Saturday Night Live S42, E3: 'Third Episode Syndrome' Strikes In A Depressing Episode

It’s been a long week, but I’m off for fall break! I can rest and enjoy the show without worrying about homework! No, I just have to worry about politics. Let’s hope that tonight’s episode will make the increasingly bizarre and nasty election somewhat bearable.

Will Emily Blunt star in a sketch that takes place on a train? When will Bruno Mars make his inevitable appearance in a sketch? (I bet it’ll be in an edition of the recurring Girlfriend Talk Show sketch.) How long will it take before the entire cast has a nervous breakdown? There’s still one more live show to go after this one, I hope the trend of quality comedy continues.

Cold Opening- Second Presidential Debate: To start off, I'm pretty sure that they physically recreated some moments from the debate. If you lined up certain portions of the sketch with the actual debate, such as Trump's stalking, then you would find only a mild difference. Speaking of differences, I feel that it's safe to say at this point that Alec Baldwin's comedic dialogue as Trump is only slightly worse than Trump's sincere words.

Bobby Moynihan's brief bit as Ken Bone was amusing, but I wish that they took more time to actually take on the debate. It feels like they just went through a list of highlights. I understand that it’s the third full episode in a row, but I just feel like they could have done slightly more. For example, the stalking and the opening with them warily circling each other was a great example of mining the debate for comedy potential. The rest just felt like a checklist of things that they had to do. Comedy shouldn't feel like a homework assignment.

Monologue: SNL wants you to be happy, so that’s what they devoted the monologue to. Adorable puppies, cookies, all surprise unsuspecting audience members. Hopefully, we’ll all be singing this after the election, or, at least until next Saturday. Sure, the transition from speech to singing was slightly sudden, but, ultimately, it turned out to be fun. You can watch it here.

Escorts: Basically, it's about two business workers 'hiring' women to have an elegant evening with them. The joke is that the women, portrayed by Emily Blunt and Leslie Jones, are not as elegant as they appear. Emily Blunt's character demands that the hotel bed be stripped otherwise she'll get an unsightly rash and will randomly shove away any romantic partners in order to drink some milk. For her part, Leslie's character can and will do a bad impression of Family Guy's Stewie while wearing a costume, wear ugly sunglasses, and establish awkward safe words.

The sketch seems almost designed for breaking character. Emily started laughing at one point, and the rest of the cast seemed to pause at some points. The sketch was okay. It wasn't really my thing, but it could have been worse. You can watch it here.

 In a parody of Beyonce’s Lemonade, all of Trump’s female associates are sick of his behavior. In turn, they sing about feeling underappreciated and horrified at his despicable behavior, before attempting to leave. The music video will be one of the most underrated sketches of the year. True, it's funny, but it's also a surprisingly sad and emotional piece. They try to free themselves from Trump's rule, but end up getting sucked right back in, dreaming of freedom.

Short Film: Yes, representation for my home state! The sketch was a fun way to make fun of film festivals. There's a film festival with precisely one short film. The catch? It has a huge cast, with every single member of the audience save for Vanessa Bayer being part of the production team. I enjoyed the satire and the absurd twist with Emily Blunt apparently playing herself. It's a nice surreal joke that's reminiscent of last year's Christmas episode where Tina Fey played herself in the "Meet Your Future Wife" game show sketch. You can watch it here.

Chonk Commercial Parody: Wow, it feels like this is the first commercial parody of the season. Fortunately, it's a good one. "Chonk" contrasts a stereotypical woman’s clothing store ad with a harsh guttural, goofy-sounding name. As the commercial starts to become more offensive towards the intended target audience, it gets even funnier.

Bruno Mars- "24K Magic": That was really impressive. I don’t know if a standard music act has ever started out backstage before. I was taken aback, but not in a bad way. I could do without the strobe lights, but the setup is impressive.

Weekend Update: The opening jokes from Michael and Colin were amusing and precise at tearing apart the latest horrors from the debate, but the extended joke about Pixar’s Up really does sum up the melancholy feeling of today’s episode. As they say in the segment, "It got sad really, really fast." This does extend to Kate McKinnon’s appearance as Olya Povtastsky, but her kind of character-based horror is mostly meant to be cartoonishly sad.

Even Laura Parsons, excellently played by Vanessa Bayer, seems more sad than usual. The point of her character is really to be there to report on horrifying news stories in a gleeful tone of voice. I do like the way that they add more hints to her personality by having her audition for the new Mary Poppins movie. Still, I just can’t help but love the way Vanessa joyfully says horrifying things. Can we just have her report on the election until November 8th? She slammed NBC over Billy Bush, so she's already more accurate than a lot of the actual news hosts.

You can watch it hereherehere, and here.

Drive-Through Window: Is it just me, or did one guy look like a combination of the Riddler and Adam Conover from Adam Ruins Everything? Pete’s bemused reaction to the bizarre patrons sums up my reaction to this sketch. It’s incredibly surreal, but not in a funny way. It just reads as being annoyingly strange. The inevitable Bruno Mars cameo only adds to it. Also, question: Is Aidy Bryant’s ‘Pam’ character supposed to be the same one from that “Marvel Can’t Fail” sketch back when Chris Pratt hosted? You can watch it here.

The Sink: This short features a glimpse into the mind of an ornate, sentient sink. She’s feeling insecure about her design and role in life. Looking back, I think it’s the kind of short that has to be viewed multiple times. It takes a few seconds, but then you get the joke. You can watch it here.

Honda Robotics: SmartBots? I don’t see how this can go wrong. It's awkward and creepy in a brilliant way, to my pleasure. Lately, a lot of the sketches with electronic robots seem to be excellent. I just want to know what the pitch was for this in the writer’s room and who came up with it.

Meliana Moments #3: Instead of a series of non-sequiturs, now we get a full-on plot idea. Simultaneously tragic and darkly humorous, this segment is getting better as the show goes on. You can watch it here.

Bruno Mars-"Chunky": I wish they had used a similar set-up to the previous performance. You can watch it here.

The Great British Bake-Off: Like reality television itself, this just seems mean-spirited and unpleasant. I could barely understand Emily and Cecily's British accents, and it just flat-out didn't work. Personally, if I had to make a Brexit-themed sketch about The Great British Bake-Off, I would have made it about the contestants refusing to participate because they're stressed about the situation. You can watch it here.

Hamsters: How can you make cute, fuzzy pets sad? Turn them into a soap opera. The interplay between the hamster couples reminds me of the presidential debates. This might make me laugh on a different day, but it didn't help tonight. You can watch it here.

Overall Thoughts: I don't know if it's because of the election or a case of 'Third Episode Syndrome', but a good chunk of the episode felt off. It felt very mean-spirited and depressing. Maybe there's a bug going around in the studio, but something definitely seemed different. I actually felt really sad when the episode ended, and not because it was over, just because the material was so dreary and depressing. On the plus side, as third episodes go, it's better than when Donald Trump hosted last season.

To me, 'Third Episode Syndrome' is when having to make three live shows for three weeks in a row starts taking a toll on the writers and draining their creativity and enthusiasm. If that is happening, then I hope "Fourth Episode Syndrome" isn't worse. I know it's not just me, because some other reviews took note of it on Twitter. Maybe all of the writers just really miss Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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