Kate McKinnon provided the most memorable political impressions of the night — far from the first time she’s done so — on Saturday as Saturday Night Live returned with its first live episode in three weeks.
“Hello. My name’s Jeff. Jeff Sessions. Would you like a chocolate?” McKinnon asks, in character as the attorney general in a Forrest Gump-like bus stop cold open scene.
A few strangers sit down in succession next to Sessions.
“Being in the government is so fun,” he says. “You meet so many nice people. Like this, this is my best good friend Kellyanne. She ain’t got no legs,” Sessions/Gump says, showing the infamous photo of Kellyanne Conway kneeling on the couch and looking at her phone while presidents of historically black colleges and universities take a photo with President Trump. (It later became a running joke, with McKinnon as Conway kneeling and looking at her phone in various locations between sketches.)
Sessions tells another stranger on the bench, “Democrats want me to resign. I just gotta prove to everybody that I don’t have any ties to the Russians whatsoever.”
This past week, the real-life Sessions recused himself from investigations into possible Russian involvement in the U.S. election, after reports emerged that he met with the Russian ambassador twice last year.
Then the bus comes by, leaving a shirtless Vladimir Putin sitting next to Sessions.
“This meeting never happened,” Putin (Beck Bennett) says.
“I wasn’t going to remember it anyway,” Sessions says, as they bump fists.
Actress Octavia Spencer hosted the show. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in last year’s Hidden Figures. In her monologue, she joked about people getting the movies Hidden Figures, Fences and Moonlight confused.
“So many people have been coming up to me saying, ‘I loved Hidden Fences!’ … I get it, there were three black movies at the Oscars this year. And that’s a lot for Americans. So if you’re going to get confused anyway, I thought I might as well make some money off it. That’s why I produced Hidden Fence Light.”
Later the show took a shot at congressional Republicans, with a fake movie trailer imagining what it would look like if a fictional Republican — person TBD — stood up to President Trump. “A patriot who put country over party,” the voice-over says. It’s a movie “definitely not about Paul Ryan.”
On “Weekend Update,” co-anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost threw in a few political zingers as well.
“President Trump said that his budget will help enlarge what he calls a ‘depleted military,’ ” Che says, after President Trump this past week proposed a $54 billion increase in the Department of Defense budget. “Depleted military? In relation to what, the Death Star?”
The U.S. already spends hundreds of billions of dollars more on military capability than any other country in the world.
President Trump’s sons Eric (Alex Moffat) and Donald Jr. (Mikey Day) made an appearance to talk about their business dealings. Well, it was mostly just Donald Jr., who talked about opening a golf course in Dubai and hotel in Vancouver while he fed Eric Cheerios. Eric then struggled to open a Capri Sun.
Overall, the episode didn’t stray as far into the political realm as previous ones this season — there was no surprise appearance of Melissa McCarthy as Sean “Spicey” Spicer or Alec Baldwin as Trump.
The show is live again next week with host Scarlett Johansson and musical guest Lorde.
NPR’s Emma Bowman contributed to this report.