Who the hell this Chinese dude?

Cold Opening – Benghazi Hearing
This may have been the most esoteric SNL sketch ever.  Definitely the most esoteric in a good long while. B-

Kristen Wiig’s Monologue
I got the jokes, but I didn’t get the point. B-

1-800 Flowers
There was no need for this to be a commercial for 1-800 Flowers, or a commercial for anything, really.  That’s not to say the funny didn’t work, just, you know. B-

The Californians
This was my brother’s first time seeing a Californians sketch, and he reacted much the same way I did to the first one, enjoying the SoCal accents and propensity to give directions to everywhere.  That was nice to hear, in a way, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s just the same thing over and over for me.  I used to love The Californians! C-

Aw Nuts! Mom’s a Ghost!
Before the reveal of this sketch’s premise, I was enjoying the kids’ continued insistence about how normal they are.  I would have been happy with an entire sketch about a Disney Channel family constantly reminding the viewers how normal they are.  Thankfully, this premise was ingenious, so the rest of the sketch was good as well.  This felt EXACTLY like a Disney Channel sitcom and EXACTLY like J-horror/K-horror. B+

The Lawrence Welk Show
The finger gags are funny, I guess, but come on, we know exactly where this sketch is going to go.  At least we have Fred as Lawrence Welk – perhaps his most underrated recurring role – with choice lines like the “melted Barbara doll” and a girl not needing a man if she has a favorite finger. C

Vampire Weekend perform “Diane Young”
Voice-deepening effects FTW.  Or, wait, was that actually Ezra hitting those low notes? B+

Weekend Update
-The Jokes: Okay, Seth, you survive another week.  The Clinton photo negative, women retrieving something from their purse, and tuba jokes were all silly but clever.  And then he whipped out a totally killer paraprosdokian with the stressful number of kids joke. B
-The Segments: -Secondhand News: The Ben Gazzara story was indeed clever.  The Reese’s Witherspoon Peanut Butter Cup was almost too much.  I would obviously rush out to see The Great Gonzo directed by Boz Scaggs. B
-Garth and Kat: Maybe I’ll like this bit more when I can actually make out what Garth and Kat said, but for now, it’s one of their middling appearances.  I did enjoy them jamming out, though. B-

Target Greatland
I never hated the Target Lady sketches, and I still don’t, but wow is this the definition of SNL mediocrity. C+

Lovely.  Bobby “Yo, whose blood is this” Moynihan was the stealth MVP. B

Vampire Weekend perform “The Unbelievers”
How appropriate that Vampire Weekend would play this song on SNL, what with its organ riff that is reminiscent of Elvis Costello’s “Radio Radio.” B+

6th Graders Double Date
This was great in that it wasn’t played as creepy at all.  Bobby Moynihan is simply an expert at playing child roles.  The line about drinking root beer and then burping was one of the best deliveries in the history of delivering lines. B+

Classy Sexy Elegnace
The premise sounded funny, but when you get down to it, it was just as gaudy as what it was making fun of. C+

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, don’t you know.  And being as it’s been only a year since Kristen left the show, we haven’t had much time of absence to allow that fondness to grow.  So the return of her recurring bits just wasn’t going to work by coasting on familiarity alone.  But there was no need to rely on those, because the original sketches were almost uniformly strong.  I love Kristen, but I can understand why some people get sick of her, and this episode didn’t do much to change that.  But it also showed that she is versatile enough to branch out away from the bits that annoy people.  Oh, well. Could have been worse.  But it also could have been better!

The best sketch of the night was the best because it was an ORIGINAL, clever idea: