Alec Baldwin Hosts the Highest Rated ‘SNL’ Episode In Six Years

©2017/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC
Last week, Melissa McCarthy unexpectedly sieged the SNL stage with a studied and savage take on Sean Spicer that seems to have reignited everyone’s passion for the show.

McCarthy’s frenzied Spicer was, as expected, immediately critiqued by Don and his friends (Spicer called it “mean,” so I guess he doesn’t check his @replies too much). But beyond the usual butt-hurt embarrassment of having the regimes’ general incompetence mocked, this time – said “sources” – Spicer’s actual job could be on the line, because nothing makes you look weaker than being taken down by a woman (sound familiar?).

Expose your weakness and the internet rushes to attack – so, all week everyone from Huffington Post to Vanity Fair weighed in with their dream cameo casting picks, wondering whether Don would cry harder if his mortal enemy (for some still unknown reason) Rosie O’Donnell played him, or if she appeared as Bannon.

After the last exceptional episode, led by Kristen Stewart (who, as a former teen star, is now the kind of radical gay that makes many conservatives double take), many more eyes than usual were on SNL this week. The cheers from the studio audience were very noticeably louder – and especially so when, for example, Nordstom’s name came up, or when Kellyanne Conway fell out a window.

The cameos didn’t come quite as expected – instead of, say, Ellen DeGeneres as Jeff Sessions, Kate McKinnon stepped up, but there was a visit from Tracy Morgan as one of Beyonce’s in utero twins, so it wasn’t entirely without surprises. And McCarthy, with as much raging energy and as fresh a takedown, was back at the top, armed with an even bigger wad of gum and an improved, motorized podium with which to terrorize Fake Newsies.

It was another home run, in all, with only a couple non-political sketches, and plenty of jokes in those that were that keep pushing the show’s party line. They’ve been criticized for staying too close to the middle for quite some time, but are choosing a side pretty clearly now – and taking a stand has earned the show its highest ratings in six years.

Sean Spicer Press Conference Cold Open

McCarthy is – delightfully – back with another weekly press briefing, which opens with a promise from Spice-y that she’s “calm, now, and will remain calm as long as [us] sons of-” …well, it doesn’t last long before she’s wild-eyed and waving blank pages and leaf blowers in peoples faces, explaining immigration aided by Barbie and Moana. From being incapable of pronouncing foreign names to being unable to answer simple questions in any satisfactory manner, McCarthy’s Spicer is as true to the real thing as last week’s breathtaking first installment.

Monologue

It’s Alec Baldwin’s SEVENTEENTH time hosting, and a lot has happened in the 27 years since his first appearance. Cast member Pete Davidson was born, for one, and while Baldwin’s racked up hosting gigs, Davidson’s grown from a sparkle in his mother’s eye to a full-grown millennial, standing onstage and pointing out Baldwin’s every physical flaw with an innocent smile on his face. Davidson, between mentioning how honored he is to share the stage with such a legend, keeps getting thrown by vintage photos of the actor, posing questions about aging with zero grace (though Baldwin handles it all with some biting burns of his own).

Russell Stover Black History Month

For the white man who doesn’t know what to get his black girlfriend for Valentine’s Day comes Russell Stover’s exceptionally niche new product, the Black History Heart-Shaped Box. With nods to the month’s unforgettable heroes, and to your boyfriend’s ongoing, desperate efforts to appear culturally sensitive, this elegantly packaged set of treats is sure to please, with flavors like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Cream, and even a tiny white chocolate Bill Clinton. Another sponsored sketch slam dunk.

Pitch Meeting

Inspired by the Super Bowl’s crop of artfully political (but generally product-irrelevant) ads, Cheetos has invited two ad firms to pitch them some exciting new ideas. The duo of Murphy and Kennedy (Baldwin and Aidy Bryant) have been equally inspired, pitching a set of somber vignettes on immigrants and a trans Chester (now Danielle) Cheetah, while competitors AK Foster (Kyle Mooney and Melissa Villasenor) offer more upbeat ad ideas.

Jake Tapper Fatal Attraction

When anchor Jake Tapper (Beck Bennett) refuses to allow Kellyanne Conway (McKinnon) on air, citing her reliability issues, the fake politician goes full-on Fatal Attraction on him, laying in wait in his darkened apartment and threatening that she will not be ignored.

Drill Sergeant

Wouldn’t we all love to have daddies like Drill Sergeant Larson (Baldwin), who gives his soldier son (Mikey Day) some (not so) tough love during a routine bunk visit.

Weekend Update

Che explains why Don’s “SEE YOU IN COURT” tweet was so stupid, why an $18 cup of coffee is so stupid, and why someone buying a Cheeto shaped like Harambe for $100,000 is so stupid.

Elizabeth Warren (McKinnon) stops by to do some SNL fact-checking:

A truly delightful first-time visitor, who is a horrible human but a character I’d probably watch a full-length spinoff from: a guy who just bought a boat (Alex Moffatt), here with some totes perf V-Day vacay suggeshes:

And, as a cautionary tale to 50 Shades-obsessed lovebird, a sexually adventurous couple (Leslie Jones and Day) stop by to share a few stay-safe tips:

Trump People’s Court

Bringing Twitter’s most immediate and obvious joke to life, this sketch pits Trump against the three federal judges to overrule his travel ban on the only court he has left to appeal to: The People’s Court. Judge Cecily Strong finds him as ridiculous as the defendants, but since she’s just a TV judge she can be as honest as she wants to the TV president / plaintiff.

Beyonce Babies

When Beyonce (Sasheer Zamata) visits her OB-GYN (Baldwin), she gets her first look at the twins she announced to the world this week – and they look an awful lot like Kenan Thompson and Tracy Morgan, wrapped in diapers and sweater-socks and lounging in her velvet-upholstered womb. The twins gossip about their mom (judging by the constant screams, she’s either a goblin or a queen), and manage to throw some shade at Destiny’s Child, too, because why not.

Leslie Wants To Play Trump

It’s been awhile since we checked in with Leslie Jones – last time we took a look into her life, she was enjoying the early days of her relationship with cast mate Kyle Mooney (in November sketch “Love and Leslie”). Great news: they’re still together! But they’re not as love-y as usual, because Leslie’s got something on her mind – now that we’ve got maybe four more years of Trump jokes to make, does the show need to re-cast temp player Baldwin with someone more steady? Leslie’s got her eye on the role, and everything else in her life is taking a backseat as she studies tapes, learns to stretch vowels, and applies some intense eyebrow wigs.

Honestly – casting Leslie as Trump would be one of the most radical things the show could do, and it would no doubt piss him off immensely. The moment the game of this sketch became clear I almost started crying with excitement, hoping the show was using Baldwin’s hosting gig as an excuse to pass the torch. While that didn’t officially happen, I’m still really, really still hoping.

Gym Class

Baldwin is the world’s most supportive (or maybe just the deafest) gym teacher, bravely facing a gassy but determined student (Day) intent on breaking the school’s sit up record.

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