Look, not many people really thought Donald Trump was going to actually be elected president of the United States until… that happened. Certainly, one suspects, not Alec Baldwin, who agreed to don the orange-face and the cotton candy wig thinking, no doubt, that he’d have a couple of fun months mocking Trump with his buddies on SNL before jetting off to do whatever famously political and wealthy movie stars do. So, with the sudden prospect of a four-year weekly gig stretching in front of him/all of us, Baldwin has adopted a guest-starring policy perhaps best described as “whenever he feels like it.”
Still, when the SNL writers have to come at Trump without just being able to wheel Baldwin out there, they’ve found some more ambitious takes on this… situation. Tonight, we saw Kate McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway finally coming out and admitting how much she craves the limelight in a lavish Chicago-based musical number. And Trump’s traditional spot in the cold open was taken by Beck Bennett’s ever-shirtless impression of Trump’s best buddy and benefactor, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
Making Putin’s soft-voiced statements purr with menace, Bennett addresses concerned Americans, reassuring us, “You worry that your country’s in the hands of this unpredictable man. But don’t worry—it’s not.” Calling America “the most expensive thing we’ve ever bought,” Putin smilingly assures Americans that, soon, we’ll stop our complaining, just like in Russia. Alluding to Putin’s habit of “disappearing” those journalists and dissidents who oppose him, he rather chillingly deadpans, “It’s like they’re gone!” But, when McKinnon’s Weekend Update correspondent, perpetually suffering Russian woman Olya Povlatsky, is forced to read a statement of support, Putin’s grip slips. Olya reappears outside the window of his office, shaking her head and sporting one of the pink, so-called “pussyhats” worn by the millions of women who protested Trump (and, by creepy extension, Putin) all day on Saturday. If Olya (who apparently sleeps, tauntaun-style, inside a hollowed-out dog carcass) can find the will to resist, then there’s hope for us, too.