After a week of making political statements with Donald Trump taking on hosting duties, Saturday Night Live makes up for it with satisfying a request of many fans of the show. For many years, Elizabeth Banks has topped many lists of people deserving a shot at hosting the show. After a headline-making hosting gig that led to a lackluster show, this episode showed what the show is all about.
Following the tragic events that took place in Paris just days before this episode, SNL used their platform to voice support for those grieving what had happened. It was simple, but very poignant and effective. For a second, it doesn't look like Cecily Strong can make it through her brief emotional message. Part of me wants to see what potential sketch was planned that we missed, but this was such a perfect start to the episode.
Elizabeth Banks is a multi-talented actress. Not only is she starring in the last Hunger Games movie right now, but she also directed her first movie this year in Pitch Perfect 2. We have seen enough Hunger Games themed sketches over the years with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Woody Harrelson hosting in the past few years to promote the previous films. After a short homage to this franchise, they take advantage of the fact that they have a musical director on stage and allow her to direct her own musical number while she performs it. It was a musical number, which is a typical fallback for monologues, but it felt different as they added that wrinkle to it. It was definitely fun and enjoyable.
Jost and Che were on top form once again. Colin brings punny, ironic jokes a la Seth Meyers, while Michael brings an edge that few have had the guts to bring to the Update desk. Together, they form quite the odd couple and dynamic team. The guests to the Update desk were all repeats. First we had Pete Davidson, almost invisible in the Trump episode, get his opportunity to give his unique perspective on current events. Then we had Bruce Chandling, the most awkward bad comic ever. This character keeps getting brought back, and I don't care because it is so different and awkward that it is worth seeing once or twice per season. Last, we have Kate McKinnon channel her unique skills through her depressed Russian old lady. It's the same jokes every time, but it's still funny every time.
A host's skills are tested by how seemlessly they can blend into the rest of the cast. From the first sketch on, Elizabeth Banks was just another player in the show. This is always best because it allows the writers to do whatever they want with the sketches. Of all the quality sketches that came out of this episode, this might have been my favorite. It is a recurring sketch that takes a natural comic host like Banks for them to pull it out. This sketch has fallen flat in the past, but this time it was hilarious.
This was hard because all the sketches were funny. However, I will have to go with this one. The Girls Club has come up with some pretty fun songs and performances in the last few years. However, the last couple haven't been great, this one included. It had some laughs in it, but these prerecorded music videos have come to have an expectation of being a highlight of each episode, dating back to the Lonely Island guys. These last couple have not lived up to the legend.
Dark Horse Sketch
Mike O'Brien has been a writer for the show for quite some time. He hopped up to the cast for one season when the show was desperate for new blood, but was demoted back to the writing room the next season. Every now and then, he comes out with a special sketch written for him. This is his first one in awhile, but it is fun as it talks about the adventures of Uber.
This was, from start to finish, one of the best and most enjoyable episodes of the season so far. It took way too long for Elizabeth Banks to get a hosting gig, and let's hope her next stop at 30 Rock is not too far out.