The gang begins a new cycle of decadent tomfoolery in Florence, and the Situation makes a move on Snooki

By Darren Franich
August 05, 2011 at 07:34 AM EDT
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Vinny has a beard. Snooki has a boyfriend. There are rumors that Sammi’s breasts are bigger. J-Woww’s breasts are not smaller, and she wants to be very clear about that. Ronnie has magically transformed from a depressive crying caterpillar-boy into a beautiful butterfly-man: Single Ronnie, reborn with a smile. Deena is still Deena, and the unabashed way that she continues to drop her three main catchphrases — “blast in a glass,” “do sex,” and “Ya like da boobz? — while doing her muppet booty dance makes her seem almost like an adorable remnant of an earlier pop culture era, a character who wouldn’t have looked out of place on Laugh-In, or in a traveling vaudeville show. Pauly is still Pauly, mysterious, unknowable, with the perpetual grin of a man who seems to be listening to the director’s commentary of his own life. And The Situation is the same, only different. He has a plan. The fourth season of Jersey Shore began with Mike blasting a warning out to the anxious fathers of Italy: “Lock up your daughters. Handcuff your wives.” And hell followed with him.

Yes, fellow travelers: The gang is all here, preparing for an exciting extended vacation to Florence. The season premiere took us through everyone’s preparations — Vinny practicing essential Italian (“No grenada, por favore!“), Snooki hiding her “I Heart Vinny” undies from her new boyfriend Jionni. We saw everyone in their separate worlds, surrounded by friends and family (or, in Pauly D’s case, his DJ equipment.) The boys met at Vinny’s house, where Uncle Nino said something inscrutably authentic. The girls met at Deena’s house, where her father genially offered to strip.

An inordinate amount of the episode was devoted to the Amazing Race-style contest to see which group would arrive at the Florentina villa first. The dudes had a layover in Madrid; the girls had a layover in Dusseldorf; and it turns out that layovers even more boring on television than they are in real life. (This always struck me as the essential problem with The Terminal, a film that labored desperately to convince audiences that being trapped in an airport would not drive a man insane with boredom.) The girls finally landed in Milan, where J-Woww’s Bronzer exploded and Snooki somehow managed to fit eight suitcases onto a single luggage cart.

Uncle Situation one-upped Shnookums with a mesmerizing nine suitcases. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I have even owned enough things in my life to fill nine suitcases, (besides maybe my comic book collection which could unfortunately fill 90 suitcases.) The events on Jersey Shore tend to have a weirdly symbolic edge, as if the eight cast members are the playthings of a god who loves easy metaphors. In this case, it doesn’t take an expert to note that Sitch and Shnooks both came into this season carrying a lot of baggage. Like, figurative baggage. More on that later.

NEXT: The Telltale BidetThis season’s house is such a joke of architectural excess — two massive flights of stairs, a castle foyer, an indoor jacuzzi, rooms that variously resemble the abstract surreality of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert and the psychadelic classicism of Federico Fellini’s Satyricon, and also a bidet, which Vinny helpfully described as a device “for cleaning your butthole after you go to the bathroom. It feels kind of good, too. On a lonely night? You know?”

Everyone arrived. Everyone hugged. (Sammi and Ronnie hugged in slow motion.) Pauly gave everyone a celebratory shot of Limoncello, which they all gladly drank and all profoundly hated. The girls had an enjoyable conversation about breasts, which I will attempt to transcribe in full:

Sammi: “Do breasts shrink when they’re fake?”

J-Woww: “No way. These babies are 700 cc’s and they’re staying 700 cc’s.”

Snooki: “Sammi and I should get fake boobs.”

Sammi: [nodding vigorously] “I want them!”

Snooki: “One of mine is bigger than the other. When I lay down, they go to the side. It’s annoying.”

Coincidentally, this is exactly how a 17-year-old male imagines women’s conversation: Just a bunch of skimpily-dressed ladies staring down at their breasts, feeling their breasts, and then loudly proclaiming, “Hmmm, these breasts could really be a bit breastier, if you know what I breast.”

After a night on the town, Pauly D woke everyone up with his patented Pauly D™ Grenade Horn. The only two people in the house who can drive stick shift are Pauly D and Snooki. But as we all know, the creative infrastructure of Italy makes driving especially difficult. You don’t so much “drive to a location” as you do “get in the car, hit the gas pedal, and see what location comes to you.” Everyone got lost. The boys found a gym where a man named Luigi acted as their chainsmoking Mr. Miyagi. The girls were assaulted by birds back at the villa. I won’t even tell you which Hitchcock film that was an homage to. (Hint: Not Foreign Correspondent.)

NEXT: The Situation’s Snooki SituationThe Situation was feeling a bit anxious. A full 24 hours had passed, and there was no apparent drama in the household. Sammi and Ronnie could be in the same room together and not scream at each other. Vinny and Snooki weren’t making awkward drunken passes at each other. No one was puking, fighting, smushing, or crying. This would not stand.

So Sitch called Ronnie out to the smoker’s den to tell him a secret. “I’m gonna tell you something nobody knows about this, and you can’t tell anybody,” he said, with the fake conspiratorial tone of a man who can’t wait to force people to smell his dirty laundry. “Me and Snooki, we kind of hooked up. Like, two or three months ago!” That would have been squarely in the midst of Snooki’s six-months-and-counting relationship with Jionni.

Ronnie’s eyes widened. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear this. He certainly wasn’t sure if he could believe it. He certainly didn’t know why Sitch was telling him this. I think I know why, though. The Situation was handing Ronnie a loaded gun, and saying, “Now, Ronnie, you know that I can’t be trusted with a loaded gun like this. I’m Sitch. I’m a gunslinger. I’ll blow this gun into everybody’s faces. You have to be the lawman here, Ron-Ron. Don’t fire this gun.” It was almost like Sitch was testing Single Ronnie’s newfound resolve: “Let’s see how long you can go without any drama now.”

What is Uncle Situation’s game, exactly? There were implications in the episode that he has intentions of wifing up Shnookums, which doesn’t seem like the evil Dr. Circumstance that we have come to know and love to hate. Even stranger was The Situation’s sloppy behavior later in the episode: Asking Snooki to hug him, then going in for a kiss. I loved, also, how the camera kept on cutting to Ronnie’s expression of sheer terror. Ronnie has always struck me as the most naive housemate, and I truly believe that he was hoping for a drama-free vacation to Florence.

Also, Deena kissed Pauly. It was like watching a thumb war, but with tongues, and also totally gross. Add one more hook-up to the great Jersey Shore spit-swapping blackboard! “Deena can die happy now,” said Snooki. But what about the rest of us?

Line of the night: “Italy’s like that big country. No, Europe is that big country. They have Britain, England, and Italy.” — Snooki, getting everything wrong.

Follow-up Line of the Night: “She got a fat ass, she got the boobs, but at the same time, she’s just one of the guys.” — Vinny, complimenting Deena.

People, what did you think of the beginning of the Italy season?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

Episode Recaps

Follow Snooki, the Situation, Pauly, Ronnie, Sammi, Jwoww, Vinny, and Deena as they party, smush, and GTL
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