Aside from a worrisome monologue, Chance the Rapper excelled as a host and Eminem infused contemporary hip-hop with rapping that was actually technically impressive, had a point of view and was provocative. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.
The cold open
Assange: I trust you came alone— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) November 19, 2017
Don Jr: My brother Eric is waiting in the car. Not to worry, I told him to honk the horn if he gets scared. pic.twitter.com/ZSQekAMGMf
Framed as a docu-drama called The Mueller Files, SNL imagines what a covert meeting between Julian Assange and Eric and Donald Trump Jr. might've been like. Likely sensing they hit paydirt with Alex Moffatt's dim but facially expressive Eric and his interactions with Mikey Day's on-the-edge but sympathetically patient Don Jr., who together stole a Weekend Update this season, the show banked on them again to start the show and won.
Chance the Rapper sang a "It's Thanksgiving Time," a new song about dysfunctional family gatherings, which featured multiple cast members. Shakily executed and poorly written, it may be the corniest, least funny thing SNL has dispatched in years and was a bad early look for Chance the Singer.
Thanksgiving at Wayne Manor
At a Thanksgiving gathering at Wayne Manor, inner city residents complain to an increasingly perplexed Bruce Wayne about Batman's excessive use of force in their neighbourhood. There's at least a tinge of resentment that the Caped Crusader might be racist, but a more definitive sense that he's cruel. This was a truly random idea, but it worked, mostly because of key performances by Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd, who were hilarious in their outrage.
Come Back Barack (abbv) pic.twitter.com/AjTtK6Lo8F— That Dude (@cjzer0) November 19, 2017
Quite the amazing homage to Boyz II Men-esque R&B, but with a funny, heartfelt twist. Chance, Thompson, and Redd play De-Ron-Tré and the trio seem to be singing a romantic song about heartbreak called "Come Back." But when they hit the chorus, it's revealed that they're actually addressing former President Barack Obama. Tapping into a frequent sentiment in a Trump-sick world, this worked as an idea and the performances, particularly Redd's high-strung, whiny vocalist, were great.
Kenan Thompson's Steve Harvey is generally not the focus of these Family Feud bits. Usually, as Celebrity Editions, they end up being an excuse to run a lot of impressions. This week was slightly different in that Chance, playing Harvey's secret love child, was the only one impersonating someone and that someone was Kenan Thompson's impression of Steve Harvey, which was mildly amusing.
WATCH: Eminem & Skylar Grey performing 'Walk On Water', 'Stan', and 'Love The Way You Lie' on SNL pic.twitter.com/HxdWt4YfT1— 🅴 (@TheEminemBible) November 19, 2017
It was heartening to see one of the greatest rappers ever turn up and deliver a memorable medley full of discernible wordplay and substantive emotion. Unusually, Eminem performed just once instead of twice, as most musical guests tend to do, but, recalling Jay-Z's SNL debut, it was an extended appearance consisting of a three-song medley. Backed up by Skylar Grey, who sang choruses and hooks, a string section, and a whole band, Eminem was definitely in his zone, digging in for versions of his new single "Walk on Water" and older hits, "Stan" and "Love the Way You Lie." Truly compelling.
Michael Che and Colin Jost dug into the most recent spate of sexual assault allegations, taking relatively minor shots at one of SNL's first writers, now Minnesota Senator, Al Franken. Otherwise, they delivered some relatively good jokes about various headlines from the past week, but nothing with real bite. It was a merry-go-round of desk guests, including Kate McKinnon's Jeff Sessions commenting on his public testimony this week, and Kyle Mooney's painful, failed standup, Bruce Chandling. If you follow the show, you could see where these were going from a mile away. The best thing about WU this week was Pete Davidson doing a riff on Thanksgiving, which was actually an amazing takedown of how he's treated by his hometown newspapers on Staten Island. This was even funnier because Jost is also from Staten Island, and is apparently treated like a God. Davidson and Jost were enjoying this so much that it became infectious.
Lazlo Holmes calls a hockey game
In his best performance of the night, Chance plays a Knicks sideline reporter who is suddenly thrust into the role of calling Ranger games at Madison Square Garden. While he is called upon to offer his analysis of the hockey game, he clearly knows nothing about the sport and can only complain about how cold and white the whole ordeal is. Again this was Chance at his best and funniest tonight.
Featuring Common and Questlove, this documentary spoof both seemed to make fun of the younger generation of Soundcloud, ahistorical, mumble rappers, but also satirized antiquated, first-wave rap groups. Reuniting as another music group after appearing together earlier on the show, Thompson, Redd, and Chance played the Soul Crush Crew, who formed in 1978. Pete Davidson's idiotic Lil Doo Doo is not impressed by the Crew and Questlove, a walking encyclopaedia of hip-hop, has no idea who they are. Not really sure what point this sketch tried to make, but it was entertaining.
After a fellow high school student's mom's cool, in-class job presentation about designing roller coasters, two students, played by Chance and Mikey Day, try to upsell their own dad's jobs. Beck Bennett and Kenan Thompson play general contractors at the same company whose work is boring. And yet their kids go to extreme lengths to suggest it's the coolest job ever. The physical comedy here is what really made this work.
Skank Babysitter 17
What if a porno about a babysitter welcoming a pizza delivery guy into a home also actually featured the child they were taking care of? That awkwardness was really the joke here, as Heidi Gardner conjured a dippy porn star hot for Chance's Pizza guy, while Aidy Bryant's oblivious child just wants to eat some pizza. This was funny and on a higher level than your traditional 12:55 filler sketch.