Jersey Shore, which for all its faults has always been an easy (if dirty) pleasure, is officially difficult to watch. For weeks now the fun to dread ratio has been hovering at about 2:5; we still enjoyed long stretches of drunken laughter in between Ronnie and Sammi’s eternal battle for control. As of last night’s episode, the mix has changed. Now it’s roughly 90 percent watching two people completely self-destruct, 10 percent Snooki charmingly falling off a bicycle.
While the couple is officially together after their trillionith break-up, you can tell Ronnie is seconds away from snapping. Ronnie’s fury sets the entire house on edge, and the viewer’s gut twists as he storms around. It’s hard to keep track of what starts each particular fight from last night … but suffice to say, it was really nothing. After the Situation advises Sammi to finally break it off, Ronnie flips out at him for valuing girl code over boy code. The Sitch quickly rolls over to avoid a fight. When the screaming starts again, Ronnie’s ranting grows more menacing. “I had a reason to shit on you in Miami,” he snarls at a weeping Sammi as he throws her clothes out of the closet and onto the roof. “You disgust me in so many ways.” Eventually he tries to drag her bed out too, so she can “sleep outside like a dog.” Sammi snaps, screaming and chasing Ronnie through the house; the Situation steps into his role, increasingly evident, as the house’s moral compass, calling the other guys to pull the weeping, raging couple apart as the possibility for violence swells. It’s not fun to watch, not even in a filthy voyeuristic way. It is just desperately, desperately sad.
After the boys coerce Ronnie out to the bars, Snooki and Deena vow to get Sammi hot-tified and moved into their room. “The Meatballs got you,” Deena declares, as the girls ride her mattress down the stars in a chorus of giggles. Snooki compares moving the bed frame to fitting Vinny’s giant junk into her “pinhole.” Even though their room might “smell like vaginas,” you know Snooki’s right when she says Sammi would have “100 percent more better time” with the girls. If only Sammi could comprehend that concept. Mere minutes after shrieking that she never wanted to see him again, Sammi vows to get Ron back by flirting with every guy at the bar. If there has ever been a worse idea for how to win someone over, the world has never known it. Meanwhile, Ronnie vows to bring home two girls to smoosh. If a successful relationship isn’t built on a foundation of mutual revenge and loathing, then they don’t know what is.
Arriving home drunk, Ronnie proceeds to go absolutely ballistic on Sammi’s stuff. Your heart aches not just because of how blatant his hatred is at that moment, but because you know they will try to force themselves back together no matter what. Coming home later, Sammi finds her glasses smashed (among many, many other things) and inevitably, tragically breaks. She confronts Ronnie like anything he said could ever make any part of their relationship okay. Hearing Ronnie quietly explain that his being “embarrassed” by Sammi dancing with another guy was reason enough to destroying all of her belongings is chilling. On the other hand, Sammi’s punch is always there, hovering between them as a possibility. “What about general human rules,” the Situation asks. Yeah, what about them? Someone needs to intervene, but the cameras just roll. Ronnie eventually locks himself in the bathroom and weeps all night. And so ends another desperate day in Seaside Heights.
The only moments of sunshine to break through the fog? Snooki and Deena’s briefest of visits to Beachcombers, where a flirty waiter bearing shots found himself cut down to size by the girls’ penis detector. “Thanks for coming. I can see your wiener,” Snooki shouts at his too-tight shorts. The other was the sight of JWoww’s dangerous curves sheathed in latex cut-out chaps and a lace-up bra. “Can I watch?” Snooki panted as “porn star hot” JWoww gave Roger his going away present: What appeared to be a dog chain and a request to be handcuffed.
Unfortunately, there was no consensual rough-housing to be had in the emotional pit Ronnie and Sammi wallowed in. Finally, Sammi decides to leave, probably the only move that could ever end their ceaseless exchange of venom. “I could see she was broken, and I didn’t know what to say,” Ronnie says, abashed, as she packs a bag of broken momentos and soggy clothes. They sob as they say goodbye, two people trying to get something from the other without knowing what it is, or what they would do with it if it arrived. In his after-the-fact confessional, Ronnie seems to be reading straight from the cue-card as he apologizes for all of his cruel actions, but nothing can erase our knowledge the dark pit they revealed to us on screen, and the minutes we spent gaping into it.