It’s been a whopping nine months since Chris Hemsworth last stepped on to the stage in Studio 8H, and this episode felt a lot like his debut: uneven, but altogether decent. Like he did back in March, Hemsworth proved himself as a more-than-capable host, and although his comedic timing was a bit off at times, he made up for it with enthusiasm — the most important quality an SNL host can have.
The whole episode felt like one big case of déjà vu, down to the outfit he wore for his opening monologue. Last time he was on the show, he brought out brothers Liam and Luke to start the show, and while they didn’t make an appearance this time around, he just acted like he was with them instead. After hosting the show twice, he feels like the SNL cast is basically family in “Big Chris’ house,” which is why he was more than happy to wander around backstage for most of his monologue, harassing and roughhousing with the cast.
All in all, it was a fine episode, if a bit uneven. Some of the night’s most successful moments were the ones that didn’t feature Hemsworth at all, like…
Will Ferrell’s return
Almost every episode this season has included a cameo from a big SNL vet, from Larry David’s pitch-perfect Bernie Sanders to Mike Myers teaching Ryan Gosling how to embrace his Canadian-ness last week. Will Ferrell was the latest alum to make his return to Studio 8H, once again trotting out his George W. Bush impression to announce that W is running for president. “The field of Republicans out there is so messed up, I figured, it makes you miss me, doesn’t it?” he said. He went on to dismantle the entire list of Republican candidates, from Carly Fiorina (“She’s not qualified in any way to be president, and in many ways, she reminds me of me”) to his own brother, Jeb (“You gotta admit it’s a pretty good plot twist that I turned out to be the smart one”). And a picture of Donald Trump and his “big, fat, orange Oompa Loompa face” made Ferrell dissolve into giggles. It was a nice reminder of what SNL political humor can look like, and it set the rest of the episode up for some of the show’s most biting political jabs all season, like…
On The Record
Kristen Wiig was SNL’s longtime mush-mouthed Greta Van Susteren, but Kate McKinnon gave the Fox News host a little bit of inner rage, getting more and more frustrated as she tried to get Taran Killam’s Ted Cruz to either support or denounce Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims. Bobby Moynihan’s Chris Christie also weighed in, and Jay Pharoah’s Ben Carson, fresh off his trip to “Jordans,” was delightfully creepy as always.
Person of the Year, Angela Merkel
Speaking of McKinnon, she brought back her always excellent Angela Merkel on one of the sharpest Weekend Updates in months. After Michael Che and Colin Jost bantered about Trump, arguing that he’s not a racist but rather just pandering to racists, the Trump hits kept coming, and when Jost trump told her that Trump thinks she’s ruining Germany, Merkel replied, “I guess he prefers our earlier stuff.” You can’t help but wonder whether the show’s trying to apologize for letting Trump host a few weeks ago.
Leslie Jones is the one who knocks
In case you don’t follow Leslie Jones on Twitter — and really, you should because she tweets things like this picture of her Ghostbusters birthday cake — she’s spent the past several weeks binge watching Breaking Bad for the first time. Luckily for us, she live tweeted every murder, drug bust, and pizza thrown on a roof. Now, she’s bringing her love of Heisenberg to the Update desk, lamenting how Breaking Bad got snubbed at the Golden Globes. Side note: No Ghostbusters references during the entire episode? I thought with both Jones and Hemsworth appearing on the show, we’d surely get at least one nod to the upcoming movie.
“Leave them in the box and never touch them!”
SNL once again went after the mounting excitement for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this time lampooning the adult fans who collect three of each action figure (“one to display, one to open, and one just in case”). Killam, Mooney, and Moynihan nailed the geeky adult excitement, but the kids got some of the biggest laughs as they tried to figure out why anyone would buy a toy and not play with it. (A lot of people in my Twitter feed last night were commenting on how one of the kids looks a lot like a miniature Andy Samberg, and I half expected him to start rapping with a miniature Justin Timberlake.)
“Does anyone still find little old C. Hemmy attractive?”
SNL made much of Hemsworth’s pretty boy status last time he was on the show, and this time around, he donned a dress and a Valley Girl accent to interrogate a bunch of brunch-going women about whether they still thought Thor was hot. In a world filled with Channing Tatums and Zac Efrons, the poor guy just wants to make sure there’s still a place for a towering blonde Australian hunk like Hemsworth. (Although let’s be real: He’s got nothing on Paul Rudd in Clueless. Come on.) Watching the women slowly realize that they didn’t actually have a friend named Claire — and that gosh, Claire sure looks a lot like Chris Hemsworth — added a delightfully weird layer to the whole sketch, punctuated by Aidy Bryant declaring, “This was bad, and you’re weird now.”
Chance the Rapper
Chicago native Chance The Rapper has been in the news lately for criticizing Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq as “exploitive and problematic,” and in his second song of the night, “Sunday Candy,” he made a reference to Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was recently charged with first-degree in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Joined by Jeremih, he also debuted his new song “Somewhere In Paradise.”