Jim Hopper’s fate remains up in the air, but Pete Davidson’s whereabouts are now known. After missing the first two episodes of the season, Davidson returned to Saturday Night Live this weekend, by way of the Upside Down. He made his first appearance opposite David Harbour in a mildly amusing monologue that took place in Studio 8H’s very own alternate dimension, wherein Kenan Thompson ran the show and Lorne Michaels was but a measly errand boy.
“Mildly amusing” is also a perfect descriptor for the episode as a whole, which began with a cameo-filled cold open that skewered a recent CNN town hall. It took Harbour a while to get comfortable in his role as host (he spent the first half of the episode with his eyes laser-focused on the cue cards), but he excelled in pre-taped sketches, which included a downright fantastic film parody.
BEST: GROUCH (JOKER PARODY)
Far and away the best sketch of the still-young season. An exquisite blend of homage and parody, with Harbour perfectly cast in the title role. Funniest of all, though, were Alex Moffat and Mikey Day as Bert and Ernie, whose attempts to stand up to a (Sesame) street tough and save their precious rubber ducky resulted in a brutal stabbing.
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BEST: FATHER-SON PODCASTING MICROPHONE
This was one of the better Kyle Mooney shorts, and one of the best commercial parodies as of late. Harbour and Mooney working out their awkward father-son relationship through “the comforting cadence and structure of a podcast” was a clever concept, and having Dad throw to a commercial for SquareSpace just to avoid an honest conversation with his son was easily my favorite joke of the night.
Bowen Yang elevated an otherwise mediocre sketch in the role of prospective SoulCycle instructor Flint — “like the water.” His tangents about how he would’ve stopped the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and later flushed his computer down the toilet to avoid any more negativity, provided some of the only real laughs during the first half-hour of the broadcast.
HONORABLE MENTION: COURT SHOW
This lackluster five-to-1 sketch was saved by the squirming dog that tried to wrestle its way out of Cecily Strong’s arms. How she managed to get through the line “But I can’t, because she’s crippled!” is beyond me.
A cross-dressing sketch in the year 2019 feels especially dated, doesn’t it? Harbour was clearly having a great time opposite Kate McKinnon as a randy pair of Italian grandparents, but none of the jokes landed. I expected the whole thing to go off the rails — for Nonna’s sauce to eventually go flying, or for everyone to break character in unison — but it never happened.
What were your favorite sketches this week? And what missed the mark? Watch all of the highlights (and lowlights) above, then grade the episode in our poll.