Credit: Photo courtesy of MTV © and TM MTV Networks Photo: Sammi Returns on Jersey Shore, February 24, 2011

"I'm in mourning for my life." -Masha, Anton Chekhov's The Seagull
"You wanna see my t*ts?" -Snooki, MTV's Jersey Shore

Like The Seagull, or Uncle Vanya, or any of Chekhov's other masterful works of theatre, last night's Jersey Shore was a cathartic exploration into the pitfalls of longing, and the painful consequences of desire. Yes, this latest installment of New Jersey Life of Macaroni Bandits saw each of our dirty little hamsters reaching — yearning— for things that, despite all of their best efforts, remained firmly out of reach.

Take, for instance, Seaside Height's most curious side-show oddity, Snooki. The episode opened with America's sweetheart kicking last week's one-night stand (Jionni, who incidentally is currently the love of her life) out of bed for crimes against cuddling; and, immediately after banishing the anti-snuzzling brute from her life, Snooki raced to the telephone and made arrangements for an afternoon date with another one of her gentleman callers, Nick.

Of course loyal viewers know that all of Snooki's fruitless man-swapping is for nought, as the pint-sized guidette has long harbored a not-so-secret, unrequited crush on her famously well-girthed housemate, Vinny — a fact that has consistently led the bouffanted hobbit to unconsciously sabotage romantic endeavors with all other men. But, because she has the mental and emotional complexity of one of Charlie Sheen's beloved crack pipes, Snooki has long been unable to see that her crippling crush on Vinny is the real reason for her endless boy chasing.

Anyway, Nick never showed up for his date with Snooki — never even bothered to call. Always a resourceful investigator, Bowwoww duck-phoned her boyfriend (and Seaside Heights' resident man-about- town), Razor, to see if he'd heard any mysterious rumblings about this wayward Nick. Well! As it turned out, Razor heard from his friend Marco, who heard from his stepbrother's friend, Dean, who was at the gym with his ex-girlfriend's mechanic, Dante, that Nick heard that Snooki had hooked up with this guy named Jionni (and possibly one or two of Jionni's male relatives) — which was why Nick blew off his date with Snooki. And of course all of Nick's accusations were true. Snooki had, in fact, had amorous interactions with Jionni and his extended family, thereby ruining her chances with the clearly gossip-savvy Nick. Oops!

Meanwhile, Ron was still moping around with a case of the weepy sads. And no matter how much he longed for clarity from his bed-destroying breakup with Sam, he simply couldn't stop crying. Wiping away a stray, salty tear, Ron reached for the duck phone and called the only person he knew that could make things right: his father. Sensing his 15 minutes of fame that his son was in deep emotional distress, Mr Magro dropped everything he was doing back in New York and raced down to his son's side. And boy, are we glad that he did! Here's what we learned about Ron's progenitor: he's surprisingly lanky; he frequently drops the word "bro" into casual conversation; his stache makes him look like the 80s-tastic gay-love love child of Anthony Edwards in Top Gun and a Magnum P.I.-era Tom Selleck; and he is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the reason why Ron is a homicidal maniac. Anyway, Mr Magro told his son to stop all the pathetic whining and to get over Sam already. Or something like that — we're not entirely sure. Frankly, we were too distracted by the mustache, and by the tireless use of the word "bro," to truly pay attention.

While Ron was staring loving into his father's facial hair, Vinny was busy trying to unclog the toilet. Again. And, judging by the latest previews, it looks like next week's episode will also be  about Vinny trying to unclog the toilet. Really, this whole Vinny/toilet situation brings up two important points. Firstly, what the hell has happened to Vinny!? He, like, used to be an actual cast member on this show, right? But the only things we've seen him do this season is blow that damned grenade whistle, and try to fix the f-ing toilet — both vile, disgusting acts that we'd much rather forget. And secondly (and to use one of Mr Magro's turns of phrase) "Hire a damn plumber, bro!" Like, these kids earn buckets full of cash just by getting out of bed. Surely Vin could foot the bill for one of Seaside Heights' finest handymen, and spare all of us this misery, right? Because, seriously. If we have to stare at that basin full of putrid, brown water for another week, we're going to hurl our TV out the window, Ron-Ron style.

Anyway. Later that day, failed toilet unclogger Vinny mercilessly teased Snooki about her one-night stand, which obviously upset the love-sick hobbit. Sensing that he'd crossed some sort of line, Vinny tried to make amends with Snooki; and later that evening, the pair engaged in some heavy make-up Jersey Turnpiking over at Karma. After the club, Snooki made a bee-line for Vinny's bed for some hardcore "cuddling" — a romantic gesture which Vin brutally rebuffed. Later, Vinny confessed to Pauly D that he rejected Snooki's smash advances because she'd just had sex with some rando the night before — which, yes, sort of makes sense. Sloppy seconds are disgusting. But then again, so is spending days an entire summer with one's arm halfway up a clogged toilet.

The next morning, ignoring all of his father's best bro-centric advice, Ron called Sammi Sweatpants. Fighting back the tears, Ron essentially told Sam that he wanted to get back together, and that he couldn't bear to live in the house if they were no longer a couple. Sweatpants mumbled something about Ron finally realizing what an unbelievably amazing catch she is (ha!), and then said "Don't ruin your life over me" — which, double ha! — is perhaps the most hilariously absurd and delusional thing we've ever heard.

While Ron was crying on the phone with a newly empowered (but still deluded) Sweatpants, Deena and Snooki were busy decorating the house with marshmallows. Because, you know, that's what attention-starved, hobbit-sized meatballs do. They stuck the sticky treats on walls, and mirrors, and lampshades — anywhere their grubby little paws could reach. Mike, visibly displeased by the meatballs' latest confectionery caper, diplomatically walked through the marshmallow carnage and placed a call to his sister. "Mike, get awf the phone!" the meatballs interrupted. "We wanna cawl a cab ta bring us ta Jeeeeeenks!"

Instantly, The Situation hatched a plan. Instead of bringing them to Jenks, Mike ordered a cab to bring the mischievous hobbits all the way to Times Square — a 2-hour journey north of Seaside Heights. And really, watching The Situation plan his devilish prank was really rather sad. Because, sure, on the one hand he successfully tricked Snooki and Deena. But on the other hand, he paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars to send the girls from what is arguably the foul hellmouth of human civilization (Seaside Heights), to one of the world's greatest metropolises (New York City). It's kind of like plucking some poverty-stricken orphan from a third-world country, handing them 10 million dollars and an American green card, and calling it a prank.

Regardless, the meatballs piled into the cab and sped off to Manhattan. The car ride went swimmingly for the first hour and a quarter, until Deena wisely noted that the drive to Jenks is usually only a 5-minute ride away. Suddenly alarmed, the girls begged the driver to tell them where they were going. Menacingly, their courier simply hit the "lock" button, chuckled to himself, and sped on towards the city like some kind of deranged serial killer. And somehow Mike's prank — which began innocently enough — crossed the fine line between harmless fun, and inter-state kidnapping.

Against all odds, the girls eventually deduced that Mike was behind the whole cab thing. With a quick flash of their boobs, the girls successfully bribed their creepy abductor into turning around and returning to Seaside Heights; and, during a quick pit stop at a liquor store somewhere off the interstate, Snooki and Deena hatched their own plan: they'd spend the 2-hour ride home getting mercilessly drunk and, when they arrived back at the house, they'd pretend as though they had the time of their lives.

Meanwhile, Mike was already experiencing a different kind of dejection. He was supposed to join the other guys for an all-you-can-eat binge-athon at Olive Garden, but the boys had cruelly left without him. And when they returned with bloated bellies, and boastful tales of unlimited bread sticks, a small piece of Mike's heart broke. Soon after, the girls drunkenly burst through the front door brandishing magnum-sized bottles of vodka, and boasting about their amazing journey to New York City. And suddenly, painfully, Mike knew what it meant to long for something — a successful prank...an over-sized plate of fettuccine alfredo...something! — and to lose.

Otherwise, the atmosphere in the house was joyous. The girls were giddy from dollar-bin booze,  and the boys — save Mike — were delightfully filled from mass-produced slop. But as the credits slowly began to roll, the mood in the house suddenly changed. The hairs on the back of Snooki's furry neck began to stand on end. Pauly's nose began to trickle with blood. Deena's nicotine-stained breath began to freeze in front of her. "What's goin' awwn, yous guys?!" Pauly cried, as Vinny huddled in the corner, talking in tongues. And somewhere, between the bolts of thunder and the blood-curdling screams of Bowwoww, the housemates heard the distant slamming of a car door. Of course the strange, apocalyptic turn of events could only mean one thing: Sammi, the Sweatpants-wearing anti-Christ, had returned to Seaside Heights.

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