Cold Opening – Osama bin Laden’s Video Will
Essentially mandatory.  I laughed a few times, though this was more a collection of parts instead of a significant whole. B-

Tina Fey’s Monologue
Falling back on the singing monologue format yet again?  Out of 20 monologues this year, this makes 9 (10 if you count Zach Galifianakis).  Anyway, Tina plied her usual off-putting, yet sexy style, and Maya plied her usual wildly pitchy, overly dramatic style, and the most memorable – and disturbing – moment came with Kristen and Kenan as the singing, big-headed babies. B-

GOP 2012 Undeclared Candidates’ Debate
If Tina was going to reprise Palin, it was nice that she did so in a sketch that wasn’t entirely hers.  Of course for this sketch to succeed, Darrell Hammond had to return as Trump (and when Romney was introduced, I thought, “There’s someone Darrell Hammond would probably be playing if he were still on”), and Jimmy McMillan was just an added treat.  All in all, when it comes to crazy in the GOP, Sarah Palin is still around, but she has been outshone, several times over. B+

The Little Mermaid
Even without bin Laden showing up, this would have been a perfectly enjoyable Little Mermaid parody, strangely enough.  It had its own goofy m.o. (a sea horse on the sax, a manta drinking Fanta) that rendered the appearance of Osama actually unexpected and the sketch more satisfying overall. B

Digital Short: Jack Sparrow
This is what the Lonely Island does best: a mix of seemingly incompatible styles, and a surprise, but not the sort of surprise you would be expecting, ergo, Michael Bolton’s inopportune obsession with Pirates of the Caribbean.  This short could have been better, though (perhaps it was better, I just couldn’t tell), if I could hear what Andy, Jorma, and Akiva were rapping during the parts in the club. B+

Ellie Goulding performs “Lights”
Does she realize how weird her face looks when she is performing?  Is she doing that on purpose?  Does she know that it is a good idea?  I guess she must.  Her voice and the whole mood of the music render a song with rather simple lyrics quite meaningful.  Hey, you know, simplicity can be lovely. B+

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: And this is what we refer to as, Seth Meyers for the win!  By the way, for a band that has appeared on the show once, SNL sure does make fun of the Black Eyed Peas a lot. B
-The Segments: -The Devil: This is just banter at this point. B-
-Gaddafi’s Two Best Friends From Growing Up: The idea that Gaddafi would have friends from childhood and that they would involuntarily change their tone of voice to a whisper when talking about his lesser qualities is so Fred.  And Vanessa was actually able to keep up with him.  Anyway, this bit can be boiled down to shtick, and shtick is always funny when it is done in the context of something more complex. B+
-Stefon: This wasn’t the best Stefon ever, but it was further proof that the ideas for Stefon routines are seemingly endless.  After grading the last Stefon appearance with an A-, I now wonder if this and every future Stefon bit will be burdened by such a high standard and think that perhaps that “not quite the best” is still worthy of an A.  So, dare I award Stefon with an A this time?  Dare I?  I dare. A

Birthing Class
And I thought the most disturbing pregnancy-related image of the night was going to be the singing babies.  While watching this sketch, I was, interestingly enough, too tired to be truly disgusted.  But I was mostly impressed. B

Bedelia’s Slumber Party
Initially, I thought, “Bedelia again?  Her sketches are funny, but also a little boring.”  But then Nasim just went hardcore on all of us this time around as we were blindsided with Bedelia’s puns.  This sketch benefited from the incongruity that arose from bringing Bedelia’s mom into a scene into which a parent does not belong, as opposed to the last Bedelia sketches, which took place at a backyard barbecue and a school dance with parental chaperones.  And then it somehow became the best sketch of the night. B+

Ellie Goulding performs “Your Song”
Apparently a significant number of people like Ellie Goulding’s version of the Elton John classic, so here is one instance when, as a music critic, I have to say, I do not get it.  Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think it works.  “Your Song” is already a little bit gooey, and Ellie does not do anything to temper that goo.  Also, her face scrunching did not work this time around.  I have said several times that this has been the best SNL season in terms of the music that I have ever witnessed, but there have been a few ho-hum guests (Diddy-Dirty Money, Chris Brown, Jessie J).  But they all had one solid performance to go along with a bad one.  This was also the case with Ellie, but more than any of the others, I thought she was capable of another winner.  She should have stuck with the original material. C+

Pregnant in Heels
There was something funny about Abby’s voice.  Tina did her normal broad New York accent that she employs whenever she plays a reality show character or something of that nature.  But the real highlight of this sketch was, of course, Jay’s character conceding that he had no reason for being on the show. B-

Googie Rene’s Slightly Damaged Prom Wear Barn
Like the last Googie Rene appearance, the highlight was Googie asking us how we doin’.  Unlike the last Googie bit, the whole affair was just too lazy. C+

Hallmark “Mother” Collection
As a featured player in his first season, Paul Brittain has struggled to get his fair share of airtime.  This is probably something he often thinks about.  So I’m guessing that he happened to be watching Psycho close enough to Mothers’ Day and put it all together and said, “Here’s a sketch!”  Comedy often has a knack for tapping into untapped markets. B

With a few mediocre bits splashed amongst some solid performers (Bedelia, Jack Sparrow Digital Short, GOP Debate) and perhaps the best overall Update of the year, this was an episode nearly devoid of misfires.  I hardly suffered one moment of frustration.  Was this then one of the best episodes of the year?  I find it hard to say that about an episode that didn’t have any sketch better than a B+, but strength across the board is a model to follow.