After a three week break, Saturday Night Live returned last night with host Andrew Garfield, and cameo appearances from Emma Stone, Chris Martin (Coldplay were the musical guest), Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub), and best of all, the spirit of Beyonce. Overall, the episode was on trend with the rest of this transitionary season of SNL: one hilarious standout sketch (The Beygency), some good visitors on Weekend Update, a couple decent sketches (The Amazing Spider Man Kiss, Celebrity Family Feud), and a whole lot of forgetful (basically, the rest).
Let's start with the great: The Beygency was a hilarious look at a world much like our own, in which anyone who voices a contrary opinion about Beyonce was hunted. Besides the random 24 cameo, the weirdest thing about this sketch was how much it referenced the 2011 Matt Damon film The Adjustment Bureau—and it still worked on every level, appealing both to hyperventilating Queen Bey fans (aka, The Internet) and as a fake movie trailer with a (mostly) coherent plot. It was as good as this season has gotten.
The good: Weekend Update brought in two of their best characters this week, with Kate McKinnon’s Olya Povlatsky and Taran Killam's Jebidiah Atkinson both making excellent appearances. McKinnon’s enthusiasm about Full House, and Dave Coulier in particular, was hilarious, but the best moment came when Killam stumbled over the word "Tommy"/Tony, and was able to get the sketch back on track despite almost going off the rails. This was a guest-heavy edition, with writer Leslie Jones making her (very energetic) onscreen debut discussing Lupita Nyong’o’s People Magazine cover and "slave draft picks." Cecily Strong played well off McKinnon, but Colin Jost still hasn't made any lasting impression on us.
The Celebrity Family Feud, which boiled down to "everyone do a funny impression!", was pretty good for one of those sketches, especially Garfield's mugging as Justin Timberlake, Killam’s gruff Russell Crowe, and Kyle Mooney as Skrillex (Kenan Thompson was great as ever as host Steve Harvey). The Amazing Spider-Man Kiss sketch started off charming but one-note, relying on the goofy-sexy chemistry between Garfield and Stone; but it was let down by the ending, which saw Martin fake-making out with Garfield. The ending was the equivalent of SNL throwing its arms up in the air and yelling, "umm...Monty Python?"
Garfield seemed a bit secondary in the Monologue, purposefully overshadowed by Stone (and Aidy Bryant, who unfortunately didn't get a lot to do this episode), but he was likable in the otherwise forgettable Wedding Party sketch; Spanx was a disappointing commercial (unless you love explosive farts, which someone behind-the-scenes clearly does); Oliver Twist was a bomb; and the cold open on Donald Sterling was...well, you know, it wasn't embarrassing. Our expectations for the cold opens (and SNL's political humor in general) is so low, this seemed fine—and Bobby Moynihan (as Sterling) did inspire one laugh out loud moment when Dennis Rodman tried to touch him.
The interesting thing about this episode: two sketches were cut from broadcast in favor of a repeat of the Bird Bible from earlier this season. Bird Bible is one of if not the best commercial we've gotten this year, so it was nice to see it again at the 10-to-1 slot, but it's strange they decided to shelve the Beck Bennett/Kyle Mooney gay panic sketch. It wasn't as good as their best sketches this season, and did tread upon a very tired idea, but it was done in a such a uniquely weird way—with an '80s sitcom set-up, fake audience laughter, and purposefully terrible timing—that it seemed worthy of broadcast. It made more sense that the other sketch, Touch O’ Heat, didn't get aired, because it was just bad.
Click through for all of those plus two very Coldplay performances from the band Coldplay. Next week, Charlize Theron will host with musical guest The Black Keys, and the week after will be the season finale with host Andy Samberg and St. Vincent.