Ever since Saturday Night Live decided to portray Steve Bannon as a cut-rate grim reaper—they literally just put someone in a cheap Halloween costume—they’ve been wasting opportunities every week to give the most loathsome character in the most loathsome administration his loathsome due. This Saturday night, however, the show paid the gag off, as Steve Bannon finally removed his mask, revealing a very blotchy Bill Murray. This may not be the sharply-observed Steve Bannon impression we’ve been waiting for, but as a Hail Mary pass made necessary by Bannon’s abrupt fall from grace in the wake of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, Murray’s a pretty good choice.
Fred Armisen also does yeoman’s work in the role of “fakeout cold open guest star who seems like a big deal until you realize Bill Murray’s there too,” a.k.a. Michael Wolff. Armisen’s got a great deadpan, and his straight-faced account of the president’s “baby races” is nearly as good as his response to criticism of Wolff’s occasionally unreliable reporting: “Even the stuff that’s not true? It’s true.” Kate McKinnon and Alex Moffat’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski impressions haven’t gotten much funnier since last season, but since half their job is being less impressive than the escalating series of guest stars to come, it works. With any luck, there’ll never be any need for anyone to play Steve Bannon on Saturday Night Live ever again; good on the show for delivering a solid a kick in the ass on the way out the door.
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