You know how there's always the quiet one in class who, over time, becomes less quiet and less shy, emerging from their shell until one day they're as gregarious and outgoing as the most popular kid in school?

Sometimes it happens slowly. Other times, it's like a slap across the face - sudden, surprising.

Ladies and gents, I give you Vinny.

Up until now, Vinny has largely been window dressing, good for a few laughs and the odd eye infection. But as far as heavy lifting in propelling what passes for a plot on "Jersey Shore," Vin's been, well, peripheral. It's not his fault; not everyone can be the star, and when you've got two forces of nature named Situation and Snooki living in your orbit, it's gonna be tough to stand out.

Not anymore.

Lately, Vinny's been thrusting himself into the middle of the action, first by spending the night with Snooki. Then doing it again. Then running to Jenni when Angelina was spreading a lie about one of her conversations. This new Vinny doesn't seem to be afraid to mix it up.

And it looks like there's more to come: Tonight's preview has him kissing Angelina, then doing his best to hook up with her back at the house.

Now, I know everything's cyclical at the house, and after tonight Vinny might fade into the background for the remainder of the season. I also know how promo departments like to pull the bait and switch on viewers (which is why it was so easy to see how last week's Jenni-Sammi smackdown didn't occur until the final seconds of the episode). But what I wonder is if Vinny's seizing the spotlight is for real? Or is it just his time within the season to shine (if that's the right word for it; not sure)?

But in a season in which we've only seen glimpses of season one Situation, is this Vinny's play to become the official house playa? Somehow, I think it's probably just happy accident. But that's OK. Even background players get spotlight episodes once in a while. ...

What do you think about this bold, fresh new Vinny 2.0? Does it smack of desperation for camera time? Or do you think after a season and a half, we're starting to see the real Vinny come to light? Sound off in the comments, then get ready for a new episode of "Jersey Shore" tonight. Come back here afterward for the weekly recap. ...