Last season, Saturday Night Live hit a nadir when they invited Donald Trump to host what turned out to be one of the worst episodes of SNL ever. That episode, in which they seemingly forfeited the show to Trump's whims, jeopardized SNL's strong political voice, which has kept it at the forefront of popular culture even amid the incredibly rote "SNL sucks now" hot takes.

The silver lining during this period were the sketches surrounding the Democratic race, as Larry David and Kate McKinnon made any cold open they were in must-watch-TV. Unfortunately, despite the cast and crew's best intentions, the show had been compromised by the Trump episode, and wasn't able to really pull off many interesting (or funny) sketches with Trump and his bumbling Republican compatriots. Even Weekend Update, which lives and dies by real time news jokes, wasn't able to get into a credible groove on the election until later in the season.

But with a little over a month left before the election, it seems things have changed for the better. SNL kicked off season 42 last night with a politically-focused episode that roared out of the gate thanks to a Presidential Debate parody, featuring McKinnon's chiseled Hillary Clinton impression and Alec Baldwin's revelatory take on Trump. As fantastic as Baldwin was burying himself in Trump's Cheeto shell, it's important to remember that SNL is now Saturday Night Live Featuring Kate McKinnon, with the breakout star of the show taking center stage for at least three excellent sketches. That included Actress Round Table, in which she got to ramble with the best of them playing aging fictional actress Debette Goldry.

The debate sketch and Goldry one were among the strongest of the night, along with a Family Feud: Political Edition featuring the return of David as Bernie. Also on the political spectrum, there was Undecided Voter Cathy Anne (Cecily Strong at her most depraved, give-or-take her terrifying impression of Lin-Manuel Miranda) on Weekend Update, and the fleeting Melania Moments, which seem poised to reappear in future weeks.

The rest of the episode didn't quite as many laugh-out-loud moments as those sketches, but there seemed like a spark had been reignited after last season's rougher moments. Margot Robbie was completely solid as host, having fun with her "hot girl" image with the subversive pre-taped sketch, The Librarian. Beck Bennett had the two best scene-stealing cameos (as Putin in the Family Feud game show and as a snake-charmer in The Librarian). Leslie Jones was wonderful as ever whenever she got the chance, particular in the Monologue and the 10-to-1 Mr Robot parody. Two of the new featured cast members, Mikey Day and Alex Moffat, got a surprising amount of screentime immediately, with a big highlight Day's performance in Live Report.

Click through for all those sketches plus David Ortiz on Weekend Update, a violent Scooby Doo parody, and two performances from The Weeknd. Lin-Manuel Miranda will host next week, with musical guest Twenty One Pilots.