CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/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

The Actress – When you’re an actor, I imagine you take your rewarding parts wherever you can find them. So as mundane and ridiculous as this sketch is, it strikes me as ringing 100% true. Not in the sense that Emma Stone actually has experience playing a non-sexual role in a porn video, but in the sense that she, and so many others, have surely had bizarre moments of character discovery, or have at least been fighting for them. That feeling of vulnerability is powerful, and I’m glad we got to witness it.

Keep It

Monologue – Hurray, a monologue that is actually running with a concept! That concept may be “celebrate hosting for the fourth (i.e., almost fifth) time,” which isn’t particularly original or imaginative, but at least it’s something, and it’s a decent enough framework for laughs. It’s a little shaggy, but Emma’s excitement about Kyle Mooney’s presence despite him currently being a regular cast member is plenty palpable. Also, Emma’s bit about testing the sound levels is worth a laugh and could have been the setup for a weirder, more experimental monologue.

The Fashion Coward commercial adds some flair to the flair-free lifestyle…Good god, The View is durable, as are SNL parodies of it. This version is a little all over the place, but all the impressions are pretty lived-in…Ladies Room has a scatological twist that’s been done before, but Kenan’s frustration is well worth witnessing…Michael and Colin get props from me for their audience play in response to the crowd groaning over the detail of a boy in a stolen car being returned twenty years later…Amidst Carrie Krum‘s way-too-esoteric travel tips, we get the lovely phrase “prime rollerblade country”…Chalmers Reserve Event Wine provides plenty of appropriately nasty details as well as an amusing twist of fake Italian-ness.

Leave It

Lockup – I appreciate that this episode’s cold open isn’t the same-old, same-old political puff piece, but I can’t say I found it any more amusing. It started off well enough with the idea of Lori Loughlin being the baddest prisoner around despite her very middle-class crimes. But then it just turned into a parade of recent newsmaking lawbreakers. And like so many sketches of this ilk, the pieces never really mix together into more than the sum of their dreg-ish parts.

The Dorm Room Posters helping out with Pete Davidson’s history essay has a sense of everything feeling way too off-brand…The Hobby Rap features Melissa Villaseñor (and Emma Stone) rapping fairly skillfully, but not much in the way of jokes…I may have said something like this already regarding their first appearance, but Nico Slobkin and Brie Bacardi are too actually annoying in their portrayal of annoying…I’ve never been a fan of “handheld camera takes us on a tour of a party” sketches, and the Royal Baby Video does not change my mind, though Aidy’s James Corden impression and the quick bit with Pete as Ringo are amusing.

Emma Stone

CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

On a scale of four-time hosts who are obviously excited to become five-time hosts, Emma Stone is up near the top in terms of enthusiasm and natural chemistry with the cast. She knows her SNL history, and she feels right at home in Studio 8H. While those are typically useful tools in the host toolbox, they can be a problem with subpar writing, as a deep respect for the institution can lead to a reluctance to take the material in unpredictable directions. That is to say, this episode has too many subpar premises that aren’t terribly elevated by the performances, though that doesn’t make me like Emma any less.

BTS

On a scale of boy bands from all over the world, BTS are up near the top in terms of choreography, as seven members really opens up the geometric possibilities. But in terms of the phenomenon they’re a part of, they’re no more or no less deserving of it than any of their predecessors, at least based on their SNL debut. Again, their dancing is great, but their rapping feels like it’s stuck in the most sanitized version of the 2000s, 90s, and 80s.

And now for some letter grades:
Lockup – C
Emma Stone’s Monologue – B
Dorm Room Posters – C
Fashion Coward – B
The View – B-
Hobby Rap – C
Ladies Room – B-
BTS perform “Boy with Luv” – B
Weekend Update
The Jokes – B
Carrie Krum – B-
Nico Slobkin and Brie Bacardi – C-
Royal Baby Video – C
BTS perform “Mic Drop” – B-
The Actress (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+
Chalmers Reserve Event Wine – B-

I’ll be back in three weeks to let you know what I’m loving, keeping, and leaving from host Adam Sandler and musical guest Shawn Mendes!

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