Saturday Night Live Season 41, Episode 18: Elaine Benes Returns And Aliens Crash Singles Night- More At Eleven!

I’ve been very excited for this episode ever since they announced it. From the looks of it, I’m not the only one. Is it just me, or has the SNL YouTube channel been releasing more promos than usual? It makes sense, I guess. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an SNL veteran and a comedy legend. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Cold Opening: Throughout Saturday Night Live’s rich history, there have been good political debate cold openings, bad political debate cold openings, and political debate cold openings that have made me jump out of my seat and squeal like a hyper toddler. This was one of them. I’m trying to compose myself, but—oh my God, Julia Louis-Dreyfus appeared as her Seinfeld character, you guys! Her cameo sold the sketch for me. I was so, so happy to see a familiar face from Seinfeld again. The Friends impression, not as much, but I haven’t seen a lot of that show. Apart from my fan-squealing, the political satire itself was effective, especially Kenan Thompson’s appearance to deliver the only question related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Some of the Seinfeld lines sounded forced, but the majority felt fairly natural.

Monologue: If you’ve never heard of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, this probably won’t help you. The joke revolves around Julia discussing her lack of notoriety with her film career and SNL. If you like film trivia, you might find it interesting. As for me, it wasn’t “laugh out loud” funny, but it had a few good moments, such as a cameo from her Veep costar, Tony Hale.

Heroin AM: This commercial parody has a very simple concept. Just replace normal energy drinks and supplements with heroin. I mean, it’s not like they’re any different, right? (Ba-dum ksh!!) The sheer inappropriateness of the concept just makes me want to see the commercial expanded. Heck, I would watch a movie or a half-hour sitcom about this. “Heroin Family”, the story of a lazy family. What do they do when they’re too tired to work? Heroin! Or, how about Lassie Uses Heroin? For when you just can’t get Timmy out of that well and need a little boost. Okay, maybe the word ‘heroin’ makes me giggle. All that aside, a short and sweet commercial parody.

Huge Jewelry: This sketch stars Julia and Kate McKinnon with accents that seem to come straight out of Brooklyn Beat, a different sketch starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Believing that bigger automatically means better, they sell outrageously large pieces of jewelry. There’s not really much to say about it: An oddly familiar yet amusing premise and some great throwaway lines make it a serviceable slice of comedy. Oh, and Nick Jonas appears, if you care about that.

The Pool Boy: Maybe I’m still giddy from the cold opening, but this prerecorded short feels Seinfeldian. Julia plays a woman who is tired of having an affair with her pool boy. As she waxes poetic on her relationship with him and her complicated feelings on what to do about it, he nonchalantly goes about his work. Apart from blithely saying “Okay!” to her laments, he hardly expresses emotion. I can easily see it as a Seinfeld plot.

Cinema Classics: Sadly, I’ve never been the biggest fan of this recurring sketch. Typically, the premises sound okay, but just end up being bland, puerile, or both. In this case, the set-up is passably funny. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays an actress who can’t memorize her lines, so they’re hidden inside the set. Personally, I felt that the jokes were just okay, but the way they were hidden throughout the set was really clever. The more absurd and obvious the lines grew, the more I laughed. In the end, isn’t that all that matters? Well, no. Kenan Thompson’s announcement character essentially explaining the joke ruined the flow as far as I am concerned.

Mercedes Double-A Class: I have to admit, I almost thought this was a real commercial until the initial sight gag clued me in. I’m a fan of absurd humor, so I thought it was pretty great. The joke nearly seemed too repetitive for my taste, but seeing a stream of batteries fall out of a car caused me to grin.

Weekend Update: If I could ask Jay Pharoah anything, it would probably be how he does his impression of Shaquille O’Neal. It makes even a non-sports fan like me chuckle. Secondly, in the long tradition of Weekend Update characters with tragic lives, we now introduce Animal Annie, a new character played by the ever-delightful Aidy Bryant. I almost wish that her segment was longer, even though the animal that she brought scared me. Though they lacked last week's punch, there was still something delightful about Michael Che and Colin Jost’s jokes. The glorious return of Cecily Strong’s “One Dimensional Female Character In A Male-Dominated Movie” was, by far, the best part of the sketch. I wish that she would appear more often. It’s the kind of sharp commentary that we need more of.

Who Works Here?: In a marked improvement over last week’s icky game show parody, today’s sketch puts real-life situations in a decidedly weird context. Everyone delivers a powerful performance, from the allegedly dull contestants to Julia’s dryly sarcastic host. In fact, the whole thing reminds me of NBC’s newest comedy show, Superstore. Crossover, anyone? For the first time in a while, SNL has come up with a game show sketch that I wouldn’t mind seeing again. Please, writers, bring this lovely, oddball sketch back.

Aliens At A Singles Event: Well, I’m going to have nightmares tonight. Two aliens invade a singles night, and if they don’t mate, their species will die out. I know I’ve been saying this a lot in this week’s review, but I think the premise was too good for such a small sketch. I wish it was longer. I’m genuinely interested in the plight of these aliens. What is their home like? Have they met the Coneheads? Are they lip-synching the dialogue or did Julia and Kate alter their voices for the sketch with reverse-helium?

‘God Is A Boob Man’ Trailer: Now there’s a sentence you don’t see every day.  You can’t really go wrong with parodies of, shall we say, the more outlandish Christian movies. The premise for this fake movie trailer is a Christian movie about a woman trying to prove in a court of law that God is straight. Filled with rampant stereotypes (Jewish lawyers) and biting satire (“I want to deny basic goods and services to gay people.”), it’s a winner in my book. I wonder if it was made by the same writers who wrote "The Day Beyonce Turned Black.

Musical Guest: I am not the best judge of music, but Nick seemed to be doing a good job. In quantitive news, he performed “Close” and “Champagne Problems.” Tove Lo assisted him in the first song.

Prediction Results: As it turns out, some of my predictions came true. A cast member from Veep appeared in the monologue and Larry David appeared as Bernie Sanders.

Overall: I would go so far as to label this episode as vintage Saturday Night Live. The cast and crew put true quality into creating an especially biting episode, helped by Julia’s wit and charisma. I’ll have to watch the Tracy Morgan episode again, but it might rival that one for my favorite one of the season.

Next Time: As revealed during the episode, SNL will return in May with Brie Larson making her debut as host and Alicia Keys making her third appearance as the musical guest. Will it be as on-point as this week’s episode? Will it be filled with gallons of giggles? Will I continue to automatically confuse Brie Larson with Alison Brie? Find out next month!

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or the Harry Potter books.