Gal Gadot carried herself like a true star and Sam Smith was bafflingly bad on Saturday Night Live's second episode of the season. Here's everything that happened.
The Cold Open
Jason Aldean and his band, who were performing when the horrific Las Vegas mass murder shooting took place last weekend, appeared to kick off the show with a version of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down." For a show known for strong openings in response to American tragedies, this tribute to the victims in Las Vegas and to Petty, who died suddenly that same horrible weekend, was a nice, encapsulating way to acknowledge an idealized version of the American spirit.
Gal Gadot sent a special message home to friends and family in Israel, where SNL was broadcast live for the first time ever. Leslie Jones appeared as a Times Square Wonder Woman and the two did some shtick that only worked because Jones was all over it, physically and mentally.
E!'s New Fall Season
A faux ad mostly making fun of the E! network's reliance on the Kardashians to fill their programming schedule. Gadot played Kendall and Gigi and captured the vacuous clan. There were a couple of other pot shots at E!'s pointless reality TV, but nothing here really had sharp teeth.
This innocent seeming date sketch took a remarkable turn when Kenan Thompson's character turns out to be O.J. Simpson. From there, it was this brilliantly written piece that captured all of the chilling lore around the horrible, horrible person that recent parolee O.J. Simpson is.
The Chosen One
Pete Davidson's idiotic "okay"-spewing teenager Chad turns out to be the only hope for some fantastical, Middle Earth realm. He's transported to a mystical place and tasked with accomplishing various epic journey tasks but he barely acknowledges the instructions, even heading back to his bedroom at one point to play video games. Davidson carries this bit and the return of his stoner kid is still only mildly amusing.
Jamba Juice in the desert
Kenan Thompson and Beck Bennett are National Geographic channel camera men lost in the desert who begin hallucinating. Thompson sees Gadot, sexily running a lemonade stand, while Beckett sees two dudes from his local mall's Jamba Juice. What could've been a standard, sleazy SNL move whenever they have a beautiful woman hosting the show was salvaged by Leslie Jones's great performance as the Jamba Juice manager who's, what else, loud and angry.
This creepy, stalker-y thing in which Bennett plays an auto glass repairman who keeps breaking the windshield of a car belonging to a mom and her high school basketball-playing daughter was rough. The "joke" is that he's infatuated with the 17-year-old girl. Normally, such a bit would have a surreal edge to it but this felt too authentic and skin-crawly to really be funny.
Kinda weird that Sam Smith's episode of SNL began with a performance of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," which Smith was forced to admit he ripped off for his 2014 hit single "Stay With Me." Without a crutch to lean on, Smith came across as an unremarkable white gospel pop crooner with a voice and delivery that wasn't moving in the least. His songs and their structures here were depressing and boilerplate at best. After this appearance, his stardom is all the more mystifying.
Michael Che and Colin Jost delivered some well-crafted and sharp jokes about gun control, which has been a hot topic of conversation since Las Vegas last week. They also went after Trump's visit to Puerto Rico, which was a comedy of errors.
Lately, it really feels like almost every Kate McKinnon desk piece is a terrible time suck. Her recurring characters on WU, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are one-note bits that kill the momentum of the overall segment.
When WU properly resumed, Jost and Che made excellent jokes about O.J. and LG cell phones and Pete Davidson destroyed with a meta bit about how the cure for his clinical depression might be appearing on SNL more each week.
Story Book Classics
An exploration of social awkwardness, Gadot plays a lowly servant who wants to attend a fancy ball. Three mice make her a shoddy dress and she tries to politely express her reservations about wearing it and the result is a mildly funny sketch. The primary take away here: Gadot, who seems to literally sparkle on screen, has all the charisma of a classic Hollywood superstar.
Spy Sex Cam
A remote negotiation between an intelligence agency and a spy goes awry when the signal crosses with a low grade sex cam show. This was bound to be nothing but sketch saver Kenan Thompson and a game Alex Moffatt made it bearable and somewhat amusing.
While Gadot, as Wonder Woman's alter-ego Diane Prince, is training with her fellow Amazon sisters on the ancient island of Themyscira, she's forced to deal with some contemporary lesbian visitors played by Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon. The joke here is that the two assertive dykes can't get over how much lesbian potential exists on what seems to be a celibate, asexual island. The ultimate payoff is a deep, long kiss.
The Naomi Show
A takeoff on daytime TV shows that try to set wild teens straight via boot camps, the twist here was that the Kenan Thompson's domineering sergeant is taken aback when the dysfunctional family adopts him. Again, a vaguely funny idea really only works because of Thompson's physical performance and timing.
Pre-order Sam Smith's upcoming album The Thrill of It All on vinyl and special edition CD via Umusic.