Season 44 of “SNL” is now in full swing. In the most recent new episode, on Dec. 15, we got Matt Damon hosting for only the second time, and his first time since 2002. Despite the lengthy hosting drought, Damon has already had a big impact on “SNL” this year — in the season 44 premiere, Damon portrayed Brett Kavanaugh during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in what was probably the best sketch of the season.
Damon became one of the rare “SNL” hosts to appear in the cold open of an episode he was hosting, bringing back his Kavanaugh impression for an “It’s a Wonderful Life” parody in which Donald Trump learns how much better off everyone, including himself, would be had he never been elected president. Damon was accompanied by Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson as the musical guests.
This week, on Saturday, Jan. 12, there will not be a new episode of “SNL.” NBC will instead be airing a rerun. The next new episode of “SNL” is only a week away — on Jan. 19, Rachel Brosnahan, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel herself, will host the first new episode of 2019.
The previously mentioned season premiere was eventful beyond just Damon’s appearance — musical guest Kanye West wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat on stage and giving a pro-Donald Trump speech that didn’t air. Cast member Pete Davidson addressed West’s pro-Trump speech during the “Weekend Update” portion of the Oct. 6 episode the following week.
Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin has popped up far less often in season 44 than he did in the last two seasons, when he would appear as Donald Trump in the cold open most weeks. He’s now appeared three times this year, although two of those were in the past three new episodes — so perhaps he’ll be around more often the rest of season 44.
The political bent has, of course, continued throughout the season. Ahead of the midterm elections, we got a cold open sketch that parodied Fox News’ hysterical coverage of the immigrant caravan ahead of this week’s midterm elections. The sketch saw cast member Kate McKinnon playing “Ingraham Angle” host Laura Ingraham, with guest appearances by Kenan Thompson as right-wing former sheriff David Clarke and Cecily Strong popping up as “Judge” Jeanine Pirro. The three took turns spouting false narratives about the caravan and presenting videos of things like a mob of Black Friday shoppers and crabs scrambling around on a beach as being footage of the caravan.
We’ve been surprised to see Robert De Nero pop up fairly regularly as special counsel Robert Mueller — he showed up in two episodes late last season and has returned for several more episodes as Mueller in the past couple months, such as when he bid farewell to Kate McKinnon’s still tremendously impression Jeff Sessions impersonation after Sessions was fired as Attorney General.