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Saturday Night Live recap: Rami Malek makes the case for villains, and, surprise, Daniel Craig!

·9 min read

Hey y'all! It is the collector's edition of SNL in Review, back with another definitive show recap. Tonight's episode is hosted by Academy Award winner Rami Malek, with musical guest Young Thug.

I am joined tonight by Saturday Night Live season six cast member Denny Dillon. The trailer for her latest movie Bruised — starring and directed by Halle Berry — came out this week.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE Rami Malek Episode 1808 Pictured: Host Rami Malek during the monologue on Saturday, October 16, 2021.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE Rami Malek Episode 1808 Pictured: Host Rami Malek during the monologue on Saturday, October 16, 2021.

Will Heath/NBC

Malek is hosting tonight to promote the latest James Bond movie, No Time to Die. Of course, a pre-pandemic Daniel Craig did the same thing way back in March 2020, birthing the famed "Ladies and gentlemen… the Weeknd" meme. The first James Bond movie that Dillon remembers seeing was Goldfinger.

Malek is the villain in the latest Bond. Dillon describes herself as "old school" — her favorite Bond villain remains "Ernst Stavro Blofeld or the guy with the vertical scar going through his eye. He was introduced as #1 in From Russia With Love and Thunderball then main villain in You Only Live Twice. I loved Mike Myers' take on him in Austin Powers."

To her, Bond villains should be "inscrutable, invincible, believable." Funny, that is my expectation for Rami Malek's approach to hosting! Welp, fellow Coneheads, let's hope tonight's comedy is shaken not stirred (amirite)… it's live from New York!

Cold Open

Buckle up, press conference time. Cecily Strong is the head of PR for the NFL. Roger Goodell is introduced — and surprisingly it's Colin Jost! A rare non-Update appearance, but he's well-cast given how punchable the football commissioner is.

Former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden (James Austin Johnson) comes out to explain his recent email scandal. He nails it. (Dillon watched James Austin Johnson in the cold opening of the Owen Wilson show. She says compared to Jim Carrey's work last season, "I thought [James Austin Johnson] had more of a beat on Biden.")

Next up: Alex Moffat as Mark Davis and his terrible hair. And Larry Rucker (Pete Davidson) — lots of turnover here. Pete gets a huge reaction from the studio audience. So many introductions and cast members swinging for the fences here.

Andrew Dismukes alert! Nice to see him here. Heidi Gardner is a Washington Football Team cheerleader, who welcomes their new, troubling mascot (Kyle Mooney). I wish this cold open had stayed with James Austin Johnson though. You don't need to cycle in so many ideas, people.

That said: it was clever to have Levar Burton (Kenan Thompson) duet on a NFL-themed Reading Rainbow riff with Colin Kaepernick (Chris Redd) but these cold opens could certainly be tighter, simpler.

Monologue

Malek is #TeamScar — he always sympathizes more with villains. A little stilted.

Initially, Dillon did not watch Mr. Robot, which launched Malek's career. "It's not my kind of show, but I kept hearing about him. I tuned in and found him mesmerizing, and kept watching." And she thought he was "electric" in Bohemian Rhapsody. "Riveting. Total rock star."

Rami Malek hosts 'SNL'
Rami Malek hosts 'SNL'

NBC Rami Malek hosts 'SNL'

She says Malek is "surprising and dangerous. Two qualities I love best in actors. He also is unusual looking; part matinee idol, part character and his acting is always truthful."

Malek talks about his childhood growing up in California, and his wonderful siblings. Guess it would've been too out there for this monologue to reference his dust-up with high school classmate Rachel Bilson?

Bug Assembly

Kenan Thompson and Heidi Gardner are educators introducing a school assembly bug presentation. Andrew Dismukes is a "non-religious" preying mantis. Sarah Sherman (as a lady bug!), Malek (as a stink bug!) and Bowen Yang are the other creatures. Yang steals the show as daddy long legs, complete with his own showroom jam music. "I'm a father and my legs go on for weeks." Fabulous.

"Daddy's got it!"

Song — Squid Game

Pete Davidson and Rami Malek duet on a country ode to the new Netflix hit show. They nail the show's art direction and capture the violent premise well. "That's what happens in the Squid Game," they croon.

Prince Audition

Kenan Thompson and Rami Malek play themselves, squaring off as two rival actors auditioning to play Prince in a movie. Maybe a knock at the Robin Williams audition tape that was released this week? While Malek resembles Prince, Kenan gets points for being Black. Malek argues his parents are Egyptian, technically in Africa. "C'mon man," the casting folks respond. They both do silly impressions on command, as the casting directors (Ego Nwodim, Punkie Johnson, Chris Redd) make their decision.

Daniel Craig shows up! He wants to play an actual prince, since he's British. "Can I at least have a go, try?" he pleads. "Get off me double-oh-ugly," snaps Kenan.

Prince has been impersonated on SNL a lot throughout the years -— namely Fred Armisen. But Chris Kattan and Billy Crystal (!!) also played him.

Celeb School Game Show

Bert Simpson (Kenan Thompson) is the host — he oversees a classroom of celebs helping two contestants (Andrew Dismukes, Punkie Johnson). John Oliver (Mikey Day), Jennifer Coolidge (Chloe Fineman), Adam Driver (James Austin Johnson), Kristen Wiig (Melissa Villaseñor), George Takei (oh my, Bowen Yang), Lil Wayne (WTF, Chris Redd), Rami Malek (played by Pete Davison?!), and Pete Davidson (ha, Rami Malek) are the participants.

I always enjoy when current cast members spoof old cast members. But the show stopper here is Pete/Rami versus Rami/Pete.

Seems like the show is seeking to replace Celebrity Jeopardy! Could this be the format?

Young Thug performing "Tick Tock"

"Tick Tock" is the first single for Thugger's sophomore studio album P*NK. Travis Barker aside, strong Lil Wayne-era Rebirth vibes here.

Young Thug previously appeared alongside Kanye West during a performance in 2016. He also popped up in the season 46 premiere, performing "Don't Stop" with Megan Thee Stallion.

Dillon was not familiar before tonight's show, but she was looking forward to this performance.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost and Michael Che take shots at President Biden; Jost critiques Senator Manchin's role in the reconciliation deal. Che brings up his tendency to be late. Other topics: Sad Girl Autumn, and wildfires — threatening former President Reagan's ranch — needing "trickle down" water solution (referring to the president's economic policy).

Dillon shares she believes her season had an obligation to stand up to the Reagan administration: "I believe all good comedy stands up to presidents and kings beginning with the court jester."

Jost brings up the "twink Willy Wonka" photo that went viral as part of the Timothée Chalamet prequel movie production this week. Bowen Yang comes out as a proud gay Oompa Loompa. Well, turns out he wasn't out. He was only on to discuss a factory strike. He's concerned about what his parents think — Oompa Loompa Land isn't very progressive, apparently. They only now got Will & Grace. This is great.

Chris Redd also comes on. He's jumping around discussing the "important unimportant things," like does anyone know a blimp driver? The last time he went on Update, he said "Black people can't get coronavirus!" Oof. He defends himself by bringing up his lack of education, especially in the sciences. Very important unimportant news.

Apparently, Linus Minus (Mikey Day), a hypnotist, is the toast of the recent Broadway reopening. In a demonstration, Roy (Kenan Thompson) is his volunteer. He gets put to sleep. He's too relaxed, and wets his pants. When he awakens, he's rightfully upset until Linus instructs him to be happy about it. (Who else is excited for the new Home Alone, featuring Kenan and written by Day?) Another fun, lively Update that throws some sharp elbows.

Dillon adds: "I am a news junkie, so I love when the writing has a bite and punch to politics that turns the news upside down both in cold opens and Weekend Update. SNL has a rich history of memorable sketches in the past — Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford, Kate McClinton as Kellyanne Conway, and others. I don't think it's about Trump, so much as sharp political writing and satire."

Mattress Store

Rami Malek is at Sleepy Town USA with his wife (Aidy Bryant). They're testing out a mattress and it's getting quite animated. It helps them to roleplay like that and bicker as they assess whether they want to purchase a new sleeping pad. Bowen Yang is the mattress store employee, disturbed by the weirdness he's witness to.

Fun escalation near the end. This had a fun dark, twisted energy to it. "A bed for wife, a bed for life." Indeed.

Young Thug Performs "Love You More"

"Love You More" is the latest single from Thug. Nate Reuss — who performs the chorus — last appeared on SNL with Fun, when they were blowing up in 2012. Several years ago, the rap message boards went berserk over everything Young Thug put out. His unreleased freestyles, one-offs, were legendary. His sound engineer became Twitter famous — Young Thug stans were well-respected voices. But songs like this? It seems pretty average to me.

Improv Songs

And Daniel Craig is back! He is out with Cecily Strong. Aristotle Athari gets the ball, which is fun. This is the most we have seen from him this season. He is performing beautiful songs on the spot, with suggestions from the audience.

"Road trip!" hollers Craig. Rami Malek comes out to improvise dance moves as Athari gently harmonizes. I like Athari going into Foreigner at the close.

Final Thoughts

— Wow, am pleasantly surprised by Malek tonight. What did you think? Vote here!

— Thank you to Denny Dillon! Bruised — featuring Dillon as Crazy Ether — is in theaters, and streams on Netflix in November. She also recently filmed an independent comedy, Paint, starring Owen Wilson. It is playing at Sundance, other festivals.

— How great was the "Please Don't Destroy" pretape last week? Heard we might have had another one in the pipeline tonight. I love when the show allows writers who aren't members of the cast to get screen time. Pretty rare these days, but not without precedent. I asked Denny Dillon who her favorite writer was when she was in the cast. She answers: "Pamela Norris. I was lucky to work with her again when she was producer on Designing Women in episode 'The Wilderness Experience.'"

Want more me? Check out SNL Network's Kim Kardashian West/Halsey hot take show!

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