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©2017/Will Heath/NBC

©2017/Will Heath/NBC

By Ellen O’Brien, Glenbard West

Few episodes of “Saturday Night Live” have made as many thoughtful and bold statements as this week’s. Teaming up with host Octavia Spencer, “SNL” covered everything from the perceived cowardice of the Republican party to the state of race relations between individuals. These messages were strong, even when other sketches fell flat. Regardless, the show came back strong after a couple weeks of being on hiatus.

THE BEST

“COLD OPEN”

Who would pair together Forrest Gump and Jeff Sessions? “SNL”, of course. The unlikely combination was surprisingly successful, as McKinnon’s Sessions recounted to anyone who would listen his relationship with Trump…and Putin, of course, who made an appearance, too. However, the highlight of this was undoubtedly Octavia Spencer reprising her role as Minnie Jackson from The Help to give Sessions a pie full of – well, you know. This was hands down the most creative “Cold Open” I’ve seen in quite a while.

“MONOLOGUE”

Although it was short, Spencer’s monologue was outstanding, as she used every second to its full advantage. Plus, she’s so charming and genuine that it’s hard not to enjoy her just being herself. Amazingly, she has portrayed sixteen nurses in movies and television, which she played up by suggesting that she has “resting nurse face”. Spencer also called out people for mixing up the three black movies at the Oscars this year. Hidden Fence Light, anyone?

“REPUBLICAN MOVIE TRAILER”

I’m still processing how amazing this faux-movie trailer was. Essentially, this was promoting a film about the courageous Republican who stood up to President Trump and saved the country…who is to be determined. This was the perfect call to action for the leaders of our nation, and honestly, I hope somebody becomes the infamous TBD soon. Meanwhile, this was still a hilarious sketch, full of vague narration and ambiguity since the identity of this person is unknown. So check it out – at least for that!

“GIRL AT A BAR”

“SNL” has hit the nail on the head once again with this pre-taped sketch. This reflected a notion that is coming to light today – that some men think they’re doing women a favor by supporting feminism. Ridiculous, right? This episode took that to a new level, featuring Cecily Strong’s character being hit on at a bar by only that type of guy. The men kept getting more and more offensive, reinforcing the whole point of the sketch – supporting women doesn’t make you the perfect man! But hey, it’s a good place to start.

“ZOO-OPOLIS VOICE ACTORS”

This was just like it sounds like: voice actors reading lines for a Zootopia rip-off. I’ll admit, I was a little bored by this sketch when it first started. Come on, it was clearly a thinly veiled excuse for the “SNL” cast to do celebrity impressions! But little did I know that Melissa Villasenor has an astonishing talent for impersonations. I am still blown away. From her Kristen Wiig to her Owen Wilson to her Julia Louis-Dreyfus to her Kate McKinnon…I can’t pick a favorite!

“WEEKEND UPDATE”

After a few weeks of no “SNL”, there was plenty of Trump material to catch up on. “Update” had a hay day, notably referring to the Republican party as the “sausage party”. There was no shortage of political jokes, ranging from immigration reform to the now infamous photo of Kellyanne Conway on her phone with her feet on the couch in the Oval Office – did I mention that McKinnon (as Conway) was periodically placed in sketches throughout the episode in the same position? Alex Moffat and Mikey Day joined the “Update” co-anchors as Eric and Donald Trump Jr., and they both emulated the president’s sons flawlessly. And finally, one of my favorite guests, Vanessa Bayer’s Laura Parsons, aka the Newscaster of Tomorrow, showed up, along with her terrible singing and inappropriate talking points.

“STICKY BUN”

As you might have guessed based on its title, this sketch was the dumb kind of funny. But still funny! Three employees trained for their job at the fast-food place, Sticky Bun, by practicing interacting with a customer. Predictably, but hilariously, they all tended to make super weird or inappropriate remarks. My personal favorite was the employees saying, “Will you eat?” instead of “Can I take your order?” at the cash register. Again, it was the dumb kind of funny.

“WINE BAR”

This sketch was somewhere between the best and the worst, but due to its worthwhile message, it ended up here. It consisted of a group of friends out for girls night at a wine bar, when Strong’s character’s new friend Jode, played by Spencer, joined them. The jokes weren’t anything special – just Strong talking about how crazy and wild Jode was, even though she was strangely ordinary. Turns out, Strong was looking for a token black friend after forgetting about Black History Month – and Jode was looking for a white one! Dare I say this has something to do with race relations nowadays?

THE WORST

“DRUG COMPANY HEARING”

I’ll break this sketch down for you: a woman, depicted by Spencer, sued a drug company for intellectual property theft, meaning they took the names of people close to her and put them on drugs. Yeah, she was acquainted with people named Lyrica, Tylenol, Dayquil, need I go on? Now, this was funny at its core, but it didn’t go any further than that. It was kind of a dull sketch for so early in the episode – usually they save the worst for last!

“YOUNG BLOOD”

In this sketch, an old man played by Kenan Thompson attempted to teach a boy, Pete Davidson, about life, using chess as a sort of metaphor for it. Except the old man didn’t really know how to play chess. It had potential, but it was pretty boring.

“THE CHOCOLATE MAN”

Imagine your coworker brought a gun into the office, got fired, and then, came back with a trolley of chocolate, asking for forgiveness. Well, now you don’t have to imagine anymore, because “SNL” made it at sketch! And it was as strange and unfunny as it sounds. The only positive things it offered were songs parodied to be about chocolate, and even those were a little creepy.

“SPENCER’S GIFTS HQ”

Were you familiar with Spencer’s Gifts before this? Because I sure wasn’t, but apparently, it’s a gag gift shop. And in this sketch, Octavia Spencer was the owner of the company, listening and commenting as her employees provided new ideas for gag gifts. The ideas were far from funny, but thankfully, Spencer was able to deliver some comic relief through her criticism – but only some.

“Saturday Night Live”

10:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC

3 out of 4 stars

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