It’s often true that an episode of Saturday Night Live is only as funny as its host, which means any episode hosted by Will Ferrell is a damn laugh riot. The actor and SNL legend made his triumphant return to the show, almost two years after his last hosting gig and 17 (!) since he left the cast to become a bona fide movie star.
After a Trump-centric cold open that was a little too ripped from the headlines, Ferrell came out in a black suit and very pink shirt. Everything went smoothly until he spotted Ryan Reynolds in the crowd. After some purposefully cringey jokes, non-sequiturs (“TSA Precheck,” “Backstreet’s back allright!”), and another cameo from Tracy Morgan, the show was off to a strong start.
Next up was a parody of last week’s Democratic presidential debate that, like that debate, felt overstuffed. Ferrell played a deeply weird Tom Steyer, and he was joined by former SNL colleagues Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph, particularly strong as a meme-obsessed Kamala Harris. Woody Harrelson and Larry David also popped in to reprise their roles as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, respectively.
“The First Thanksgiving” brought new life to Thanksgiving tropes with Ferrell as Pochahontas’s grandfather, a hardliner against “pale-faced” immigrants who wants to build a wall to keep them out.
As is often the case, the funniest sketch of the episode was a digital short. With their parents out of town, two kids throw a huge party that turns into a standard pop music video until their increasingly sad AP English teacher crashes. Just watch it.
That brings us to “Pizza Ad,” in which a family wins a contest to be in a commercial for their favorite pizza place. Kate McKinnon as the increasingly unhinged suburban mother delivering lines like “I’m a skanky skunk” and Ferrell’s reveal of the dark weirdness under his suburban dad exterior—a career speciality of his—are not to be missed.
Ryan Reynolds returned to be the funniest part of Weekend Update before the show closed with two deeply strange sketches. First, an “alternate ending” to Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy has to tell the folks on the farm that she thinks of them as Munchkins and flying monkeys.
And finally, Ferrell closed out the show as a ventriloquist who seemed to be torturing his dummy. It’s hard to explain, but again the draw is a seemingly mild-mannered character revealing something completely dark and hilarious.
You can watch the entire episode on NBC.com.