November 18, 2023 – Jason Momoa / Tate McRae (S49 E5)

Cold Opening – Biden Panda

Tian Tian the Panda (BOY) saves Biden’s (MID) press conference

  • I’m continuing to accept Mikey as the resident Biden impersonator, even when James’ impression remains better. Mikey deserves, with all that he gave SNL, to have a big presidential impression to potentially bookended his run at least.
  • It is nice to see a lot of the cast in this cold opening, even when playing the generic role of reporters. This cold open also feels a bit step down from the previous in its satire of Biden.
  • Now here walks on Bowen Yang playing what feels like his 500th sassy-and-shady role wearing a goofy outfit. I guess the last few episodes not having much Bowen vamping was just too good for us. We need those semi-weekly reminders of how FUNNEE and SILLEE Bowen Yang is and how honored we are to witness his “genius” in front of us.
  • Any potential this cold open had just died as soon as it centered around Bowen being “funnee.” Bowen is such a cold, joyless performer that he has the ability to singlehandedly suffocate and kill segments dead for me. So, guess my reaction to his talk right now about being thick?

Rating: **


(host) talks about being from Hawaii and charity work

  • Like last time, Jason is coming off very likable and his energy is so infectious.
  • I’m enjoying how this monologue is turning into one of those where the host speaks about his childhood and background. It feels a bit odd doing so with Jason, considering how his first monologue was like and this feels like a monologue that’s usually reserved for a first time host and not one who already did several cameos and hosted before. I’m not complaining, however, as Jason’s story is interesting and he is coming off as likable as always.
  • Very classy part with Jason talking about his charity work to help preserve and clean the ocean.

Rating: ***

Masters of the Pen

(host) & (MID) constantly interrupt historic film

  • I understand the banter between Heidi and Bowen at the start is meant to make fun of typical bad banter on such shows, but it fell very flat with me. That’s probably due to me being so sick of Bowen Yang as a cast member nowadays.
  • Michael Longfellow is beyond perfect for an old-timey sketch such as this.
  • Kudos for Mikey for nailing the physical movements in such a frame rate; his gestures towards the camera cracked me up.
  • Is Michael going to just sit in the background doing nothing funny while Mikey and Jason continue to be the comedic conceit? Why this constant waste and underuse of his talents so far this season?
  • The whole hot dog fakeout with Kenan was decent and a good way to subvert our expectations regarding Michael’s L. Frank Baum.
  • An overall fun way to begin the episode properly with.

Rating: ***1/2

Rome Song

(host), (MID) and (KET) think about Rome

  • Chloe Troast’s vocals during the opening scenes of this short remain way too good to be in a sketch comedy show.
  • Funny twist with all that the guys are thinking of is the Roman Empire. As a big history buff, this premise is tickling me, even when I know it is parodying a trend online.
  • The little kid joining in singing about dinosaurs was more cute than funny, but he did well in his little moment.
  • Ego is fantastic leading the girls during the astrology bit, and Troast herself came off great as well. It’s very impressive how much she blended into the show so quickly that it feels natural seeing her paired with two senior cast members.

Rating: ***

Nightclub Line

(MAH) tries to teach (host) about being a bouncer

  • Fun look and characterization from Marcello, and it’s always nice seeing him lead a sketch in such an early spot in the night. I’m also enjoying Jason’s accent and rapport with Marcello.
  • I cracked up at Chloe’s exaggerated Spanish pronunciation; Marcello’s response to said pronunciation afterwards was funny.
  • Marcello is a solid straight man throughout this sketch and in reaction in particular to Jason’s actions.
  • Michael’s use here is a lot better than how much he was overshadowed and underused during the leadoff sketch of the night. This is the type of straight man work he excels at.
  • The running gag with Jason calling patrons ugly is decent. This sketch in general feels like a better version of that Towel Guys sketch from last season. A sketch I seem to be in the minority of being lukewarm on.

Rating: ***1/2

Thanksgiving Week Airport Parade

Newark Airport serves familiar faces

  • SNL, please stop trying to make Bowen Yang as a utility player happen. The man is way too self-centred, too much of a self-parody to ever allow other cast members the time to shine. This is like trying to have Justin Timberfake give the spotlight to underused cast members in a hosting stint of his. So, in Dana’s Bush voice: not gonna happen.
  • This opening musical number, while harmless, feels like something James Anderson would’ve written. I guess the James Anderson wannabes in the writing staff wrote this sketch.
  • I’m not finding myself laughing much here, outside of Chloe’s bit about traveling with three dogs, but this is fine.
  • I see that Jason is bringing his usual brand of fun and likable presence. Ego being impressed by Jason, and her line about tapping the captain was great. Good old Ego, making the best of even the simplest of lines.
  • The James bit with the daughter was nothing special, but he performed it as solidly as he always does.
  • Great cutaway to Michael as a perv wanting to be pat-down for the wrong reasons. It surprises me it took five episodes for Michael to get one of those sketch-stealing cutaway bits towards him.
  • An overall ok ensemble sketch. Most of the material here was more relatable to me than funny, but this was still a good sketch.

Rating: ***

Please Don’t Destroy – Ramen Order

(Ben Marshall) & (Martin Herlihy) try to order Ramen behind grief-stricken (John Higgins)

  • I guess we are getting these shorts on a weekly basis this season and not what I hoped with them not being as dominant last season. Good thing I still enjoy these and the shorts this season have been some of the strongest in quite some time.
  • Interesting hearing a reference to the legendary “I got a fever” line from the classic More Cowbell sketch in this context. As a sucker for the late ‘90s/early 00s era (my all-time personal favorite), I appreciate this reference even more than other fans might.
  • Decent twist with being dumped from his girlfriend “Sofia” while in the middle of ordering Ramen.
  • John’s acting is pretty good and is helping this predictable premise come off a little fresher than it would’ve been otherwise.
  • A good laugh from Sofia turning out to be none other than Sofia Vergara.
  • This whole short is fine but might be my least-favorite PDD piece by default at this point. Still pretty good, though.

Rating: ***

Musical Performance – greedy

Weekend Update

clips of Biden baffle COJ

George Santos (BOY) gets another interview with COJ

Draymond Green (DEW) discusses NBS suspension

Remember Lizards (JAJ) & (AND) on being Imagine Dragons rip-off

  • The clip of Blinken’s reaction when Biden calls Xi Jinping a dictator is a meme waiting to happen.
  • Ok, I really liked the Biden/Israel story’s punchline being that Biden is six years older than that nation.
  • The photo of Colin’s smiley face with a thumbs up as the punchline to NBCUniversal pulling out ads from X due to Nazis was funny and deserved better reaction from the audience.
  • Great joke about Donald Trump not bothering to show up during all of Don Jr’s childhood birthday parties.
  • (*Bowen appears for the billionth time as Santos while Blood shatters into the abyss*)
  • I mean…. what’s there to say about this performer that I haven’t said before? There are absolutely no words to give justice to how much I’ve been over this guy and his shtick. Now, I’m supposed to sit back and giggle for four minutes at the same Santos-a-fraud jokes? Let’s just move on from this mess, as I bet talking about him makes him stronger or something.
  • WTF at the audience applauding about men dying before women? This isn’t a competition. Che’s punchline to it was at least funny.
  • I have zero knowledge of who this guy Devon’s playing is. Considering the fun impressions Devon’s been surprising me with, I assume his take on this guy is spot-on.
  • Devon is performing this well, even as a lot of this piece is going over my head as a non-sports viewer. The whole bit with the notebook was pretty funny especially.
  • The And Just Like That punchline to Colin’s menopausal joke is excellent and one of my favorite jokes so far this season.
  • Andrew! James! JAJMukes remains real to the bone I see. This is also sadly Andrew’s first actual desk piece since season 47. What a shame.
  • I’m not the first nor the last to say this, but I’m getting very strong Forte/Sudeikis vibes each time Andrew and James are paired together. And I absolutely love that, as Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte are both in my top 10 personal favorite cast members of all-time.
  • This piece is doing a great job spoofing the likes of Imagine Dragons and how overly produced, OTT and samey their music tends to be. James has been excelling alongside Andrew in nailing musical humor and making it come off fun and funny these past two seasons.
  • I absolutely love how batshit and off-the-wall in the best possible ways the singing portions here are. Andrew’s facial expressions while singing are having me in stitches.

Rating: ***1/2

Cast Away

(AND) is cucked by the return of (host) after being cast away

  • Two patented Andrew Dismukes pieces in a row? Is this to make up for a certain very annoying cast member getting so much airtime earlier in the episode? Either way, I welcome more Andrew into my SNL each time.
  • I always love the voice Andrew uses when playing such roles; the combination of the look and voice reminds me so much of Will Forte, which is the second time Andrew reminded me of him tonight alone.
  • Jason playing with his pecs is absolutely hilarious and the visual of Andrew looking tiny next to him is a riot.
  • The turn with Jason taking his shirt off, and of course greeted with screaming to Andrew getting even more cheers (which endearingly startled him) is pretty funny.
  • This has now turned into one of those getting cucked sketches, but Andrew’s refreshing way of playing such a premise again and giving it a new style is making me enjoy this sketch fine enough. Hell, even the ending worked better than it needed to be for me.

Rating: ***1/2

Musical Performance – grave

UNTOLD: Battle of the Sexes

pioneer feminist tennis player (SHS) had a gory end

  • Yet another of these documentary-esque shorts from this era. The last one (I Was A Bridesmaid) was pretty solid, so I hope this one is as good, if not better.
  • Great seeing this short in particular focusing on Sarah, as she’s one of my favorite current cast members and it’s been ages since she got the spotlight in a pretaped format.
  • I absolutely love the gory visual of the tennis ball penetrating Sarah’s stomach, especially as she lets out a great scream of pain. This is great and this piece HAS to be a patented oddball Sarah piece as it right up her alley of humor. The buildup with the background of the whole battle and context makes this turn even funnier and more worth it.
  • Jason’s straight man reactions towards the carnage he’s witnessing are underrated and add so much humor to this already-hilarious turn.
  • Holy hell at the visual of Sarah’s head popping off. I expected more and more parts of her character’s body to go off, so her head going off surprised and made me laugh out loud.
  • Great ending. You know, leave it to Sarah Sherman not only to give me the strongest piece of the night, but one of the more standout pieces of this whole season. I loved this short so much.

Rating: ****1/2

Cab Driver

troubling medical reveals about (host) worry (KET)

  • The setting of this sketch feels straight out of season 29. Expect not as D.O.A. nor dull. I believe this sketch was cut from the Kieran Culkin episode from season 47.
  • The turn with the sketch revealing more and more troubling diagnoses about Jason’s medical condition is decent, albeit somewhat cliched. Jason and Kenan’s performances are making this sketch better than it is.
  • Jason’s lame joke about how small his penis was pretty funny, especially the rejected high-five with Kenan.
  • The legally blind/Legally Blonde mix-up was worth a good laugh.
  • Pretty good 10-to-1.

Rating: ***


Segments Ranked From Best to Worst

UNTOLD: Battle of the Sexes

Cast Away

Masters of the Pen

Nightclub Line

Weekend Update

Cab Driver


Thanksgiving Week Airport Parade

Rome Song

Please Don’t Destroy – Ramen Order

Biden Panda

Final Thoughts:

  • While the quality of this episode wasn’t as strong as the last few have been, this episode as a whole was still pretty good with a decent number of highlights, including more offbeat, weird sketch concepts (dominance of said concepts has been such a breath of fresh air compared to last season’s focus on stale camp and pandering) which show why this season has been a lot more refreshing than the last one for me. There was also a lot of fun vibes in the air throughout the sketches and a lot of the cast shined. I attribute said vibes to Jason Momoa who was, much like last time, a very fun and game host who helped make the cast shine.

My Favorite Moments of the Episode, Represented with Screencaps:

Up Next:

  • On December 2nd, SNL returns with Emma Stone joining the Five-Timers Club. Noah Kahan is the musical guest.

My full set of screencaps from this episode is here

10 Replies to “November 18, 2023 – Jason Momoa / Tate McRae (S49 E5)”

  1. Another great review Blood! I’m very happy to see you mostly enjoyed this episode. I feel like we’re in the minority, but I definitely think this was a decent, solid episode that was a lot of fun. Not every piece worked, and it wasn’t a top tier show, but it was pretty good and far from the disaster I’ve seen some online say it was.

    I fully agree that Sarah’s sketch was easily the strongest of the night. It’s been a while since we’ve truly had a patented Squirm sketch and this one had her fingerprints all over it. This sketch reminded me a lot of Farewell Mr. Bunting and while I prefer that sketch overall, this one was still a laugh riot. Devon’s brief part running out to catch the ball and later Sarah’s head was absolutely hysterical!

    I’m a bit higher on that Rome pretape than you are. Even though I know it’s referencing a meme that’s apparently out of date at this point, I still enjoyed it a lot and I feel like even without that context, it works as its own weird little piece. Ego’s constant slapping of Jason was pretty funny as was the unexpected turn into the women rapping about Astrology was fun. I’m a history buff myself and I loved all the little historical references in this. I could have done without the kid’s dinosaurs part, but it was still fine.

    I didn’t enjoy the Nightclub sketch quite as much as you did. It wasn’t bad, but it reminded me of the Renaldo and Alexi doormen sketch where it just seemed to be an excuse for two people to do exaggerated accents while doing some weird quirky stuff with people as they came by. Jason and Marcello were good and I was so happy to see Longfellow FINALLY get a decent role, but overall this felt a little too thin and lacking for me.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your take on the Cast Away sketch. It’s definitely your standard cucking sketch, but Andrew really elevated it. His performance was just offbeat enough to really make it fresh and unique. Plus I adored how he got louder and more enthusiastic screams when he took his shirt off. His reaction to one lady absolutely shrieking was priceless and adorable!

    Sigh…and now we come to the bane of the show’s existence right now, aka Bowen. I knew he’d come roaring back with a vengeance after being relatively subdued and even occasionally funny in the last few episodes. Your continued shitting on him is both well deserved and very entertaining. I hate being so hard on a cast member who by all accounts seems like a decent guy behind the scenes, but this man needs to get off the show ASAP. He’s a dead weight just dragging everything and everyone down with him. That cold open is such a perfect example. While it wasn’t great or anything, it was okay and entertaining enough…then Bowen came in and sucked out all the energy and likability. I really can’t remember the last time a cast member made me groan this much whenever they showed up. Kate, Fred, and Kristen don’t even come close. Take Bowen’s stuff out and this episode is automatically the second or third best of the season imho.

    All in all, good nights for Andrew, Devon and Longfellow (even though that’s a low bar this season and it still somewhat felt like he was underused a little), and I liked how they used Heidi in more utility roles this episode. Reminds me of how good she still in those roles, even if it’s really time for her to leave as well.

    Jason was a great and enthusiastic host who really brought a positive, fun vibe to the show. Season 49’s solid streak continues

  2. Great review Mr. Blood!

    So far this season, I’ve noticed a theme with you liking episodes more than I did. I still have the overall same feelings as you, but the segment ratings are higher than what my ratings would be.

    But this was the first episode where it was the other way around. I thought this was a pretty solid episode with me liking segments more than you did. The only sketch I can think you liked more than me was the Untold pre-tape (but I’m not gonna go into why I didn’t really like it).

  3. Great review Blood! I always look forward to your reviews! I’m glad you enjoyed The Battle of The Sexes sketch as much as I did. On another rewatch I’d even give it the five stars. What I love about it most is that it uses Sarah perfectly. I find I don’t enjoy when they give her straight roles and I’ve been worried that the show isn’t catering to her talents. I want to see more gory, oddball pieces like this.

    As for Bowen, I find it so disappointing what has happened to his tenure. Season 45, 46, and 47 he was one of my favourites. He is capable of sutlety and being funny as he has demonstrated in sketches like Straight Friend, Sleeptown U.S.A., and Sara Lee Instagram but now he and the writers want him to be broad and the STAR and it just doesn’t work. I compare it to Kristen Wiig. Her first few seasons I loved her and then the exact same thing happened. I would groan everytime she came on screen.

  4. Good stuff as always Blood!

    It was an episode, alright! I think it is far and away the weakest of the season, but to its credit it never truly bottomed out, it just sort of floated, eliciting smiles instead of laughs. Masters of the Pen? I smiled! The Nightclub thing? I smiled! That airport fuckery? Some smiles! That Roman thing? Weird to do a sketch about a several-years-old meme, but…I smiled (when I understood what they were saying).

    I think the only thing I actually hated was the monologue, which managed to fill every spot in the charmalogue Bingo card:
    Reference to mom? Check.
    Tepid one-liners unworthy of award show patter? Check.
    Heritage pride? Check.
    A serious turn about “important issues”? Check.
    The host “loves life”? Check.
    I admit I admire the speed with which SNL blasts through all of these tired cliches, but you can tell that everyone involved gave this monologue a big punt. I’m no longer charmed by these ventures (although it would help if I didn’t find Momoa somewhat off-putting). And what some people find winsome and charming, I find lazy and pandering.

    Oh, and here’s the other thing about Momoa…I don’t know if the show is too crazy about him either. In addition to a rushed, nothing monologue, we had a wordless performance (Masters of the Pen), three pre-taped bits including a hostless PDD piece and an extended Update for the first time this season. It really felt like this episode was padded out and that the show was more working “around” Momoa than with him.

    Anyway, I think about halfway through Update, they started to gain some momentum, with Remember Lizards and Sherman’s piece being the easy highlights of the show (Walker as the ball boy running to pick of Sherman’s head was the episode’s highlight). The cucked husband piece was another insipid cucked husband sketch that offered know real comedic twist on its mean-spirited premise, but Andrew is really a really a lovably goofy performer and he’s starting to develop the ability to make basically any material sing.

    As for Bowen…I don’t think I have the blind rage about Bowen’s work that you do, Blood, but it’s probably because I’m older and the blind rage I once felt for the indulgences of Chris Kattan or Molly Shannon or Jimmy Fallon or Maya Rudolph (or…or…or…) has been replaced by a sort of resignation. SNL is not here to exclusively serve my tastes or the tastes of the kind of person who would review an SNL online. It’s a show that aims to please casual viewers – the kind of person that watches five episodes per year and never get exhausted by Kate Mackinnon, the kind of person who calls Kenan the GOAT, the kind of person that LOVES those goddamn charmalogues. So…Bowen is one of the show’s very best in the eyes of the casual fan, which means he gets a lot of at-bats, even if its to the show’s detriment. The cold open was trudging along nicely, in an almost quaint throwback style. No frills, just a standard issue press conference piece. The Bowen business was, I think, intended to give the sketch life, but frankly, a steady, unsurprising three star cold open would be a refreshing change of pace at his point in time (though I really enjoyed last episode’s cold open). Bowen’s inclusion was more of a writer issue than explicitly a Bowen issue. I think that spaceship sketch from the beginning of the season was an example of Bowen indulgence, but this other stuff is more about the cowardice of the writers. The Update pieces sort of just wash over me. If I’m in the mood, I’ll laugh. Otherwise, they’re easy for my brain to ignore (Kenan’s material has the same effect).

    Anyway, what else? The 10-to-one was fine. I liked the PDD short, although it’s more of the same of them being effective at executing pretty standard material. But they do execute it well. I would say that the Dawg food piece was easily the worst of the PDD shorts this season.

    1. Thanks for your nice words and as for Bowen, I’m not enraged by him more than bored. Rage was what I had towards the likes of Cecily at their worst (though I’ve been really gaining some appreciation for some of her previous work as I grow as a fan).

      You see, I do agree some of the worst aspects of Bowen in recent years are not of his own making, such as having him in a goofy outfit being sassy in cold opens. Between this one and the balloon thing last season. It is just I have zero interest in cold, joyless performers like him. I had the same feeling towards the also-cold-and-joyless Fallon and Fey when I saw their Update tenure years ago. I do agree him getting way too much airtime is partly due to how he’s viewed in the eyes of casual viewers (and you nailed that part so much). He also strikes me as being a bit of a security blanket with some of his work; comforting those reeling from the departure of Kate/Aidy/Cecily. Also, I won’t be shocked, two or three seasons from now, if JAJ and Sarah are getting the same amount of airtime, as well as some of the backlash Bowen’s getting right now. It is sort of a trend I always notice that the more senior and heavily used certain cast members become, the more hate they would get.

      1. This does seem to be the trend for senior castmembers who are perceived as the star. It happened with Kate, Aidy, Cecily, hell even Bill Hader (to a much smaller degree). I used to think it was they were being used as a crutch for crappy writing but in some cases the castmembers help write the material. It could also be that they loosen up and are more willing to ham it up and aim for the cheap seats. I hope this doesn’t happen to JAJ as I think the guy is so talented but hell it might. I could also very much seeing it happening to Sarah. The show has already smoothed some of her edges. As long as they let her do stuff like Meatballs and Battle of The Sexes every now and then I’ll be happy

  5. This is a great review on an episode that I probably won’t remember but did enjoy once we got to the last segment or two on Update. (I spent most of the Update dreading the appearance of that Chloe F Housewives piece, which we never got)

    I think your enjoyment of this episode may hinge on how much you enjoy Andrew Dismukes. I don’t love everything he does, but there’s something in his energy and personality – he’s one of the people on the show now, along with Marcello, JAJ, and (when not put into drag/roast/yelly roles) Sarah, where I think their sheer warmth and spirit carries through. (there are others like Devon, Troast, Longfellow, but they still aren’t getting enough airtime)

    The similarities to Forte/Sudeikis are undeniable, but I wasn’t bothered by the homage – to be honest that duo also thrived more on the sheer chemistry and spirit between both men than the material.

    I think you said anything I ever could have said about Bowen. This Update piece didn’t bother me (other than feeling endless), but I just have no ability to respond to Bowen now. What hurts him (or me) most is I think he just has nothing new left to give. There have been cast members who were on the show for years and had a certain range but were still able to find fresh partners or showcases, like Aidy. Bowen just doesn’t seem to want to do that.

    It’s funny you mention James Anderson as the opening of the silent film sketch reminded me of his writing – straight characters being hostile to each other for no real reason. I can see the influence in the airport sketch now too, especially Marcello bringing back the mincing persona that was so common on the show until the early ’10s.

    I’m glad to see I’m not alone in feeling that Moma was more like a first-time host…and also, as mentioned above, that the show was kind of writing around him (I don’t hate Jason Momoa but I also don’t have a great deal of fondness for him, so my low expectations may have helped me here).

    So far this season my rankings would probably be Bargatze >> Bad Bunny > Momoa > Chalamet > Davidson, although there have been no outright bad episodes for me.

  6. Man, that cold open was something to watch. It was necessarily Bowen that made me angry (I’m kind of numb now whenever he appears on screen), but rather that we are less than a year away from an election and we’re still doing kiddy stuff like this. I mean, Biden holding a press conference alongside a panda? That’s the kind of low-brow shit I would write in fifth grade after reading about Biden’s trip in the kids’ edition of National Geographic. What’s the central joke there? If they’re going for just pure silliness, then the target was misdirected. Again, I don’t know why they can’t just hire someone who is specifically trained in writing smart satire.

    As a fan of writers like L. Frank Baum and others of that time, I was disappointed that they didn’t give their full effort into providing factual information into the sketch and making Michael look like him just a little bit. I can’t remember who, but someone commented that the whole sketch felt very “hat on a hat.” The Baum stuff wasn’t needed and they should’ve just had Bowen or Heidi host it, not the both of them.

    I liked Remember Lizards more than most people, though I probably would’ve changed the melody for each song so it wouldn’t have felt so predictable.

    I’m starting to wonder how many Devon-centered sketches we need to have in order to get a handle on who he is. It’s not bad, but it’ll be interesting if when he is promoted to repertory, we still won’t have a clue about Devon’s role.

  7. Another thing I’ve been liking so far this season is that they seem to be giving Punkie more stuff to do than her previous seasons. Her airtime still isn’t great overall, but she’s been given moments to shine more, and I am VERY happy about that because I really like her as a cast member.

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