The first few minutes of the episode, "Hurricane Situation," follow the gang slouching toward New Jersey, i.e. the motherland. Sammi kisses the Jersey airport carpet (Sam, get ya mouth off da floor!), and Professor Ronald Creatinstein notes, "it's like America is my mother and I'm coming home to my mother right now." Thank you, Ronnie, for finally crafting a simile that the rest of us can get.
Somewhere in the airport-to-Shore trip, Deena's dick falls out of her dress. Just kidding. But seriously, Deena and Snooki should make a funnyordie video with Danny DeVito as Papa Meatball. How and when did actual trolls break into tv? And what was tv like before that? I can't remember.
Out in the kitchen, Snooki's chugging pickle brine like she's thirsty. Deena has the decency to at least take a shot first (Pickle Back!), and then Ron makes his patented Ron-Ron Juice. Its ingredients are fresh fruit, Everclear, a fish skeleton, and empty Rx bottles.
The gang visits the boardwalk and their beloved boss/landlord, Danny. No longer the mid-30s boy he used to be, Danny is now solidly a late-30s man. He's more wrinkled, more relaxed, and definitely more rich. He invites them all out for drinks tomorrow night, but little do they know - it's a surprise party!
Before the party, the boys GTL and get haircuts. Mike sprays his hair for a long, long time, probably to be funny but more likely because he has BRAIN DAMAGE. Consider all of Situation's actions since the head trauma. Pathetic attempts to be funny? Or demonstrable impairment of mental faculties? Back home, Vinny admires his new haircut in the mirror as Pauly D comes up to stand right behind him. Ha-ha, Vinny with Pauly hair - BUT WAIT. Where on earth is the camera? From this angle and these mirrors, we should be able to see the camera op. Where is he?
The kids arrive at their surprise party, and Vinny's so touched to see his mother that he cries. Oh Danny, you sweet 39.5 year old, you plan a great surprise party. Obviously Uncle Nino is there, slobbering on all the young women. It turns out Ronnie had the Smush Room idea first, but with Uncle Nino living there. Suddenly all the warmth in the room turns cold as a large silhouette fills the doorway -- it's The Unit.
Of the four people involved in That Night (the night Mike uses to torture Snooki with forever), The Unit is the only one who could back up Mike's story. Snooki and Ryder have made a silent pact never to reveal anything that happened, and no one believes Sitch's version of events. The Unit may be The Situation's friend, but even he wouldn't completely fabricate an entire story. That's Guido Code.
The Unit makes Snooki nervous, so she screams obscenities at him from across the bar, scandalizing Vinny's entire family. (PS I'm pretty sure Ryder got a boob job since the last time we saw her. No relevance, just saying). Jwoww takes Unit aside to ask what really happened that night, but he never gets around to saying anything pertinent. He just stares covetously at her Christmas bow ribbon belt.
Back at home, Situation tries to give Unit a shirt to sleep in, but The Unit doesn't wear shirts. Mike starts in with the Axe, overspraying it everywhere, and again, I chalk it up to the head wound. Ryder, who has already been romantically involved with Vinny, The Unit, and The Situation, is now going after Pauly D. According to Samantha Kittensby, Prof. Ron's teaching assistant: "Ryder's really ridin' around town." All hail the King and Queen of Wordsmithery! Deena hangs out uninvited in Pauly's room for a depressing 5 minutes before giving up and finally letting them smush.
Snooki manages to avoid The Unit all night by sequestering herself and Jionni in the Smush Room. In the morning she makes a hasty and insincere apology, hoping to keep The Unit's mouth shut. Again Guido Code comes in: now that Snooks has said apology-type words, The Unit can't really spill his story. He must wait until she gives him an unprovoked side-eye or scoff, or at least until they're drunker.
Meanwhile, Vinny's depressed. The gang goes to the Aztec to cheer him up, but it must be Grenade Night because all they can see are bombs going off. Old women challenge them to dance contests, making Vinny more depressed. He might go back to Staten Island early. At the bar Jionni buys copious drinks for Situation, almost as if he's trying to get him drunk. Naturally it will make the inevitable late-night confrontation back at home more enjoyable for us all. But that has to wait for next week - the show's over, folks!
With The Unit in town, it's impossible not to do a little thinking about the Jersey Shore kids' names. The Unit and The Situation are not only nicknames - they're ideas (even less namey than regular nicknames). And that just goes to show how much they're hiding. A few years ago, my film professor went nuts describing the significance of names in Rear Window: Grace Kelly, who has nothing to hide, says her full name (Lisa Carol Fremont) while turning on three lamps. Jimmy Stewart, who hides in shadows watching people and specifically doesn't want to be seen, has the name "L.B. Jeffries," and Lisa has to call him "Jeff" just to feel close. The names storytellers use tell us how hidden those characters wish to be, and Jersey Shore is nothing if not at least partially fiction. I'm sure that Maryann Salsano asked the kids to come up with their own nicknames before they came on the show. Some of them just didn't stick. That's why the credits still say Sammi "Sweetheart" and Jenni "JWOWW." The nicknames would serve to heighten the fakeness of the cast and to remove them further from reality.
Certain people in the house have so little to hide, they've never needed to use a different name. With people like Ronnie and Deena, what you see is what you get. But with people like Situation and Unit, you're never sure what they're thinking. Here's where Snooki comes in: she's been trying to get people to call her Nicole, especially in reality, but people refuse to make the change. We will call her Snooki because that is the character we like and want to see. But a name like Snooki comes with dubious intentions. "Nicole" may have hooked up with "Mike," but "Snooki" has to hide all the evidence of ever touching "Situation." It's all about appearances, and it's all about keeping the truth hidden.
The preview for the rest of the season is insane. I can't wait for next Thursday. Let's not wait. Is that ok MTV? Ok go ahead please let's go we're ready.
all photos courtesy mtv.com