SNL: Megan Thee Stallion, Chris Rock (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

If we’re responsible during a pandemic, we can return to some of our pre-pandemic routines before the pandemic has fully run its course. And Saturday Night Live sure looks like it’s being responsible, which is presumably how we can explain its return to Studio 8H (with a real-live host, musical guest, and studio audience to boot!) after a trio of resourcefully assembled remote episodes back in the spring.

Pretty much every sketch in this Season 46 opener has something to do with the pandemic in one way or another, which is perfectly reasonable, considering that every part of daily life currently has something to do with the pandemic in one way or another. But host Chris Rock and MG Megan Thee Stallion aren’t here because of pandemic reasons; they’re here because, as is usually the case with SNL guests, they’ve got something to promote (Fargo Season 4 and new music, respectively).

As for me and my SNL viewing routine, as per yoozh, I woke up early on Sunday morning and fired up my DVR. I was feeling a little congested, so I popped some phenylephrine and it seemed to hit the spot. Then I ran 10 miles after Update, and it was off to the races!

In deference to pandemic precautions, I have decided to give each sketch its own line in my review so as to visually represent 6 feet apart. Let’s get to it!

We of course start off with a Debate sketch (Grade: 3 Inner Whitey Bulgers), which is “whatever, you know” in this political era, but Jim Carrey thankfully brought some of his typical demented energy to his Joe Biden impression that went beyond a straightforward impression.

Chris Rock’s Monologue (Grade: 2 Pains Brought) felt a little too off-the-cuff by his standards, but it set a reassuring tone.

Hey, why not start off this season with a silly name sketch! If it involves Heidi Gardner making a cunnilingus pun, I can hardly complain. So I give Action 9 News: Eye on Pittsburgh a Grade of 4 Burton Ernies.

I figured the rap video about wanting to see the bottom of a girl’s mask-covered face was going to be called “Bottom of Your Face,” but according to the title posted on SNL‘s YouTube channel, it’s called “Hello” (Grade: Chintzy Animation). And those are my thoughts about that!

Even though it takes place in the year 2000, only 90s kids can fully understand the Future Ghost sketch (Grade: 3 and a Half WHYYYYYYYYY?!’s), since it features Kyle Mooney doing a proudly triumphant impression of his former-Nickelodeon-star colleague.

The Drew Barrymore Show sketch (Grade: That Feeling You Get When You Watch Billy Porter Sing “Edelweiss”) may have been pretty loopy, but having watched the first episode of the actual show, I must say that the real thing is even loopier.

Megan Thee Stallion kicked off her set with “Savage” (Grade: Thorough Control of the Message), a song that’s apparently a big hit but that I haven’t heard very often. I liked the zebra print design!

Michael Che and Colin Jost are still anchoring Weekend Update. This is their 7th (SEVENTH!) season together.

Also making his return: Chinese government daddy Chen Biao (Grade: 3 Racist Wal-Marts).

Also also making a return: 7th grade travel expert Carrie Krum (Grae: 3 Church Tankinis).

When the NBA Bubble Draft sketch (Grade: 2 K-nicks) made its premise clear, I wasn’t expecting Heidi Gardner to put on a Goofy mask, but I’m sure glad she did.

The Epic Virtual Fight (Grade: 4 Dumpster-Kicking-Into Cows) was ostensibly about movie/TV performers attempting to work remotely, but then it ultimately turned into a trademark example of Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant being ridiculous together, and that routine benefited from having other (not quite as nonsensical) nonsense to cut to so that Kate and Aidy’s nonsense could really shine in comparison.

And Megan Thee Stallion has one more song for us! She’s joined by Young Thug, it’s called “Don’t Stop” (Grade: 3 Red Lights), and I like the buzzing electronic runs.

The season is off to a safe start so far! Next week Bill Burr and Morgan Wallen are scheduled to make their SNL debuts. I’ll see you then!