Kristen Wiig is a damn delight so, inevitably, this episode was good. But it could have been greater! There were a couple of season highlight-level sketches – “Target Commercial” and maybe “The Bubble” – but beloved and infinitely flexible host Wiig was underused in an episode that brought back Just Perfectly Fine recurring characters (at least there was no Gilly, thank god) and that had a little bit – but not toooo much – weird stuff going on. Wiig’s platinum pixie cut was one of the show’s biggest shockers this week so, there we are. That and the cameos, of course – a few quick ones from Steve Martin, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis, and the voice of an absent Bill Hader.
It’s worth/cool noting that many of this season’s standout sketches are the ones that seem to best showcase the growing writers’ room – as in, they’re what you’d expect to see from writers with plenty of experience at prolific digital studios. “A Girl’s Halloween” could have been an old-school (like, Sarah Schneider and Streeter Seidell-era) CollegeHumor sketch, but it’s also got the pitch perfect angles we love Reductress for (writer Anna Drezen is the site’s former editor). “The Bubble” could have been one of BriTANicK’s high budget trailers, while the equally slick “Koohl Toilet” or “Target Commercial” could have come from branded content specialists Above Average (where writer Joanna Bradley used to work). I might be way off here – it’s eternally infuriating that individual sketch credits aren’t listed – but there’s definitely something uniting this season’s handful of top sketches so far.
Donald Trump Prepares Cold Open
Alec Baldwin is back this week, and his first post-election sketch showed us which direction the show’s going with his tight-lipped, low-voiced Trump: turning him into a bumbling baby idiot, propped up by his staff while he scrambles to look like he knows what he’s doing. At least that’s what happens in this sketch, where campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon) parades Trump supporters through his private golf club enclave to talk strategy. When they excitedly ask about his promised Secret Plans to defeat ISIS and create jobs in middle America, Trump panics and repeats his personal mantra: “big beautiful boobs and buildings.”
Beck Bennett’s Evil Mike Pence shows up, and Jason Sudeikis makes an appearance as Mitt Romney, which is mostly one very long, very awkward handshake.
For someone who recently “fired back” at Trump, Baldwin is playing him even milder than he already was, but it was still enough to bait him. It’s weird that Trump’s wasting time critiquing musicals and sketch shows, but it’s worrisome that SNL’s jokes – which aren’t even that mean – hurt his feelings so much that he brings it up constantly. Maybe he should recap for the next four years, since he’s got so many opinions.
Kristen Wiig is a breath of fresh air from the start, with a song about the origins of Thanksgiving that’s lacking in facts but certainly not holiday cheer. After Wiig wavers between a double-necked guitar and a ukulele (bailing on them both), she launches into an increasingly bizarre account that involves Egyptian pyramids, vikings, Santa, aliens, and the French.
Before things get more bizarre (cause that was all in one verse), a concerned audience member has to step in – it’s Steve Martin, and while he’d like to correct Wiig, turns out he’d rather sing with her. Will Forte tags along with his good friend Steve, and the moral of the story they sing is literally mindblowing for one audience member.
If you’re having trouble processing current events and somehow, yelling into the abyss of Twitter is still fun for you, maybe you’d enjoy The Bubble, a new community (led by Kyle Mooney and Sasheer Zamata) for people who can’t conceive of opinions other than their own. You’ll have to wait til 2017 to move in, but it’ll be worth it – there’ll be cute rescue dogs and perfect wifi and everyone low-key appreciates McSweeney’s (it took forever, but finally, YA BURNT McSweeney’s!) There are no police or fireman, cause all those guys are out in Their America, but whatever! If that part bugs you, just move to Brooklyn (or Silverlake, or Portland, or Austin, or Asheville, or…) same thing.
Wiig “favorite” Mindy Elise Grayson is back for another episode of “Secret Word,” the game show she’s played a million times but still can’t figure out. There’s a new host, the delightfully named Grant Choad (Kenan Thomson), though his predecessor Lyle Round (Hader) has a short message for his fans (via voiceover) – “I’m sorry I’m not there. I stopped wanting to be. Alright!!” Wiig’s Grayson can’t stop saying the one word she’s not supposed to (except when she mistakes “floral” for “oral” and hilarity ensues), but she’s got a good match in opponent Isabella Lolacoppola (Cecily Strong), a tempestuous Italian actress who also has no idea what’s going on.
Anderson Cooper 360
When Anderson Cooper (Alex Moffatt) covers Trump’s transition – with analyst Gloria Borger (Strong), former Obama advisor David Axelrod (Mooney), CNN correspondent Dana Bash (Wiig), Trump army soldier Kayleigh McEnany (McKinnon), and former Obama staffer Van Jones – things get messy quickly as even newer, even worse-er updates keep coming in. When Cooper starts to question their repetitive reactions, he’s quickly removed by suited techs and replaced with Jake Tapper (Bennett), because Westworld is real, and time is a flat circle.
I have never once though to caption anything “#itme” til this beautiful lil sponsored Target commercial came along – but, I’m pretty sure every single person who watched it thought that, too, so congrats on capturing the abject depth of our collective depression. Anyways, I do this often, not sure what that says, but I can confirm it’s a very relaxing experience. (I also bet at least one fun SNL fan will hide a flask in some Play-Doh for the ‘grams so, why not check next time you’re in there?)
QVC host wannabes compete in these audition tapes that spiral out of control. Suburban housequeens Joyce Childers (Strong) and Christie Berkie (Wiig) sabotage each other relentlessly in a sketch that probably hits some notes for frequent QVC viewers but otherwise felt very long.
This week, Update targets Breitbart’s credibility and the generally sad state of Trump’s growing cabinet, hitting on the impending leaders lack of effort and unpreparedness. So, the usual from now on, I guess.
Pete Davidson stops by to deliver a bit justifying his recent digs on Staten Island (both his and Update co-host Colin Jost’s hometown) by pointing out the borough turned out to be NYC’s Trump-friendliest.
To brighten things up, Michael Che’s eternally optimistic neighbor, Willie (Thompson), stops by to remind us our holidays could always be worse.
Wiig, Mikey Day, and Bobby Moynihan are all perfect as nightmare-inducing balloon versions of Madeleine, Toy Story’s Woody, and a vintage clown, respectively. The trio of Thanksgiving Day parade floats linger suspiciously close to the window of a watching family, who blame the weather for their sentient smiling and swaying until poor, tiny Kristin Chenoweth gets caught up in things.
Whiskers R We
Moynihan’s clown makeup turns into an equally terrifying Cats cosplay in this commercial for a cat shelter’s Thanksgiving Catacopia adoption drive. Cat enthusiasts Barbara DeDrew (McKinnon) and Furonica (Wiig) introduce a fe-lineup of kitties from sad and bad backgrounds, imploring you to adopt while also flirting heavily and lispily, with lots of nipple play.
Surprise Lady Thanksgiving
Surprise! Wiig’s Aunt Sue, who gosh darn it, just can’t keep a secret, is back and – guess what – she has to keep a secret! Suspense, drama, etc.