By Derek Lawrence
March 04, 2018 at 11:42 AM EST
NBC
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Due to the Winter Olympics, Saturday Night Live was off for an entire month. And in the world of President Donald Trump, that’s about a whole season’s worth of material to work with, so the show had to return a with strong episode, right? Unfortunately not, as there were perhaps too many topics to hit, and the only one the show really got any comedic mileage out of was sexual harassment and misconduct in Hollywood.

Part of the problem lay with the host. Charles Barkley is an NBA legend and a great broadcaster, but he’s not exactly the ideal choice to mine humor from the current political climate, even if this is somehow his fourth time emceeing. Why? Well, he has an idea. “For no reason other than Lorne Michaels wanted someone to talk to about Black Panther,” he joked in his monologue, which he mostly used to address athletes speaking out on political issues. “We can do a lot more than dribble,” he declared, referencing controversial comments by Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham. Barkley, always one to be outspoken, urged his fellow athletes to continue doing the same.”So, LeBron, keep on dribbling and don’t ever shut up and maybe one day you can host SNL for a fourth time just like me.” (I’ve seen Trainwreck, so sign me up for that.)

Cold Open

The episode began with a take on Anderson Cooper 360, a.k.a. “Your No. 1 source for impeachment porn,” where Cooper (Alex Moffat) set the scene for the president’s latest bipartisan meeting on gun control. “In times like this we look to our leaders for guidance,” says Cooper, alluding to last month’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. “But instead, we’ll hear from Donald Trump.” Despite being in agony every time he plays the president, Alex Alec Baldwin returns with an un-Trump-like plan to curb violence. “No one is allowed to have a gun — not even whites,” he declares. “I can only run into so many schools and save everybody.” Baldwin’s Trump then addressed the departure of White House communications director Hope Hicks. “She’s like a daughter to me, so smart, so hot,” he said. “Jared Kushner is basically the hottest chick left in the place, and he’s probably going to jail soon.”

Best Sketch: “Harassment Awards”

On the eve of the Oscars, SNL gave Hollywood the awards show the last year deserved: the Grabbies, which “celebrates this year’s worst behavior in entertainment.” And red carpet hosts Danny Kilmartin (Beck Bennett) and Yolanda Beaks (Cecily Strong) interviewed some of the honorees, including Tom Sturgeson (Alex Moffat). “It’s really upsetting to be here tonight,” said the Handsiest Actor nominee. “I gave out a lot of unwanted massages to my female costars. Also, I showed an intern my penis and said, ‘Any ideas?’” Beaks thinks that “sounds like award-winning behavior,” but Sturgeson knows the “competition is so stiff.” “I’m sorry … poor choice of words,” he adds. “I just mean everyone’s rock-hard to be here.” But the most important interview was with Catherine LeBourge (Aidy Bryant), the Grabbies’ first ever female nominee. “I bit off an intern’s penis,” admitted LeBourge, who worked on The Shape of Water. “It was actually my job to get the fish horny.” And the guy who had to pick out the Call Me By Your Name peach thought he had a tough gig.

Worst Sketch: “The Champions”

Barkley got to play himself in this sports conversation show sketch, which also included Alex Rodriguez and D.C. Timmons (Kenan Thompson). Barkley and Rodriguez were smartly there solely to be the straight men to Thompson’s retired football player, who seemed to be suffering from extreme head trauma despite only playing nine career games. Thompson may have made Rodriguez and Barkley chuckle, but, unfortunately, not us.

Best Short: None

Shockingly, there was only one short during the episode, and I refuse to honor Charles Barkley going by the name Ned, wearing a cowboy hat, and selling armed roaches. Yep, you read that right — Barkley’s character was named Ned.

“Weekend Update” Highlights

Colin Jost had a “serious question” to start off “Weekend Update”: “Who still works in our government?” The query comes on the heels of White House communications director Hope Hicks resigning to “pursue other opportunities.” “You know things are bad when a 29-year-old with no experience who worked directly for the president of the United States thinks, ‘I’ve got to get out of this dead-end job,’” said Jost. “She’s resigning to pursue other opportunities the same way people on the Titanic decided they wanted to start seeing other boats.” One of those left behind is Jared Kushner,  a.k.a. “the only guy who makes [Colin] look ethnic,” who was stripped of his top-secret clearance. “And in that exact moment, even though he didn’t know why, Steve Bannon got his first erection in 10 years,” Jost quipped.

To get an update on Hicks, Jost went straight to the source, welcoming Cecily Strong to the desk as the outgoing White House employee. Strong-as-Hicks came prepared with a statement that included goodbyes to Kellyanne Conway (“You showed me what I could turn into if I stuck around too long”) and her “BFF” Ivanka Trump. “It’s been like a never-ending sleepover,” Hicks said to the president’s daughter. “Like one where you wake up in the middle of the night and your eyes are like, ‘Is that my friend’s dad  in the doorway? Is he just standing there watching us?’ And it was that moment just stretched out over three years.”

Best Musical Moment: “Stir Fry”

A disappointing SNL debut for Migos, with “Stir Fry” being the best of their two performances, but still not very memorable. Even more disappointing is that America is still left wondering which one is Offset and which one is Takeoff.

Cast MVP: Kate McKinnon

Strong was the pick until 12:55 a.m. brought the triumphant return of McKinnon’s Sheila Sovage. America’s most disgusting, desperate, and vomit-inducing bar patron was back in the night’s final sketch, this time getting overly physical with Charles Barkley’s fellow drunk customer. And like Kenan Thompson’s bartender, she left us dead.

Up Next

This Is Us star, Black Panther actor, and professional awards-speech-giver Sterling K. Brown makes his hosting debut next week, where he will be joined by musical guest James Bay.

Episode Recaps

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.
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  • 10/11/75
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