Back after a couple of weeks off, SNL wasn't rusty per se but Octavia Spencer and Father John Misty were not on the most sturdy of episodes. The latter certainly made a strong impression for his songs, while the Oscar winning actress wasn't always comfortable with her cue cards. Here's everything that happened.
The Cold Open
The fiasco over U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and reports that he may have committed perjury by stating he hadn't communicated with any Russian officials when he actually might have (twice) was spun into a Forrest Gump riff, on account of Sessions being Southern, I reckon. There was some effective crossover between simple Gump and small little Sessions, who again was played as a genteel elf by Kate McKinnon. The bit's big payoff came when Spencer made a pre-monologue appearance (rare for hosts) to reprise her role in The Help and offer Sessions a shit pie.
No pomp and circumstance here or goofy assists from the cast. Spencer just delivered a short, solid monologue, garnering laughs for the number of times she's portrayed a nurse on film (16) to the confusion over Oscar nominees/black films Hidden Figures, Fences, and Moonlight. It was white people who were confused apparently.
Who will be the brave Republican who stands up to Donald Trump and salvages American democracy? This movie trailer played up the fact that no such hero currently exists, while also presuming that a spec script about such a person is likely already in the pipeline.
African-American names and prescription drugs
Spearheaded by Sasheer Zamata, Leslie Jones and Spencer, this was a pretty funny take on how unique and far out first names in the African-American community can get. Set up as an arbitration hearing, the aforementioned actresses play characters that make a compelling case that a drug company has stolen some of its product monikers from them and their relatives like Lunestra and Nicorette. A good idea, solidly executed.
Girl at a Bar
Cecily Strong seems to play herself, hanging out at a bar waiting for Aidy Bryant to show up. While she waits, she encounters a series of men who try to play up their feminist sides before suddenly revealing that they're horny, sexist pigs. When Bryant shows up, she ends up being no better.
Kellayanne Conway on her knees
Heading to commercials, Kate McKinnon began to appear as Kellyanne Conway, striking her odd, on-her-knees-using-her-phone pose that circulated this week. A brief, silly sight gag that kept getting funnier.
Set up as a stand-in voiceover session for an animated kids' movie, this was really just an excuse for the gifted Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat and Spencer to unload some winning celebrity impressions. From her Kristen Wiig to her Julie Louis-Dreyfus to her Owen Wilson, Villaseñor, as she often does, clearly stole the show here.
This seemed like an odd thing to have been greenlit. Pete Davidson plays a brash young man who talks street. He's overheard near a park by an older man played by Kenan Thompson who attempts to inspire the boy with the life lessons apparent within games of chess. Unfortunately Thompson's character, closely observed by an elderly accomplice played by Spencer, doesn't know how to play the game and makes up his own silly rules. A half-baked remote, at best.
Father John Misty
Playful rake Father John Misty took the stage and, having not learned from Kanye West's infamous "Famous," immediately opened with a line about "bedding Taylor Swift every night." The tune in question, "Total Entertainment Forever," is from his forthcoming album, Pure Comedy, and had a catchy, Lennon/Bowie-esque quality to it even with its sparse chorus of "ohs." For the politically charged title track, he cut a compelling figure, emphasizing every lyric that may well have been the clearest mockery of Trump on the show this side of Alec Baldwin, and putting on a wildly dramatic performance, complete with big dance moves and pregnant pauses.
Colin Jost and Michael Che had a field day with the exploits of Donald Trump and his administration but Che got the biggest laugh with an ad-lib about slavery. After some more good jokes about political news stories, Mikey Day and Moffat turned up as Eric and Donald Trump Jr., two simpletons who can't quite convince America that they've truly taken over the family business from their now President dad. Plus the return of Vanessa Bayer's amazing child actress/wannabe news reporter Laura Parsons. Some amazing stuff about Moonlight and transgender information here, all delivered in Parsons' brilliant, sing-song-y cadence.
A Sticky Bun customer simulation goes awry when the Sticky Bun trainees can't help but ask truly bizarre questions instead of taking orders, including "Will you eat?" and "Do you like being white?" Mikey Day continues to stand out for his quietly intense performances in such absurd pieces.
A stumbling thing in which a group of female friends are at a bar and have to endure a character played by Cecily Strong acting and speaking oddly around a new black acquaintance played by Spencer. The premise is that, to her friends' irritation, Strong seems to employ a form of ebonics while exaggerating how wild Spencer's "Jode" is. In the end, it's a Black History Month guilt idea that probably should've run during Black History Month. Or, even better, not at all.
Chuckie Chocolate: The Elegant Chocolate Man
Beck Bennett was so ridiculous in this thing, his fellow cast members could barely contain their laughter to get through the sketch. He played a guy named Steve who was fired and banned from an office he worked at for bringing a gun to work and sexually harassing a colleague. Dark stuff, but for some reason Steve returns pushing a cart full of chocolates, wearing make-up, and speaking in a ridiculous, Wonka-esque voice. He calls himself Chuckie Chocolate but it sure sound like Jackie instead.
The third office sketch of the night was filler to get the show to the finish line. Spencer plays a version of herself, running a gift company in a deranged manner, which includes wearing weird glasses with painted eyes on them. Designed as a pitch meeting for a new line of gifts, this wasn't good.