Last night, the team at Saturday Night Live skipped the traditional cold open, and instead paid tribute to the people of Paris following a terrorist attack on the city Friday night.
"Paris is the city of light, and here in New York City, we know that light will never go out," cast member Cecily Strong said. "Our love and support is with everyone there tonight. We stand with you."
Like the first episode of the show that aired after the September 11th attacks in 2001, the show included a few dedications to Paris throughout the episode, flashing the colors of the French flag when possible.
Still, under host Elizabeth Banks, it was as close to business as usual for the show, which included a couple of pretty strong sketches and a few lackluster, confusing ones.
Once again, the ladies of SNL ruled the episode, by far starring in one of the funnier sketches of the night. Unlike in previous episodes where it seemed like they were given one sketch and then left to blend in with their male co-stars, this episode felt like they were finally getting the acknowledgment they deserved.
The episode also felt like one of the least political, with only one sketch outside of Weekend Update dedicated to tearing apart a 2016 presidential candidate. It was a nice change of pace, though SNL's Ben Carson sketch still was absolutely brilliant. On the whole, this show demonstrated that the writers are still capable of coming up with innovative and eye-opening comedic segments without having to fabricate much.
Unfortunately, there were a few duds. The show made reference three times to sex offenders or questionable sexual material that didn't fit the context of the show at all. Anyone who follows comedy knows, these jokes can be funny and insightful if handled correctly, but there didn't seem to be any reason to include them in the episode. The laughs weren't there, either, and when the audience isn't responding well to your controversial jokes, it may be time to reexamine their placement in the show.
Despite that hiccup, it was a pretty solid episode all around. Here's our official report card:
Best Sketch: Young Ben Carson
Young Ben Carson may be one of the best political sketches the show's done in years.
Using the candidate's own stories that he's talked about over the years, the writers wrote an entire history of his past life, referencing as many of them as they could. Much like what the show originally did in 1974, it was the perfect use of actual news to point out the flaws within the candidate and draw attention to the ridiculousness of the situation.
Although Carson has been talked about on the show before, including on Weekend Update and in previous cold opens focused on the Republican debates, this was the first time the show addressed all of the controversy surrounding him. It was definitely well worth the wait.
Runner-Up: First Got Horny 4 U
The women reunited for another musical sketch, this time focused on singing about the first boys in their life that awakened their sexual being when they were younger.
Dressed in all white — as a play on the Backstreet Boys's music video for "I Want It That Way" — each cast member reenacted their self discovery, with each new confession weirder and lewder than the past. Aidy Bryant and Vanessa Bayer stole the scene with their absurd first crushes, but it was the entire squad that made the sketch work seamlessly.
Maybe we'll finally get to see these women do more than one sketch from this point forward.
Best Digital Short: Uber for Jen
A Mike O'Brien production, Uber for Jen was one of the last clips aired during the episode, and it's easy to see wide.
The concept of getting into an Uber and spending the entire day with your driver, having all these shared experiences, is hilarious and scarily accurate, but the way the clip was handled was definitely weird in the best way imaginable.
This is where O'Brien shines, much like former cast member Andy Samberg, and while we don't get to see him too often during live sketches, he more than makes up for it when these digital skits are released.
While I wish we got more than a sporadic digital short from O'Brien, it's always a highlight when they do appear, and this time was no different.
Best Returning Sketch: High School Theater Show
The overly dramatic, socially aware students have become a quick favorite — especially for anyone who's ever been a part of a theater group.
It's one of the rare moments where you can tell every single cast member on stage is having a good time and it's hard not to laugh at the absurdity of it all. This time around, the sketch even referenced the last time it aired, having Leslie Jones stand up and walk out the door before the show could even start.
Like before, Vanessa Bayer's "disappointed mom in the audience" character stole the show, sitting next to Keenan Thompson and commenting on all of the student's performances. It seems like SNL has found a winning concept that just gets better each time they bring it back.
Worst Sketch: Walk-On Role
The problem with this sketch is that it tries to be funny by pointing out what it must be like for an unknown actor to play a scumbag character on a network drama, but the scene just isn't funny.
It's not framed correctly, and unless the audience is aware of the trope within network crime dramas, it just seems like a random attack.
The sketch could have been funnier, but it felt like the writers couldn't care enough about it to give it the attention it deserved. Instead, it fell flat as noted by the lack of laughter emitted by the studio audience.
Even with the occasional slip up, however, the episode was a pretty decent one all around.
Unlike last week's episode where the comedy was sacrificed to ensure a high rating with Donal Trump as host, this week's episode was all about highlighting just what the SNL writers and cast members could do when the only barrier they had to worry about was the FCC.
Elizabeth Banks was an adequate enough host and blended in well with the cast, instead of trying to make every sketch about her.
Next week, Matthew McConaughey is set to host with Adele scheduled to perform as the musical guest. Saturday Night Live airs on NBC at 11:30 p.m. ET.