By Dan Snierson
April 07, 2019 at 11:50 AM EDT
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With the final season of Game of Thrones only eight days away, Kit Harington, a.k.a Jon Snow, signed up to be Lord Commander of the Saturday Night Live Watch, a.k.a. host of the Apr. 6 episode of NBC’s late-night sketch comedy series. The evening kicked off with the return of an SNL favorite and featured Sara Bareilles serving as musical guest. Here’s a breakdown of the action.

Cold open

In a welcome breather from the Trump-tweaking opening bit, Saturday Night Live brought back standout Jason Sudeikis to reprise one of his roles as former VP and apparent presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Set at Biden’s 2020 headquarters, the sketch tackled head-on the misconduct allegations against him and skewered his too-close-for-comfort M.O. When a pair of aides (Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson) explained to him that he needed to reform the way he interacted with women, he responded, “I’m a hugger, I’m a kisser, and I’m a little bit of a sniffer.” They brought in a consultant (played by Kate McKinnon), whom he greeted with a nose-to-nose contact. His tone-deaf instincts  (“Alexa, play ‘Legs’ by ZZ Top”) kept the audience — and McKinnon, almost — laughing. Of course, there was a biting Trump reference: When Biden brought up the fact that Trump was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, Strong’s aide explained, “Unlike his voters, your voters actually care.”

Monologue

The night wasn’t very long before it was already full of GoT cameos.

Harington, sans beard, took the stage to host SNL, and after a few self-deprecating jokes about the other roles in his career (Pompeii, Silent Hill: Revelation), he went the questions-from-the-audience route during his monologue. After being needled by one fan about who wins game of thrones, he declared that he was not revealing how the show ends. That’s when Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) popped up to great applause and asked, “Could you just give us a general sense of how it ends?” She explained that it’s been so long since they filmed the end of HBO’s fantasy drama that she’s forgotten everything and besides, she spends most of her time talking to a dragon, “which is just a tennis ball on a green pole.” Her final question: “Do you remember in season 6 when we had sex? Did you know they filmed it?”

Next up: John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), who first asked, “Do you know what happens to Samwell Tarly?” before inquiring more poignantly: “Do you think we’ll still hang out after the show is done? Like best friends?” After Harington said they would, Bradley was eager to make plans: “What about next Tuesday? I could come by around 6 a.m.” When Harington noted he was busy during that time, a hurt Bradley retorted, “Wow, they were right. You’ve changed.”

Then came the Night King (well, actually Pete Davidson), who asked, “I just need to know: Do people hate me? Because it really feels like they hate me.”

Finally, it was time for Harington’s wife, Rose Leslie, who played Ygritte, with a couple of pressing questions of her own: “What are we going to do for money now?” and “How soon can you grow back that beard?”

The sketches

There was no doubt that Harington was game (of Thrones) for anything, including poking fun at his hit series in a bit that imagined all of the prequels, sequels, spin-offs, and crossovers that HBO will surely offer with Thrones exiting the air. Castle Black, “a sexy moody drama about forbidden love,” featured Harington’s Jon Snow managing a relationship with the undead, which resulted in disturbing skeletal nudity. The animated take on Daria titled Arya scored, as did Game of Thrones: Special Victims Unit, which featured cameos by Ice-T and Mariska Hargitay as they investigated the graphic and sexual crimes committed in Westeros. “You tell me some sick son of a bitch cut this dude’s thing off, then fed it to his dog, then gouged the man’s eyes out, then fed him his own eyes, then wore his dead skin to an orgy, then got busy in the holes where his eyes used to be?” asked Ice-T. “Circle gets the square,” replied Hargitay.

But Harington’s playfulness — he donned a hospital gown and desperately tried not to receive a colorectal exam at one point — was muted by sketches largely light on laughs. He cut loose as a cruise ship Michael Jackson impersonator, who was unsuccessfully pivoting to Sinatra in the wake of the Leaving Neverland documentary, though the promising sketch never took flight (even with its who-is-this-random-passenger-sitting-next-to-me-in-the-audience twist). The actor strutted his stuff as a fiancé doing a burlesque act for his bride-to-be at her bachelorette party, even stripping down to nipple tassels and his underwear; alas, the more interesting thing going on was his alarming “teacher, prostitute, ghost” burlesque instructor (McKinnon), sitting creepily in the corner. The first sketch after the monologue, which centered on a nephew pageant, went nowhere despite Aidy Bryant’s admirable hosting prowess, as did a trio of D&D-fueled super nerds who argued over who should be employee of the month before they exposing their masturbating boss (Mikey Day).

Perhaps the best sketch of the night featured Pete Davidson trying out the new VR video game EarthWar3. He was eager to blow stuff up, but on his way to the weapons room in the safe house, he found himself ensnared in momentum-killing, intricate office politics between the two guys (played by Harington and Day) who run the operation.

Weekend Update

Michael Che opened the segment with taking another shot at Biden in light of the misconduct allegations: “He looks like one of those uncles who calls spring ‘sundress time!'” Jost then mocked the veep’s demonstrative explanation in the video (“It was supposed to be an apology, not a re-enactment”) and low-fi vertical format (“It looks like a premium-adults only Snapchat.”

Trump also received dutiful mocking for his “anti-climb” comment about the wall, and how there would be an avocado drought in just three weeks after the border closing: “Man, this guy must really hate white women,” scoffed Che. “Why else would he wage a war on brunch?”

The highlight of Weekend Update, however, was the introduction of film critic Terry Fink. Played cheerily and zanily by Alex Moffat, Terry had been experimenting with macro-dosing, which resulted in bizarro off-base reviews of current movies such as Captain Marvel (“I can’t say I loved the climax of the film, in which Captain Marvel turns into a bat and has sex with my high school teacher”) and Dumbo (“With big ears and an even bigger heart, Dumbo is a terrifying journey through hell”), and even the not-so-current movie A Star Is Born. When Jost mentioned that Star had come out months ago, Fink responded knowingly and almost condescendingly, “Oh, Colin, you still believe in time?” And his evaluations of the film’s critical merit became increasingly absurd: “At 14 days without sleep, the film is a tad long, but I give it two ketchup packets and 36 missed calls from my wife.”

A line of merit also goes to this very wrong Jost jab near the end of Update: “A group of people in England are organizing a Star Wars-themed orgy, which is just an orgy where you find out the guy in the mask is actually your father.”

Best Short

SNL MVP McKinnon shined once again, playing Theresa May in the melancholy “A Day in the Life of Theresa May,” which showed the beleaguered British prime minister down and out after her Brexit plans have gone pear-shaped. We saw McKinnon’s May shunned by the citizens of her country, flipped off by Buckingham Palace guards, and crapped on by birds, but the woman whose sadsackery turns a butterfly to dust goes on an inspirational journey, which includes her performing an interpretative dance in a Union Jack unitard around a piano-playing Bareilles movingly sang “She Used to Be Mine.”

Up next

The Oscar-winning Emma Stone returns to host on April 13 for the fourth time, while Korean boy band BTS makes their musical debut on the show.

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HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.
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  • 04/17/11-05/19/19
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