Saturday Night Live S42, E2: Lin-Manuel Miranda Brings Musical Magic To Studio 8H

This weekend has been extremely tumultuous in terms of politics, with breaking news seemingly popping up every minute. Fortunately, Lin Manuel-Miranda arrived to hand out free pizza! See, isn't that nice? Those poor people waited outside for days in the increasingly cold weather just to get tickets to the show and he gives them piping hot pizza! It just goes to show you, there is some good in the world after all.

I’ve finally been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack in preparation for the episode. Meanwhile, the writers have been prepping for the episode more than usual, especially given Friday’s events. Many comedians including Patton Oswalt and Josh Gad, have been making jokes on Twitter either comparing them to warbound officers or saying that they're going to need drugs to get through the weekend. I’ll be honest, this really makes me want to see Patton Oswalt appear on the show. I’m predicting that tonight’s episode will be a Trump-bashing, leaked audio-exploiting, historical and musical extravaganza! Let’s go through it together, shall we?

Cold Opening: I have a feeling that if the leaked tape scandal didn’t happen on Friday, then the entire sketch would have been about the vice presidential debate. As it was, I enjoyed the bits about the debate. I wish that we had more lines about it, but the segue to the leaked tape coverage was great. I can’t believe it, but Alec Baldwin pulled off the astounding feat of making Trump even creepier than he really is. Cecily Strong nailed it with her look of revulsion at his ramblings. I also enjoyed the small dig at the show’s diversity with Melissa Villaseñor breaking character in the beginning. 'Baby steps', indeed. Finally, I burst out laughing when it cut to a wild party in progress at Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters.

Monologue: The entire thing was glorious. I loved seeing the clever way that he molded songs from Hamilton with various tidbits of trivia about SNL’s history. I’m a sucker for when the monologues end up backstage, and not just when they keep getting two showgirls, a guy dressed up as Abraham Lincoln, and a llama to show up. It gives off an aura of playfulness, like a fun romp across a comedy playground.

The instance where Lin-Manuel nearly cursed at Trump’s photo, a reference to his hosting last season, definitely felt like an apology from the writers for that terrible decision. All in all, Lin-Manuel is a huge fan of the show and you could see it in his face as he happily danced around.

Campfire: I think that if Vanessa and Lin’s characters were to meet Weekend Update’s Garth and Kat characters, they would explode. It would be like the hypothetical meeting between matter and anti-matter. One pair can’t sing with prepared lyrics and the other pair are presumably good singers, but they’re never on time. I think that this might be the most uncomfortable sketch of the season so far, with Lin and Vanessa’s incestual, nosy campers. It made me laugh, but it was so painful to sit through. You can watch it here.

Crucible Cast Party: It’s another in a recent tradition of awesome music videos starring the women of Saturday Night Live, this time focused on awkward high school cast parties. I was watching the episode with friends and they were able to confirm that it was painfully accurate to real-life experiences.

Substitute Teacher: This is the antithesis of last season’s “Farewell, Mr. Bunting” short. I want to see more of this class full of jaded students and the various would-be inspirational teachers that they have to deal with. Who was their first teacher? How did they become so jaded? How are they so aware of stereotypical inspirational teacher moments? Maybe they were raised on copies of Dead Poets Society played in reverse. You can watch it here.

A Day Off With Kellyanne Conway: The moment the sketch started, I knew it was going to be a hit. With a concept like the Trump campaign’s advisor just trying to get one day off, how could it not? I almost feel sorry for Kellyanne Conway. She just doesn’t get a break.

Twenty One Pilots- “Heathens”: I like the way they tried to simulate a jail cell with the lighting. I do think the song is okay. I watched the tie-in music video for Suicide Squad back when it first came out and it wasn’t bad. You can watch it here.

Weekend Update: Colin and Michael were on fire in an Update almost completely dominated by Trump. Along with some intelligent commentary on assault and entitlement, they also gave us a brief ad with the leaked audio being used as a marketing campaign.

Also, I think it’s a proven fact by now that if a punchline starts with “But when I…”, then I’m going to like it. The guest pieces could have been better but that’s mostly because they paled in comparison to Colin and Michael’s jokes. I probably would have liked Tina and Jimmy’s jokes about Philadelphia more if I actually lived there. As it was, I just felt nostalgic for seeing them on Update in reruns. Tina Fey and Jimmy were really funny, but I kept getting distracted by Jimmy's almost British-sounding dialect.

You can watch the rest of it herehere, and here.

The Music Man: I want to see more of Lin-Manuel playing a manic, slightly murderous salesman. With his natural charisma and singing ability, it was inevitable that he would be cast as the con artist salesman in the sketch, desperately trying to get the townspeople to buy bank accounts instead of instruments. I kind of want some people in Hollywood to take this concept and pitch a heist movie with Lin-Manuel playing the head con artist. You can watch it here.

Diego Calls His Mom: With this being the third pre-recorded short in the episode, I think it’s safe to say that there’s been more than usual in this one. Also, i think the branded content is kicking in, with a lot of products being named. It acted as an interesting commentary on American culture, as well as a fairly touching family moment. You can watch it here.

Stranger Things Sneak Peak: I’ve never seen Stranger Things, but the sketch managed to explain the premise fairly well. I did like the jokes, especially the commentary on the police.

Twenty One Pilots- “Ride”: I had fun listening to my friends singing along. You can see it for yourself here.

Melania Moments #78: Can we just have one of these every day until the election? You could practically just type anything and have it work. Heck, you could just use quotes from past sketches about the election. As it is, I do hope that they continue in the future. You can see it here.

A Degree Of Valor: Yes, another sketch that plays with a classic formula! A fair amount of the jokes about the dying soldier’s requests grossed me out, but, thankfully, it didn’t take up the entirety of the piece. On another note, am I the only one who got the feeling that some of the show’s writers have a painful history with boogie-woogie music? The jokes felt almost personal, like someone making fun of their shameful past. You can watch it here.

Overall Thoughts: I thought that the quality dipped slightly after Weekend Update, but not to the point where it made the second half of the show unwatchable. Rather, it was just wasn’t as funny. I do like the fact that Lin-Manuel’s mere presence transformed the show almost entirely into a musical. I did have a theory that the show would be opened by Lin-Manuel dressed up as an orchestra conductor and have the show revolve around a similar theme, but it was mostly in jest.

Tonally, there was a lot of Trump-bashing, but it wasn’t unjustified. (Then again, when isn’t it unjustified?) With less than twenty-four hours to process the leaked Access Hollywood tapes, the writers managed to spin the situation into comedy gold. When the episode airs again during an off week, I’m definitely going to tune in.

What did you think? Was Lin-Manuel’s appearance as magnificent as you had hoped? Was the Trump-bashing accurate enough or did it fall below the mark? Let me know in the comments below!

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