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Jersey Shore Premiere Recap: The More You Know

And we're back! By which I mean, and we're back? I don't know, I'm having difficulty deciding on the punctuation here. I still don't know how to feel. I think the whole thing can best be summed up by the sensation engendered by the variety of the commercial breaks, which went something like "Plan B, 'TUSKEEGEE AIRMEN BIOPIC', Trojans, Sonic Chili Cheese Fries." I don't know who's watching this, is what I'm saying.

This uncertain reunion with the Jersey Shore kiddos begins with another "leaving Italy" sequence, which I feel is mostly for the benefit of Interpol. Yes, they really did leave! We swear. "We've done everything you can possibly do in Florence," reasons Vinny, reasonably, and we only see the upper half of his body, but I presume he's clutching a dog-eared Lonely Planet guide and a cappuccino-splotched scrapbook.

Back in the good old U.S. of Ayyyyyyyy, the crew celebrates by literally kissing the airport carpet. Get a blood test, airport carpet.

Ronnie, for his part, says he feels like he was at boarding school and he's coming back to his mother. Which is an apt comparison because (1) boarding school is for children whose parents don't like them; (2) he spent the time in Italy learning beautifully Swiss-inflected French; and (3) last season has definitely increased his chances of getting into Yale.

In the airport shuttle, Mike says he doesn't care which room he goes in. Cue the "zero self-awareness" tuba and lots of side glances from the rest of the crew. Mike is like that bed-wetter from Home Alone. Indeed, Snooki raises the point that she should get to keep her old bed, having soiled it thusly in years past. Yes, that seems like that would be a concern, for this group, certainly.

The gang returns to the house, the duck phone, and yeah, there is much bed-humping and squealing. They decide to all just take their old rooms, which unfortunately puts Sammi and Ron back with Mike, who still has an improbably raspberry-jam-colored bruise on his face. It also looks like he may have blood in his teeth? I need some old-timey Vaudevillian director in short pants to yell "MAKEUP!" and hit him with a comically oversize powder puff.

At least the fridge is stocked! Snooki's chugging pickle juice and Ron is making one of his horrible potions. "I should be a waitress," says Snooki, carrying a bunch of glasses. "We concur," said everyone with a real job ever.

Then, it's off to the boardwalk and the Shore Store, where they'll be "working" this season. "As crazy as that sounds, I can't wait to work again," says Pauly, forgetting air quotes or a comically exaggerated wink. Then, bellies distended with Ron Ron juice, they go on a bunch of rides. Mmm, who wants Sonic Chili Fries?

The next day, it's time for GTL because, as Pauly says, he's as "pale as a ghost," which is accurate because most of us have been haunted by spiral ham. "We're losing weight and getting pale," adds Mike. Italy: basically a Philippine detention camp during World War II. They hit the tanning salon and demand "the strongest lotion you have." I'll take some, too, directly in my eyes. Then it's to the hair salon to dispense of The Situation's odd Victorian gentleman butt-cut and give Vin a "mixture between a mullet, mohawk, and faux-hawk." See, I was seeing more of "a mixture of a raccoon, rapist, and a Davy Crocket hat with mange."

Off to Captain Hook's, where Danny has assembled a surprise welcoming party of Craigslist extras — I mean, their closest friends and family. Notably, JWOWW's dad Terry, who looks like a Dutch science teacher. And Jionni, who apparently is over the fact that Snooki had sex with the world's grossest person aside from Uncle Nino, who works his bus station masturbator mojo on the whole room.

And, oh good, Unit is here, and the goodwill engendered by hours broasting and lifting dissolves like so much strong lotion. Unit, alas, bore witness to the unfortunate Mike and Snooki business and she goes after him like Hamlet, blindly stabbing at the becurtained Polonius. Now's a good time to point out that Sitch has the "The More You Know" shooting star shaved into the side of his head. Let's continue.

Both of the "witnesses" to the smush that will live in infamy are heading back to the house. (Right after Vinny makes a beautiful simile about his feelings being like a washing machine.) Poor Jionni, that Gyllenhaal sculpted out of blondie. The two of them very sensibly hide in what I think is a broom closet.

Ryder and Pauly start sucking face, and Deena … like, comes in and sits there with a stuffed frog for a few awkward moments before folding. But Pauly doesn't want to necessarily go all the way because Ryder has already had sex with Vinny? Not the time for standards, Pauly.

Despite the fact that Mike and the Unit are clearly spoiling for a fight, Snooki defuses the situation by apologizing. And saying something about her anger issues. This is not the kind of growth we're used to seeing on this show; sorry if you thought I was going to make it through this recap without a HPV joke.

Vinny lounges existentially on the couch in hipster Ariel glasses, missing his mom and complaining about missing his mom. Deena politely offers to have sex with him and when he declines she is like, "No, no, I meant with a hooker!" which I'm totally stealing for the next time I get shot down by some guy in non-prescription lenses. This may be the setup for Vinny leaving the house because he — once again — misses his mom.

Vinny Camus and Co. head to Aztec, where it's wall-to-wall grenades. He and Pauly leave the crew to their Situation appeasement business. Apparently all it takes to assuage Mike is an endless stream of free Disaronno. Good to know.

Ultimately, we make it through ep one without a punch thrown or a head butted ("Phew!" —Walls.). Basically, we're set up for plenty of the usual depilated drama, but with a hint of In Treatment? I don't know, the jury is still out. I'll be using the down time to incredulously Wikipedia Vinny's age and reverently read a Tuskegee Airmen book. Arrivederci.

Photo: MTV