Despite the storm, the kids make their summer-ending pilgrimage to Karma. Vinny and Pauly wear coordinated shirts that say, respectively, "U MAD BRO?" and "I AIN'T EVEN MAD." JWOWW is wearing her own funbags dress, and Snooki is decked out in a leopard dress and matching bow-headband. This is SERIOUS, y'all. Even Sammi's having fun.
Somewhere along the way, Frankie and Joanie arrive. They are kind of adorably lovey-dovey, considering they're at Karma. Deena spots Frankie and decides to confront him. She marches up to him like her ass is on fire. Maybe that has something to with Joanie's alleged sexual proclivities? Weirdly, The Situation tries to intervene. Deena suspects it either because he's trying to cover his ass or (much less plausibly) because he is concerned for the welfare of his brother and her sister. Naturally Deena settles on the latter. Because she's a dumb-dumb. She lets it go and wishes them a future of happiness. One which I suspected ended this very night.
Obviously the kids' final night at Karma fizzled rather than flared because we cut to the next day. As the guys go out for their final Seaside GTL session of 2011, Sammi starts planning her counterstrike for Operation: Inside Out. It involved water balloons, which is pretty pedestrian if you ask me. Of course Deena and she think it's the most brilliant thing ever.
Later, JWOWW and Ronnie cook the final family dinner. Smoke billows, and flames burst forth from the stovetop. Pauly addresses the beeping smoke detector by throwing it in the stagnant kiddie pool (the one now filled with leftovers of drinks and god-knows-what-else). The food is ready, and they all sit down. Only as their dishing out pasta and chicken parm do I have a flash: These people are actually Italian and not just trashbags. It's easy how quickly one's perspective gets warped. They all run over the things they're going to miss, and Sammi says it's been her happiest summer ever. She declares her love for all of them. They raise their glasses to doing it all again next summer, but it's a hollow gesture -- like running into an acquaintance that you always like and got along with but never really got close with. You say you're going to make a point of spending more time together, but you know you're just creating a shared lie to ease the discomfort of the moment.
Maybe I'm just projecting, but it seems like they realize deep down this might be the end of the road. As it were, these final weeks at the Jersey Shore were a limp across the finish line, like a marathon runner who sprained an ankle around mile 18. The dynamics have shifted, the kids... well... I wouldn't say they've grown up, but their priorities have shifted demonstrably. The only ones who seem to be anywhere near the same headspace as season one is Sitch, who is widely considered a loser freak, and Pauly, who is going to be the same spike-haired person for all eternity. The magic is gone, is what I'm saying. Ah, youth! (Ironically, and perhaps understandably, Sitch and Pauly are the oldest ones of the lot.)