With just a week left until the season premiere of obscure incest drama Game Of Thrones, star Kit Harington's Saturday Night Live hosting debut was, expectedly, dominated by some funny GOT-related content. Overall however, it was a middling episode that suffered from a case of explanationitis: there were several sketches that started out really strong and funny, only to have characters over-explain the premise of the sketch to the detriment of any sort of pacing or momentum. Even so, there were still some really great surprise endings, a Jon Snow burlesque show, the return of Jason Sudeikis' Joe Biden, and one of Aidy Bryant's most hilarious performances.
The standout sketch of the night was New HBO Shows, which was all about how many GOT sequel, prequel and spinoff spoofs the writers could come up with and jam into a three minute sketch, including The Queen Of King's Landing, No Ballers, Cersei & The City, Wildling Out, Hodor's House, Westerosworld, Dorne To Be Wild, Marvelous Mrs Melisandre and RuPaul's Dragon Race. The best: Castle Black (in which Jon Snow has an affair with a White Walker), the Daria-inspired Arya, and the instant classic GOT: Special Victims Unit, which included cameos by Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T (and executive produced by Dire Wolf).
The Monologue was also chock full of fun GOT content, with amusing cameos by Emilia Clarke ("Do you remember in season six when we had sex? Did you know they filmed that?"), John Bradley, and Rose Leslie. It also featured Pete Davidson as the Night's King, which truly might be Davidson's greatest performance on the show. He didn't even break!
Harington's best, most committed, most naked performance of the night came in Bachelorette Party, but Melissa Villaseñor stole the sketch with her final line.
Alex Moffat got to unveil a hilarious new character on Weekend Update: Film Critic Terry Fink, whose spring movie reviews get increasingly trippy due to his macro-dosing of LSD.
Nephew Pageant, the hyper-specific sketch about a pageant that nephews put on for their loving aunts, was good. But Aidy Bryant's performance was incredible.
As for the Joe Biden Cold Open, Jason Sudeikis is always a welcome SNL alumni, even if the sketch ended on a strange note (Biden is gross, but also, that's okay?). Either way, it was at least better than the average Trump cold open!
As for the less successful or memorable sketches: Theresa May was the rare pre-taped sketch that just flopped, despite excellent production values, a pretty dramatic performance by Kate McKinnon, and a full performance by Sara Bareilles of her big Waitress hit "She Used To Be Mine." As sometimes happens when SNL tries to take on political battles outside their comfort zone, the comedic tone and perspective (May is...sympathetic? Trying her best? Hopeless? A wannabe fascist?) was totally muddled.
New Video Game had a pretty good premise (a video game demo keeps getting interrupted by side story characters who are dealing with their own dramas) but seemed to drag. Graphics Department was for the most part a cliched, lame take on IT "geeks," but it did have a great beat involving "duplication spells." And Exam was the 10-to-1 sketch, a reality show/rectal exam mashup that didn't quite gel.
Elsewhere on Weekend Update, Charles Barkley (Kenan Thompson) talked about this year's NCAA tournament, and Colin Jost and Michael Che had lots of jokes about Trump's anti-climb wall and Biden's non-apology apology video: "It was supposed to be an apology, not a reenactment!"
In addition to having a significant role in the Theresa May sketch, musical guest Sara Bareilles performed "Fire" and "Saint Honesty."
(Note: there was also a sketch about Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 impersonators who, in the wake of Leaving Neverland, had to pivot to being a Frank Sinatra/Rat Pack cover group, but it is not online, most likely because of musical rights issues.)
Emma Stone will host SNL for a fourth time next weekend with musical guest BTS. Then there'll be a couple weeks off before Adam Sandler returns to Studio 8H to make his hosting debut on May 4th.