All hail Queen Sandra Oh. The Killing Eve star has had a hell of a year, between headlining BBC America’s darkly comic spy hit (one of the best shows of 2018, in our estimation), earning an Emmy nomination and winning a Golden Globe, and celebrating her first year of American citizenship. And now, she gets to host Saturday Night Live, only the third Asian woman to host the show in its history.
If the hour she headlined is any indicator, the SNL writers’ room was determined not to embarrass themselves in front of Oh — a fear we should all reasonably have in her presence. They showed up big time this week, delivering a mostly-solid slate of sketches lively enough to wake you up after being lulled to slumber by the sonic wallpaper of musical guest Tame Impala. Let’s go over some highlights, shall we?
Mulling Over Mueller
As the country reckons with the (Barr-filtered) results of the Mueller report and where to go from here, SNL did its best to express the same confusion many of us felt after hearing that, of all the crimes Trump likely committed, at least direct collusion with Russia may not be one of them? The cold open, which has long grown into a tiresome carousel of waiting for Kate McKinnon’s Goblin of the Week while Alec Baldwin mugs and preens as a wholly ineffective Trump, at least took a different structure – a three-way interpretation of the Mueller report from the impartial Mueller (Robert De Niro, wearing those terrifying prosthetics) to William Barr (a brusque, naive Aidy Bryant) and Trump (Baldwin, all pursed lips and constipation). “If you shoot at the devil, you best not miss,” claims Trump; perhaps that’s true.
A funnier interpretation of events, however, came in a mid-show sketch featuring the Russian reaction to the Barr summary, in which Putin (Beck Bennett) starts to lose some clout because his underlings respected him for apparently having the president under his thumb. Their baffled reactions to the news are matched by the arrival of Kim Jong Un (staff writer Bowen Yang, who really deserves a look for the main cast after this), who’s disappointed, to say the least, by Putin’s apparent lack of control. These sketches may not have been great shakes as a whole, but they’re a decent snapshot of the suffusion of confusion about the collusion illusion. (Sorry.)
And of course, there was Weekend Update, which made room between groaners about dead zebras (“What’s black and white and red all over?”) for genuinely funny bits like Cecily Strong‘s always-welcome Jeanine Pirro, whose “three-Chardonnays-deep” volume pairs nicely with her incredulous pratfalls every time Colin Jost tells her some good news for Trump.
Sandra Oh Puts It All Out There
As it is with most of her work, Oh absolutely crushed her hosting duties, throwing herself into the mix with the wild energy of a regular cast member. Her opening monologue, delivered in an outstanding suit, recounted the conflicting natures of her Canadian, Asian, and American citizenship. Her attempt to infuse some newly-inducted American bravado into her speech went as well as you could expect: “Hi, I’m Sandra Oh, and I cry more than anyone you’ve ever met.” Girl, same.
Even in the sketches, she got plenty of chances to go crazy — take “Future Self”, in which a dorky teen (Mikey Day) looks in his bedroom mirror to see a cool, confident version of himself (Alex Moffat) ten years from now. Things seem to be going well for him, except for the fact that his girlfriend is a wild, fast-talking 47-year-old woman named Tishi (Oh, dressed like a ’90s club girl, or an extra from The Matrix). The secret to their relationship is twofold: she’s “got that good goo-goo,” and she “owns Samsung.” Not only is Oh deliciously off-the-wall as Tishi, but the sketch smartly plays off the fact that nobody can tell Moffatt and Day apart. Like, ever.
And, of course, there was the dated but memorable Favourite send-up The Duel, featuring Oh in classic Victorian dress, continually accidentally torn apart by stray bullets fired by her competing beaus (Pete Davidson and Bennett).
Tame Impala Lives Up to Its Name
*snores*….. Oh, sorry about that, I nodded off for a second. Anyways, Tame Impala played music. It was fine. It’s hard to take a band all that seriously when the frontman breaks out the maracas within the first seconds of their set.
To be quite honest, I’d have much preferred the musical guest to have been replaced by Kenan Thompson’s fictional Fats Domino-like blues musician singing his wild, encore-heavy song “Electric Shoes,” because that was, as the kids say, a certified bop.