In 1886 the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."
Had he lived to see The Shire, Nietzsche clearly would have made an excellent television critic.
For that is the strange power of The Shire: the more you watch, the more you have to watch, and the more you watch, the more you begin to suspect that The Shire is actually watching you back.
The television show which most media commentators are convinced is Australia's cultural armageddon had its second coming last night, from which we learned two very important things.
The first is that it's claim to being a hit is tenuous at best. Last night only 754,000 people tuned in, a sharp drop from last week's audience of close to one million.
The second is that if it gets any less interesting, it's in danger of making Being Lara Bingle look like The West Wing.
As we picked up the story in episode two, Beckaa and Tony, the most unsettling father and daughter double on television since Gomez and Wednesday Addams, were shopping for a car.
Tony was anxious to put Beckaa in something modest. But let's be honest Tone - that boat sailed the day she was christened Beckaa, right?
In fact, Beckaa wants to ditch university and become, like, a model.
Or, in her own words: "I'm really into pageants, like, I wanna do that. I wanna start doing, like, some modelling stuff. And you know university's not going anywhere."
No, Beckaa, clearly university is
As is the custom on such occasions, the insight of Beckaa's pet homosexuals Gay and Gayer is immediately sought. They offer her this ancient wisdom on the folly of cutting off your nose-job to spite your face: "No credit card. No car. No tits."
Confucius himself couldn't have said it better.
Meanwhile, Sophie and Vernesa, decried as Burwood blow-ins by Shire mayor Carol Provan in the wake of last week's Richter-scale record-setting first episode, have decided to bring their gift of magical fat dissolving to the local community.
It's like giving something back. Except it's actually taking something away. With a magical fat wand. Think Harry Potter and the Goblet of Dingbats. But with bigger lips.
"It's time to show the Shire what we're all about and get them on board," Sophie says to Vernesa. Memo girls: that boat has also sailed. They don't like you.
Then we're off to the Beach Burrito, which is to the young stars of The Shire what the Peach Pit was to the gang from Beverly Hills 90210.
It's always a risk adding new people to a show already seemingly filled to capacity with people you barely know, but here we meet good mates Matt, Jye and Folksey.
At first glance, they're hard to distinguish from Mitch, Simon and Andy, except that this week Mitch has ditched Simon and Andy and is taking wistful walks along the beach contemplating whether to reciprocate Gabby's declared affections.
And then, like a cruel mistress, The Shire is gone. And all that we are left with is a glimpse of next week and the urge to take a cold shower.
The good news? The mystery of the ferret-walking girl from episode one is solved. Her name is Nikki and she's a lingerie waitress. (Of course she is.)
The bad news? There is a next week.