Naturally, the show wasted no time in commenting on the impeachment inquiry, kicking off the Season 45 premiere with a cold open that followed squarely in the footsteps of nearly every cold open we’ve seen since Trump became president. Alec Baldwin returned with his Trump impersonation, despite once again saying he was finished playing the role. The sketch opens with him sitting in the Oval Office, worrying about the impeachment news and giving or taking calls from many of his allies.
Once again, SNL played a sort of Mad Libs, cycling through many of its more frequent characters. Baldwin’s Trump calls Kate McKinnon’s Rudolph W. Giuliani, Aidy Bryant’s Attorney General William P. Barr, Beck Bennett’s Vice President Pence, Mikey Day’s Trump Jr., Alex Moffat’s Eric Trump, Cecily Strong’s Jeanine Pirro, Chris Redd’s Kanye West and Kenan Thompson’s Don King. Most randomly, the sketch ended with SNL’s Trump calling Liev Schreiber, who portrayed himself (but SNL’s Trump thought he was his titular character from Showtime’s “Ray Donovan”).
The easy highlight of the sketch was new cast member Bowen Yang bringing back his impression of Kim Jong Un, who offers the president advice: “You have a big ocean in your country? Send whistleblower to the bottom of there.”
“I wish my country was as cool as your country,” Baldwin’s Trump replies.
Otherwise, the jokes were mostly familiar. McKinnon’s Giuliani doesn’t seem to know anything is wrong. “Nobody’s gonna find out about our illegal side dealings with the Ukraine. Or how we tried to cover up those side dealings. Or how we planned to cover up the coverup,” Giuliani says, though unbeknown to the president, he’s on CNN. In a subsequent call, he’s on Joe Rogan’s podcast
Bryant’s Barr asks, “Where are you going to find a sacrificial patsy that’ll do anything you say? Not it.”
The show’s Trump chooses Pence as said patsy, though he first tries buttering up his VP by making small talk about church. “Still waiting on what’s his face to come back?” SNL’s Trump asks, to which Bennett’s Pence replies, “You mean, Jesus.”
Day and Moffat’s younger Trumps, meanwhile, act like fumbling idiots. “It’s your sons,” Day’s Trump Jr. says, to which Moffat’s Eric adds, “And Eric!” When asked if they took care of “that thing in Russia,” Trump Jr. tries playing it cool, asking: “What thing in Russia?” Moffat’s Eric naturally adds, “The treason!”
Redd’s West hasn’t been taking his psychiatric medication and, on the advice of Thompson’s King, decides to pull his support of the president because the impeachment is hurting his brand. Trump offers to get someone out of jail, like A$AP Rocky (“again”) or “that little girl, Teriyaki 69” (a reference to rapper Tekashi 69, who recently testified against members of his former gang, Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods).
Strong’s Pirro tries to cheer the president up, calling him “my special, beautiful boy” and assuring him that he makes all women’s eyes pop of their skulls because he’s got “dumps like a truck truck and thighs like what what,” a reference to Sisqo’s 1999 hit “The Thong Song.”
Trump’s final call goes to an extremely confused Schreiber, who has to explain that Ray Donovan is a character, and that John Wick is also a character. They decide that if Trump needs someone to fix his problems, he might do better calling Liam Neeson.
The impeachment news broke late in the week, meaning the show’s writers were probably scrambling to put together the cold open at the last minute. Still, nothing about it was surprising, aside from Schreiber’s appearance, signaling we’re in for more business as usual this season. That may disappoint some viewers, but considering how well the show’s been doing, in ratings and at the Emmys, that should suit most fans just fine — though it might spark a tweet or two from the president.