The tradition at Saturday Night Live is to throw new cast members to the wolves and bring back the ones with the fewest bite marks. But this season has already devoted an unusually large amount of time making them look good – including a sketch this week featuring all four newbies and a stand-out performance from Molly Kearney.
In many ways, it’s a new take on the classic Kate McKinnon alien abduction sketches – Kearney is a gritty survivor clinging on to the wild circumstances of their life. Set up like a behind-the-scenes interview segment, Michael Longfellow, Devon Walker and Marcello Hernandez all talk about how gently they’ve been welcomed, and how kind show creator Lorne Michaels is.
Meanwhile, Kearney is dragged through South America on her way to assassinate Vladmir Putin, on Michaels’ orders. Distraught, they recount, “Lorne says, ‘We can get you to Russia, but we can’t promise we can get you out!’ And I really want to be on SNL, so I’m just nodding my head and saying, ‘Anything you say, sir!’”
It’s a fantastic premise that stays grounded by the very mundane observations of the other three. Being recognized on the street… relaxing into the role… getting an accountant. Meanwhile, Kearney is screaming, “Is Kelly Ripa going to pay for my funeral?!”
Perhaps the best moment of the sketch is when a soldier is barking orders at Kearney and they have to decide if it’s the right time for “the pronoun talk” (Kearney uses they/them pronouns, and are the first non-binary performer on SNL). It’s a delightful bit of subversion and an incredibly smart way to slip a potentially contentious topic into an otherwise straightforward piece.
Showcasing new cast and some light satire? This season looks promising.
Watch the sketch above, then grade the episode.