It feels like Jersey Shore only just returned, but it’s already time to say good-bye. We’ll always have Miami. And Seaside. And Florence. And Miami, that other time they were in Miami. And I suppose we will soon also have Family Vacation season two, which has already been shooting in Vegas. Okay, so we’ll live. Still sad, though!
We are in for a whole lot of recycled clips as the gang reminiscences over a final family dinner about their favorite vacation moments — Nicole fondly recalls spiraling with Ron (that’s got to be my favorite moment, too), Pauly is still proud of inviting Angelina as a prank (okay, a “prank”), and Mike remains thrilled he got permission to come at all, let alone get engaged in the company of his old pals. But the filler comes to abrupt end when it’s Ron’s turn to speak.
“I’m blessed that Sam didn’t come, because now you guys got to see who I really am,” he says. “You got to see how fun I am, and happy, and like, what I really am. Not a person that’s always angry and fighting and screaming and trying to cause chaos and drama. And sad. Like, I’m happy, I’m fun. This is who I really am.”
Oof. Honestly, if you’re a character actor looking for a searing new monologue to audition with, you could do a lot worse than this one. The general consensus is that the guido doth protest too much. And if Ron is human gasoline, then Jenni has a match. She knows exactly what she’s doing when she asks, “Mike, why do you say Ron needs rehab?”
Ronnie is no longer feeling happy, and fun, and happy. “I didn’t make it my life,” he says of his partying, unlike now-sober Mike, who let it “destroy” his. In response, Mike angrily reveals that Ronnie called him two weeks before Family Vacation shooting began and said he needed rehab, that he was going to check himself in after they wrapped this season.
My feelings at this time are best exemplified by Pauly, who is now hiding under the table. After briefly debating whether he said he needed “help” or “rehab,” Ronnie argues that Mike violated Jersey Shore’s particular set of Marquess of Queensberry Rules for fighting in front of cameras: Everything he’s roasted Mike for is public knowledge, but Mike aired his private dirty laundry, and not for GTL purposes. “I don’t bring your dirt in the house,” he fumes, before storming out.
Vinny calls this maneuver “Jedi-level pot stirring” on Jenni’s part. There are hardly any situations in which I am not by default on Team Jenni, the Jersey Shore cast member with the most BDE (and by no small margin), but this is one of them. Jenni pleads her defense: The boys have been fighting all vacation, and she wants to see them to exorcise their shared demons, even if that process requires some good-old-fashioned Linda Blair projectile vomiting. Anyway, whatever, I’ve already forgiven her. She walks outside to check on Ron, and the first words out of his mouth are a genuinely hilarious “Too much?” He’ll probably sleep in the smush room, Ron tells Jenni, with the endearing indignity of a 11-year-old who’s gotten into an argument with his friend at a sleepover but who is well aware that it’s already past 10 p.m., and therefore too late to call his parents to come pick him up.
And yet, in what is possibly the fastest and healthiest resolution of a fight in Jersey Shore history, Ron and the man he just called the “Snitchuation” (classic) are hugging it out within a matter of minutes. “I was fucking wrong. I’m fucking concerned about you,” Mike says. “I fucking love you, bro, Ron says. “You went low and I went lower and I’m sorry for that.” Later, Jenni and Mike have their own little air-clearing Yalta. “I want to make sure I’ve still got my sister,” he tells her. We’re out here flexing our emotional muscles in 2018.
As Deena and Jenni get swaying-in-place-and-shouting-yaaas-at-no-apparent-stimuli wasted at drag brunch, Pauly’s agent calls to reveal that he just so happens to have landed him a DJ gig at E11EVEN, the gang’s favorite Miami strip club with a name that sounds like Jean-Ralphio’s equally ill-fated follow-up to Entertainment 720. Pauly predicts it’ll be “the littest night we’ve had yet.” (If “littest” is the superlative form of “lit,” does that make “litter” the comparative form?)
Vinny, in a shirt that reads “Vinny’s Italian Sausage,” worries over what to wear as if he doesn’t already have on the most perfect garment imaginable. Nicole resurrects the Snooki poof for old times’ sake, giving herself at least another three inches of height in doing so. On this, the last night out, cabs aren’t here. Instead, an E11EVEN party bus — with the oddly squat proportions of an airport shuttle, which, not for nothing, is an extremely good business idea that you can have for free — has been dispatched to pick them up.
Pauly’s DJ set is a resounding success until Jenni, amid the sea of boobs and butts that is E11EVEN, sees something that inspires her to make the facial expression equivalent of the Jaws theme. Thar she blows (if you are unhappy that I’m mixing my shark and whale metaphors, why don’t you find your way over to a Deadliest Catch recap): It’s Vanessa the (So-Called) Stalker, notorious for her pursuit of Pauly on the original Jersey Shore, standing within murdering distance of our all-too-stab-able DJ and wearing a shirt that bears his likeness.
There’s even a shot of an MTV cameraman looking shocked, as if Vanessa’s presence here in Miami, on this night, in this club, is pure coincidence. (If you believe it is, I’ve got a Ferris wheel on Casino Pier to sell you.) Our new old friend’s full name is Vanessa Sky Ellis and she professes to have taken 10,000 selfies with celebrities. Vanessa’s cameo here — and certainly her past appearances on the show — does not feel, well, un-exploitative, but at least this time it ends on something like a high note. “Is she a stalker — or a super supporter?” Pauly asks in a talking head. “Vanessa is the real MVP.” They fist pump together, then hug.
On their very last morning in Miami, the roomies don an extremely on-brand, all-the-cousins-are-going-to-Disneyland uniform of matching “FAMILY IS EVERYTHING” T-shirts emblazoned with cartoon versions of themselves. They share an emotional group hug and shout, in unison: “1, 2, 3, Jersey Shore OGs!”
Of course, there’s much to be done back home, and everyone needs to give their fist-pumping arms a nice long rest. Jenni, Nicole, and Pauly will return to their respective babies! Ron will have his baby! Deena will try to make a baby! Mike will, fingers crossed, not go to prison! Vinny will continue to be keto, I guess!
But there’s no doubt they’ll genuinely miss one another, until next time. “We closed one book five years ago,” Jenni says. “But now we’re opening a whole new book of, like, old-ass guidos on a wild-ass adventure. Stay tuned, motherfuckers, because we’re not done.”
We end the season on a creepy shot of the Sammequin, tilting her head to look directly into the camera. May she firmly grasp the revenge she seeks with her silicone and steel hands, and may that revenge be righteous.