Too often, Saturday Night Live doesn’t take full advantage of the whole “live” thing, but when the show clearly scraps its plans in order to incorporate some late-breaking events, it’s bracing. Or thoroughly disgusting, like the switcheroo in last night’s cold open. Appearing ready to rehash Tuesday’s dully contentious vice presidential debate, the conspicuously announced rebroadcast of same was interrupted by a report on Republican presidential nominee Donald’s Trump’s misogynist comments from 2005, the recordings of which only came to light on Friday.
SNL campaign-season ringer Alec Baldwin returned as his bellicose Trump, telling CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin (Cecily Strong) his side of a story that’s sent even some of his staunchest GOP supporters fleeing. (In fear of bad press and lost votes, if not actual outrage). Baldwin’s Trump accurately depicts real-world Trump’s constitutional inability to admit wrongdoing or criticism: He invents a word that sounds something like “apple-ogize,” and gives a qualified “sorry” to anyone who was offended while giving equal props to the “other half” of the world he claims was turned on by an outright admission of habitual sexual assault. Additionally, he immediately turns on veep pick Mike Pence (“I’ll always have Pence”) once the anchor informs him that Pence has canceled all upcoming campaign events. (“Mike Pence is a loser.”) He also—in a move that left the SNL audience gasping—happily blurts out the now-infamous Trump-ism “Grab ’em by the pussy” after the anchor stumbles over a more delicate turn of the phrase.
The Lin-Manuel Miranda-hosted episode was especially harsh on Trump, his most recent jaw-dropping bullshit apparently convincing Lorne Michaels and company that’s it’s safe now to completely turn on last season’s most controversial host. Among the many anti-Trump jokes and sketches, Miranda barely stopped himself from calling Trump “a piece of shit” in an excellent, Hamilton-inspired musical monologue; Weekend Update was unsparingly vicious. The cold open derived most of its laughs from Alec Baldwin’s impression, Kate McKinnon’s toothily gleeful Hillary Clinton, and Trump repeatedly saying even more terrible things while his mic was on, with Strong’s character growing steadily more creeped out the more Trump tried to justify himself, at one point hugging herself in a futile attempt to stay calm. Or perhaps sane. In an election season, as Miranda sings in his monologue, even more contentious than the one that ended up with a duel in Weehawken, she’s not alone.