Saturday Night Live - Season 42
Credit: Will Heath/NBC
Saturday Night Live - Season 42

In promos airing all week, Alec Baldwin — a man who has hosted Saturday Night Live 16 times before and shown up as a guest countless more times — promised fans that this week’s episode would be “a big one.” People were willing to believe it, too, given how successful Baldwin and the writers (and Melissa McCarthy) have been at getting under the president’s skin. Expectations were high, with people going so far as to wonder whether Rosie O’Donnell would play the sinister Steve Bannon simply because she changed her Twitter avatar.

Well, in reality, the episode was pretty tame. In fact, it took nearly an hour for Baldwin to trot out his POTUS impression, which finally happened after a Weekend Update segment and something called Ed Sheeran. I’m pretty sure Baldwin spent more time dressed up as a wrestling coach than in a Trump wig.

Still, the show was able to get plenty of licks in, political and otherwise, starting with the cold open, which also happened to be the night’s most memorable highlight.

Best Sketch

It’s remarkable how much Trump’s press secretary has become a bigger parody target than the president himself: Sean Spicer’s rough week has been bookended by two SNL episodes that featured Melissa McCarthy’s freakishly effective impersonation of the man. With a wad of chewing gum as thick as his Rhode Island accent, McCarthy’s Spicer tore up the White House press briefing room once again by steering his motorized podium right into the fake news journalists assembled before him. He used dolls to demonstrate how Homeland Security would prevent Moana from entering the U.S., called out New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush (a real person who’s becoming an oddly regular SNL character in his own right) on his deplorable hat, and showed off his favorite fashion pieces from the Ivanka Trump collection.

McCarthy momentarily ceded the spotlight to Kate McKinnon, who earned applause for her Jeff Sessions impression, but even she was no match for McCarthy. “Eighty percent of the people in Chicago have been murdered and are dead!” she declared from the podium before using a leaf blower to fend off fact-checking journalists. Not only are McCarthy’s Spicer sketches already legend, they’re reportedly actually affecting White House operations.

Best Short

Oh man, we need to make sure Leslie Jones becomes SNL‘s next Trump once (if?) Baldwin moves on. It just has to happen. If it’s even half as funny as the terrific “Leslie Wants to Play Trump” digital short, it will be the best thing every week. The video had a lot of great moments: a glimpse at the Jenna Maroney-esque Evil Vanessa Bayer, a callback to the Leslie Jones-Kyle Mooney “Love” short, and a shot of Jones tearing apart one of Lorne Michaels’ Emmys with her bare hands.

Of course, there was a notable runner-up in this category: the “Jake Tapper” digital short that found Beck Bennett’s Tapper and McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway locked in a Fatal Attraction-ish game of lies and seduction. Pretty good, and definitely engineered for peak virality, but ultimately not top-shelf. Also, I’ve gotta say, if they’re going to keep doing Jake Tapper sketches, they probably should try a little harder to actually impersonate him. Bennett’s Tapper basically does not sound or look like the real thing at all. But the short does get points for sneaking in a sick HuffPost Live burn.

Weakest Sketch

Listen, I love a good fart joke. A good one.

Weekend Update Highlights

Yes, I know everyone just wants to talk about politics stuff and that Kate McKinnon showed up as Elizabeth Warren, which is the sort of hot-take-of-the-week event that would usually seize headlines all over the place. But I’m sorry, Alex Moffat’s new original character, Guy Who Just Bought a Boat, was by far this week’s funniest Weekend Update guest. He was weird and random but also recognizably douchey enough to become a regular fixture in the mode of Cecily Strong’s Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party. In fact, I’m sure if the two of them met, they’d be dating — or at least hook up once before getting in a fight over brunch the next day.

Best Musical Moment

Edward Sheeran, a popular recording artist who goes by Ed, performed two songs from his catalog. One was titled “Shape of You,” and the other “Castle on the Hill.”

Best Surprise Guest

Melissa McCarthy’s appearance wasn’t that much of a surprise given how well received she was last week, but Tracy Morgan’s cameo during the odd but sort of endearing “Beyoncé’s Babies” sketch was a welcome return for the beloved alum. He and Kenan Thompson starred as Queen Bey’s rambunctious in-utero twins. I thought it was pretty fun, but it certainly wasn’t up to par with SNL’s best stabs at Beyoncé humor. It would’ve been a B- if it weren’t for that sharp jab at the non-Beyoncé members of Destiny’s Child at the end, which brought it up to a straight B.

Cast MVP

Well, do we even have to say it anymore? Congrats again, Kate McKinnon: You played Attorney General Jeff Sessions, White House aide Kellyanne Conway, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren all in one night. At this point, if you work in politics and haven’t been spoofed by Kate McKinnon, you need to take a long, hard look at the mirror and ask yourself if your heart is really in this.

Episode Recaps

Saturday Night Live - Season 42
Saturday Night Live

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.

  • TV Show
  • 48
  • Saturdays at 11:30 PM
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