With 2020 already seeing catastrophic firestorms in Australia, acts of war in the Middle East and the partisan double-whammy of a presidential campaign and an impeachment trial, “Saturday Night Live” had a lot of material to work with for its first episode of the year. Where it started, however, may have been most apt: Hell itself.
Beginning with Beck Bennett’s puffy Mitch McConnell going over with Cecily Strong’s Susan Collins just how much Republican senators — wink, wink — did not fear the wrath of President Trump, the episode revealed its latest “SNL” alum to play the administration’s cast of characters: Jon Lovitz as Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz.
“Jealous? Yes, hello everyone, it is I,” Lovitz teased as he came on to a big ovation. It was an inspired cameo, especially as he stretched his first few lines in a way that recalled his “that’s the ticket” catchphrase of his pathological liar of “SNL’s” past.
Lovitz’s Dershowitz spoke about his defense strategies but was scolded for invoking previous clients Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson before being temporarily banished to hell. Satan was waiting in the form of Kate McKinnon in swept-back hair and goat horns, who confessed, “Honestly, I just really wanted to meet you. I’m about to fan-girl out so hard right now.”
At first, Satan just wanted Dershowitz to be on her podcast (“Oh yeah, I invented them,” McKinnon assured him), but other familiar faces turned up as well. Host Adam Driver arrived as a black-clad Epstein, who also expressed his admiration. “All we get down here is Fox News, and it’s a joy to see you work,” he said.
From there it was a spiral through recent hell-bound pop culture, including Bowen Yang as the damned songwriter of “Baby Shark,” the recently deceased Mr. Peanut and a visiting McConnell, who “just uses it as a sauna.” Alex Moffat’s wide-eyed Mark Zuckerberg also turned up to assure the audience, “I don’t endorse evil. I just help millions of people share it.”
As in Driver’s last stint hosting “SNL” last January, he reprised his role as Kylo Ren from the mammoth “Star Wars” saga with another appearance on CBS’ “Undercover Boss.” Going incognito as an intern named Randy, Ren greeted his co-workers with the viral catchphrase “OK boomer,” and he proved a bit short-tempered, especially when it came to unprompted mentions of Luke Skywalker. And to think he always seemed so levelheaded.