After wading through one of the worst episodes of Saturday Night Live in history, with host Donald Trump's 12 onstage minutes feeling like an eternity, SNL bounced back with a much needed, much funnier episode last night. If last week's episode was an SNL nadir in which all comedic failsafes were absent, then this week exemplified all the things this group of writers and performers does right, with host Elizabeth Banks seamlessly fitting in with the cast.
The mood at Studio 8H at 30 Rock was markedly somber at the start, with Cecily Strong delivering a heartfelt message of solidarity with Paris after the terrible attacks on Friday. The episode got underway with Banks' musical Monologue and an amusing short commercial for Aron's List (Angie's List, but for low-level sexual offenders). But the heart of the show lay in the next three consecutive sketches, all of which showcased the best recurring bits from the recent cast.
There was Black Jeopardy (previously seen on Louis C.K.'s episode), the Experimental High School Theatre Group (last seen during Cameron Diaz's episode), and another exquisite pop music parody video "First Got Horny 2 U" (a la "Do It In My Twin Bed" or "Back Home Ballers"), this time about female masturbation. Having all three of those killer sketches was a subtle but necessary reminder from the cast and writers that whatever missteps they made last week, they still know what it is they do best (and they likely wanted to make sure they had some ringers in the episode to avoid any Trump Tweets/Melania for First Lady dead air). And shit, if there is anything funnier than Aidy Bryant dragging her crotch on the floor at the sight of the preteen son from the ABC show Dinosaurs, I haven't seen it.
The other highlights of the episode were The Young Adventures of Ben Carson (complete with actual Carson quotes, and Jay Pharaoh's spot-on impression), the much-needed return of the brilliantly weird and sweet Mike O'Brien with Uber For Jen (which of course was really about O'Brien's nonchalant Uber driver bonding with Banks while delivering a baby), and a jam-packed Weekend Update that was likely the best of the season so far. Keeping with the theme of the episode, Update included a killer's row of recurring guests, including Kyle Mooney's hopeless Bruce Chandling, Kate McKinnon's depressed Russian peasant Olya Povlatsky, and Pete Davidson's...Pete Davidson.
Click through for all those sketches, plus a meditation on the phrase "so ghetto," the world's worst walk-on TV role, and music from Disclosure, Lorde and Sam Smith. Matthew McConaughey will host next week, with musical guest Adele.