“SNL” - Season 48, Episode 12 Review
“Saturday Night Live” ended its first run of episodes in 2023 with a night of stupid fun with host Pedro Pascal.
It’s always going to be the popular opinion that “SNL” isn’t as good as it once was, but that’s not fair in this 48th season of the show.
With an above-average start to the season, this transition season cast is on a genuine hot streak dating back to November 12 with host Dave Chapelle, meaning six straight episodes of primarily great episodes.
It’s what “SNL” has needed, and last Saturday’s show was a great addition to the series' new era.
“SNL” has kept its trend of keeping cold opens short, which has worked in the show's favor.
This week was no different, with the “Spy Balloon Cold Open” being a clever and quick way to cover the big news stories.
“SNL” is also lucky that superstar Bowen Yang has a knack for playing inanimate objects.
Pascal helped continue the show’s trend of insanely personable hosts, and while his monologue was not particularly memorable, it did a great job of setting the tone of the episode.
A similar trend to last week's episode is that so many of the night's sketches were conceptually mediocre, but the cast made them great with their performances.
The “Waking Up” sketch featured Pascal waking up from a coma with an LA accent, one he didn’t have before the coma.
Something about what was funny about the sketch being so stupid that it’s frustrating that it’s funny just makes the sketch funnier.
The two pre-recorded sketches were also solid, with “HBO Mario Kart Trailer” and “Wing Pit” seeming like necessary references that had to be made with the timing and host of the episode.
The post-production on the Mario sketch, in particular, was extremely impressive. The “SNL” postproduction team is currently authorizing a strike in response to NBC not yet signing a contract with their recently organized union.
Sketches like this one should remind audiences how important this team is to “SNL” with the support from the cast at the episode's good nights, it will be interesting to see if the strike will happen and if it will affect episodes going forward.
Pascal was clearly having the time of his life at studio 8H. So many of the sketches worked because of his performance in them.
The “Fancam Assembly” was a great jab at not just Pascal’s fanbase but “stan culture” as a whole. It kept with the silliness of the night and Sarah Paulson was a fun and well-utilized cameo.
The rookie cast had another solid episode, particularly Marcello Hernandez, who worked decidedly well with Pascal.
In “Protective Mom” where Pascal played Hernandez’s stereotypical hispanic mother reacting to his son bringing home a white girlfriend for dinner.
The two speaking in Spanish were both funny for those who understood it and those who didn’t as Chloe Fineman’s reactions as the girlfriend made the sketch easy to follow.
Even the “Italian Waiters” sketch, which was the low point of the night, featured great work with Pascal and Hernandez. The sketch worked at some points but overall felt rushed and confusing.
“Weekend Update” is still solid but does feel out of place as a lingering piece of the previous era with Colin Jost and Michael Che at the update desk.
The features of the segment were great and also highlighted the show's bright future.
Rookie Michael Longfellow came on as a washed-up Punxsutawney Phil, who was an excellent showing for the new cast member's first real character.
However, it was James Austin Johnson and Devon Walker’s British rappers Milly Pound and Shirty, respectively, that stole the segment.
Between the repeating “allergic to dairy” line or them making sword noises because there are no guns in England, it came together for a hopefully recurring update bit; it was that good.
The show-stealing moment came from Ego Nwodium’s “Lisa from Temecula” which has rightfully been crowned this generation's “Debbie Downey: Disney World” sketch.
Again, it’s a sketch with a senseless concept. Still, with Nwodium’s delivery being so perfect that it had Yang and Pascal dying of laughter along with the audience, the sketch is funny even upon rewatch.
It seems that “SNL” is in good hands; this episode highlights three of its four-person rookie class, so well really cements that. It may feel redundant since at least three of the past six episodes deserve the title “best the show has been in years”, but it’s the truth.
Pascal helped “SNL” round out a phenomenal three-episode run. After the hiatus, Woody Harrelson will host for the illustrious fifth time, extending this six-episode hot streak to a seven-episode one.
Best Sketch of the Night: “Lisa from Temecula”
Worst Sketch of the Night: “Italian Waiters”
MVP(s): Bowen Yang and Ego Nwodium
Unsung Heroes: Heidi Gardner and Marcello Hernandez
A wish for next episode: To sign the post-production team’s contract, so there isn’t a strike during Woody Harrelson’s “Five-Timer” episode.
Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.