Jersey Shore Family Vacation
Ronnie and the French woman who is most certainly not his pregnant girlfriend — unless Jen is a master of disguise, in which case, well played — continue canoodling in the bathroom. Pauly, a prince among guidos, opens the door, despite Ron’s protests. “It’s not worth it,” he says, twice, until the pair finally emerges into the bedroom (where Mike has been trying to sleep through this all, by the way) fully clothed. As a birth-control method, DJ Pauly D is 100-percent effective. “We were just talking, bro,” Ronnie says. “You’re interrupting my conversation with her.”
This whole mess leads the rest of the cast into an epistemological discussion of what, exactly, constitutes cheating. No matter the specifics of what transpired in close proximity to Ron’s toilet, it seems safe to assume that he’d already crossed a line by the time they left the club. “Ron’s in, like, a shitload of shit,” Nicole says in a talking-head interview. “Worse than the shit in the fucking toilet.” The four classical elements of ancient philosophy are air, water, earth, and fire, but Ron is the Last Shitbender.
As Ron walks his platonic conversation partner out, he sounds less than contrite. To my ear, he says, “Believe me, I wanted to finish what we started in the bathroom.” But the captions — at least in the press cut of the episode — read, “Believe me, I wanted to finish. I’m really sorry about that.” I haaaate to be a big old nerd about this, but I think there’s a meaningful semantic difference between “finish what we started in the bathroom,” (which, while unequivocally sexual, is still ambiguous) and just plain “finish,” (which, to my trash-person ears, specifically means “ejaculate”). When the FBI will finally fund my proposed Forensic Reality TV Hookup Analysis Unit? The case of The People v. James Kennedy and Kristen Doute hangs in the balance.
But once he’s back inside, Ron thanks Pauly for stopping him: “As soon as you knocked on the door, I’m like, This is not a good move. It felt so good, though.” In an interview, our resident virtuoso of bad decision-making compares the temptation surrounding him to being in a wind-tunnel money booth with cash flying everywhere — who could resist trying to grab a few bills? For the first time, Drunk Ron expresses serious doubts as to whether the mother of his child is in fact the person he’s meant to be with. He seems genuinely conflicted, not just powerless to the charms of French women with exposed nipples (but also that, though). Nicole is having none of this. “You’re being so negative,” she tells him. “Why can’t you marry this bitch?”
“Because she’s not…”
“Because you fucking love Sam.”
He sighs in a way that does not suggest denial. Who would have guessed that Ronnie would become the most compelling character on Jersey Shore?
This whole scene is nakedly emotional to the point of being borderline difficult to watch. “All you can do is act happy and be the best father I can be,” he says. “End of the day I’m still fucking miserable.” For the second time tonight, Ron retreats behind a closed door to make wet-sounding noises, but this time, it’s because he’s crying.
Nicole offers to whip up some Ron-Ron Juice, nature’s cure-all, for them to sip on while they watch the “sunset,” although I’m pretty sure she means the “sunrise,” and although I’m also pretty sure that the sun has already risen by this point. They’re surprised to discover that the drunk girl who puked earlier — whom the show helpfully identifies in a chyron as “Drunk Girl Who Puked” — is not only still at the house, but that, happily, she has not died of alcohol poisoning. Ron calls her a cab, and even gives her the jorts right off the Sammequin to wear home, which I’d like to interpret as a symbolic gesture of moving on from his ex, but I’m not so sure.
Now that Drunk Girl Who Puked has ridden off into the sunset (sunrise, whatever), Nicole and Ron are the only people left awake, and though it’s broad daylight, they see no reason to put an end to last night’s party. They may be spiraling, but as Ron says, “It’s good to have a spiral-mate.” Their two-person Wolfpack deploys to Ocean’s Ten (which indeed opens at 8 a.m.), where they order massive margaritas with two Coronas each stuck in them. Nicole, the greatest physical comedian of her generation, wastes no time in knocking hers over. It is 10:40 in the morning. Then they’re off to Señor Frog’s, where Nicole begins to slur in what I can only surmise is a secret language that frogs use to communicate with one another. Her eye makeup still looks unreasonably on point, though, even as she tries to eat a lime wedge. She spots a baby across the restaurant and flings herself out of her seat. “Let me go be a mom for a second,” she slurs to Ron. “What’s your name?” she screeches at a small child, with whom she ends up playing a round of air hockey.
A waitress has placed balloon crowns on both Nicole and Ron’s heads, but he doesn’t seem to notice. The sight of Nicole playing with the kids has darkened this father-to-be’s mood considerably. He takes off his balloon crown and holds it in his hands, soberly examining it in an emotional sense, if not in literal, blood-alcohol one. He sits on a toilet with the stall door open, crying, “I’m a bad guy. I’m a dick.” He has to tell Jen. Now Ronnie, fittingly, assumes a parental role, shepherding Nicole — now wearing a different balloon headpiece — home to sleep.
They’re aggressively roused just a couple of hours later by Pauly screaming, “BOAT DAY!” He’s organized a yacht party, and no hangover, however wicked, will keep his friends ashore. Ronnie FaceTimes Jen as soon as he wakes up, but she doesn’t answer. He knows he crossed a line; his guilt is visibly eating away at him. The roomies enjoy a “bougie as fuck” afternoon aboard the luxurious pleasure craft, even if it’s not quite the explicit Below Deck crossover of my dreams. Vinny and Pauly even take a romantic jet-ski ride intercut with flashbacks of their bromance throughout the years. Mike waxes rhapsodic about Lauren, his college sweetheart who’s stuck by him through his battles with substance abuse and with the law. The gang is thrilled to hear he plans to propose.
Once on land, Ron, who is by now fretting over hypothetical future custody battles, calls Jen again and again, to no avail. It’s been days since they last talked. The roommates speculate that Ron’s baby mama might have seen something damning on social media — there were paparazzi at the club that night, come to think of it. He cries in yet another bathroom while they’re out to dinner. (This time, a stranger is waiting outside to use the toilet.) Ronnie suggests he might as well cheat more at this point, a train of thought that everyone else tries to derail, as gently as possible. Then he argues he didn’t do anything wrong, which, again — Ron, honey, no.
Back home, Mike calls up Lauren, who reports that she’s seen videos of their antics from that night — including footage of Ronnie grinding on Mademoiselle Frotti-Frotta — on Instagram. Worse still, people have been tagging Jen in the comments, so there’s no way she could have missed it. These horny delights have horny ends.