Melissa McCarthy’s ace Sean Spicer impersonation so thoroughly dominated the Saturday Night Live news cycle in February, it was easy to forget that she’s not an actual cast member. So it’s understandable if you tuned into the first new episode in two weeks expecting to see more of her gum-chewing hilarity, only to feel your heart sink when you realized you were in for 90 McCarthy-free minutes.
With the show’s biggest star of the moment MIA, it fell to Kate McKinnon to generate the political material that might inspire a certain POTUS to issue a 5 a.m. tweet. As expected, she rose to the occasion, reprising the Jeff Sessions caricature she previously debuted opposite McCarthy’s Spicer. Actually, this time around, McKinnon played Forrest Sessions, setting the attorney general down on the same park bench where Tom Hanks’s most famous character once philosophized about chocolates. And McKinnon’s Sessions expressed some of the same deep thoughts, albeit with less wholesome conclusions: “I always say life is like a box of chocolates: Sure are a whole lot of brown ones in there.”
At the end of the sketch, Sessions was greeted by Minny Jackson, the character that this week’s host, Octavia Spencer, portrayed in the 2011 film, The Help, in a performance that nabbed her that year’s Best Supporting Actress trophy. And Minny came to their meeting bearing chocolate — specifically her signature creation, a chocolate pie that comes with an extra excremental ingredient. “My favorite,” McKinnon said, flashing her very best s**t-eating grin.
Best Sketch: “Youngblood”
Kenan Thompson’s chess master is revealed to be anything but when he gets completely served by young trash-talker, Pete Davidson. On a strong night for filmed sketches, “Youngblood” wasn’t the most topical or timely — that honor probably goes to “TBD” — but it netted the biggest laughs.
Runner Up: “Girl at a Bar”
Did you squirm a little bit watching Cecily Strong fend off a series of “nice guys” who reveal themselves to be total A-holes when she declines to date and/or sleep with them? Good — if you didn’t, it might require some soul-searching.
Worst Sketch: “The Chocolate Man”
The chocolate gags may have worked in the cold open, but not so much in this late-in-the-evening skit, where Beck Bennett’s fired employee returns to the workplace he terrorized, now in the guise of a suspenders-wearing candy man. It’s the equivalent of reaching into a box of chocolates hoping for a caramel confection, and biting into the one with a marzipan center.
Best Use of Octavia Spencer: “Drug Company Hearing”
Despite a few minor cue-card flubs (a problem that recurred with a few cast members during the night), Spencer ably anchored this smartly written sketch that tackles nothing less than the appropriation of African-American culture within a white-dominated corporate establishment. It’s like Get Out minus the teacup … and bloodshed.
Episode MVP: Mikey Day
Day stole the show in the “Sticky Bun” sketch as a trainee with a tendency to blurt out inappropriate things like “Are both your parents still alive?” A staff writer who transitioned to featured player this year (he previously co-wrote the breakout sketch “Farewell, Mr. Bunting“), he’s been looking to make his mark all season long. Consider it made.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:35 p.m. on NBC. Watch clips and full episodes of SNL for free on Yahoo View.