This week’s episode plunks us down right back into Jen and Ron’s (okay, mostly Jen’s) screaming session, an ugly and interminable scene that’s possibly Jersey Shore’s answer to that harrowing six-minute Dunkirk tracking shot in Atonement. Jen tears off her mic pack, swinging it at Ronnie before throwing it down the hallway, her commentary beeped into furious unintelligibility. Once and for all, Ron is over it, at least so he says: He and Jen would “probably fight until we’re 65 years old,” he predicts, and I’m guessing 65 is the oldest age he can possibly conceive of.
Everyone else is at dinner, where (with the exception of Mike) they’ve gotten disproportionately, charmingly drunk off two glasses of wine each. I’m not sure if an enterprising producer dumped a few shots of pure grain alcohol into their decanter when the cast wasn’t looking, but however Gigglefest 2018 came to be, I’m thankful for it. Jenni and Nicole collapse into laughter over the word “snifter,” because it sounds like “sphincter,” sort of. “The sphincter’s like the thing between your dick and your ass?” Vinny asks. Nicole, a veteran of anal gland expression thanks to her vet-tech training, educates him otherwise.
A title tells us that, after Jen left, police came to follow-up on a call about a domestic disturbance and MTV was not permitted to film their investigation. Fortunately, we have no shortage of Sad Ron B-roll to fall back on. Later, he downloads the girls, who may or may not still be a little buzzed, on what happened: He’s not pressing charges, but Jen may nevertheless have a warrant out for her arrest. He’s understandably worried about the whereabouts and well being of Ariana. “This is, like, Jerry Springer, Maury-type shit,” Nicole says in an interview.
Jenni suggests calling the cops to do a wellness check on the baby at Jen’s home. In anticipation of, well, they’re not even sure what, the entire group (including Pauly, despite his repeatedly stated discomfort over his multiple active parking tickets) drive to a restaurant near the house to wait for word from the authorities. If need be, they’re ready to perform an infant heist that Mike calls “Operation Gym, Tan, Where’s the Baby.” As tempting as this unlikely Ocean’s spin-off might sound, ultimately, thankfully, there is no need for it. An officer calls to let Ron know that Ariana is safe and that Jen is warrant-free.
Ron is newly resolved to legally establish custody, and the clarity about his path forward seems to have lifted a weight off his shoulders. That night, the macaroni rascals dine at a steakhouse on the 50th floor of the Rio Hotel. Ron raises a glass: “Thank you guys for being here and pushing me to do the right thing.”
Two by two, Ronnie and Pauly and then Mike and Nicole take on a terrifying-looking zip line between buildings. Except it’s not really a zip line — riders are sitting, not dangling, and reassuringly seat-belted in place. Actually, what this attraction reminds me of is the Seaside Heights Sky Ride, a chairlift that runs along a quarter mile of the boardwalk, and from which the original Jersey Shore house can be seen. Does this look familiar? As the OGs scream and laugh, it feels like the ride might carry them all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, to 2009, to the earliest, most idiotically joyful days of Karma and Beachcomber and Bamboo. It can’t, of course, but the good-old-days feeling is still intoxicating. “We are officially drama free,” Vinny says.
Cut to Staten Island. Angelina, having accepted Nicole’s ill-considered invitation to Las Vegas, is packing her bags. She complains about her erstwhile castmates to her (seemingly very nice and normal) fiancé: “They’re all, We’re family, we’re — Okay, we all get it, you guys are a family. How many times do you want to tell me this? Seven hundred fucking times?” I don’t care how you, personally, feel about Angelina (I stan); that is an objectively solid burn on Family Vacation. She texts Nicole announcing that she’s on her way. “Holy dick fuck,” Nicole says, which, yeah, pretty much sums it up. The rest of the roommates — particularly Jenni, still smarting from whatever her “Jersey Whore” Instagram fight with Angelina was actually about — concur. Dick fuck.
But maybe there’s a way to take these lemons life has given us and make lemon drops. As Nicole puts it, Angelina is not exactly a meatball, but she is a “meatloaf,” eaten out of desperation and already-in-the-fridge convenience.
Early that morning, Pauly left for a few days to DJ in Atlantic City of all places. (To combat his crippling loneliness, Vinny has fashioned himself a Wilson by adhering a sticker depicting Pauly’s face to a bottle of his hair gel, with a pair of wiry arms crafted from “the ho earrings that were left behind.”) Mike sees an opportunity to prank the self-proclaimed prank war champion: What if Pauly returned to find Angelina in his bed? In practice, this is an even bigger prank on Vinny, who must now be Angelina’s roommate.
While the rest of the gang is enjoying a lively brunch conversation about the time 12-year-old Mike humped a bathroom rug to completion, Angelina’s vacation gets off to a cranky start. Her plane may have landed successfully, without, as I’d expected, being quarantined on the tarmac for at least a few hours like that Emirates flight to JFK, but checking-in to the hotel doesn’t go so smoothly. She doesn’t know what name their reservation is under; you’ll be shocked to hear that asking the Planet Hollywood receptionist to search “Mike the Situation” on her computer doesn’t turn up anything. She launches a series of increasingly aggro texts Nicole’s way from the lobby.
Angelina is, in classic Jersey Shore parlance, coming in hot. When the roomies finally do meet up with her, she pointedly neglects to say hello to Jenni, who in turn wastes no time in reminding Angelina that she’s “not part of the family.” In their suite, Vinny leads Angelina into the as-yet-unexplained living room stripper-pole shower and tries to push her inside. “This is your hamster cage,” he says. (Related: Has Vinny ever seen a hamster cage?) She smacks him in the face. Again, coming in hot.
Mike gives Angelina some advice: “I want you to show people who you really are.” She puts that kernel of wisdom into action by demanding Jenni make her a drink. During happy hour, dick-fuck martinis are on the house.