We rejoin Ron as he attempts to wrap his brain around the fact that footage of his dancing with Mademoiselle Frotti Frotta, a.k.a French Fry, exists on the internet. Mike’s fiancée Lauren, the gang’s sole connection to the outside world, graciously fills him in on the video via the duck phone: He’s “twirling” French Fry, holding her hand. Ron is deeply relieved. “It’s not like the girl was grinding on me or she was bent over,” he says.
Vinny tries to remind Ronnie that said grinding did occur, in reality as we know and experience it, even if it doesn’t happen in this particular clip. And what’s more, Jen will eventually be all too aware of what actually went down, given that this is a popular television show. But Ron has ascended to Trumpian levels of denial, insisting he was just being a “nice, hospitable person” who “didn’t know that the [bathroom] door had an automatic closer.”
Ronnie isn’t just CEO of the I’m Fucked Foundation; he’s also its head of publicity. He finally gets his girlfriend on the phone and — before she says anything about having seen a social-media post of any kind, or even acknowledges that she’s angry with him — digs himself a grave and jumps right in: “Can we talk about what you think you saw? … What do you think happened? So this way I can tell you what really happened.” To paraphrase Pauly, this strategy is not unlike showing up to a police station covered in blood and announcing, “I didn’t do it!” Personally, I see Ronnie as something of a sexual Robert Durst.
Besides Ron’s spectacular feats of self-destruction, it’s a slow week, so Jenni tags along to watch Vinny and Pauly get their hair cut. Vinny in particular is nervous to trust his scalp to an unvetted barber, and all the more so when he learns this guy has only been cutting hair for a year. Despite his very specific instructions regarding his fades, lines, and other dude-hair vocabulary words that are largely unfamiliar to me, Vinny is devastated by the results. My review: It looks … the same? His review: “I now know there is no God, because of my haircut.” Fortunately, they track down a more capable barber with a decade of experience at another shop. Pauly’s trademark blowout, meanwhile, remains perfection.
The men are plotting a boys’ night out that Deena insists on attending, a return to their little sister–big brothers dynamic from back in the day. In case you have not recently revisited the Jersey Shore Old Testament — all six seasons of which are streaming on Hulu; quit your job and get to watching already — you may not remember that Saint Deena is the patron of the clumsy. “When have I fell here yet?” Deena asks when the guys predict she’ll fall, thereby dooming herself to fall not once, not twice, but three times over the course of this evening. The last and most dramatic of these tumbles occurs when Vinny insists on helping her off the table where’s she’s chosen to dance, perilously, in high heels (breaking down barriers for klutzy people everywhere — my permanently bruised shins salute you, Deena), doing him some damage in the process.
In classic upset-drunk-person form, Deena immediately deflects her embarrassment onto someone else. “Vin, you’re the worst,” she says. “You made me fall … You fucking ruined everything.” On the car ride home, she cries over what her husband will think: “I don’t want Chris to think I disrespected him by falling.” This is an extremely adorable thing to worry about, and also, the polar opposite of Ronnie’s behavior this season.
Speak of the devil: Feeling newly committed in his relationship thanks to an encouraging chat with resident spiritual leader Mike, Ron is very pleased with himself for having gone one night without cheating on his girlfriend. “I’m just gonna start bringing out my sonogram and start slapping girls in the face with it,” he says. I’d suggest he start by slapping himself in the face with it, but whatever. He calls up Jen — whose birthday, we will soon learn, he can’t remember — and confirms that she’s still coming to visit as planned.
Pauly, the sole father in the gang, takes Ron out for a one-on-one lunch to talk parenting. “The relationship does not need to happen in order for him to be the most amazing father in the world,” he explains, wisely, in a talking-head interview. “And I can teach Ronnie that.” When asked (facetiously) if he plans on proposing while Jen is in Miami, Ron looks the most terrified I’ve ever seen anyone look while shoveling chips and guac into their mouth.
Meanwhile, the women go out to lunch themselves and debate whether Ron will tell Jen — or if one of them should tell Jen — what happened. Deena points out they don’t know what happened. This is Schrödinger’s hookup. Nicole offers an efficient taxonomy of human sexual behavior, with accompanying hand gestures to illustrate: “He could’ve got a blowie. They could’ve kissed. He could’ve did a finger. He could’ve honked on the tatas.” Merely that he shut the door is bad enough. It sure seems like all his relationships are “toxic,” as Deena says, and Jenni suggests he could be the toxic common denominator.
In other news, anyone who would try to maintain that Sammi Sweetheart was somehow the problem in their relationship in the Year of our Shore 2018 has a Ron Ron Juice-soaked watermelon for a brain. Speak of the devil’s ex: In anticipation of Jen’s visit, Vinny and Pauly bathe the Sammequin. The soles of her feet, by this point, have turned black, lending credibility to my theory that she comes to life and walks the mansion’s grounds by night. They change her clothes as well as her head, and I’m not sure whether I’m alarmed or impressed that someone thought to arrange for a spare.
With minutes to go before Jen’s arrival, Ron is visibly nervous, made only more so by the bag of French fries that Mike picked up at the store to troll him (this after Ronnie implied Mike would buy drugs with the grocery money, so, fair). The tension is as thick as Spiker hair gel when Ron greets Jen at the door with a bouquet of flowers and a hug. The roommates have lined up, somewhat ominously, on the stairs to greet her.
Good luck, Jen. I think you’re going to need it.