'Saturday Night Live' recap: A-caroling Trump will go

A Christmas Carol came early to Saturday Night Live this year. The first of 2017’s remaining three episodes kicked off with Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump being visited by the three pesky ghosts that once visited Ebenezer Scrooge. Actually make that four: the Ghost of Witness Flipped — aka Robert Mueller’s new star witness, Michael Flynn — was the first to apparate inside of the Oval Office, where a “pouty baby mode” POTUS was hiding out from the seasonal festivities. “I came to warn you that it’s time for you to come clean for the good of the country,” Ghost Flynn warned, before making way for the story’s more traditional phantoms: the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Handling Christmas Past duties, Billy Bush provided Trump with a quick history lesson about the Access Hollywood tape, capping off his visit with a shout-out to what’s going on right now over at Bush’s former employer NBC News. Then present-tense ghost Vladimir Putin stopped by to comment on current affairs, specifically Russia’s alleged role in both Trump’s campaign and the 2016 election. But the president had only one question for Putin: “Do you think I’m cool?”

Trump lost whatever cool he had when Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton made her glorious return to the SNL stage, showing up in Steve Bannon’s old grim reaper costume as the Ghost of Christmas Future. After thanking him for a one-of-a-kind Christmas present (“Sexual gratification in the form of your slow demise”), she parroted Flynn’s words back at the flipped witness’s ex-boss. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to say this: Lock him up!” she cried. Can she get a hallelujah?

Best Sketch: “Welcome to Hell”
From “Back Home Ballers” to “First Got Horny 2 U,” the ladies of SNL never disappoint when they get their song on. Their latest is a timely anthem that uses killer lyrics (“It’s like a maze here all filled with boners”) and the pinup conventions of music videos to emphasize its larger point about how objectification has fostered an unsafe environment for women long before the current explosion in sexual harassment stories. They’ve been saying it for hundreds of years: Time to listen up.

Worst Sketch: “Late for Class”
New featured player Luke Null gets his first big showcase, but sadly it’s not one for the highlight reel. He’s a new student who blusters his way through his first day of school as a way to make a splash and distract his classmates from his unfortunate name: Brody Chode. Maybe Brody will be a better person after his humiliation, but we — and Null — deserved a better sketch.

Best Use of Saoirse Ronan: “Monologue”
The Lady Bird star was a game host and showed off her flair for accents but never scored a breakout sketch. But thanks to her delightful ditty at the top of the show, the entire world knows how to properly pronounce her name. Remember, it’s “Saoirse” with an “er” not “or.”

Best Bunting-Level Gore: “Floribama Shore”
We’ll see Pete Davidson losing his head in the blades of a rotating fan while paying tribute to Mr. Bunting, and raise you Luke Null being sliced open by a “Stop” sign blasted through the window by hurricane-level winds. Consider it his penance for the Brody Chode sketch.

Best Belated ’80s Movie: “The Race”
Made in the style — both cinematic and hair-wise — of ’80s yuppie fantasies like The Secret of My Success and Wall Street, Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett’s latest bit of whimsy is a little flat-footed in the beginning but totally sticks the landing with a punch line involving a Mac and Me alien and Ronan turning out to be a ghost. (Allow us to take a little credit for the Mac and Me gag: It’s a movie that came up in our Facebook Live with Mooney earlier this year.) Bonus points for the pitch-perfect cameo by Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig.

Episode MVP: Kate McKinnon
In case you thought nothing could top McKinnon-as-Clinton crowing “Lock him up!” McKinnon-as-Theresa May composing mean tweets (although her definition of mean leaves something to be desired) during “Weekend Update” came pretty close. Between Clinton, May, and Angela Merkel, McKinnon has quite the SNL portfolio of powerful female leaders. Let’s see her do the president of Iceland next!

Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.

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