CREDIT: Megan Krause/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Discover Card – There’s a current ad campaign about people reaching their doubles at customer service, and there’s a current hit horror movie about people being targeted by their doubles. Somebody at SNL made the connection and astutely decided, “Let’s mash ’em up!” And lo and behold, we have this hilarious commercial parody in which it turns out that the you’s of Discover Card are actually the Tethered of Us, and Ego Nwodim finally gets a showcase performance.

It’s good to know that everyone can be so wonderfully, specifically overwrought in the Test Prep sketch.

Keep It

Roots of Rock – Clearly Kenan can shine as a singer who gives us a whirlwind performance of 17 encores. Indefatigability is totally his thing! But as amusing as this sketch is, and as amusing as the-song’s-still-going-after-you-thought-it-was-over sketches generally are, it shares a lot of DNA with What Up With That? And just about everything pales in comparison to What Up With That? (Also, hoo boy, it’s been nearly ten years since the first What Up With That? aired.) At least the meta twist ending was a fun unique touch.

Cheques – In the Age of Venmo, I think there’s something romantic about writing a check. And this filmed piece that runs down the cinematic tropes of check-writing – hush money, illicit encounters, etc. – really gets at that. What a delightfully sexy-in-an-old-scummy-Hollywood-way montage.

The Mueller Report cold opening features a handful of silly nonsense exclamations…I enjoy how Chris Redd plays Jussie Smollett like a total dope in the Empire MeetingThe Duel is a little too repetitive with its gore, but the production values are impressive…The Future Self sketch now has me wondering what “goo-goo” could possibly be if it’s not what we think…I like the idea of the Kremlin Meeting being that Putin and his cronies are stand-ins for American liberals disappointed about the Mueller report results, but the writing didn’t quite stick to that premise. (Also, for anyone wondering, all indications point to that being SNL writer Bowen Yang in the role of Kim Jong Un.)…Michael and Colin‘s top moments have to do with Wyoming and the Dakotas and the follow-up about the zebra…Cecily’s Jeanine Pirro Update appearance demonstrates that while it is still funny in any setting, this is an impression better suited to sketches…Aidy Bryant’s disappointed astronaut Anne McClain is most amusing when she struggles to say words good…If nothing else, Louise’s Birthday has gifted us with Kate McKinnon’s unforgettable way of saying “kiss.”

Leave It

Sandra Oh’s Monologue is just the latest example of SNL exerting basically no effort towards the monologue.

Sandra Oh

CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

On a scale of actors who are primarily known for drama but would really kill it at comedy if we just let them do it more often, Sandra Oh proved that she definitely deserves to be on that scale. From a harried substitute teacher to a victim of love and bullets, she really throws herself into this whole hosting SNL thing. Ultimately, though, she gives one of those utility player-style performances as opposed to a bright shining supernova. I think she’s got it in her to be an all-time all-star host, but she didn’t quite get the opportunity to knock it out of the park on her first try.

Tama Impala

On a scale of psychedelic rock bands who have played SNL, Tame Impala is definitely #1, because I’m pretty sure no other psych rocks have ever performed on the Studio 8H stage. But that is not meant to be faint praise, for no matter what the popularity or lack thereof of Tame Impala’s subgenre, the Kevin Parker-led outfit is constantly delivering awesome tunes. The musicality is so full and lively that there is no need to add much frills to the performances, beyond a gently trippy light show. Do I detect a bit of a van Gogh inspiration in that first number?

And now for some letter grades:
Mueller Report – C+
Sandra Oh’s Monologue – C-
Discover Card (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+
Empire Meeting – B-
The Duel – B-
Future Self – B-
Kremlin Meeting – B-
Tame Impala perform “Patience” – B+
Weekend Update
The Jokes – B-
Jeanine Pirro – C+
Anne McClain – B-
Louise’s Birthday – B
Cheques – B
Roots of Rock – B
Tame Impala perform “Borderline” – B+
Test Prep – B

I’ll be back next week to let you know what I’m loving, keeping, and leaving from host Kit Harington and musical guest Sara Bareilles!