This week, Saturday Night Live decided not to give Donald Trump -- fake or otherwise -- the first word, as it has done so many times before. Instead, the latest cold open centered on Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren, hosting an energized town hall wherein she got to field questions from potential voters who were confused about her latest plan for universal healthcare.
In the segment, she thanked newly-withdrawn 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke for running a passionate campaign -- including that time he threw in a "punitive" jab at her -- and gave Bernie Sanders a passive-aggressive wink for leaving the financing end of the Medicare for All concept to her to sort out. NotWarren also knocked those who doubted her so-called "electability" with a cheery hip swivel, and she dressed down one audience member's relationship with her current insurer, likening it to that toxic significant other that convinces you there won't be any better options if you leave them.
It might not have been the most creative opener in SNL history, but it was kinda nice to have a fake tan-free start to the show for a change.
Then, Kristen Stewart took the stage for her second stint as host and decided to change things up with her opening monologue format (perhaps to avoid another accidental f-bomb). Instead of delivering another speech, Stewart opted for the audience Q&A style intro with a twist: rather than spill her own beans on demand, it was her who'd be asking the questions of audience members. This gave the notoriously private actress a change to deliver a tongue-in-cheek statement on the nature of intensely personal questions, and even if the actual exchanges fell a bit flat, her message was pretty sharp.
The press conference-style approach also came into play during one of the night's buzziest sketches, as McKinnon's Kellyanne Conway staged a public interview with Conan the K9 commando, the service dog who reportedly cornered erstwhile ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during the military raid which took him down last week. Cecily Strong starred as the dog's interpreter, and as the winding session approached the subject of cancel culture, the actress had a rare moment of breaking, nearly laughing out loud as the dog tried to sit and later when she apologized for the Halloween Conan wore catface.
Another standout skit of SNL's latest was "New Paint," which featured Stewart alongside Beck Bennett as a couple visiting his sister, Aidy Bryant's Beth, and a simple chat about a new paint job turned into an exquisitely messy mudslinging session that only got more bananas by the syllable.
Stewart fans also won't want to miss the "Corporate Nightmare Song," a punk song about being sucked into the corporate climb, and "Rosie the Riveter," a sketch about the factory workers being vetted for what would become an iconic World War II-era propaganda campaign.
Saturday Night Live airs live at 11:30/10:30c on NBC.