Published Mar 31, 2019Sandra Oh was an exuberant and engaged host, and Tame Impala performed two consistently mid-tempo, ambient songs, on a fairly well-rounded episode. Here's everything that happened on Saturday Night Live this week.
The cold open
Robert De Niro appeared as Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Aidy Bryant appeared as Attorney General William Barr, and Alec Baldwin appeared as Donald Trump to help SNL catch up to a news cycle it missed out on while on hiatus. Each appeared, offering their own perspective on the Mueller Report, and one could telegraph how they may have viewed this whole scenario. Kate McKinnon did her Rudy Giuliani-as-Nosferatu bit, playing the president's lapdog lawyer but really, aside from Bryant, everyone seemed stiff and this old news idea didn't take off.
Sandra Oh discussed her heritage as a Korean-Canadian, but also celebrated the first anniversary of becoming a American citizen. Leslie Jones turned up to teach Oh some American swag and confidence.
Discover Is Us
Ego Nwodim and Kenan Thompson played a couple in an Us parody couched in a Discover credit card commercial. If you've seen Jordan Peele's new hit movie, this would resonate with you as a nod to its premise. If you haven't yet seen the film, you'd have been lost and bewildered by a remote that was more creepy than funny.
Empire deals with Jussie Smollet
Chris Redd played Jussie Smollett turning up late for a meeting with his Empire execs who, given his negative PR and legal issues, need to decide his fate on the show. This short sketch simply made Smollett seem mentally unstable, while his collaborators were understandably flustered by his excuses and behaviour but, as a premise, this was basic.
In this remote, an old-timey duel between two suitors gets gory. Oh and Melissa Villaseñor played two women observing a pistol battle between Pete Davidson and Beck Bennett, who hope to win Oh's favour, but the duel rules are ignored, bullets go flying and Oh's character doesn't fare that well.
Mikey Day plays a young man who gets to see into his future and doesn't like what he sees. His future selves are attached to a scuzzy woman who goes by Tishy and was played by Oh with tremendous gusto, the first real signal that Oh may well have some comedy genius DNA within her. She stole this show with her physicality and commitment in this well-written and well-executed sketch.
Russian military and political operatives confront president Vladmir Putin about the Mueller Report, as it has been presented, and the fact that it seems that Trump didn't collude with Russia. Beck Bennet's Putin is put-upon by officials who are disappointed that the lack of collusion takes away Russia's bragging rights. Special guest Bowen Yang, a comedian and writer on SNL, played Kim Jong Un, flanked by an interpreter played by Oh, and this clever idea had its moments.
On his SNL debut, Kevin Parker ensured that Tame Impala stood out, bathing his band in psychedelic lighting for two songs that struck grooves and never shook loose from them. On "Patience," almost everyone in the six-person band seemed to be on a keyboard at some point, except for two percussionists and Parker himself, who danced and sang determinedly, before donning a Stratocaster for the second half of the hypnotic song.
In a nice treat for fans, Tame Impala debuted "Borderline," which similarly locked into a feel and didn't waver much, while Parker showcased his dynamic singing voice (the chorus, alternating between falsetto and his chest voice, was an impressive bit of vocal acrobatics) and gifts for arrangement. Two rather striking-looking and -sounding performances here.
Colin Jost and Michael Che went in on the Mueller Report with some frustrated jokes about the whole ordeal. Jost played a clip of Trump's victory lap speech and an idiotic joke recited by Donald Trump Jr.
Cecily Strong made a desk appearance as Fox News personality Judge Jeanine Pirro, in a spirited and physical comedic display that made Jost break up. There were many more news headline jokes than usual with some solid stuff about a woman with two uteruses giving birth, a murdered zebra in Florida, the tenth anniversary of Grindr, and Nicolas Cage's four-day marriage.
Aidy Bryant hit the desk as astronaut Anne McClain, who was denied an opportunity to make a space walk because the space station only had one "woman's suit." A sly riff on sexism, Bryant made this funny in her exasperated performance.
Louise from payroll
Kate McKinnon played Louise, an 85-year-old woman in payroll at an office who informs her staff mates that it's her birthday. When they ask her what she'd like for the occasion, she rather creepily suggests that pairs of them should kiss. McKinnon was great in this, playing extremely odd in a minimal but compelling sketch.
A rather high-level remote, digital payment options were countered by good old fashioned cheques. In keeping with their dated status, cheques were presented here as though they belonged in every film noir concept ever attempted. Stylized, with a lot for the women of the cast to play with, Cheques was amusing.
Roots of Rock
A one-joke idea, a PBS show claims it will present lost footage of two performers on a British music show from the 1960s but it turns out only one of the musicians makes it to air. Kenan Thompson played Jarvis Fillmore, a soul musician who won't stop returning to the stage to sing a song about "electric shoes." Just over and over again. That was the bit and it grew old.
Oh played a teacher trying to prep her class for their SATs but soon encounters a lot of drama. Students played by Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon and Kyle Mooney offer super personal and dramatic responses to relatively basic academic questions, much to the befuddlement of Oh's teacher. This was ok and most notable for its nod to My So-Called Life.