Ryan Gosling Hosts the SNL Premiere: La La Land Reunion With Emma Stone, Another Close Encounter and More

Hey girl, are you ready for an all new season of Saturday Night Live? We’re not sure if the writing staff was, considering this weekend’s return was one of the creatively weakest premieres in recent memory.

Ryan Gosling returned to Studio 8H ahead of Blade Runner 2049‘s release, but did more to promote his role in La La Land, a movie that came out nearly a year ago.

“I haven’t felt this excited since I saved jazz,” Gosling deadpanned at the top of the monologue. “I was like, ‘Me? Ryan Gosling? A white kid from Canada? I guess I can try to save jazz.’ So, I did!” He made his way over to the piano so the “notes could give each other little kisses,” before he was joined by co-star Emma Stone.

The La La Land reunion wound up being one of the evening’s few highlights, as it was followed by a run of mostly godawful sketches (a follow-up to 2015’s “Close Encounter serving as one exception). Alec Baldwin’s return as President Donald Trump wasn’t especially memorable, and new featured players Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner and Luke Null were given little chance to make a strong first impression.

BEST: ANOTHER CLOSE ENCOUNTER
In this sequel sketch, Kate McKinnon got all up in Gosling’s butt like “shoppers storming a Walmart on Black Friday.” At one point, Gosling was laughing so hard that his body was visibly shaking. Unlike all of the others times he broke throughout the episode, this instance was entirely justified. Seriously, just give McKinnon her third Emmy now.

BEST: PAPYRUS 
A man’s world gets turned upside down by James Cameron’s decision to go with the papyrus font for the Avatar logo. It’s unclear why a 2009 movie was the premise of a sketch airing in the year 2017, but Gosling was especially good here.

HONORABLE MENTION: “WEEKEND UPDATE”
Michael Che did not mince words, calling President Trump a “b—ch” for referring to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz as “nasty” over Twitter, while Puerto Rico awaits aid after Hurricane Maria. “This isn’t that complicated, man,” he said. “It’s hurricane relief. You just did this very same thing for white people, twice. Go tell Melania to put on her flood heels, get some bottled water, some food, pack up some extra Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl T-shirts and write them a check with our money, you cheap cracker!”

WORST: HENRIETTA & THE FUGITIVE
“Henrietta, why?” Yes, why?! Why did this old-timey sketch about a man who falls in love with a chicken make it past dress rehearsal? Why was Gosling cracking up when there were barely any laughs? And why oh why was this thing six minutes long?

WORST: DIVE BAR
Gosling’s Larry Fontanelle and his rock and roll jazz flute ended the show on a low note. His relationship drama took centerstage as roommate/lead singer Treece Henderson (Kenan Thompson) started asking far too many personal questions. At one point, Treece tells Larry that he is “a mystery, like Daniel Craig,” and I can’t for the life of me figure out what that joke means.

What were your favorite sketches of the night? And what missed the mark? Grade the Season 43 premiere via the following poll, then hit the comments to flesh out your thoughts.