishing.”
I love how it’s impossible to tell if Christian’s supposed to be slow on the uptake or if E L James is really just this bad at writing coherent dialogue.
Flynn gets Christian to realize that his actions were excessive and reminds him this behavior could drive her away. He also prompts Christian that “there’s something much bigger you’re not telling me”, and Christian admits that he’s in love with Ana, and I just thought, “huh, Christian’s therapist basically just told him to admit he’s in love with someone, that was efficient,” and, somewhere, a shiver just ran through my therapist’s spine and she doesn’t know why.
“I didn’t know I was capable of feeling like this.”
“Of course you’re capable.” He sounds exasperated.
Why is Flynn such a bad therapist oh my gosh poor Christian.
Later, at home, there’s another sex scene, which is another reminder that while Fifty Shades’ sex scenes were usually hilarious from Ana’s perspective, in this book they’re mostly just reminders that – say it with me! – Christian Grey just hates condoms.
I step back a little and manage to slide on the damn condom. “God, I can’t wait for the next six days.”
No more condoms.
And that Christian’s security team is just, like, patiently waiting nearby for them to wrap it up.
I release her and straighten her skirt and I do up the top two buttons of her shirt. I punch the override code into the elevator keypad and it jolts to life. “Taylor will be wondering where we are.”
Christian and Ana have dinner and talk about Christian’s controlling behavior about Ana’s work, which they conveniently wrap up by assuring each other they love each other anyway right before Elena unexpectedly shows up. Christian continues to be surprised that the love of his life has a spine.
“Hello, Anastasia. I didn’t know you’d be here. I know you don’t want to talk to me. I accept that.”
“Do you?” Ana’s tone is deadly.
Elena’s reluctant to talk about why she’s visited in front of Anastasia (who leaves like a page into this scene anyway because, yeah, fuck this), but quickly relents and explains that she’s being blackmailed. I don’t even remember this subplot from the first time we read this book, so I’m sure it will have a meaningful impact on the story.
“They’re only asking for five thousand dollars?” That doesn’t seem right. “Any idea who it might be? Someone in the community?”
“No,” she responds.
“What—after all this time? I don’t think so.” […]
“I don’t think there’s a great deal I can do, Elena. If it’s a question of money…” I stop. She knows I’d give her the money. “I could ask Welch to investigate?”
“No, Christian, I just wanted to share. You look very happy,” she adds, changing the subject.
If it seems like their dialogue doesn’t exactly flow with terribly much logic from one thing to the next, I don’t have great news for you about how the rest of the scene goes.
“Anastasia thinks that you saw me last Saturday. You called, that’s all. Why did you tell her otherwise?”
“I wanted her to know how upset you were when she left. I don’t want her to hurt you.”
“She knows. I’ve told her. Stop interfering. Honestly, you’re like a mother hen.”
Elena leaves pissed off after Christian gets in one more shot asking her not to gossip about Ana with his mother. Christian rejoins Ana, who asks him to help her understand how he sees Elena because she thinks “she did you untold damage”. They keep fighting and you don’t really need me to fill you in on it; it’s pretty obvious how it goes.
“Jeez, Christian—if that were your son, how would you feel?”
What a ridiculous question.
Me. With a son?
See, it’s funny, because everyone who reads this book knows that Christian ends up with children by the end of the next book. It’s ironic.
The chapter ends with yet another non-resolution to their fight, like Christian and Ana’s fights always have and always will forever and ever. But there’s a flashback to Christian’s time with Elena, reminding us once again that a potentially actually interesting novel could have existed instead of this one:
She grabs a handful of my hair, tugging my head back. […] I’m broken. My knees are sore. My back is covered in welts. My thighs ache. I can’t take any more. And she’s looking directly into my eyes. Waiting.
“I want to leave Harvard, Ma’am,” I say. And it’s a dark confession. Harvard had always been a goal. For me. For my folks. Just to show them I could do it. Just to prove to them I wasn’t the fuckup they thought I was.
She lets go of my hair and swings the flogger from side to side. […]
“I knew something was bothering you. I always have to beat it out of you, don’t I?”
“Get dressed. Let’s talk about this.”
And that’s it. We didn’t learn much more about why Christian Grey is the way he is, but, hey, at least we learned so much more about how Christian Grey… (checks notes) hates condoms…