Sequel puts us a step closer to the inevitable

One thing I am grateful for in 2017: “Fifty Shades of Grey” is only a trilogy.

For the second year, the weekend before Valentine's Day meant the release of the movie adaptation of one of E.L. James' terrible (and terribly successful) novels that transform a tainted version of BDSM into a mainstream beach read.

In doing my due diligence for the first theatrical release in the trilogy, I tried to read James' first book. Really, I tried. I could not. I dare say you'll find better erotic prose from the pen of Rocky Flintstone, subject of the (fantastic) podcast “My Dad Wrote a Porno.”

Among those I suspect also sort-of knew James' prose was awful were the makers of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” film. From the stars to the director to the screenwriter, everyone seemed to be trying to make the most of this. Of course, they know the popularity of the source material meant there would be a lot of money to be made. And there was. Duh.

The next chapter is “Fifty Shades Darker,” which serves up the continuing — and continuously head-scratching — romance between Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).

When we last left the two, they were presumably no longer a couple, as Anastasia had not liked what she saw in Christian the last time he was doling out pain for pleasure. Christian is trying to win her back through a series of stalker-ish behaviors.

Of course, they eventually reunite — only slightly more on Anastasia's terms. She balances this with her new job at a publishing company, which her billionaire boyfriend is in the midst of acquiring. Awk-ward!

Meanwhile, some mysterious women from Christian's past begin to surface, as well as details about his own buried motivations. Things are about to get … darker!

Well, sort of. The first “Fifty Shades” was a watchable movie for which I wouldn't deride a friend if it served as a guilty pleasure. The sequel does offer up plenty more sex, but it also goes further into a relationship that's got some pretty unhealthy ideas about romance.

“Fifty Shades Darker” seems to plod through plot points dutifully for fans of the book, but director James Foley (“Who's That Girl,” “Glengarry Glen Ross”) can't do much to keep it coherent.

As my girlfriend summarized afterward, “It was like watching a porn with a bunch of people and then a helicopter crashed.” I suppose that's actually a spoiler, but I don't think anyone who wants to see this will care.

At least we've only got to do this once more. Valentine's Day 2018, I'll see you then.